Sunday, October 7, 2007
We want young men...who have kept themselves unspotted from the world, and can go into the nations of the earth and say to men, “Follow me, as I follow Christ.” Then we would like to have them know how to sing, and to pray. We expect them to be honest, virtuous, and faithful unto death to their covenants, to their brethren, to their wives, to their fathers and mothers, to their brothers and sisters, to themselves and to God. Where you get men like this to preach the gospel to the world, whether they know much to begin with or not, the Lord will put his Spirit into their hearts, and he will crown them with intelligence and power to save the souls of men. For the germ of life is in them. It has not been vitiated or corrupted; it has not been driven away from them. (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939, p. 356).
If any brethren who hold the priesthood of God feel unprepared—-even incapable—-of responding to a call to serve, to sacrifice, to bless the lives of others, remember this truth: “Whom God calls, God qualifies.” He who notes the sparrow’s fall will not abandon the servant’s need. (Thomas S. Monson, Live the Good Life, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1988, p. 17).
The missionary field is not a reform school. True, it does bring about a reformation in those who need reforming. Missionary experience develops character, and brings the sincere laborer into spiritual contact with his Father in heaven, but no young man and no young woman should be sent out to be reformed. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1945, p. 113).
It is deemed inconsistent to send men out into the world to promise to others through obedience to the gospel that which they have not themselves received. Neither is it considered proper to send men out to reform them. Let them first reform at home if they have not been strictly keeping the commandments of God. This applies to the Word of Wisdom as well as to all other laws of heaven. No objection is offered to men being called who in earlier years may have been rough or wayward, if in later years they have lived a godly life and brought forth the precious fruits of repentance. (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: selections from the sermons and writings of Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998, p.355).
This is certainly pointed language and cannot be misunderstood by any who are seeking the truth (See D&C 84:74). There are many among us, who do not seem to realize, or believe, that the Lord means what he says. They think that he is like many earthly fathers, and will change his mind, and his covenants may be broken at will, and yet the blessings be received which are based on faithfulness. Here, however, the Lord speaks emphatically, as he does in other Scriptures. He declares: “And this revelation unto you, and commandment, is in force from this very hour upon all the world, and the gospel is unto all who have not received it” (D&C 84:75). Therefore it is a serious matter for one who hears a convincing testimony borne by the power of the Holy Ghost, to reject it.
The faithful elders who go forth duly commissioned and with the spirit of the Gospel upon them, such as the Lord can call his friends, should have the guiding influence of his Spirit go before them: Behold, I send you out to prove the world, and the laborer is worthy of his hire” (D&C 84:79). What a wonderful blessing is promised them: “And any man that shall go and preach this gospel of the kingdom, and fail not to continue faithful in all things, shall not be weary in mind, neither darkened, neither in body, limb, nor joint; and a chair of his head shall not fall to the ground unnoticed. And they shall not go hungry, neither athirst” (D&C 84:79).
Thousands of missionaries have put this promise to the test, and the Lord has kept his promise to all those who have been faithful in their calling. Surely if the Father notices when a sparrow falls, he will not forsake any who in faithful obedience to his will seek his aid. That there have been those who have gone forth and have been weary in body and mind, and who have gone hungry, there is no doubt, for there are missionaries who have not given all their heart to the Lord, and they have idled away valuable time when it was needful for them to proclaim the truth. (Joseph Fielding Smith, Church History and Modern Revelation, 4 vols., Salt Lake City: Council of the Twelve Apostles, 1957-1950, 2:108-109).
It is not necessary that our young people should know of the wickedness carried on in any place. Such knowledge is not elevating, and it is quite likely that more than one young man can trace the first step of his downfall to a curiosity which led him into questionable places. Let the young men of Zion, whether they be on missions or whether they be at home, shun all dens of infamy. It is not necessary that they should know what is going on in such places. No man is better or stronger for such knowledge. Let them remember that “the knowledge of sin tempteth to its commission,” and then avoid those temptations that in time to come may threaten their virtue and their standing in the Church of Christ. (Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine: selections from the sermons and writings of Joseph F. Smith, sixth president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 5th ed., Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1939, pp.373-374).
Although our missionaries are strengthened, elevated, and magnified by their service, that is not their primary purpose, and neither they nor their families nor their leaders should regard a mission as the solution to unresolved problems. The Lord needs our best; He needs those who can run, not just walk--but to run physically and spiritually--those who can wield eternal influence with purity and strength and conviction.
Does this mean that those who are not yet ready should be turned away or rejected. Of course not! It means that our young people, their families, and their leaders should each accept the personal responsibility for preparing worthy, able, and committed volunteers for the Lord's royal army. (David B. Haight, O'93, Ensign, [November 1993]: 63).
Some young men are--now I must choose the right word--forced? persuaded? encouraged? compelled? to serve a mission by a sweet girl. She flashes her pretty eyelashes and says with some determination that she will one day marry one who has served and honorable mission.
It is interesting indeed what inspires spiritual patriotism. How quickly a young hero will line up to enlist with that kind of encouragement. God bless the sisters who have such a power to recruit missionaries. (Boyd K. Packer, "Come, All Ye Sons of God," Ensign, [August 1983]: 71).
We are asking every boy in the Church--every boy in the Church to be worthy of a mission. That's the important thing—the worthiness. Yet, if there is any boy who has already had a difficult time, he should see his bishop immediately and get it cleared up as soon as he can, and make himself available for a mission. (Spencer W. Kimball, Youth Fireside, Woods Cross Region, Bountiful, Utah, 28 August 1977).
President Gordon B. Hinckley has been so strong in his desire to separate us from worldly involvement, which is penetrating even the sanctity of our own homes. He announced that we are going to raise the standard for full-time missionary service:
"The time has come when we must raise the standards of those who are called to serve as ambassadors of the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . I remind you that missionary work is not a rite of passage in the Church. It is a call extended by the President of the Church to those who are worthy and able to accomplish it . . . .
"I am confident that raising the bar on eligibility will cause our young people, particularly our young men, to practice self-discipline, to live above the low standards of the world, to avoid transgression and take the high road in all their activities."
That message not only applies to those preparing for missionary service—-it has a rippling effect that extends to every member of the Church and to those who must qualify themselves to join the Church. To raise the standards of missionaries requires raising the standard of devotion in our own homes. The Church organizations that support the family—-Primary, Aaronic Priesthood quorums, Young Women, Melchizedek Priesthood quorums, Relief Society, Sunday School, and so forth—must also have higher standards of performance.
The charge has been given to us. Now, to obtain the promised blessings, we must respond by increasing our understanding of the doctrine and religiously applying the doctrine in our lives. (L. Tom Perry, “The Scriptures and the Restoration,” Brigham Young University CES Fireside for Young Adults, 2 November 2003).
“Preparing for my mission has been a long struggle. After deciding to serve a mission, it took almost one and one-half years to overcome problems in my conduct.”
Some letters describe long periods of repentance, of experiences like Alma’s, in which he was “racked with torment” and “harrowed up by the memory of my many sins” (Alma 36:17). Gratefully, they also speak of the “exquisite and sweet” joy that comes through repentance and forgiveness (see Alma 36:21).
The Lord commands His missionaries to be clean: “But purify your hearts before me; and then go ye into all the world, and preach my gospel unto every creature who has not received it” (D&C 112:28). The sacred powers available to those who are ordained of God and sent forth can only be exercised by those who are “purified and cleansed from all sin” (see D&C 50:26–28).
The First Presidency has stated, “Full-time missionary service is a privilege, not a right, for those who are called through inspiration by the President of the Church. Missionary service is literally service to the Lord and His Church. Its objective is not primarily the personal development of an individual missionary, although righteous service invariably produces that result” (Letter, June 19, 1998).
Priesthood leaders have specific guidelines to ensure that missionaries are spiritually, physically, emotionally, and morally qualified to serve. It is a disservice to the Lord, to the Church, and to the prospective missionary to issue a call when the requirements are not met.
We appreciate the many young men and women who live worthy of a mission call. We have deep gratitude for those who repent and taste the sweet joy of the Atonement. We encourage those who are unable to serve because of physical, emotional, or other reasons to seek other avenues of service, as might be suggested by parents and Church leaders. (David B. Haight, “A Spiritual Adventure,” New Era, [June 2000]: 6).
Now, brethren, there is much to do. You are the leaders to do it. We have conferred upon you, as you know, all the priesthood you need to carry on the work in Brazil. You will always work under the Presidency of the Church, and the Council of the Twelve, and the General Authorities, of course, but the detail work is for you to do. It is your responsibility to convert these nations, Argentina, Uruguay, and all the other nations. That's your responsibility. We're helping you. Right now we're sending to you many missionaries and have been for a quarter century or more. And we are willing to continue if we can. But we have problems. We have difficulties getting visas to get into Brazil for as many missionaries as we would be willing to send you. Now what are you going to do if and when the day comes when the government does not see fit to give us visas? Shall we discontinue the missionary work or are you ready and willing to pick it up and go forward with it?
Now you have wonderful boys here. We saw this building filled with them last night, young men and young women. Mostly we are talking about young boys for missionaries, though we do send some lady missionaries, of course. But this building is filled with them. It will be filled with them this morning. Look around you and see all these wonderful young men. Now they are not inferior. Your boys are not inferior; they are superior young men. They can pick up this program and carry it forward, but you must initiate it: you, the leaders; you, the bishops; you, the branch presidents; you, the mission president. Don't let any boy grow to maturity without having been interviewed for a mission. Now some of them may not be worthy. Some of them may have been immoral. some of them may not care, and maybe they will not repent. But most of your boys, if you start very young with them when they are just little boys, will stay clean. And they'll save their money. They'll be expecting a mission, they'll go on missions, and they'll bring into this Church millions of people through the years.
They'll do something else. While they are in the mission field they'll grow and develop like a blossoming plant. You've seen it and we've seen it. We've seen it with our boys. They grow and they prosper. They learn. They change lives. They become great leaders. Some of these young missionaries just thrill us. They just amaze us with the growth and the strength that comes to them while they have been in Brazil these two years. Now that can happen to every one of your boys.
Every Brazilian boy, every Argentine, every Uruguayan--every boy should fill a mission. Now we do not want him to fill a mission unless he is worthy. So that's the reason you will start when he is eight years old or before.
You fathers, of course, will have been training your little boys from the time they are born. As soon as they can talk, as soon as they begin to understand, you begin to tell them about a mission for themselves.
When they are eight years old, you bishops and branch Presidents always call them in to interview them for baptism. You might say, "Well, why would we interview them? We know they are not wicked boys." Of course they're not. But this is the chance to teach them what they are going to do. They're going to be righteous and clean living and clean thinking. That's at eight years of age when they are baptized and confirmed. And by the way, don't let weeks or months pass. You must have in every ward and branch a list of all your children, all your boys. One of your counselors maybe could watch that list. And he says, "Bishop, next week Johnny will be eight years old." So then he gets an interview as do all the others. (Spencer W. Kimball, Sao Paulo Brazil Area Conference, 1 March 1975).
As a bishop or branch president, through motivating interviews you can bless the life of every young man in your ward as well as appropriate couples by encouraging them to prepare for full-time missions. Not only will you bless those potential missionaries but you may answer the prayers of parents who have a maturing son not yet committed to a mission despite their efforts to encourage that desire. For example, from childhood through maturing years, our daughter Mary Lee heard her parents speak of our treasured missionary experiences. We had explained how challenging missionary opportunities had enriched our lives and laid the foundation for all that we treasure in life. Yet we taught that it was her decision whether she would serve or not.
Through her growing years, it was clear that she intended to be a missionary. However, as missionary age approached, her exciting experiences in the university began to present attractive alternatives. Once when she mentioned wrestling with that uncertainty, she was counseled to talk to her bishop. An appointment was arranged. As she sat down before a choice bishop, she asked, “What do you think of my serving a full-time mission?” The bishop jumped from his chair, clapped his hands on the desk, and said, “That is the greatest thing I could imagine for you.” That comment tipped the scales.
Mary Lee served a most effective mission in Spain that unveiled hidden capacities, matured her spiritual development, and caused to flower capabilities that have blessed her as a wife and mother. The bishop that had such a profound influence in my daughter’s life is J. Willard Marriott Jr., currently an Area Seventy. But we remember him most for what he did for our daughter Mary Lee. Now in her own family with the strong examples of a returned missionary father and mother, a son and a daughter have fulfilled exemplary missions. The remaining son will clearly be a missionary, and the last daughter will in time make the proper choice. Another grandchild, following in the footsteps of his father, was recently called to serve in the Mexico Cuernavaca Mission.
Bishops and branch presidents, you can have that powerful impact in the lives of the missionaries you encourage and prepare as well as in lives of their posterity. Use your Aaronic Priesthood quorum leaders and the advisers, as well as the high priests, elders, and women leaders to help you prepare to call as many worthy missionaries as you can. From the use of the new missionary resources, many more missionaries you recommend arrive in the field better prepared and highly motivated to serve. While most potential candidates can with little effort be ready, a few need substantial adjustments in their life to qualify. With the support of parents, help them meet the standards.
Pray about which couples can be encouraged to submit papers for a call to full-time missionary service. There is an urgent need for them. (Richard G. Scott, “Now Is the Time to Serve a Mission!” Ensign, [May 2006]: 87).
I feel a deep urgency to touch the heart of every boy in the Church that each one might have a DESIRE to live worthy to hold the Melchizedek Priesthood and serve a mission. You young men must live worthy to become elders so you can carry the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation, kindred, tongue and people as the Lord has commanded us to do. (M. Russell Ballard, "Prepare To Serve," Ensign, [May 1985]: 41).
President Hinckley extends the call for missions of 40 hours or more a week at home or elsewhere in the world. If you are a physically able, emotionally stable young man, pray about the opportunity and responsibility you have to the Lord to prepare yourself to be a full-time missionary. That includes understanding the scriptures, being obedient, keeping yourself clean, pure, and worthy to be endowed in the temple. When of age, accept a call by the President of the Church to serve for two years as an emissary of the Lord. I encourage you with every capacity that I have to pray about a full-time mission for the fulfillment it will bring to your life as you bless others to find the truth and receive the ordinances of salvation. Everything that I cherish in life today began to mature from my sacred experience as a full-time missionary. (Richard G. Scott, “Why Every Member a Missionary?” Ensign, [November 1997]: 35).
We do not wish a man to enter on a mission, unless his soul is in it. (Brigham Young, (Brigham Young, Discourses of Brigham Young. sel. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 322).
Think of the help we have been given to take the light of the gospel to a darkened world. We have approximately 55,000 missionaries—-obviously far more than in any other age in the history of the world since time began. And that number is repeated every two years by those going out to replace their predecessors! But we need even more. (Jeffrey R. Holland, “Terror, Triumph, and a Wedding Feast,” Young Adults CES Fireside, 12 September 2004).
I am very sorry to report that we have cases where people, both men and women, have lied to go to the temple and to go on missions. The Lord has said that no unclean thing shall enter the temple of God. (See e.g., D&C 97;15.) When one is being interviewed for a temple recommend or for a mission, he should realize that the bishop and stake president are representing the Lord and that their answers are to the Lord and their commitments to the Lord. The Lord knows and will not be mocked.
We have cases where people have gone to the temple unworthily and have has a guilty conscience for years, wondering whether the ordinance will be binding or effective, and they have come to the President of the Church heartbroken to ask forgiveness and to get the matter cleared up. Let us be honest, true, chaste, benevolent, and virtuous. (See Thirteenth Article of Faith). (N. Eldon Tanner, CR A'76, Ensign, [May 1976]: 44).
Each of you young men should be preparing for missionary service. Make yourselves worthy to receive a mission call by learning and living the principles of the gospel, especially by living clean, pure lives. Those who bear the priesthood must never defile it or bring shame to the Lord's church. Prepare also by studying the divine principles of the gospel so you can teach them to those who are awaiting the truth. Lastly, prepare yourselves financially. The world needs the gospel message; you need to help declare it. (Joseph B. Wirthlin, CR O'88, Ensign, [November 1988): 35).
I recall [a] missionary who said, "Two weeks before I was to see my bishop and tell him I was ready to go in the mission field, I had some doubts. I had some questions about the future and even about the Church. I walked into the living room and interrupted my father, who was watching television and said, 'Dad, I'm not so sure about Joseph Smith, I'm not so sure I know the Church is true. I'm not so sure I want to go out and represent it. I have a lot of questions and I have a lot of misgivings.' When I said that, my father walked over and turned off the television, took the cigarette he had in his hand and smashed it in the ashtray, took the can of beer in his other hand and put it down on the table, and said, 'Son, I want you to know that the Church of Jesus Christ is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet. I want you to hear me say it because I know that better than anything else in this world.'" This young man then said, "I want my father to know that I appreciate him. He has some habits that he's not proud of. He has some habits that I'm not proud of. But he is my father and has a testimony, and I love him."
That kind of appreciation, that kind of maturity, will not only help a missionary to grow and develop, but will also be a great anchor in life's paths. ( Marvin J. Ashton, What Is Your Destination?, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book , 1978, pp. 100-101).
The making of a man out of a boy--you have all seen missionaries come and go, thousands, tens of thousands of them. Missionary work does this, if they will yield. How often have you said goodbye to a 19-year-old boy going into the mission field and two years later met a man returning, who stood tall and strong and high and purposeful.
The leader of a big concern in this country answered the question propounded to him: "How do you make a man of a boy?" The question was termed slightly differently:
"What is it that makes a man a real man?"
I liked his answer: "There are many things, but perhaps the inner voice he listened to as a young boy was most important of all. That voice we call conscience, and it directs one's thoughts. What one thinks may find expression in actions. Since repeated actions form habits, the thoughts you are thinking and the things you are doing at this moment tend to reveal the kind of a man you will be.
"Were I asked what a boy needs to do today in order to be a man worthy of the name tomorrow, I would say: Never lie and never cheat. A liar is a weakling. A cheat is both a weakling and a thief. In finding the courage to honor truth in all things, you are on the way to self mastery.
"Work hard. Your mind is a storehouse and you stock the shelves. Stock them with quality goods. Remember that the habits of work and study you form today are the ones you will live with tomorrow.
"Have fun. Play active games which require stamina and sportsmanship. Abide by the rules yourself. Demand that others do likewise.
"Honor your Creator. God is the source of all good. The ideals on which the nation is founded stem from him who is the author of Liberty. You can express appreciation for your priceless heritage best by living according to the code of 'Duty, Honor, Country, and God.'
"If you do these, and in all things do your best, the mind and heart and soul you develop will one day be those of a real man." (J. Edgar Hoover, source unknown).
It is the stance that counts. When one wants to be tall, he starts by stretching himself heavenward. If he wants to be noble, he puts on his noble garments. If he wants to fly, he must get wings. If one wants to be righteous, he needs to put on the cloak of righteousness. (Spencer W. Kimball, CR A'75, Ensign, [May 1975]: 80).
Missionary work is difficult. It taxes one’s energies, it strains one’s capacity, it demands one’s best effort—frequently a second effort. No other labor requires longer hours or greater devotion or such sacrifice and fervent prayer. (Thomas S. Monson, “That All May Hear,” New Era, [May 1996]: 4).
A two-year mission today requires good physical health. It requires that you keep your body clean. In your early teenage years, when temptations come to you to take things into your body which are unsuitable, have the courage to resist. Live the Word of Wisdom--no smoking, no drinking of any alcoholic beverages, and no drugs.
Keep your body pure--a pure vessel for the Lord.
Stay morally clean. This means that you keep a clean mind. Your thoughts will determine your actions, and so they must be controlled. It is difficult to control those thoughts if you submit yourself to temptation. So you will have to carefully select your reading material, the movies you see, and the other forms of entertainment in order to have good thoughts rather than unwholesome desires. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'85, Ensign, 15 [May 1985]: 36).
At the dinner table today friends commented upon the number of our missionaries in different parts of the world. What a culture they bring into our community! One guest had two sons in Germany. He mentioned another in France, and another in one of the missions in the United States. Another guest mentioned two in Norway, one in
France, one in Argentina, and so they are in different parts of the world.
What a wonderful thing it is, but brethren, missionaries are called not for individual blessings. They are called to preach the gospel, to represent the Church. The blessings come inevitably as they do their duty, and it is most unfortunate if a young man leaves your ward to represent the Church who does so unworthily. It injures him, breaks his parents' hearts, reflects upon the ward, and it might blight some souls who otherwise would come into the Church. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1948, p.175).
To you young men who look forward to going on missions, please do not cloud your lives with anything that would cast a doubt upon your worthiness to go forth as servants of the living God.
You who are missionaries must not; you cannot under any circumstances compromise the divine power which you carry within you as ordained ministers of the gospel. By way of warning and forewarning, the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have set forth the following statement directed to you:
“As missionaries, you are expected to maintain the highest standards of conduct, including strict observance of the law of chastity. . . .
“You should never be alone with anyone else, male or female, adult or child [other than your assigned companion].
“Even false accusations against an innocent missionary can take many months to investigate and may result in disruption or termination of missionary service. Protect yourselves from such accusations by never being separated from your companion, even in the homes you visit” (First Presidency statement on missionary conduct, Mar. 22, 2002).
You need not worry about these things if you will at all times observe the rules of missionary service. If you do so, you will have a wonderful experience, and you will return in honor to those you love without taint or suspicion or regret. (Gordon B. Hinckley, Conference Report, 6 April 2002).
The world has difficulty in believing that young men in our Church grow to manhood as chaste and pure as virgins. I have had them say they did not believe it; they did not believe that any young man could do that. But I tell you such is the fact, and that it is the standard of the Church for young men as well as for young women, to keep themselves unspotted from the world. In the Church there is but the single standard of morality and that applies to young men as well as to young women. See to it that prospective missionaries realize what this means, no matter what false teaching they have had in psychology or in other classes about “inhibitions,” and so on. The standard of the Church is right; it is divine; it contributes to manhood and virtuous womanhood, happy homes, perpetuity of the nation.
Are you satisfied through investigation that he or she conforms to the Church in the observance of the Word of Wisdom? And note this, in integrity. Is there anybody in the ward who will say: ”Well, he has cheated me. He is not worthy. If this is the kind of men they have sent out, well then, I am done with the Church.”
These pointed questions are put in the recommend purposely, and they mean something, because those who go out to represent the Church are chosen. They are set apart. They are leaders. They are teachers. They are ambassadors of truth. Please, when you bring these young men and young women to the members of the Council of Twelve and place in the hands of the Council of Twelve this written recommendation with your signature, be sure that you have made a thorough investigation, because it is embarrassing, very embarrassing, to the young man to be rejected as a representative. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, October 1948, pp. 175-176.
Interviews for advancement in the priesthood or for a mission should be most searching so that you will know if he is guilty of any transgression. Begin by asking what he thinks the Lord would expect from one being advanced or called on a mission. This causes him to think as he gives his answers. Then you will be in a position to ask him if he measures up in every way and if he thinks the Lord would be pleased to have him as his representative.
It is not fair to send a young man into the mission field that is not worthy. He cannot get the spirit of his calling; he is a burden to his mission president and a deterrent to the progress of his companions and the missionary work. What a heartrending experience it is for the mission president to have to send a transgressor home, and think what such an experience will do to the young man.
This happens all too often, and we must get to the bottom of their problems before their advancement in the priesthood or mission calls, and let them know that we love them and want to help them in every way. (N. Eldon Tanner, Sao Paulo Area Conference, 2 March 1975, p. 48).
You brethren are responsible for this! You can bypass it is you want because you have your free agency. The Lord said, before the world was formed, "I decided to give every man his free agency. He can do as he pleases." But you know as well as I that you don't evade the responsibility. You may commit murder, you may commit adultery, or you may drink, or you may do anything you want to, but you can't avoid the responsibility and the penalties that come as a result of it. These things we must keep in mind.
Now, my brethren, that is how you get your boys on missions. You start before they are deacons, and you continue on until they are nineteen years of age and have received their calls. That is how you get your boys and girls to go to the temple. You put a picture, perhaps, of the London Temple in the bedroom of your boys and girls, and then you call it to their attention frequently. "See that temple, isn't it beautiful? Inside the temple are numerous great blessings for you."
Brethren, you can't just sit and let things slide. You must take your responsibilities seriously. You must teach your boys and girls on Monday nights; it is a good time to do it. There should never be anything that is vulgar or immoral in your lives. There should never be any petting for the girls and boys, and parents don't let them date early in their lives. They need to have a little more maturity, so that they will be solid and firm.
Recently, when we had some outbreaks of immorality in the United States, the Church sent forth a statement to all the world reaffirming our standards that we keep clean in this Church. We are moral and worthy, and we have a good family life, and men really love their wives, and the wives really love their husbands.
Brethren, this is the gospel of Christ. We must go to work at it now, and not merely play at it. We actually work at it to be sure that all these lessons are properly learned by our children; for, after all, that is the responsibility of parenthood. (Spencer W. Kimball, Glasgow Scotland Area Conference, 21 June 1976).
You must live an exemplary life. Maintain the standards of the Church fully. Adhere to the counsel and the standards that have been set up for missionary service. Be true to every requirement and every regulation. They are all given for your benefit and blessing--not to bear you down, not to limit your freedom, but to make you more effective as missionaries. The eyes of the world are upon you. As you travel among the people, you may think that nobody knows you, but there is always someone watching you. Of course our Heavenly Father always has His eyes on us, but it is surprising how many people outside the Church know who you are and what you are doing and what the requirements are for missionary service. (Ezra Taft Benson, God, Family, Country, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1974, p. 62).
Every boy should go on a mission, and many girls and many couples. But they cannot go if they are not worthy. They must live the commandments and keep their lives clean and virtuous. The Lord had provided that forgiveness can be had if there is total repentance. He said that all manner of sins could be forgiven unto man, except murder and denying the Holy Ghost. But we must remember this, that repentance is not easy, and one can't be forgiven merely because he wishes he could be. There must be a total transformation of life, a change in one's life, if he is to be forgiven, and then the Lord will forgive and missions can be fulfilled. But we want good, wholesome, clean missionaries. (Spencer W. Kimball, La Paz Bolivia Area Conference, 3 March 1977, p. 23).
A vital ingredient in preparation for your mission is to always live a clean life. We want morally clean young men in the mission field. We want you to live the clean life all of your life. We want the morally clean life to be your way of life. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'86, Ensign, 16 [May 1986]: 44).
Every normal boy in Zion and in the Church should fulfill a mission. There isn't anything else more important than taking the gospel to the world. If the boys are not worthy, they should be taught to be worthy and cleansed, of course.
If all the homes in the Church were such as have been described, when mothers come home and serve and teach their children, when fathers give proper example, the world would be a utopia. Begin to teach them in infancy so that all boys are worthy, and outside of those few who are abnormal most Latter-day Saint boys should fill missions. (Spencer W. Kimball, Manchester England Area Conference, 27 August 1971, pp. 22-23).
I’ve said to missionaries many times, in a rather joking way, as I have met with them, “Are you the kind of missionary your mother thinks you are? Are you the kind of son or daughter your mother thinks you are?” You know, if we would be the kind of boys and girls, sons and daughters, our mothers think we are, we’d all be pretty good. (Gordon B. Hinckley, One Bright Shining Hope, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 2006, p. 84).
In greatly increasing our missionary force, there are two things that we must always remember. A missionary must be worthy to represent his Lord and Master, and he must be indoctrinated and inspired to teach the gospel to many people the right way, but never baptize people for records' sake or to glory in numbers. (Spencer W. Kimball, Mission Presidents’ Seminar, 25 June 1976, p. 10).
Satan is continually at work, and in his cunning way tempts us through our appetites and passions and friends to do those things which are not right and proper for us to do. Too often, not only our youth, but some of the brethren in high places succumb to temptation. We must be on the job all the time guarding against evil. We must never relax or forget who we are and what we are trying to accomplish.
Not long ago I had the very sad experience of talking to a missionary who, before he was called into the mission field, was guilty of immorality. He did not tell his bishop or his stake president. In fact, he lied about it, and went into the mission field guilty of transgression and guilty of lying. He was not able to get the Spirit of the Lord. Finally he came to his mission president and admitted his wrong. He was very repentant and prayed to the Lord to forgive him.
As he talked to me he said, "I am prepared to be excommunicated or anything else. I just want to get back in good fellowship with the Lord and be forgiven by him.
We cannot afford to waver in any way. We should always keep in mind that we are trying to prepare for missions, temple marriages, and activity in the Church and to be examples for good so that others will be influenced by the way we live.
So many people say, "One cigarette, one cup of tea or coffee, one puff of marijuana won't hurt you, and one drink of alcohol surely cannot hurt anybody."
I want to emphasize that if you never take the first you will never take the second. You will never become an alcoholic or an addict.
The Lord is interested in every boy wherever he is and in whatever he is doing. We have all been foreordained for some office or some calling or some position and responsibility.
President Kimball, when he was a boy, had no idea that he would ever be an Apostle. In fact, he said that when he was called as an Apostle he wept and prayed and wept and prayed that he might be worthy.
I don't want to embarrass President Kimball, but I don't know of a better example any place in the world where a young man through discipline and self mastery prepared himself so well for the position which the Lord had in mind for him. Now, as the prophet of God, he has asked all of our young men to prepare themselves for missions by studying, and keeping themselves clean, and pure, and worthy, and by saving money for their missions.
I want to tell all of you young me that if you will do what the president of the Church asks you to do, you will be happy and more successful, and you will accomplish much good and be ready for any call that might come to you from the Lord by those who are in authority.
While I was at the area conference in Buenos Aires I met a young man who is the head of the Gillette Razor Company for the whole of South America. He set out as a boy to live the way the Lord wanted him to live, to magnify any office he held in the priesthood. He went from Argentina to BYU, where he became student body president. From there he went to work for the Gillette Company in the United States and has just been called to be the head of his company in the whole of South America. He translated for President Kimball in all of his talks while in the area conference.
He said to me how honored he was to be able to translate for a prophet. He told me what the gospel meant in his life and how it had prepared him for the work he is now doing.
The Lord is always looking for men in whom he can place his full confidence, who can represent him in the mission field, and men who can be trusted in every way and who are prepared to help build his kingdom.
He said, "this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." (Moses 1:39). He is asking us as priesthood holders if we will come and help him spread the gospel and live, and help others to live, so as to enjoy immortality and eternal life. (N. Eldon Tanner, CR A'75, Ensign, [May 1975]: 77).
Now I want to talk to that young man who has already stumbled, who has already made the type of mistake that can disqualify one from serving a mission. I challenge you, I especially challenge you, to prepare for your mission. Pick yourself up and dust yourself off. It will be harder than you know. But it will be possible. Where is your young manhood? Use the cleansing power of your priesthood. Go to your bishop. It is your duty to go--your duty! He will help you erase a sad episode from your life. We need you! We have the world to teach and warn. We have the world to convert. The Lord really needs you. (Boyd K. Packer, "Come All Ye Sons of God," Ensign, [August 1983]: 71).
We expect every Latter-day Saint boy to fill a mission. Now, can you see how important it is that every boy keep his life clean? He will never go around in the dark with his friends and do things that are wrong because he wants to fill a mission and carry on with the Lord's work on the earth. We are a little afraid that there might be a few who are not worthy to go on missions, and that would make us very sad indeed. But do you know that the Lord has promised that if we have done wrong, we can repent? We can change our lives. We can clean them up. We can take a different path in life; so even if a boy has done something wrong, he may still be able to put his life in order. And we hope that he will not wait any longer than just today to repent of any sins he might have. We want every boy to go on a mission if he is worthy; but if he is not worthy, he will have to wait because we want a clean, virtuous population.
Now that is not easy. It is hard to live the commandments. When the Lord said, "the strait and narrow way" he spelled the word strait S-T-R-A-I-T in English. What is it in Spanish? That is a different kind of strait than a straight line. A straight line is spelled S-T-R-A-I-G-H-T. Now S-T-R-A-I-T means something different, it means it is hard, it is difficult, it is very onerous to live a strait life, because one has to be strong and able to resist temptations. (Spencer W. Kimball, Monterrey Mexico Area Conference, 20 February 1977, p. 29).
I wish to say to you boys, you should prepare for that great responsibility. Coach [Lavell] Edwards talked to you about the importance of preparation. The Lord said, "If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear." (D&C 38:30). This is the day of preparation for you boys, whether you are twelve or fourteen or sixteen or eighteen, Watch yourselves. Never use language when you are with your friends that would be incompatible with the calling that will come to you, if you are worthy of it, to go into the world to represent this church and to serve as an ambassador of the Lord. God bless you to this end. (Gordon B. Hinckley, CR O'84, Ensign, [November 1984]: 48).
Every elder therefore who goes abroad to preach this gospel must first live the gospel to the best of his ability, and have a conviction in his heart that he is preaching the truth. True, at first this testimony may be somewhat indefinite; but all our children have it to some extent....Through study, service, humility and prayer, this testimony will increase.
Another qualification is this: Every elder should be a Christian gentleman always. A gentleman—-who is he? “Whoever is open”—-nothing to hide, no downcast look because of the consciousness of guilt; “whoever is loyal”—-loyal to the truth, to virtue, to the Word of Wisdom—-“true, of humane and affable demeanor, honorable himself and in his judgment of others, faithful to his word as to law, and faithful alike to God and to man—such a man is a true gentleman,” and such a man the elder of this Church should be who goes out to Christianize the world. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1927, 106).
Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned his Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life. (Ezra Taft Benson, CR A'86, Ensign, 16 [May 1986]: 45).
From now on, from this very moment, you are trusted representatives of your ward, of your parents, and of the Lord Jesus Christ. (David O. McKay, Conference Report, April 1950, p. 178).