Perhaps nothing in recent history has shaken up the Church more than the recent announcement that the minimum required age for missionary service has been lowered to eighteen for young men and nineteen for young women. Applications for new missionaries have gone up over 470% since that announcement was made. More than fifty new missions have been created. We’re seeing more young women going out into the field than ever before. Analysts predict that we’ll continue to see these high numbers of applications for about three more years before everything smooths out to the new normal. It’s an exciting time—our youth are fueled and excited to spread the gospel.
It’s with this in mind that author Benjamin Hyrum White wrote his new book, “10 Questions to Answer While Preparing for a Mission.” It’s all very well and good to have a desire to serve, but if you’re not ready, your desire alone won’t get you out the door.
The questions posed by the author aren’t earth-shattering, and in fact, they might equate with the typical Sunday-School answers we jokingly list: “Pray. Read your scriptures. Go to church.” The fact is, we all know the questions and we all know the answers. But for a new missionary preparing to enter the field, these basic principles of the gospel, and faith in them, will make all the difference.
So what are these questions? I shall give you a sneak peek, along with my interpretation of them.
Question #1. Do I have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ? This is the first question in the book because it’s the most important. If a new missionary does not have this testimony, he or she should not contemplate serving a mission. It’s impossible to teach others how to believe something you don’t believe yourself. You can obtain this testimony, however—you can get it for yourself.
Question #2: Do I have an “eye single to the glory of God?” What is your purpose for wanting to serve, and is it to build the kingdom in our Heavenly Father’s name?
Question #3: Am I ready to work hard for over sixty hours a week? The life of a missionary is not easy. It’s not a vacation to an exotic place for two years. You must prepare yourself to put in the time and the sweat.
Question #4. Do I understand how to feel and recognize the Spirit? The Holy Ghost is the single greatest missionary tool there is, and missionaries need to know how to access and use that tool if they are to have any success while in the field.
Question #5. Am I clean and worthy to represent the Lord? Worthiness is crucial to being a missionary. You must be able to keep the Holy Ghost with you at all times, you must set a good example for those you are teaching, and you can’t be burdened by the memory of past sins and mistakes.
Question #6. Am I prepared to enter the temple? Receiving your own endowment is one of the major hallmarks of becoming a missionary. You will be making covenants with the Lord, and that is a responsibility you can’t take lightly. You should know within yourself if you are ready for this step in your further progression.
Question #7. Am I ready to face the opposition? If there’s one thing the opposition hates, it’s a missionary, whether they be called to serve full-time and have a black badge or if they are striving to do good in their homes or communities. Anyone who serves on the Lord’s team is bound to get slammed by the attacks of the adversary. Are you prepared to learn to recognize those attacks and to know how to fight them?
Question #8. Do I know what success really means? How will you measure the time you’ve spent in the field, and how will you know if you’ve done what you set out to do?
Question #9. Do I have a plan for when I come home? We’ve all seen them—missionaries who struggle to adjust to life after the mission. They might even seem a little shell-shocked. This book addresses this issue and encourages missionaries to decide what they want to do when they get home so they don’t bump around aimlessly trying to figure it out.
Question #10. Am I truly ready to serve the Lord? Going into the Lord’s service for two whole years (or eighteen months) is a sacrifice, not only for the missionary but his or her parents. It’s not an easy decision to make or task to fulfill. This question is one every prospective missionary should ask themselves—is serving a mission about their desire to further the work of the Lord on the earth, or are they doing it because all their friends are?
This volume is short, and in fact, I read it in one sitting. I plan to go back and read it again with a highlighter in my hand, though. I’m not preparing to serve a mission right now, although my husband and I would like to serve later as a senior couple, but as members of the Church, we should all be reading over these questions and making sure that our hearts and minds are in the right place as we move forward in the missions we call our lives.