Nothing distracts more from missionary service than indulging an addiction. From pornography, overeating or over-shopping to drugs, gambling and gaming, each of us has a potential weakness that could spiral into an addiction. Service to others is a perfect antidote, but overcoming the addiction must happen before we don a black name tag, not after. A full-time mission should not be considered a rehab of abstinence, but instead a manifestation of prior success in overcoming the “natural man” and learning to “yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit” instead. (Mosiah 3:19)
My conscientious crowd of high school seniors is still trying to conceptualize how to earn enough money this summer to pay for a stint at college and then two years away. We talked about the importance of personally preparing financially to serve but also realizing that an elder wearing a $500 suit next to an elder with a clean, thrift-store ensemble stand equally as ambassadors of the Lord. Benjamin recorded the names of all those who would “take on the name of Christ” and promised they would be “blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual” if they were faithful. (Mosiah 2:41)
• Compromising education, career goals
It is admittedly hard for 19-year-olds to spend at least two years working toward their future only to then take a two-year hiatus. A full-time mission shouldn’t be seen as a side road to future success but as an intense enhancement of their skills and abilities to succeed in the real world of business, family, education, leadership and career.
• Lack of family support
I was somewhat surprised when the boys in my class suggested that lack of family support would be a great hindrance to service. Since all have parents who would shed a tear but then jubilantly back-flip out of the MTC driveway if given the opportunity to send a child on a two-year mission, I think it was their way of admitting how significantly family support bolsters a desire to serve.
• Social phobias
While some teens suffer serious cases of anxiety, mere social phobias about doing what’s right have been mostly conquered by my group of 18-year-old students. When I proposed the idea that social fears might keep someone from serving a mission, an understated solution by a wise student immediately became our class goal for the week: “Just get over yourself.”
Share your additional solutions to worries of those contemplating full-time missionary service.
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