One lesson I see from this: if you are deciding whether to serve a mission at 18
or 19, you've already made your decision. Maybe the right course at that
point is not to go because the time for preparation is gone. However the
examples here to follow are Tyler and Taysom, sadly not Jimmer. Sure Jimmer can
still be a great ambassador for the church. That doesn't make him the best
example for a young man to follow. The Prophet has stated EVERY worthy young
man should go. All leave opportunities behind. There isn't an exemption
for the might become famous. The decision to follow the prophet and preparation
to serve come early in life.
For every young man this is an incredibly important, and incredibly personal
decision. As a new convert to the church, a week before I entered West Point in
the 70s, when asked by a friend a year later when I was going to head out on a
mission, I thought she was crazy. At that time, no one had ever resigned the
academy to serve and then return to graduate. It occurred to me though that
President Kimball's call for all young men to serve did not state,
"Except West Point Cadets." I prayed dilig3ently, got my answer, served
(aided by fantastic friends), returned to graduate and then had 30 great years
as an Army officer. Hundreds of others have followed that path in the ensuing
years.That path, however, "may" not be for everyone.
EVERYONE should pray about that decision for themselves (the earlier the
better), and then be willing to follow the Lord's admonition for them.
Everything else falls into place when you have that mindset (and willingness to
subordinate "self-desire", either wat), you will have comfort in the
decision, and a strong conviction to proceed ... athletics or otherwise
I completely disagree with the notion that serving a mission has more
consequences for an athlete than for a typical young person. They all give up
things they love, work, money, hobbies, friends, loved ones and even
scholarships (which surprisingly are even offered for non-athletic reasons).
These athletes' talents, dreams, abilities, etc are no more important than
those of anyone else. If anything their scholarships are more protected than
other scholarships. I lost my full tuition scholarship when I went and never
got it back, but the value I gained in my life in return was well worth the
I am not a former BYU athlete. But I was a college student with a scholarship
to help pay my way. As a young man I foolishly determined not to serve. As
years passed I came to understand I had made a dreadful mistake. Twenty years
ago I was called to preside over a mission in the Philippines. It was a
marvelous experience. However, I realized toward the end of the three years
that I had passed the opportunity to serve as a young man. It was an
irretrievable loss. My experiences were different than the young elders and
sisters. Sobered, I recognized that world's without end I could never
serve as a young man. By my own decision, I came to realize that I had foregone
one of life's greatest opportunities. My suggestion is go and serve.
Clearly, you will not know what you have missed if you do not go, but I can
assure you that you will have missed something wonderful that other
opportunities cannot completely replace.
I have no knock on missionary service, but off the top of my head, I can't
think of a single returned missionary who has gone on to the top tier of any
professional sport. This brings up to the question, where can a young man do
the most good? And then the question is, are the interests of the young man
best served, or are the interests of the church as an institution best served?
I completely disagree that someone like Jimmer is not a good example because he
didn't serve a mission. By the way, anyone who suggests that a
mission doesn't lead to a deterioration of athletic skills (physical and
mental) is dead wrong. If an athlete chooses a mission, he should be aware that
his chosen path will preclude him from reaching the pinnacle of athletic
success. That decision is fine to make. We all have to make choices in life
and choose our own priorities. Just make the decision with knowledge of the
Intereting "...had the opportunity to speak with several general
authorities who have assured me that I have a different path on spreading the
gospel without being a full-time missionary, which I try to do as much as I
can.”My son choose to leave on a mission much after his 19th
birthday, and it was the best thing for him. We have seen far too many
missionaries out here where they were obviously not ready to be out here, but
came because of other reasons. I really wish people understood not everybody is
the same, not everyone has the same calling in life, and we each have our own
paths to follow.This idea that there is only one way, one path, one
role we play....
The decision to serve is always a personal decision. As far as whether
one's athletic skills deteriorating, I can only speak from my son's
experience. He competes in swimming which requires a high degree of physical
skill and stamina. As a Freshman he qualified for the NCAA Championships and
competed there in 2011. I suggested he postpone his mission one year to compete
in the Olympic trials. Instead, he left on his mission two months after NCAAs.
Served in El Salvador in difficult conditions. Returned last year in May and
got married in July. Didn't start training again until late August, early
September. Tore his hamstring in October. Really struggled getting back into
shape but by conference championships he beat all of his old times, broke
conference and team records but missed the NCAA Championships by 1/100 of a
second, this year being the fastest year ever in NCAA swimming. He has never
expressed any regret for serving a mission and cried when he returned and had to
take off his badge.He is now back to his prior shape. I expect he
will qualify for NCAAs next year and will compete in the Olympic Trials in 2016.
Esquire"I can't think of a single returned missionary who
has gone on to the top tier of any professional sport...If an athlete chooses a
mission, he should be aware that his chosen path will preclude him from reaching
the pinnacle of athletic success."So you don't think that
athletes who serve missions are capable of reaching the pinnacle of athletic
success? I think they COULD. I just think a mission puts life into perspective
and suddenly, playing games doesn't seem as important, and they choose a
different path. Not that they couldn't, they probably see the environment
of professional sports and are repulsed by it, as are most people.
Excellent comment, Swim Fan. Thank you.
In about 1985, Sports Illustrated did an article on three BYU football players
who were on missions. These were young men destined to become stars. SI was
given unprecedented access to the Elders while they were serving. None of the 3
ever "recovered" from the time lost on the mission. I do feel it is
true that missionary service causes some loss of skills. We have see it take a
season to recover and some are never the same. Life is more than sports and
other skills developed on the mission along with the service to others no doubt
make up for skills lost.
My observations. First, the decision to serve a mission has to come long before
you turn 18 or 19. Like Tyler Haws said, his decision was made in Primary to
when it came time he didn't have to hem and haw about it. Former Ute and
professional basketball player Alex Jensen said the same thing at a fireside I
attended. The Church is putting a lot of emphasis on young men preparing from
their youth and making the decision long before they are 18. Then no matter
what is happening in their lives, it make it so much easier to just do it.
Second, both of the athletes quoted who didn't go placed far to much
emphasis on themselves and what was right for them personally. To me that
indicates a lack of preparation from their youth and a selfishness that prevents
them from being willing to make the sacrifices that a mission requires. The key
to me is being willing to submit to the Lord's will and what He wants us to
accomplish. Through His Prophets He has told us EVERY young man should prepare
and go on a mission.
Serving a mission is an individual choice. A person should only go of their own
free will and not from pressure or scorn from others. There are too many dead
beat 'RMs' in the Church today who went on a mission to meet
girlfriends' mandates or to get cars from mommy and daddy upon return or
just to get people off their backs. If a person chooses not to serve, they
shouldn't be subject to self-righteous scorn. Some of the most righteous
and spiritual people I know didn't serve a mission.
Sanders said "I don’t want people to judge me because of something I
did for myself.”I don't think that people will judge in a
biblical way as far as condemning you or saying you are a bad person. However, I
believe that people will be believe that you lost an invaluable opportunity. O
that you may lack insight, maturity or are unwilling to think about others. Young Women may discriminate against you realizing that they want a
companion that has the qualities of maturity, selflessness, and internal
fortitude to do hard things. The exact things the missionary service develops.
When a qualified young man doesn't serve it doesn't mean
that they are a bad person, it just that they don't understand what they
are giving up.
It comes down to priorities. The athletes who don't serve consider their
potential careers as a higher priority than serving a mission. All who
actively serve in the church (or any church or community for that matter) make
sacrifices all the time that may slow or even stop the progression of their
career, but we serve anyway because we believe it is more important than our
careers. They can say that they have had "missionary
opportunities" because of their sport. I have those same missionary
opportunities where I work and in my neighborhood. Those of who have served know
that this is no substitute for the experiences of a real 24/7, full immersion,
"eye single to the glory of God" mission. Those who didn't serve
just may not fully understand that. But in the end, it is a personal
decision. We continue to love them and support them, but that doesn't mean
we have to give every athlete a pass.
I don't put down anyone who doesn't serve a mission. Not my business.
But... I would ask each faithful LDS young man and young woman athlete
contemplating a mission to remember, a mission is NOT about you, but about them.
At 18 or 19 that is a very difficult thing to remember. And when you have great,
marketable skills, that complicates the matter. Be prayerful and seek qualified
council. Make the decision and live with it. You won't hear me complaining
-- not that that matters one bit. Nor should it. Serving a full-time
mission at 18 or 19 is definitely not for everyone. A number of Elders and
Sisters return early because they were not prepared to work, not prepared to be
rejected, and not prepared in other ways. Some return home because of health
issues. All are still good people and the Church is going to great lengths to
help them.In the end, all of this is about the spiritual better of
people trying to build a better life -- both those wishing to serve a mission,
those who chose not to and for those people who will be touched by both in the
future. God bless.
RockOn,You make some good points. Young men who are not prepared
should not go on missions. Too many end up coming home. That is why the Church
has been for years instructing parents and Church leaders that young men should
be prepared from the time they are young. We started with our kids before they
were 12 and continued until the day they left. They knew the expectation from
that young age. Too often the decision is left until they reach the age of 18.
Sure, things change from age 12 to 18, but what shouldn't change is the
expectation to go on a mission. No matter the sacrifice. Through our Prophets
the Lord has promised they will be blessed for making that sacrifice.Regarding the athletes who served missions and then didn't reach the
highest levels in their sports, maybe they never would have even without
serving. Or maybe they aligned their thinking more with God while serving him
and realized they needed to follow a different path. Aligning oneself with
God's will is the key.
Way too much attention is given to the decisions of others to serve or not serve
missions. People need to choose for themselves without the spectre of public
opinion being reflected at them in an unseemly, pejorative way simply because
they are some temporary, minor public figure. It's between the individual
and their own family, church leadership to determine. The constant rehashing of
this topic does no eventual good and exposes individuals to a judgmental
atmosphere that's basically otherwise unbecoming a member of the church to
engage in anyway. Better to just encourage all to do their best in whatever
their choices are and call the day good. If you're living to the best of
your ability and keeping the commandments, you'll influence others for good
anyway and that is the purest form of sharing the gospel there is, in my
As a RM all I can say to young athletes who choose not to serve a mission is
that its your loss.
Just an opinion.I think the decision is personal as to whether one
serves or not. I cannot say definitively that Jimmer's influence will be
signficant due to his employment with the NBA as I think it will be shortlived.
However, I did see Steve Young influence several 49ers and if I'm not
mistaken at least one decided that the LDS faith was the perfect fit for him. I
think that the saying that every member is a missionary is all that we should
focus on. Our relationship with God is personal and doesn't warrant any
judgment by those who will post or otherwise.Go UTES!!
Sorry for being blunt. But, it seems to me that many of these comments are
simply rationalizing. Allen C Christensen nailed it. No, young men that
don't serve aren't destined to become horrible people. If they
consistently make good choices, they can ably serve in many capacities (even as
mission presidents and general authorities). But, missions, for many young men
change the trajectory of their lives for the better. And thank goodness for
that. Oh, and missions do not perfectly preclude professional sports
opportunities. Chad Lewis and Vai Sikahema are 2 examples. And there are
probably others I cannot think of over the past 40 years since Spencer Kimball
first said every young man should serve a mission.
@ CougarSunDevil, perhaps they COULD, but it is highly unlikely. I agree with
you that "a mission puts life into perspective and suddenly, playing games
doesn't seem as important, and they choose a different path." You are
correct and this is a critical point that makes it highly unlikely that an RM
will succeed at the highest levels of sports. Dissing pro sports is a
self-serving rationalization and doesn't address the issue. I would bet
Steve Young and Danny Ainge have had more positive influence, done more good on
the whole for the Church, than most missionaries. But had they served missions,
it is likely that their physical skills and mental focus would have dissipated.
If that is their choice, fine. But if they want to excel at the highest levels
in sports (and certain other endeavors, to be honest), a mission may not be the
choice to make. They can contribute through whatever choices they make. We
should not be judgmental.
As someone who has been on a mission and who got a lot out of the experience, I
would feel like an absolute tool if I were to insist that someone on the fence
about a mission HAS to go or they will be making a mistake. You don't know
that's the case. You can't know that, no matter how "in-tune"
you feel you are. I realized there are many literalists here who insist on
applying every utterance over the General Conference pulput universally and
uniformly, but you're wrong.That's probably the single
most prevalent attitude that's made me question whether the Church is an
overall positive or negative in my life and my family's life. I'm
still on the "positive" side, but's it's not as cut-and-dried
as I'm sure many of you KNOW it should be. We tell our kids to avoid caving
to peer pressure, and then turn around and apply peer pressure to conform to the
LDS culture's norms. If there's an afterlife, and existence there is
as rigid and planned as many here seem to prefer, count me out.
Wayne Rout,I played with all three of the men you mentioned. (Sean
Covey, Don Busenbark, Scott Peterson) and all three of them completely recovered
from the physical rigors of the mission. They have all three gone on to
successful endeavors in the fields that they studied. All three are great men.
They were all three college level players. Had they stayed home and not served,
they still wouldn't have played in the NFL. There are many RM's who
have success in the NFL. Don't you guys know who Dennis Pitta is? Chad
Lewis? How many more do you want to know? Tony Bergstrom? Paul Kruger? Wow.
You guys have selective memories.
I think exceptional athlete's are a special consideration for missions. If
you are on a trajectory to be a professional athlete, your career will be a
short one that can be significantly affected by a mission. That time off does
not affect anyone else in other professions nearly as much. Exceptional
athletes can lose their edge that is so important in such a competitive
profession. That edge in many cases can be incredibly small, but can make the
difference between a professional and amateur athlete. Once you are off that
trajectory, in many cases it cannot be regained. So it not the same sacrifice
that it is for others. I think Jabari Parker is a prime example.
I agree with Vermonter; there is too much rationalizing on this issue. The Lord
has made His will known through his prophets that EVERY worthy, able (medical
problems do sometimes happen) young man should serve. There are NO exceptions.
What these athletes are saying is basically, "I have a better way than the
Lord's way." That isn't my opinion; it's what the prophets
have taught. Does that mean those that don't go are "bad" people
or that they'll be condemned to the fiery pits? Of course not. But NONE
of them are making the best decision. Yes, it is a personal decision, and the
lowly future accountant has the same personal decision as the potentially future
famous athlete. Do I personally choose to follow the Prophet or not? It really
is that simple.
Interesting comments on this. I'm glad that some here have pointed out RMs
that have had successful pro careers as well as those who are suggesting that
other LDS pro athletes who didn't serve a mission have had a positive
influence on their peers. Really, only the individuals who make
these decisions can say if their chosen path was worth it. None of us can
project that onto anyone else.The only statement from the article
that caused me to pause was Jimmer's (who I think is a stud): “Be
yourself. Don’t change for anyone or anything...”I have a
slightly different opinion: I can think of at least one person for whom we ought
to change. I know my mission changed me in many ways.
So, to sum up this article (and its views on those who chose to serve vs. those
who didn't), I guess we can all cite the scripture:"Judge
not, that ye be not judged." - Matthew 7:1I do not hold it
against LDS athletes (or non-athletes, for that matter) if they chose not to
serve missions, as it is not my place to judge the personal decisions of others.
I do, however, cheer extra hard for those who did serve missions. (Missionary
service earns you bonus fan points from me.)
Coach Biff, you're refuting a point no-one is making. Of course there are
some examples of returned missionaries succeeding in pro sports, and of course
the vast majority of college athletes, RM's or not, aren't good enough
to do so. To those who truly have a shot at it, it's just not possible to
reasonably argue that a mission doesn't hurt their chances. This is
unprovable one way or the other, but that's where common sense comes in.
In football, I'd say it's easier to come back. The hardest
would be baseball, where the precision required to pitch or hit effectively
demands constant development. Go on a mission and then play in the NFL? It can
happen. NBA? Harder, but possible. Baseball? You may as well give it up. How
many solid big leagers went on missions?As for the
appropriately-named robo . . unless Fredette is lying, he's been assured by
church authorities that he made a good decision. Could it be that not everything
is as "simple" as you'd like to believe? You seem a little too
eager to pass your opinion off as "Gods' word."
The decision whether to serve or not serve a mission is the personal decision
for every young woman in the church.The decision for a young man,
every young man, any young man, goes something like this. "The Lord has
issued you a call, through His prophets, to prepare yourself to serve a
full-time mission. It is up to you to determine whether you will heed that call
or not. It is up to me to love you unconditionally, whichever decision you
make."I am capable of admiring, and not judging, LDS athletes
who have become exceptional without having served a mission. But I agree, I
cheer all the louder for the athlete who chose first to answer a Prophet's
call.And I admire most the athletes who have chosen NOT to pursue
excellence if it means competing on Sunday. I cheer for the others, too, but I
choose to wait till Monday to do so.Call it hypocritcal, call it
judgemental, whatever. That's how I see it.
Those who condemn the kids who don't serve missions should consider that
Pres. Monson, Pres. Uchtdorf, Pres. Eyring, Elder Packer, Elder Oakes, Elder
Nelson, and Elder Hales didn't serve missions and they seem to be doing
okay. Everyone has to go through their own conversion process and
sometimes its through a mission and sometimes its in other ways. Obviously
missions are stressed by the Church and there are special blessings associated
with serving in that way. Its kind of a pressure cooker that requires a person
to be more thoughtful about the Gospel.One thing that might be worth
considering is condemning people or speaking harshly about what other people
have or have not done in the Church. In my opinion it manifests an issue with
the judger and why they are doing what they do in the Church. When a person is
truly doing what they should for the right reasons, I believe they will speak
about others in an encouraging, uplifting, and helpful manner.
@sore loser. The General Authorities you cited who did not serve missions all
served in the military. Please do not equate playing games with military
service. Mission service and military service are sacred responsibilities.
re: EsquireFew reached the pinnacle of their sport and DIDN'T serve a
mission, too? Murphy, Ainge, Young, etc. Sid Going reached the pinnacle of his
sport after returning from a mission (to add to Vermonter and others'
comments).Denver sports personality, Jim Armstrong, has vehemently
cried that BYU has unfair competitive advantage. It's ludicrous on several
levels, including that athletic skills do deteriorate while serving a mission.
(BTW did you know other schools can - and do - recruit LDS kids, sometimes
revoking offers when the athlete declares commitment to serve mission?)It
was a privilege to serve a mission and I am grateful to have done so. By some
miracle - or blessing - I was able to regain skills to earn scholarship and be
All-conference/All American.I don't think Brother Sander has a clue
if he somehow thinks that being a "high profile" missionary is in any
way comparable to the rigors and life lessons learned from getting doors slammed
in your face, resolving concerns, seeing baptisms averted, and other difficult
things, but most significantly, seeing lives change, especially your own as
byproduct of your service and sacrifice.
Y Grad/Y Dad,Well said! I don't judge the worthiness of any
young man. That is not my place. I am disappointed that too many young men who
could be powerful tools in God's hands as missionaries have been deceived
by the world and it's riches. "Seek ye first the Kingdom of
I didn't go on a mission, but I still attend church. It's a great
place to kill three hours!
@EdGradyYou nailed it!
It all boils down to one simple gospel principle, one we all enjoy; agency.
To each his own. I am grateful that each of these young men prayfully
considered their decision and believe continuing that pattern of seeking the
Lord's will throughout their life will put them in good stead.The Lord will judge each of these young men, as well as each of us, by the
content of our heart. I will happily leave that to Him and for my part wish
each of this young men Godspeed.That said, I've always been
puzzled by the characterization of a mission as a sacrifice. I've always
thought it was a privilege, not a sacrifice. Isn't a sacrifice forsaking
something of greater worth for something of lesser worth. Doesn't seem an
apt description of missionary service (or any other service for that matter).
I would say that most college athletes who serve missions will pay a price
athletically. Even if they get it back with hard work when they get home, they
still lose that 2 years of potential earnings. The few that could or do get to
the professional level will forfeit millions (and that is also alot of tithing
money and notoriety in order to serve a mission. Steve Young, Danny Ainge,
Jabari Parker, Gifford Nelson and many others (Donny Osmond) would have all
paid a huge price financially and maybe even not have even had the fame, money
and high profile careers, or developed in the leaders they are had they left for
missions. I used to think people like that all should serve because of Spencer
Kimballs quote but my opinion has softened over the years. These guys have done
more for the church PR wise than tens of thousands of missionaries ever could.
as long as they remain faithful and are willing to be ambassadors for the
church. Having said that...I have huge respect for the David Archuletta's
and Shawn Bradley's of the world.
@SlopJ30Has nothing to do with my opinion:"I repeat
what prophets have long taught—that every worthy, able young man should
prepare to serve a mission. Missionary service is a priesthood duty—an
obligation the Lord expects of us who have been given so very much."
(President Monson, October 2010)"We affirm that missionary work
is a priesthood duty—and we encourage all young men who are worthy and who
are physically able and mentally capable to respond to the call to serve."
(President Monson, October 2012)It can't get much simpler.
What you attempt to mock, I consider a compliment. If unequivocally following
the Prophet makes me one, I pray I am a always robot.
Esquire,No one is being judgmental when they say that serving a
mission is better than not serving a mission, just like you're not being
judgmental when you say that a RM "is highly unlikely" to succeed in
sports. If you would say "It is highly unlikely that a RM would WANT to
succeed at the highest level, I would agree with you. But to blanketly state,
simply because of RM status, that they are unlikely to be successful because
"physical skills and mental focus would have dissipated" I think is
unfair. How many injured athletes have returned to sports even though they went
through physical and mental duress? Wondering about Young and Ainge
is speculation, I don't do that. In addition, I'm going to
agree with God that he knows best for his children. If He says "Serve a
mission" and doesn't insert a caveat "unless you're really
good at sports" then I'm going to stick to the mission narrative. Oh,
and observing the pathetic state of pro sports is not dissing them, it's
reality. No disrespect to you is intended in this post.
I really enjoyed Tyler Haws comment when he said that decision came easily for
him because he made that decision to serve many years before he turned of
missionary age. I did serve a mission and would encourage any young men to
serve a mission. As a leader of youth, I see how the new curriculum encourages
them to make that decision well before their 18th birthday. Everyone has their
own free will and choice regarding missionary service. I don't judge those
who don't serve a mission, but I applaud those who do go out and serve.
Wow! Talk about a one world view perspective vibe I am getting from most of the
comments.Yes, I understand the fact that the mouth piece of the Lord
has stated that "every worthy young man should serve a mission."It is interesting though how often members critize other members for not
measuring up to whatever standard they come up with in their own mind.Talk about cookie cutter Mormonism! You have to do this, this, and look like
this.I am all for young men and women serving missions but the
unnecessary guilting one to do what you think is perticularly right is what
annoys me!I don't remember in the scriptures it saying anything
about guilting people into doing what You think is right.I know that
their are many benefits of serving a mission because I have served one but to
shun someone like they have some sort of disease if they don't serve a
mission is just completely un-christlike.
@AerilusMaximusWho is "shunning" anyone? I for one cheered
whole-heartedly for Jimmer in college, and I'd love to see him do well in
the pros. That doesn't mean I'd hold him up as a beacon of
inspiration when it comes to important life choices.I know you meant
it as an insult, but when the Prophet speaks we should all strive to be
"cookie cutter" Mormons. Obviously we don't shun those that choose
a different path, but that doesn't mean we support a wrong choice as a good
thing. It isn't about guilt; it's about making best choices. When
the mouth piece of Lord, as you put it, speaks there is only "one world view
perspective" that matters, and he has been extremely clear on this subject.
That's all that is being said. Why are you taking offense to what has been
written by those that are simply reiterating what prophets have spoken? Food
for thought: isn't it "un-christlike" to deny teaching what has
been spoken by His spokesman?
@ RoboI believe in following the prophet and his guidance.I don't ever him mentioning about being a "cookie cutter" member
of the church.It isn't your responsibility to coerce young men
and women into serving missions unless your calling has that responsibility (ym
/ yw pres , bishop, etc) or your their parents.The ultimate
responsibility lays upon parents.I did not deny anything the prophet
saying even though you took my comments as such. I said "I am all for young
men and women serving missions but the unnecessary guilting one to do what you
think is perticularly right is what annoys me!"In Matthew 7 the
Savior stated:Judge not, that ye be not judged..What
someone does or doesn't do in the church is their own salvation not yours.
The sooner you learn that the better.Talking about best
decisions...if you are concerned about someone else in the Church doing
something you don't approve of wouldn't it be better to pray for them
instead of guilting them to do what you think they should do?