Comments about ‘Letter: Mission pressure’

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Published: Monday, June 2 2014 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Omaha, NE

Correct Carly. This is a shortcoming of many members. Myself included at times I suspect although hopefully rarely.

In general, we should avoid the "you should do this because I think you should mentality." That was actually Satan's plan according to our beliefs.

Carly, if you read this. Please understand that these people are just wrong. But don't judge them too harshly. You've done the same thing just in other circumstances and will do it in the future. This is a very hard thing to not be guilty of at times. The person usually doesn't mean to shame you into doing anything. But the adversary certainly takes advantage of the situation to try to shame you into thinking you "should" or "have to" do it. Patience with them and look above their unChristlike behavior.

Here, UT

Now you know how the boys feel, Carly. The pressure is tremendous. Who really wants to learn about Jesus from someone who feels compelled instead of called?

Kearns, UT

So then get over yourself. If you don't want to go, then don't. Guys have been experiencing this "pressure" for hundreds of years.

LDS Liberal
Farmington, UT

Do us all a favor and Do NOT go unless you feel it is the right thing for you --

I dragged around far too many dead weight "Elders" who only went
because they were either:

1. "guilted" into going,
2. They had Zero chance of ever getting married unless,
3. Mommy & Daddy promised College, Ski passes, trips, and one was even bribed with a new BMW when he got home...

I paid for my own Mission and went to serve God,
not to baby-sit insecure nassisistic guilt trips, or who someone didn't want to be there in the 1st place.

Steve C. Warren

Good letter.

President Hinckley made it clear that young women should be neither encouraged nor discouraged from going on missions. He said missionary service is a priesthood responsibility. He pointed out that, for young women, choosing to go to college, to work, to marry, etc., were as good as choosing to serve a mission.

Riverton, UT

I've had the same problem. Counterintuitively, the thing that helped me most was the song "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go". It's always sung to encourage missionary service, but I think people aren't actually listening to all the lyrics.

It may NOT be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may NOT be at the battle's front
My Lord will have need of me.

The Lord needs sister missionaries, true, but he also needs women who will get jobs, go to school, start families, and lead their friends or neighbors by example. (This is even--or especially--true right here in Utah.) If you feel like that's your calling, go ahead and do it, and be confident in your decision. Ignore the detractors, because quite frankly it's none of their business.

Provo, UT

Carly, just smile and say no. Maybe the people asking you are curious, but not trying to pressure you. A confident answer is probably all that it will take to stop the conversation. If they press, you could just tell them that this is a question you get repeatedly and you don't really feel like it's something you have to discuss with everyone. It's a personal decision. Confidence in response is the key.

Salt Lake City, UT

"It is time for people to stop shaming girls who don't want to go on missions, it is for the better and it isn't required of us."

Isn't required of us... I wonder what the letter writer feels about guys being pressured to go on missions who don't want to go on one.

2 bits
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Try thinking of people who ask if you are going on a mission, the same as people who ask if you are going to college next... they are just interested in you and your life. Not trying to guilt you into going to college.

Also... try not judging them. You don't know why they are asking you. I'm pretty sure they don't mean you any harm.


As for the church asking young women to do "hard things"...

Possibly the most famous quotation from Joseph Smith's Lectures on Faith is Lecture 6:7 which reads, "... A religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; ..."

So it's not just a Utah thing. And they may not be trying to guilt you into ANYTHING... they may just be assuming you want that faith and are willing to sacrifice your time with your family.

I know... assumptions are never good. But I don't think they mean any harm by it. They are just making bad assumptions (we are all guilty of that from time to time).

Ogden, UT

Nobody -- either male or female -- should serve a mission because of pressure. The ONLY reason to serve a mission is that the person has received inspiration from God that "this" is the time to serve and "this" is the right time to serve. If the person does not receive that inspiration, that person should not go. And that should be the end of any discussion on the subject.


Three of the 11 responses to this young woman's letter are "boys have to deal with it; why shouldn't girls?"

Note: It's not ok to do it to boys, either.

Coog Fan in Spokane
Spokane, WA

Reducing the eligible age requirement should serve to take "age" out of the equation - and put the focus squarely on preparation: go when you are ready, and when you have the desire to serve (D&C 4:3). Some of the most impressive missionaries I've known resisted the expectations of others, and took their time to prepare, whatever that meant to them.

Unfortunately, I've heard of "whisper campaigns" that have arisen now around young men who are expected to serve missions, but don't leave right out of high school. This is unfortunate. A mission is far too important a commitment to embark on unprepared.

Durham, NC

Please ignore this snide comment "So then get over yourself. If you don't want to go, then don't. Guys have been experiencing this "pressure" for hundreds of years." Young men haven't even been asked to go on missions for "hundreds of years". Obviously this was an attempt to be dramatic.

A mission is a very special thing that you put in your name for a calling. No time else in this church do you elect or apply for a calling for. It should be a when you are ready... and that being a relative term. Just like getting married, or having your kids... You will get the same questions and looks by well meaning people if you get married someday and they inquire when you will have children.

The answer is dependent on you. The time you "can" go on a mission is 18 for boys, 19 for young ladies. Doesn't mean you need to leave then. You can go a year, two, three or more later... when you are ready.

Here In the mission field we get both missionaries who came before they were ready, and young couple who got married before they were ready.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

D&C 4:3 "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;"

The key word is "desires". No one can force anyone else to have "desires". If the work of the Lord is paramount in your life then you might have "desires".

Every young man is expected to develop those "desires". Every young man who is baptised at eight, has ten years to prepare himself to serve as a witness for two years. Some young women will have that opportunity.

A mission is a life changing experience. In many cases, the person who is "converted" is the missionary as he/she begins to understand the purpose of life.

Some bemoan the fact that they are assigned "companions" who don't want to be missionaries. I never felt that way. It didn't matter to me whether the opportunity came from knocking on doors, or from just being the best missionary that I knew how to be, which included being the best example that I knew how to be to my companion.

It's a privilege to be a witness of Jesus Christ, not an obligation.

Durham, NC

"D&C 4:3 "Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;""

I agree with you Mike... where I would add to this is that not all are called to serve in the same way. There is a reason we have personal inspiration... otherwise we would just have a plan that we all followed in the exact same way.

There are many many ways to serve. For a young lady, a mission is only one of those possible paths. Just as a large army may have a singular objective, and the path to that objective may be well defined (narrow and straight), there are many different roles within that army to achieve that objective.

South Jordan, UT

Carly, try to understand them a little better instead of judging them.

A person asks if you plan to serve a mission. Is that really so bad? Haven't you heard that questions from parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, and others who you know love you? Perhaps the person asking is genuinely interested in YOU. That should be flattering, not distressing.

Maybe your response causes a look of disappointment. You assume they are disappointed IN you but perhaps, and probably more likely, they are disappointed FOR you.

My 24 months has dramatically affected the next 40 years of my life and the lives of my children and grandchildren. I am disappointed when someone decides not to serve because I know they will be missing a great opportunity. I know many men and women who regret not serving but very few who regret serving.

I think if anyone is judging others, it is you. Ask yourself if any of these people would cut off your relationship if you did not serve a mission. I think you will have to admit they would not. These people love you and will continue to love you no matter what you choose.

Mike Richards
South Jordan, Utah

re: UtahBlueDevil,

Yes, people serve in a variety of ways. Life should be filled with service to others; but, only those who have authority can ask us to serve in specific ways. I may wish to be a primary teacher, but unless I'm asked to be a primary teacher, I have no right to assign myself that "service". I may think that 10% of my paycheck would be better spent at the local shelter, but I have no authority to use the Lord's tithing in that way.

A mission helps the missionary as much or more than it helps those who are introduced to the gospel. Being totally immersed in selfless service for 18 months or 24 months lets those who serve experience the total joy of service without having other responsibilities that compete for attention.

No one is compelled to serve in Christ's Church, but all are invited. Whether we answer that call is up to each of us. If we do, our lives will be blessed. The Lord is not skimpy with His blessings to those who serve Him willingly nor does He turn His back on those who prefer not to serve.

Durham, NC

Mike... I agree with you to a point. But I remember one time a bishop came to me with a calling for my wife. She and I discussed it, and just didn't feel it was right. We told the bishop of our feelings, and he committed to going back and revisiting it with his councilors. The next week he got back to us and agreed there was a better calling for my wife, and a better person to serve in the original calling.

Lets not remove the human factor here. We are all people doing the best we can with the information and inspiration we have. That is not to say sometimes we, or our leaders get it wrong. We do not believe in the concept of infallibility. There are plenty times a calling is made, and there isn't a perfect answer, but a job that needs being done.

One of my best buds served his mission much later into his 20s, and it was the right thing for him to do. His life circumstances didn't provide for the standard plan. But since that time, he has served very faithfully in many positions of leadership.

Huntsville, UT

Mike Richards says;

"Every young man is expected to develop those "desires". "

--- THIS is the pressure young men experience. This is nothing more than telling the young men (and now women) that YOU MUST GO. Pressure, pressure, pressure.

Going on an LDS Mission has become nothing more that a rite-of-passage for Mormon youth. Once upon a time only the boys felt the pressure; now the girls will too.

Ernest T. Bass
Bountiful, UT

Stop shaming the boys who don't want to go either.
Perhaps if there was another option available, to go do some actual good for humanity. Instead of pestering people at home or on the street, let the kids choose if they would rather go to Africa or Asia and build schools, hospital or dig wells. You know, do something worthwhile. If that was an option then I could see a little more pressure to go and then when they call it "service" it would actually be accurate.

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