I was disappointed to hear BYU announce that Mikeli Wesley will be postponing his LDS mission to play basketball next year. Starting with President Spencer W. Kimball, LDS prophets have stated that serving a mission is a priesthood obligation for all LDS young men. Each prophet has asked parents to prepare young men to fulfill this obligation so that when they are of age they are spiritually ready to serve. If a young man is worthy, there is no reason for not serving. Such statements from the prophets make this a commandment from God, not just a personal choice, as some seem to believe. As we are taught from childhood, we are equal in the eyes of God. He expects us all to obey his commandments, regardless of our opportunities or challenges.
Some would say Wesley is more valuable to the church as an ambassador on BYU's basketball team, very similar to what was said about the Osmonds, Steve Young and other famous LDS young men. This is hogwash. Such reasoning is only used to rationalize poor advice and poor decisions. How many young men have postponed promising educational and career opportunities? How many young men have served missions and then gone on to promising careers, both academically and athletically? What about the young man recently spotlighted in a church publication who postponed and possibly sacrificed a career as a world class cyclist to serve a mission? Are we using a double standard in the church? Shouldn't we be focusing on the spiritual and eternal aspects of our lives first?I know Mikeli is not ruling out a mission completely, but it will be even more difficult to go next year than it is now. I worry about the influence the coaches, the Cougar Club, and the fans might have had in this decision. Roger Reid may have been a public relations nightmare for BYU, but he had the courage to sit down with each LDS athlete, including stars like Shawn Bradley, and tell them to serve the Lord first. If we continue to make exceptions for high-profile young men, we set a bad example for the rest. Let's get our priorities in the right order.
Kimball A. Ball