Enter the Mission Field on the Run
When I arrived in my first area in Argentina (the city of Parana), I was shocked at how fast my companion walked. He didn’t quite run, but he sure did speed walk, and it took a file for me to get used to it. When Ezra Taft Benson was President of the Church in May 1986, he encouraged new missionaries to “enter the mission field on the run.” While missionaries should be physically prepared for the hard work of missionary service, President Benson was talking more about hitting the ground running spiritually.
“We love all of our missionaries who are serving the Lord full time in the mission field. But there is a difference in missionaries. Some are better prepared to serve the Lord the first month in the mission field than some who are returning home after twenty-four months. We want young men entering the mission field who can enter the mission field ‘on the run.’” (To the “Youth of the Noble Birthright” by President Ezra Taft Benson, May 1986)
Here are specific things that President Benson said future LDS missionaries can do to “enter the mission field on the run.”
- Prepare Your Whole Life: “Prepare well for a mission all your life, not just six months or a year before you go.”
- Stay Morally Clean: A “vital ingredient in preparation for your mission is to always live a clean life. We want morally clean young men in the mission field. We want you to live the clean life all of your life. We want the morally clean life to be your way of life.”
- Have Faith: “We want young men entering the mission field… who have the faith born of personal righteousness and clean living that they can have a great and productive mission. We want missionaries who have the kind of faith that Wilford Woodruff and Heber C. Kimball had, each bringing hundreds and thousands of souls into the waters of baptism.”
- Stay Active in the Church: “Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life.”
- Realize the Privilege of Missionary Service: “Not only should a mission be regarded as a priesthood duty, but every young man should look forward to this experience with great joy and anticipation. What a privilege—what a sacred privilege—to serve the Lord full time for two years with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.”
- Date People Who Give Encouragement: “You can do nothing more important…even temple marriage should wait until after a young man has served an honorable full-time mission for the Lord. And I would admonish you to date only faithful young women who also believe this and give you that encouragement.”
- Understand the Purpose of Missionary Work: “Know that the real purpose in going into the mission field is to bring souls unto Christ, to teach and baptize our Heavenly Father’s children so that you may rejoice with them in the kingdom of our Father. (See D&C 18:15.)”
- True Repentance: “The miracle of forgiveness is real, and true repentance is accepted of the Lord. But it is not pleasing to the Lord prior to a mission, or at any time, to sow one’s wild oats, to engage in sexual transgression of any nature, and then to expect that planned confession and quick repentance will satisfy the Lord.”
- Look Forward to Missionary Service: “Young men, look forward to full-time missionary service….Prepare now for your mission by doing these things we have discussed this evening.”
Thanks for a great post Jimmy. As a mum of a 16 year old son, there is some great counsel there – for both me and him. This will be something good to share in FHE one night.
Jimmy, in 2010 I came home from my mission after just a week in the MTC. I want to serve a mission again. I am just wondering if you have any advice for me about going out and serving again. Thank you for listening.
Well, in a lot of respects, your continued preparation will be very similar to all other future missionaries. You will want to be physically and financially prepared. And you’ll want to prepare spiritually by reading your scriptures and praying daily, attending your church meeting, and magnifying your callings. In your particular situation, I would definitely advise you to work closely with your bishop. Talk to him. Counsel with him. Heed his advice. I would also say to pay particular attention to developing your testimony, your testimony of the restored gospel, of the Savior, and of the living prophets. Good luck. God bless you. Let me know if there is anything else I can do.