What Does It Mean to Be Worthy to Serve a Mission
Let’s talk about what it means to be worthy to serve a mission. The prophets have long taught that every worthy young man should serve a mission, and that every young man should strive to be worthy. Worthiness requirements for missionaries are set forth in the scriptures and through the living prophets. Below I briefly discuss what it means to be worthy to serve a mission according to the scriptures. In 2017, the Church revised the Standard Missionary Interview Questions and published them for all to see. Studying those questions in advance of the mission application process will also help future missionaries understand the physical, mental, and spiritual health requirements to serve.
Worthiness Requirements from the Scriptures
Missionaries who represent the Lord and His Church must meet the qualifications revealed in section 4 of the Doctrine and Covenants where the Lord said: “O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day… And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence” (D&C 4:2, 5-6). The scriptures also discuss how missionaries are required to be morally clean. See D&C 38:42 where the Lord said “Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord.”
Repentance of Serious Transgressions
A prospective missionary who has been guilty of serious sins such as violations of the law of chastity, drug abuse, serious crimes, or other sexual sins or serious transgressions must repent completely before they can be considered worthy to go on a mission. If this applies to you, your bishop and stake president must confirm that you have been free of transgression for sufficient time to manifest sincere repentance. This time period is generally one year from the most recent occurrence of a serious transgression, but could be as long as three years for multiple serious violations. You must show evidence of a broken heart and contrite spirit and demonstrate a lasting change of behavior, and follow the revealed steps of repentance.
Young people must also be worthy to enter the temple before they can be considered worthy to serve a full-time mission. We won’t go into detail on all the temple recommend topics here, but let’s hit the highlights. You must…
- Believe in God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.
- Have a testimony of the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.
- Have a testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and sustain the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators.
- Be honest in all you say and do, attend Church meetings, and live in harmony with the teachings of our Savior and His Church.
- Live the law of chastity.
- Be a full-tithe payer.
- Keep the Word of Wisdom.
- Not support or affiliate with anti-Mormon groups or individuals.
- Resolved any serious sins or misdeeds with priesthood authorities.
Through out all the years of being in the church I was taught that going on a Mission was important and expected of me, but lately I have began to lose a desire to go. Pressure, money, and the constant worry about the details of what would happen if I dont go have been shaping this conflict. Everyone says you’ll be blessed; you’ll get married, get a good job, and basically have a better life than someone that didn’t–what about Jimmer? What about all of these great people that didn’t go, but turned out to have great blessings? I can’t get and answer and I feel lost in the silence. I don’t think it would be right to go without a true desire, but with the belief it will impress the ladies; I would be lying to myself and everyone else. What should I do? What if I’m not destined to be a Missionary?
Al, Thanks for writing. I’m glad you have been contemplating going a mission and I hope you make the decision to go. Most young men find it to be an extremely valuable and formative experience where they grow closer to the Lord and receive tremendous blessings—spiritual blessings and sometimes temporal ones as well.
The blessing you mention—impressing people, getting married, getting a good job, etc.—are great outward blessings. Those outward blessings occur sometimes, but sometimes they don’t. The greatest blessings of missionary service, though, are inward, spiritual, and eternal blessings. Earlier this year I wrote about 17 Blessings of Missionary Service. If you read that article, you’ll notice a focus on the inward eternal blessings like: developing love and Christ-like character, forgiveness of sins, increased faith, improved gospel knowledge, growth of testimony, peace, and joy. Ultimately, if you faithfully serve a mission and endure to the end, you will receive the greatest blessing of all, eternal life.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland called his mission “the greatest experience anyone could hope to have. I loved my mission as I am sure no young man has ever loved one before or since” (see Because of Your Faith, Oct 2010). I have always felt the same about my mission to Rosario, Argentina. I know if you faithfully prepare and diligently serve a mission, you too will feel the same.
I’d like to send you a copy of my book, Mormon Mission Prep. It talks about all these topics in more detail and should help in your mission preparation. Just go to the contact page on my site and send me your address and I’ll get it in the mail to you. And let me know if there is anything else I can do for you. Good luck and God bless.
I have been waiting for my mission call for almost 8 months and more. I constantly asking my branch president and clerk and even my stake leaders. Last Sunday when the clerk and I checked the status of my application, mission assignment was already made.The only thing is that as I analyze myself, I think I am loosing my desire to serve thinking that I will serve because I applied for it. The burning desire I had before wasn’t there already… I also think that I have worthiness issue problem.. I don’t think I will become a better missionary if I accepted the call.
After reading your thoughts, I think of the scripture “Whom the Lord calls, He qualifies.” You needn’t feel you must be perfect or near-perfect to serve. You would love to grow the work and service as it allows you to completely focus on serving others, which brings incredible joy once this service frees you from thinking about yourself. Losing yourself in this great work is the very essence of His work. If your concern about worthiness is related to a serious matter, your bishop would love to help you resolve. But a mission is life changing for any who put their hearts into you, don’t rob yourself or those who await you of great blessings!