Is Your Missionary Really Ready? Answer These Eight Questions to Find OutApr 19, 2022
You can feel the anticipation in the air around here. It's missionary season and many high school seniors or college freshmen are looking towards the future to decide if serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is right for them.
Some of them have turned in the paperwork already and have their mission calls (the place they have been assigned to go). Some are anxiously awaiting their calls. And some are in the process of getting the necessary paperwork done.
Getting a mission call brings all kinds of emotions to the surface for everyone! Anxiety, excitement, nervousness, appreciation, anticipation, overwhelm, hope, suspense... The closer you get to the date that your missionary enters the MTC, the more heightened emotions will become.
Missionaries will be buying suits, dresses, luggage, white shirts, scriptures, and good shoes. They make sure to pack all the physical necessities that are required for 1 1/2 to 2 years of service.
However, I see large amounts of missionaries that neglect to pack one of the most important things they can pack - emotional resilience and a variety of coping tools. Missionaries will learn a lot of skills in their MTC training and as they serve on their missions. However, without the correct tools for coping through hard times they won't make it long enough to use those physical items.
Many missionary preparation classes focus on the spiritual aspects of serving a mission - barely touching on the parts of the mission that will really send a missionary home.
No missionary will be sent home for not knowing a scripture or saying a phrase wrong in their new language. But if they can't manage failing, imperfection, communication, or stress, they will not make it for very long.
My heart is dedicated to helping these young adults and teens prepare for the mental health part of their missions because missionaries who come home early for mental health problems have a high probability of leaving the church and turning away from God.
Whether or not a person decides that organized religion is for them or not is not the real issue for me. The real issue is the reason they feel abandoned by God and feel like the church set them up to fail.
I teach an institute class once a week that helps young adults learn the emotional resilience and mental health skills they need to make it through a mission, college, or just life in general. We go through failure, subconscious thoughts, hearing the Spirit, perfection, communication skills, managing rejection, meeting your own needs, Christlike attributes, coping tools you can take with you anywhere (including on a mission), and how to receive revelation. We normalize all emotions as part of an early experience and learn what to do with those emotions when we feel them.
These skills are the essentials that any young adults needs to succeed in life. However, when we take a young man or young woman and put them in a new place, learning a new culture, with a companion, 24 hours a day, take away their usual coping tools (gaming, social media, friends, family, naps, sports, etc), put them on a strict schedule, with new rules, we set some missionaries up for huge mental struggles. Not only will these missionaries fail but they are going to fail A LOT, in front of their peers, in front of strangers, and in church.
As a teacher, coach, and mom of a former and current missionary, I believe we need to be more proactive with our teaching to ensure these young adults can handle the extreme stress a mission will create.
Their mission will become a place of sacred growth for them, where they will feel close to God, and really learn to love and serve others. They will become more patient, obedient, outward focused, and loving when they have the necessary skills to make it though rejection, disappointment, loneliness, and humbling experiences.
To evaluate whether or not your young adult is ready for a mission, think about these eight questions.
- How does your young adult manage failure? How quick do they recover?
- Do they have good verbal communication skills ?
- Can they talk with a variety of people who believe differently than they do?
- Can they handle rejection?
- Do they have the ability to stand up for themselves?
- What coping skills do they have outside of social media, gaming, friends, sleeping, isolating themselves, music, and sports?
- Have they shown any signs of anxiety in the past?
- Are they perfectionists or high achievers? (One of the highest risk groups that I've seen)
No missionary will be 100% ready in all these areas. But if there are a few areas you see that they could use some help on, especially if it's an area that is in bold above, please reach out before they leave. Even a few weeks of guidance will get them headed in the right direction. Coaching is a fantastic way to learn these skills as quickly as possible.
If you have a missionary out on a mission that is already struggling, schedule a discovery call with me so I can give you some guidance with ways to help them right now.
This is an exciting time for everyone. My sincere prayer is that we can help our young adults become strong enough and armed with the essential tools they need so they can look back on their mission as a time of connection with God instead of a time that God had abandoned them. 💚
Let's work on their success together!
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