Serving a Mission Is Not For Everyone: Stop The Pressure

At the very end of my mission, right before returning home, my mission president said, “remember that serving a mission is not a saving ordinance.” This struck me because it was true but still felt shocking considering all the pressure that is placed on young adults to serve missions.

Since serving a mission is not a saving ordinance, here are some ways that you can let young adults know that you support them, even if they choose not to serve.

Pray About It, Then Offer Your Support.

girl praying with scriptures

Prior to leaving for my missionary service, I experienced the pressure to stay home but soon realized that many of the other sister missionaries and young adult women that I served with and around were being pressured to go on missions.

Their families were convinced that going on a mission would make their daughter a better mother and wife one day. I thought, “of course it will, but a mission is not the only pathway that prepares you for the future.”

When you ask someone to pray about going on a mission, make sure that you are asking that question in the right context. First of all, if they have already prayed about it and their answer was no, then don’t ask them to pray about it again.

Secondly, whatever their answer is, love them and support them. God knows the path he has prepared for your loved one, let them follow it even if it’s not what you expected the path to look like.

Related Link: Moment of Decision: Athletics or an LDS Mission?

Don’t Use A Mission As A Qualifier For Dating.

LDS dating

After returning home, I embarked upon the dreadful journey of dating. One of the first questions I was asked 95% of the time was if I had served a mission. Usually, our conversations would stem from there.

After dates like that, I thought, “but what if I hadn’t served a mission? Does that somehow make me less dateable?” Oddly, many of the young men I was dating would only date a girl who had been on a mission. This is NOT OKAY. There is so much more to a woman than if she served a mission or not.

I would extend this to young men as well. There is so much more to man than if he served a mission or now. I have met many men who were not able to complete their missions or were not able to go on missions due to mental health and other various reasons. This does not make them any less worthy of the blessings of a temple marriage and an eternal family.

For those who are dating, a mission is not always a good indication if someone will make a good spouse. I have met many amazing people who never served missions and many not-so-wonderful people who have.

An article published in the June 1991 Ensign states, “A cardinal rule should be that you date only the type of person who, by reputation and actions, shows that he or she has a testimony and is living gospel standards.”

A mission is not the only way to gain a testimony or live gospel standards. Remember this when you are looking for potential dates. Overall, just remember, a mission a wonderful thing, but it is not a requirement for eternal life.

Related Link: Early Returned Missionaries; Eliminating the Stigma

Help Them to Achieve The Goals They Have Already Set.

jotting down goals

Because missionaries are required to enter the temple to receive their endowment prior to their service, the mission and the temple endowment tend to be connected in our minds. The temple endowment is a saving ordinance that is an essential step on the covenant path. Let us be careful to not assume that a mission carries that same weight.

Serving a mission is a major life goal for many young adults, but not for everyone. Talk to your loved one about their aspirations for the future. Maybe they have a goal to receive their endowment without being engaged or having a mission call. Support them in this decision to continue down the covenant path.

Many people offer to help when they know that someone is preparing for a mission. Remember that preparing for any future event can be nerve-wracking. Be just as willing to help your loved one whether it is for their mission papers or a resume.

What are some other ways that you support those who choose not to serve missions? Share in the comments. 

Zoë Holyoak is currently a BYU student, photographer, and writer. Her hobbies include long walks through the ice cream aisle at the grocery store and correcting bad grammar. She is also a proud member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served a mission for the Church in Portland, Oregon.