6 Myths About Missionaries That Members Need To Stop Believing.
Within Mormon culture, there are quite a few myths about missionaries and missionary work, some of them are awesome stories about the early days of the church, but there are a few myths that are not acceptable and that we need to stop believing. Specifically, there are 6 myths about missionaries that members need to stop believing.
- 1st You Are A Bad Missionary If You Go Home Early.
A lot of missionaries return home early from their mission, some for medical reasons and others for worthiness reasons. Coming home early does not make you a bad missionary. A cultural problem in the Church whether we want to admit it or not is that fact that a lot of judging and shaming happens to early returned missionaries. It is so bad that some of these RM’s I have talked with have told me that they avoid going to church because of how awful the members treat them.
Some people assume that when they are told someone came home for medical reasons it is really a cover for a worthiness problem. To that I will address the root problem, so what if they came home for worthiness? Are you upset that someone has started the repentance process by confessing their sins? The whole point of the gospel and the atonement is to allow people to repent and be forgiven of their sins. Missionaries who come home as part of repentance are the definition of living the gospel, I would rather they repent and come home than serve unworthily.
Instead of judging and shaming early returned missionaries, let us help them fulfill their potential! They need friends, family, and leaders who will love and support for them. President Monson once quoted Mother Theresa who said. “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”
- 2nd Sisters are better than Elders.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard members say that Sisters are better than Elders, sadly I had many members tell me or other Elders that Sisters were better than us. In one of my areas the Sister Training Leader we shared the area with, actually apologized to us for how the members treated us! Seriously, what good does it do to compare Elders vs Sisters? I have seen amazing Sisters and amazing Elders, we are different, we have different abilities and opportunities and doors that open to each of us, the Lord does not compare and pick favorites, neither should members of His church.
- 3rd Good Missionaries Go Foreign.
There is a cultural undertone that believes that good missionaries go foreign, whereas many good missionaries have gone foreign many good missionaries have also gone stateside. In the Book of Mormon, you have the tale of two groups of missionaries, Alma and Amulek were “stateside” so to speak and Ammon and his brothers were foreign. They both went exactly where the Lord needed them, and they were amazing missionaries, and the same happens today. Whether you are called stateside or foreign, as a full-time proselytizing missionary or as a service missionary, remember; the difference between a good missionary and a bad missionary is not where they serve, but how they serve.
Sisters Young, Hutchison, Strong, Phinhey, Hall, And Elder and Sister Mills. Mormon Trail Center Missionaries.
- 4th You Lose The Spirit When You Come Home.
Another myth is that missionaries lose the Spirit when they come home. It is true that many missionaries face a drop off in spiritual levels when they come home, but the problem is not that when your stake president releases you and takes away your name tag the Spirit leaves; the problem is that many missionaries come home from their mission and stop their efforts in the work of salvation. You don’t need to be set apart to be engaged in the work of Salvation, but you do need to be engaged in the work of Salvation to have the Spirit as an empowering force in your life.
- 5th Leadership makes you important.
Leadership makes you important. This myth exists among missionaries and members alike. For some reason, we equate leadership within the church to how important a person is. “So and so is the Elders Quorum President” or “She is the Relief Society President” at the end of the day we often view leadership as a ladder, and that you climb up the ladder and that is simply not the case. We think that a missionary who became the Assistant to the President or a Zone Leader is better than the Missionary who served as a faithful Sr companion to a struggling Elder who needed loving attention.
Remember the council that Elder Carl B. Cook taught in General Conference, “Every calling is important”.
More important than what you do in the Kingdom is that you are helping to build the Kingdom.
- 6th Successful Missionaries Baptize Often.
The idea that successful missionaries always baptize is fictitious and very dangerous! It sets up the idea that a member missionary is only successful if the person they share the gospel with gets baptized. There are 4 phases of missionary work; planting, watering, harvesting, and retaining.
On an extremely rare occasion, you will find a “golden” investigator where you find them and they get baptized before you leave an area. But the Golden investigator is far rarer than most members think, often times missionaries plant seeds that they will never see grow let alone be harvested, but their efforts are recorded in the heavens. Some missionaries are blessed to see and participate in the watering aka the teaching and others in the harvest, and others still in the retention and eventual Temple Blessings of conversion. Every aspect of the work is vital as you can not harvest what was not planted or watered.
Understanding that most of the time you will be planting seeds is paramount to understanding the true nature of missionary work. Whether you are a full-time missionary or a member missionary, you should always be planting seeds. If you want to harvest then plant and water!
If you liked this article you’ll love this one: 5 Things Missionaries Wish Church Members Knew!