A Commandment Like Any Other

When I was first considering joining the church over eight years ago, I quickly realized that as a male I would be expected to serve a mission. I neverhelwss began to rationalize away my need to serve. I explained to myself that as a convert with family opposition that a mission was not in the cards for me.

During thePriesthood session of the April 1974 conference, President Kimball spoke about a frequently asked question: is missionary work compulsive? I love his response:

 “The question has been often asked, Is the mission program one of compulsion? And the answer, of course, is no. Everyone is given his free agency. The question is asked: Should every young man fill a mission? And the answer of the Church is yes, and the answer of the Lord is yes. Enlarging this answer we say: Certainly every male member of the Church should fill a mission, like he should pay his tithing, like he should attend his meetings, like he should keep his life clean and free from the ugliness of the world and plan a celestial marriage in the temple of the Lord.   While there is no compulsion for him to do any of these things, he should do them for his own good.”

President Kimball makes clear in his talk that service is expected just as observing the Word of Wisdom, or Tithing is expected. Ever young male that can go should go. 

It was this imperative that drove me to consider a mission seriously and to overcome my rationalization.

As I struggled to decide whether to go, I spoke to my then Bishop and got sage advice. He emphasized to me, that even if I didn’t go I could remain faithful and active in the Church. But he nevertheless encouraged me to consider the type of person that I could become through service.

I realized that if I backed down so early after my conversion from keeping a difficult commandment, that I would be setting myself up for failiure. I would be on a pathway where I could disregard the words of the Prophets and believe that I was a special case. In other words, I would be on the road towards apostasy. I did not want to be on that road.

I am so grateful for my decisions to serve and to belong to a church that emphasizes missionary work. Serving a mission changed my life forever. To any wavering about serving or keeping another commandment- I testify that the Lord will bless you as you follow his will. I know that I have been abundantly blessed

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