Sunday, July 19, 2009

I See... Answering a Loaded Question from an Elder Elder

My son will be returning from his mission in 34 days. Relative to other missionaries in his assigned field of labor, he is an elder elder.

14 days ago, via the weekly missionary letter, he posed a provocative, loaded question: “Dad, what goals should I set for myself after my mission is over? “

I knew I had to be careful about this one. This was not your standard query on the Second Coming or why Nephi quotes Isaiah so much in the Book of Mormon, etc. This was a sincere, yet dangerous question. If my answer inserted too much detailed information about post-mission life into his protective fulltime service cocoon, I would risk bearing at least partial responsibility for a trunky missionary sacrificing the last few weeks of his labors on the alter of worldly expectations and thinking and living beyond the mark. Yet I owed him a usable answer; something to gently yet earnestly chew on but not swallow until he is released. Here is what I sent- do you think I successfully walked the tightrope of valid fatherly advice on his future without tempting him to leave the present?

“Dear Brian,

"We love you and miss you very much; we are very proud of what you are accomplishing as a missionary of the Lord Jesus Christ.

"In a recent email, you asked us for advice on goals to set for yourself when you return, Before I answer that question, I need to say one thing, one time, right here, right now- we look anxiously forward to your return. I want you to keep your head in the work, however, so just file that away in the back of your mind as an expression of our love for you.

"You have spent the last 23 months teaching simple truths about how to gain a testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You have taught that the truth of all things can be acquired through sincere prayer and scripture study. I'm sure that you are practicing these two simple truths to successful living yourself during your morning individual and companion prayer and study sessions.

"The best advice I can offer is to set a goal now to continue the practice of daily, earnest scripture study and prayer after your mission. I personally testify that all of life's decisions are better made under the influence of this simple daily regimen. The convenient quality of this goal is that it allows you to adequately prepare for the future without having to think a lot about it. Keep your heart focused on bringing souls unto Christ up until the very last day of your labors, and have faith that the channel of inspiration you established with God during your mission will be there to guide you after you return.




  1. One thing my single ward bishop suggested to me post-mission is to make every single day after my mission just as spiritual as my mission was. It was great advice, which I strive to follow today, 15 yrs later.

  2. great advice! maybe I'll add that in the next letter!