- What we need now is the greatest generation of missionaries in the history of the Church. We need worthy, qualified, spiritually energized missionaries who, like Helaman’s 2,000 stripling warriors, are “exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity” and who are “true at all times in whatsoever thing they [are] entrusted.”
- We don’t need spiritually weak and semicommitted young men. We don’t need you to just fill a position; we need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate missionaries who know how to listen to and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t a time for spiritual weaklings. We cannot send you on a mission to be reactivated, reformed, or to receive a testimony. We just don’t have time for that. We need you to be filled with “faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God.”
- As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I call upon you to begin right now—tonight—to be fully and completely worthy. Resolve and commit to yourselves and to God that from this moment forward you will strive diligently to keep your hearts, hands, and minds pure and unsullied from any kind of moral transgression. Resolve to avoid pornography as you would avoid the most insidious disease, for that is precisely what it is. Resolve to completely abstain from tobacco, alcohol, and illegal drugs. Resolve to be honest. Resolve to be good citizens and to abide by the laws of the land in which you live. Resolve that from this night forward you will never defile your body or use language that is vulgar and unbecoming to a bearer of the priesthood.
- And that is not all we expect of you, my young brethren. We expect you to have an understanding and a solid testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. We expect you to work hard. We expect you to be covenant makers and covenant keepers. We expect you to be missionaries to match our glorious message.
He says that we expect our young men to rise up, measure up, and be fully prepared to service the Lord.
- Tonight we call upon you, our young brethren of the Aaronic Priesthood, to rise up, to measure up, and to be fully prepared to serve the Lord.
He encourages that changes that are needing to be made be made right away. Fathers and Bishops can play a vital role in helping their sons become ready and worthy to service the Lord.
- If you find yourself wanting in worthiness, resolve to make the appropriate changes —beginning right now. If you think you need to talk to your father and your bishop about any sins you may have committed, don’t wait; do it now. They will help you to repent and change so you can take your place as a member of the greatest generation of missionaries.
Elder Ballard tells us that the bar has been raised on missionary service. We must expect more of our young men and last minute repentance is not acceptable. He provides some great ideas on preparing for service that will create valiant and prepared missionaries and match the message of the restoration.
- The bar that is the standard for missionary service is being raised. The day of the “repent and go” missionary is over. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you, my young brothers? Some young men have the mistaken idea that they can be involved in sinful behavior and then repent when they’re 18 1/2 so they can go on their mission at 19. While it is true that you can repent of sins, you may or you may not qualify to serve. It is far better to keep yourselves clean and pure and valiant by doing such simple things as:
- Developing a meaningful prayer relationship with your Heavenly Father.
- Keeping the Sabbath day holy.
- Working and putting part of your earnings in a savings account.
- Paying a full and honest tithing.
- Limiting the amount of time spent playing computer games. How many kills you can make in a minute with a computer game will have zero effect on your capacity to be a good missionary.
- Giving the Lord more of your time by studying the scriptures and gaining an understanding of the marvelous message of the Restoration that we have for the world.
- Serving others and sharing your testimony with them.
Finally, Elder Ballard concludes with words of counsel for fathers. Fathers have the responsibility to help their sons prepare for missionary service.
- Fathers, you have an eternal responsibility for the spiritual welfare of your children. Please assume your rightful place as counselor, adviser, and priesthood leader in preparing your sons to bear the Melchizedek Priesthood and to serve as missionaries.
Elder Ballard plainly describes the need for worthy missionaries. The call for missionaries that match the message would be talked about for several conferences going forward from various other apostles and by President Hinckley himself. You can see a change in the missionary focus from this point to the change that President Monson made several years ago about the age of missionary service. The Lord saw the need for more valiant missionaries and has been inspiring the leaders of the church to address this for year. I found great insights into his comments about fathers playing a vital role in their sons and daughters worthiness to serve. I am grateful for the wise counsel to me specifically as a father and it is time that I raise the bar on my missionary preparation of my son. It is time I do more as a father to help him prepare for future missionary service and service for his life in the kingdom of God.