When President Thomas S. Monson announced the new age of 18 for male LDS missionaries, I’m sure many parents started doing the math. How much time did they have to prepare their sons or daughters for missions? And how much time do they have before their child leaves home — or the country.
I think the new age requirements – 18 for men and 19 for women – are a great opportunity to get more young people out in the mission field. At the same time, these young men and women now have to prepare in high school for those missions. And parents now have a much greater responsibility to prepare their children.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said in a news conference Saturday, “Preparation starts long before you get your call to serve. We ask parents to take a strong hand in this preparation and not expect that it is somehow the responsibility of local church leaders or the missionary department of the church or MTCs (missionary training centers) to provide and direct all of that.”
Elder Holland also mentioned that he expected the training time in MTCs to be cut by a third. In essence, parents and youth need to step it up before high school graduation.
Parents can no longer hope that their sons learn to cook, do laundry and set their own alarm clock during their freshman year of college. Parents can’t rely on religion classes to prep their sons for the mission field. That work has to be done at home long before that little black nametag is clipped onto a white pocket.
There is also little room now for making mistakes in high school that need to be fixed and repented of in college. As Holland said, these younger missionaries must engage in “total personal worthiness,” intense gospel study and “systematic study” of the missionary guidebook before they graduate from high school.
It’s a tall order for 18-year-olds, and a lot to digest for parents. But I have no doubt both groups will rise to the challenge.
In what ways can parents better prepare their sons and daughters for an earlier mission? What can a mother do at home to help her son be ready to hit the mission field when he turns 18?