Kirby and missions

Public forum for topics that don't fit into the other categories.
User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 6021
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Kirby and missions

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Aug 2018, 06:32

Having had three sons who have served or are serving a mission I liked Kirby's column this week. None of my three were pressured to go on a mission, they all chose to do so themselves (one very surprisingly so). All of them also have talked about companions and other missionaries who were pressured and did not really choose for themselves - and how bad they were.

https://www.sltrib.com/opinion/kirby/20 ... i-call-me/
I was thinking about these things in church last Sunday, while listening to sacrament meeting talks on the importance of young people serving missions. It almost sounded like serving a mission was a commandment.
It’s not. It’s strongly encouraged and even deemed an expected rite of passage for young LDS guys. In the stupidest of cases, it’s a condition of continued familial acceptance, but none of those really amounts to a celestial directive.
That brings me to the thing of which I’m most proud about my mission. It isn’t that I stayed the entire two years, that I managed to baptize a few people, or even how I learned to cope with some major squirrels for companions.
It’s that the whole thing — from start to staying to finishing — was entirely my idea. Mine.
The point that I’m doing a bad job of making is that something as significant as two years of a person’s life should be undertaken only on that person’s say-so.
If not, then serving a mission is more akin to being drafted, one in which everybody has the same number: 18.
So your daughter opted for marriage instead of a mission, or your son went to MIT instead of the MTC. You don’t have any right to feel disappointed. It wasn’t your call to make in the first place.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

User avatar
mom3
Posts: 3635
Joined: 02 Apr 2011, 14:11

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by mom3 » 06 Aug 2018, 08:59

My post got eaten - Urgg.

My premise was that I go out of my way to support the kids who choose not to go. I even tell the parents I think it's great their kid didn't go. I use the time of Christ as well as Joseph Smith to remind them that not everyone served a mission. Yes I know we have the two by two statement in the old testament, but it's funny to me because it sure didn't turn out that way.

Kirby and I are way on the same page here.
"I stayed because it was God and Jesus Christ that I wanted to follow and be like, not individual human beings." Chieko Okazaki Dialogue interview

"I am coming to envision a new persona for the Church as humble followers of Jesus Christ....Joseph and his early followers came forth with lots of triumphalist rhetoric, but I think we need a new voice, one of humility, friendship and service. We should teach people to believe in God because it will soften their hearts and make them more willing to serve." - Richard Bushman

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 6021
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by DarkJedi » 06 Aug 2018, 17:50

I, too, support those who decide to not go on missions. As Kirby points out, going on a mission is sometimes portrayed as a commandment but it isn't. Noe of the current or immediately preceding members of the FP served missions (and only Monson had the war to use as an excuse).

I have also chatted with parents distraught over their sons' decisions. That's a tougher nut to crack.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roadrunner
Posts: 872
Joined: 25 Sep 2012, 15:17

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by Roadrunner » 07 Aug 2018, 16:11

Recently a young man in my ward decided to serve in the military instead of a mission. I had encouraged him to do either one and they are both honorable decisions. After he left his father one Sunday approached me and apologized to me that his son hadn't served a mission.

My first reaction was - wow I hope I didn't inadvertently pressure him to serve a mission. The second reaction, and what I told his dad was "you have nothing to apologize for and you should be very proud."

It says something about our culture when a dad whose son joined the marines has to apologize to a ward leader for the honorable and responsible decision of his son.

User avatar
On Own Now
Posts: 1641
Joined: 18 Jan 2012, 12:45

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by On Own Now » 07 Aug 2018, 16:58

As I've expressed here before, I focus far more on positive achievements than on avoiding the negative. To me, I think the Christian Call is about reaching for something wonderful rather than running away from something awful.

With that in mind, I would like to point out that serving a mission is a wonderful experience for many (most?). It was for me and I wouldn't change my history. I encourage young people to go, though I always make it clear that it is a choice. I think it works very well as a rite of passage. I think it works very well as a sacrifice for the good of others in an age-group that tends toward self-centered-ness (apologies to my younger friends; but just calling it like I see it... and no, it's not (just) a millennial thing).

I learned a useful foreign language. I was exposed to poverty I didn't understand before. I got to know people on a friendly basis who couldn't read or write and who had dirt floors, no electricity, and outhouses. I was exposed to love and happiness that was completely unfettered from position, opportunity, and wealth. It changed my world-view permanently. Additionally, I learned to work very hard and to be grateful for the opportunity.

I don't necessarily think it is wrong to encourage. I do think it is wrong to force, obviously. Yet, I will provide some perspective via a story from a non-LDS friend who is in his 60's. He told me that when he graduated from high school, he didn't really have any direction in life. He explained that his dad drove him to the military recruitment offices all lined up together. He stopped the car, and told his son to "choose one." My friend expressed that it was the best thing that his dad could have done for him. It wouldn't have worked for me, but it did, and very well, for my friend.
"Let us therefore no longer pass judgment on one another, but resolve instead never to put a stumbling block or hindrance in the way of another." --Romans 14:13

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5000
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by SamBee » 08 Aug 2018, 01:50

Roadrunner wrote:
07 Aug 2018, 16:11
Recently a young man in my ward decided to serve in the military instead of a mission. I had encouraged him to do either one and they are both honorable decisions.
Are they? On the one hand you have people who go on missions who don't want to, and betray themselves, and then with the military, you're sent out there to attack & kill people for dubious reasons. Neither of these positions are particularly honorable.

A lot of the time those military personnel end up working for oil & mining interests etc, or toppling a foreign government for being allied with Russia (Syria, Libya) or who just didn't agree with the west... not to mention killing tens of thousands of civilians. It's not all peace and democracy and defense. In fact the west has armed Jihadis and still is.

I actually go out of my way to discourage people joining the military for that reason. I also point out the mess many of them return in, psychologically and/or physically. We have had members and investigators like this, some who've ended up homeless or in wheelchairs, or with aggression/depression/alcohol problems.

There are many people who join the military for honorable reasons, however the way the military acts is often not honorable.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

User avatar
SilentDawning
Posts: 6813
Joined: 09 May 2010, 19:55

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by SilentDawning » 08 Aug 2018, 04:53

I agree that it's not for everyone. Serving a mission is a lot like having a sales position. I know people will argue that it's not - but it is -- you have to make cold calls, you have to convince people to do things -- granted, you have the Spirit, and salespeople don't, but it's very much like sales.

And not all people have that personality. I've seen people go out enthusiastic and come home disillusioned about the church and the whole missionary experience.

I am on the "don't force your kids" model. And so far, it's worked out well with one of mine, and the other -- if he ultimately rejects the church, I am not going to blame him. Mormonism isn't for everyone...
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

"Stage 5 is where you no longer believe the gospel as its literally or traditionally taught. Nonetheless, you find your own way to be active and at peace within it". -- SD

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself."

My introduction: viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1576

User avatar
DarkJedi
Posts: 6021
Joined: 24 Aug 2013, 20:53

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by DarkJedi » 08 Aug 2018, 05:50

SamBee wrote:
08 Aug 2018, 01:50
Roadrunner wrote:
07 Aug 2018, 16:11
Recently a young man in my ward decided to serve in the military instead of a mission. I had encouraged him to do either one and they are both honorable decisions.
Are they? On the one hand you have people who go on missions who don't want to, and betray themselves, and then with the military, you're sent out there to attack & kill people for dubious reasons. Neither of these positions are particularly honorable.

A lot of the time those military personnel end up working for oil & mining interests etc, or toppling a foreign government for being allied with Russia (Syria, Libya) or who just didn't agree with the west... not to mention killing tens of thousands of civilians. It's not all peace and democracy and defense. In fact the west has armed Jihadis and still is.

I actually go out of my way to discourage people joining the military for that reason. I also point out the mess many of them return in, psychologically and/or physically. We have had members and investigators like this, some who've ended up homeless or in wheelchairs, or with aggression/depression/alcohol problems.

There are many people who join the military for honorable reasons, however the way the military acts is often not honorable.
I have shared some of my story here in the past. I joined the US Army on 1979 and joined the church in 1981. I subsequently served a mission in 1984. All of that was of my own free will and choice. Now at age 58 and looking back the only one I will say was one of my best decisions I ever made was my military time.

If I had it to do over again I think I would rather not have joined the church. It's not that I have not found any benefit from the church or that the church hasn't been good to me and for me (mostly). But I'm also not sure another church would not have been just as good, and maybe no church at all would also have been fine. I've always considered myself to be a pretty good person and a nice guy. And, even at the time I did not view my mission as the best two years (it was actually during the 18 month time) of my life and I have told my children if that's the case for them they need to seriously re-evaluate their lives. I think they all understand what I mean.

I have encouraged young people (members and not) to join the military and I have encouraged young people to make their own choices regarding mission service. I have never encouraged someone who hasn't said he or she was considering the military to joining the military nor have I ever asked anyone whether they were considering a mission - but if they tell me they are or aren't I give them my Dutch uncle advice. Just this past Sunday a 17-year-old YM in my ward confided that he is probably not going to serve a mission and his struggle is his family. I feel for him, but encouraged him to decide what he thinks is best for him.
In the absence of knowledge or faith there is always hope.

Once there was a gentile...who came before Hillel. He said "Convert me on the condition that you teach me the whole Torah while I stand on one foot." Hillel converted him, saying: That which is despicable to you, do not do to your fellow, this is the whole Torah, and the rest is commentary, go and learn it."

My Introduction

Roadrunner
Posts: 872
Joined: 25 Sep 2012, 15:17

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by Roadrunner » 08 Aug 2018, 13:20

SamBee wrote:
08 Aug 2018, 01:50
Roadrunner wrote:
07 Aug 2018, 16:11
Recently a young man in my ward decided to serve in the military instead of a mission. I had encouraged him to do either one and they are both honorable decisions.
Are they?
In an effort to not derail the thread, I won't respond directly other than saying that many people in my area of the US believe the military to be highly honorable and a selfless way to serve others (which I generally agree with). It's in that context that I replied because it's remarkable that someone in my stake and with a air force base within my ward boundaries - with a family member joining the military - would apologize for not serving a mission. My goal in my response was put the father at ease because he should be proud that his son is trying to serve a higher cause.

Coincidentally, just this week I've had two different parents ask me to start mission papers on behalf of prospective missionaries. My answer is a patient "no - he or she needs to do it himself." I make it easy to do but they have to take the first step.

User avatar
SamBee
Posts: 5000
Joined: 14 Mar 2010, 04:55

Re: Kirby and missions

Post by SamBee » 08 Aug 2018, 14:27

I nearly joined the military. Had my papers - all they needed was a few signatures. Thankfully I never did. A schoolfriend joined the army in his teens - he's a total mess now psychologically. I would take up arms for my country if it needed it during an invasion, but not for someone else's cynical commercial foreign policies which a lot of wars are really about these days.

With the mission thing I was continual pressurized about it even after I said "no". It made me go inactive for years. But I believe on both of these decisions I was true to myself.

I think a mission would come at a lesser cost, but I could have gone somewhere in the military if I went for translating etc beyond regular infantry. I would have made better money off it than I do now. But in both cases I would end up doing things I totally disagreed with under orders. Funnily enough I could put up with spartan living conditions though.
DASH1730 "An Area Authority...[was] asked...who...would go to the Telestial kingdom. His answer: "murderers, adulterers and a lot of surprised Mormons!"'
1ST PRES 1978 "[LDS] believe...there is truth in many religions and philosophies...good and great religious leaders... have raised the spiritual, moral, and ethical awareness of their people. When we speak of The [LDS] as the only true church...it is...authorized to administer the ordinances...by Jesus Christ... we do not mean... it is the only teacher of truth."

Post Reply