My Plan, or your plan?

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NonTraditionalMom
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My Plan, or your plan?

Post by NonTraditionalMom » 17 Jul 2015, 08:47

One of the issues that I struggle with the most in my FC/FT is learning to make decisions/have beliefs based on my own moral compass and not what outside sources expect or demand. In my home growing up, the church permeated every aspect of our home life, and my parents expected and even demanded me to make choices that aligned with the ideal LDS lifestyle. I needed their approval, so I complied with their wishes for me, even when what they wanted wasn't exactly in line with what I wanted. One example-- I was solicited by a small liberal arts college in high school, and I had dreams of attending there. My parents really wanted me to go to BYU, though, so in the end, I ended up applying only for BYU and that's where I went. I never quite fit in there, though, and my first college experience was a mess. Although I do take responsibility for making the decision, I can't help but see how much my desire to please my parents and the church influenced my decisions, especially when I was young and impressionable. Now, nearly 20 years later, I'm realizing just how much the expectations from my family and church have weighed in the way I live my life.

So, now when I see that the church has come out with My Plan (https://www.lds.org/callings/missionary ... n?lang=eng), I just see red flags all over the place. Is this a good idea? Is my experience unique, and most people actually do learn to make choices autonomously? Or is this what I fear-- another way for the church/parents/leaders to push their own agendas on impressionable youth?

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On Own Now
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by On Own Now » 17 Jul 2015, 09:20

NTM, thanks for bringing this up. I hadn't seen it before... it's quite interesting. Some thoughts:

- I'm sure the Church is just trying to re-acclimate missionaries to home life. In defense of that idea, let me say that it can be pretty traumatic, believe it or not, to return from a mission. Recently-returned missionaries don't know what to do with themselves, and they can struggle emotionally and spiritually. It's probably a little like people returning from being deployed (not in direct combat situations, but lets say like being deployed to Guam). They get so used to how things operate and their role there, that when they come home they can feel really out of place. It was really tough for me. I came home to find that Americans were unfriendly and so over-the-top wealthy (compared to where I had been living and working) that I had a hard time understanding the culture again for awhile. From that standpoint, I give kudos to the Church for trying to address this issue.

- One specific issue that I know the Church is concerned with (as am I) is that young people today frequently go into a weird sort of limbo in their twenties. They get jobs that go nowhere, they live at home, they don't date, they have no plans. I'm not talking about everyone, of course, but much higher numbers than in the past. I read an article last year at cnn by a girl (I originally wrote 'woman', but that didn't seem to fit) justifying why it was OK for her to live at home with her parents late into her twenties; how it really benefited everyone, including her parents, who had her there to "explain pop culture references". OMG!

- On the opposite end of the mission, the part before the report date, I think the Church is moving to a much more focused preparation period. In the old days, a mission call was only a couple months before the report date. Nowadays, it seems to be more like five or six months. That is a crucial period for preparation and I believe the Church wants to leverage that. Too many missionaries aren't ready for the commitment that they have signed up for, and the Church is trying to alleviate that, I'm sure. There has even been talk of having called missionaries begin to work on the language they will learn, under the direction of the Church. Up to now, called missionaries have been told specifically not to work on the language (which I have never understood). Again, I don't see anthying worrisome with that aspect of it.

- But, wow, your MyPlan goals are to be shared with your ecclesiastical leaders and your PARENTS when you get home??? To me, that's a very bad approach. Missionaries coming home are far more mature with way more life experiences than the vast majority of their peers. They don't need a monitor. A plan is good, but these accomplished young people are perfectly capable of executing on the plan they put in place. I know when I got home, I didn't want to be the little kid anymore, and I headed straight off to college, never to look back. The thought of having my parents monitor my activities would have been exactly contrary to the way I saw myself. I have a missionary out right now, and I guarantee you that I will never see or review any of his MyPlan goals after he gets home.
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“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.” ― Carl Jung
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"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
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LookingHard
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by LookingHard » 17 Jul 2015, 10:03

I have not studied this, but I think some of this can help return missionaries. Coming off a mission is much harder for most everyone than going on it. For some it is downright traumatic.

But the bit I have looked at this, I am not impressed for some of the issues you bring up.

I know when my kids have returned from their missions I try really hard to treat them as full fledged adults. They ask me questions and I almost always initially throw the question back to them. I am not opposed to giving them some of my (so called) wisdom, but I want them to think for themselves.

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DarkJedi
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by DarkJedi » 17 Jul 2015, 11:09

In addition to what OON points out, I think the church is very concerned with the number of returned missionaries who have FC and/or who go inactive in the year or two following their missions. While I think this has been happening for decades, with more missionaries - and the bubble ending - the number is simply higher. I'm not sure if there is a higher rate of these things happening, but if there is a higher rate among the general membership (and note I do say if) then it would make sense that the same would be true for returned missionaries.

So, I see this as an attempt by the church to try and deal with this issue. I have a son returning in a few months and I tried to relate some of what I know about My Plan (which isn't much) to what he might experience. My own returning experience was not all that traumatic, the worst part was that I looked around for my companion the first couple days and I had some trouble driving on the right side of the road again. I have stated here before that I am not a member of the Best Two Years Club, and I was quite frankly ready for my mission to be over. My son has given some clues that he is ready to move on with life as well, but I am not sure how he will adjust. He is, however, headed back to BYU soon after his return.

So, in relation to the OP, I can hope that goals in the plan are goals that are set by the individuals. I fear that might not be the case. I do believe they will be goals set by the individual but heavily influenced by the church/program/local leaders and in most cases parents. These people are young adults at this point and need to be respected as such.
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."

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mom3
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by mom3 » 17 Jul 2015, 11:42

- But, wow, your MyPlan goals are to be shared with your ecclesiastical leaders and your PARENTS when you get home??? To me, that's a very bad approach.
:thumbup:

Wow and just wow, these are people we have hailed as leaders, we've claimed to trust them with the Lords most important work - but they can't keep their goals private? I don't understand LDS agency any more.

I lean more to Non-Traditional Mom's concern, when I was a youth the big push was to know God's plan for you. It's what set Joseph Smith apart, he sought God's plan and looked where it led. If he had just fulfilled his families wishes he never would have prayed, had the vision, and so on. The Personal Progress Program of that time was a very loose thing, a bit matriarchal but less "eternally intense". However as I rounded the Young Adult age I noticed a change, suddenly goals were being set by other people for my life. Well meaning as they may have been, the distress a person caused when they didn't follow some leader or parents plan was very evident. Silent Scarlett letters were passed out all the time. Girls who didn't have a marriage prospect by 21 were herded towards a mission, lest they fall in love with a non-member or career and get lost. (I am not exaggerating).

I dated guys who had a hard time coming home. One in particular. The mission had been the apex of his life and he didn't want it to end, nor was he comfortable back home. So yes transition plans are good. I believe that was part of the original impetus of YA wards, the YA's who had been out in the adult world on missions or college were suddenly back the kids table when they returned home. The YA wards now have so many adults "helping" it completely defeats the purpose. I've seen it first hand both from my YA kids and my parents whose calling it is to feed the YA a meal on institute night.

If others are setting the plan for us, and the goals, how will we ever grow by our own learning. Under this plan - Eve would have failed. She went rogue.
"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

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Heber13
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by Heber13 » 17 Jul 2015, 12:27

The church is very goal oriented (scouts, YW recognition to help YW make goals, DTG, seminary graduation, mission life).

So I could see someone thinking they should give tools to help them continue this goal setting post-mission so it isn't like they set goals to get on the mission or get to BYU or the temple...then just nothing after that.

The idea leaders and parents can have access and review is likely viewed as a way to support them, and help with accountability to reach the goals.

It falls short when the parents and leaders use the well intentioned tools to put undue pressure, or to try to push for perfection that they create resentment. My sons are teen agers, and if left to their own devices...would just play xbox all day. They need some goals to push them in a good direction...and yet they don't know what they want. So some goals are better than no goals. I just know goals should be adjusted as they grow.

The tools are just tools. How they are used will result in them being good for some, damaging to others. Discernment is needed...and not always there.

And also...
But this may present a problem for some because there are so many “shoulds” and “should nots” that merely keeping track of them can be a challenge. Sometimes, well-meaning amplifications of divine principles—many coming from uninspired sources—complicate matters further, diluting the purity of divine truth with man-made addenda. One person’s good idea—something that may work for him or her—takes root and becomes an expectation. And gradually, eternal principles can get lost within the labyrinth of “good ideas.”
-President Uchtdorf, The Love of God, Ensign, Oct 2009
These tools shouldn't be used to make some members feel "unworthy" and others feel pride.

We just don't all approach things the same ways. It won't be a good tool for some people.
NonTraditionalMom wrote:I struggle with the most in my FC/FT is learning to make decisions/have beliefs based on my own moral compass and not what outside sources expect or demand.
I believe this struggle is allowed by God, because we grow from it.

The iron rodders love to have a path to fall in line and help them know they are OK, and wonder why everyone else isn't on the same path.

The Liahonas have no path, but follow their heart...and just can't use the iron rod to help them...there is no rod along their path...which is why they have their Liahona to help them, thank God.

Not one way for all. But different tools for different journey-folk.

I have struggled through this, and have tried to accept that things like My Plan, or ward mission plans, or family mission statements, will work great for people who love to write goals and have a plan. If it works for them...I'm grateful the church has cool tools that help them.

But I'm OK the way I am. Others will have to love me and accept me the way I am, or not. But I will follow my heart on what is best for My Plan.

No matter what plan we use, leaders and parents should be there to support some to help reach goals, and also know when deviation to the plans are fine. Because that is what happens in life. It is more about readjusting goals and expectations based on what is needed, rather than sticking to a map that may or may not be useful. In the NFL, coaches spend hours before each game making game plans. But when the game starts, the team still huddles after each play, and they reassess plans based on what is happening, and sometimes throw out the game plan and make a new one when they see what will work. No coach in the NFL would survive if they stuck to the best intentioned game plan with no deviations.

Neither should we.

A game plan is great to have to move in a direction...but needs to be adjusted daily based on what is happening. My plan is to be a good person. I don't care how I get there...I just want my goal to be that I learn to be a good person. I hope my Liahona will help take me there.
Luke: "Why didn't you tell me? You told me Vader betrayed and murdered my father."
Obi-Wan: "Your father... was seduced by the dark side of the Force. He ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true... from a certain point of view."
Luke: "A certain point of view?"
Obi-Wan: "Luke, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to...depend greatly on our point of view."

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nibbler
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by nibbler » 18 Jul 2015, 06:17

From that article I'm not clear on whether a missionary is required to share their My Plan learning experiences (MPLEs). They mention that post-mission MPLEs will automatically be shared with the MP. The missionaries are "invited to share" plans with local leaders and parents, but often I've found that once someone is invited to share something there's a strong cultural expectation that follows, it can quickly become an expectation.

I see the preferred method is doing this online. These things won't be private.

I believe the intent of the program is to increase the RM retention rate. Some time ago there was a statistic that 50% of RMs went inactive within one year of returning home, something along those lines. The My Plan program was probably introduced to formalize a process to make sure people don't slip through the cracks. Bishop Billy doesn't forget to get in contact with Elder Edgar because there are boxes to check.

I did my own My Plan when I was returning home. Leaders were concerned with RM inactivity back then and I must have been worried about that happening to me. It took almost a full month to deliver mail from our mission. If I asked a question in a letter it typically took about 8 weeks before I'd get a response. I took advantage of this delay, wrote a huge checklist, and mailed it to myself on the last day of my mission. Like clockwork, a month after arriving home I get my letter. I could go down my checklist to make sure that worldly influences hadn't taken hold after being back in the world for a month (OCD, scrupulosity, etc.). I was going to pull the letter out from time to time to see how I measured up, I ended up losing it. Thank goodness.

To OON's points:

1) I agree. The culture shock I experienced coming home was greater than the culture shock I experienced when I arrived in the field. I knew I was in for something different heading out. I thought I knew what my own culture was like. Seeing my culture through eyes that had acclimated to another culture was jarring to say the least.

2) It's no surprise that our youth aren't growing up. We set up environments in which they don't have to. The mission age is 18, kids go directly from home to the mission field. The mission is every bit as structured as the home, if not more so. The thick rulebook makes many decisions for the youth, it's another type of environment where it's hard to grow - at least to how it relates to being autonomous.

3)
On Own Now wrote:Too many missionaries aren't ready for the commitment that they have signed up for, and the Church is trying to alleviate that, I'm sure.
I'm one of those that falls into the camp of wanting to make our missions less strenuous. We can prepare the kids for the commitment they signed up for and we can ease up on their commitment. It's a volunteer job where the person is paying their own way but we can be merciless to them.
On Own Now wrote:There has even been talk of having called missionaries begin to work on the language they will learn, under the direction of the Church. Up to now, called missionaries have been told specifically not to work on the language (which I have never understood).
To prevent people from learning bad habits? I was in the MTC just shy of one standard revolution of Kolob and when I got to the field I felt like they had taught me the wrong language. The five or six weeks (in addition to the standard three or four weeks) for language training would have been far better spent learning in the field. The classroom is nice but it doesn't match real world experience. If they can front load some of the class time? Good. Really all you want to do with the class is instill language study habits anyway. I understand that they've significantly changed language study to address this issue. :thumbup:

4)
On Own Now wrote:But, wow, your MyPlan goals are to be shared with your ecclesiastical leaders and your PARENTS when you get home??? To me, that's a very bad approach.
To add to this, knowing that your goals will be shared with everyone will just influence what types of goals you set. The goals will be less personal and more oriented to what people feel comfortable putting in front of people or maybe even tailored to what they think people want to hear.
Cure sometimes, treat often, comfort always.
— Hippocrates

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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by Old-Timer » 18 Jul 2015, 09:31

Like so many things, I see this as a generally good idea from totally well-intentioned people that will work extremely well for some people, extremely poorly for others and everywhere between those extremes for individuals.

I appreciate that the church leadership recognizes this issue and is trying to address it, and I like that the process is meant to be individual-driven. I see serious issues for some, but that will be the case no matter what is attempted.
I see through my glass, darkly - as I play my saxophone in harmony with the other instruments in God's orchestra. (h/t Elder Joseph Wirthlin)

Even if people view many things differently, the core Gospel principles (LOVE; belief in the unseen but hoped; self-reflective change; symbolic cleansing; striving to recognize the will of the divine; never giving up) are universal.

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SilentDawning
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by SilentDawning » 18 Jul 2015, 23:29

I don't see anything wrong with what they are doing...they are simply trying to help missionaries put a plan together.

Now, where it go get ugly is when the HC, BP or SP imposes a specific template on the person's life. Most of the Mormon template affects you, structurally, as a youth -- with priesthood advancement, YW achievements and mission and then temple marriage. This plan is at the end of the mission, leaving only marriage and children to go....

Imposing this on people who don't want it is something I don't agree with, but the rest of it is good -- I like the fact the church is trying to help the returned missionary. I wish they were there for me in the various challenges I have faced. Normally, they are not there for you as an adult.
"It doesn't have to be about the Church (church) all the time!" -- SD

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DarkJedi
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Re: My Plan, or your plan?

Post by DarkJedi » 19 Jul 2015, 03:49

I think that was my point SD. The plan is the church's plan, not the individual's. I'm not saying it's bad to set goals for education, employment and marriage and most young people do that anyway - although probably less formally. It is even reasonable to set a goal to finish a degree in 3 or 4 years. The problem comes in when setting goals for things like marriage because there are variables there beyond one's control. When I returned I wanted to get married, but I lived in rural Pennsylvania at the time in a small branch where I was the only YSA of either gender. There were a few in my stake, but we were an outlying branch and stake YSA activities were few as well. I had been back over 5 years before marriage availed itself. Not every RM live in Utah or goes to BYU - it is quite different out here. I see this same sort of thing happening with some young guys and girls in my current (also rural eastern) stake. The ones who stay here and work or go to state schools (or the ones who attend the major university that's in our stake) struggle with the "Mormon ideal." If the goals are truly individual and were truly uninfluenced by the "church template" (a term I like, BTW) I would have fewer concerns.

That said, I do agree that at least the church is doing something. I am aware that counseling is offered in SLC/Provo to some returned missionaries and I think that's great as well - but I don't see it happening large scale there or at all here. On the other hand, it's kind of sad that so many RMs would need counseling and would indicate to me that something is wrong with the program.

I mentioned My Plan to my missionary son because he had talked about things he might share with my other son who is prepping for a mission. He basically said most of what he was asked to do in preparation were worthless (he used watching episodes of The District and creating a Mormon.org profile as examples). He also said he was aware of My Plan but not impressed with it.
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

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