THE CASUAL MISSIONARY
In 18 years of helping missionaries, I have never met a single missionary who was intent on being wicked or rebellious. From my experience, missionaries are a group of excellent young men, motivated by love, with strong desires to serve God and their fellow men.
However, as the mission wears on, I have met a few casual missionaries, and, sadly, I was a casual missionary for a time. You have seen them– they stop shaving daily, their top button is undone with tie askew, maybe a stain on their wrinkled shirt, and hair that needed a trim about two weeks ago. They sit splayed on the couch with one eye on the TV in the next room and one eye on the lesson, and frequently use “LDS surfer lingo” to communicate. When they ask if they can get a referral, members think, “not with these ones, maybe the next set.”
There is hope! I can almost guarantee that this missionary didn’t start this way! He was once bright-eyed and 100% focused. He was ON FIRE! The most insidious thing is that casualness creeps up on a missionary over a long period of time and over a long series of compromises. They are like the proverbial frog being boiled. Even sadder, this casual missionary is probably miserable and doesn’t know why! When I got called out on my missionary clothing by that wonderful and brave ward mission leader, I suddenly knew why we weren’t having the success that we wanted. Sadly, I looked at my slackiness (that’s a word, right?) and realized I had wasted precious time that I could have been more effective.
It is dangerous to serve the Lord in a casual way. Elder Neal A. Maxwell put it pretty bluntly when he said:
“It seems to matter little to the adversary whether we become sensual or casual; either way, we are lost to the things of the Spirit.“
You read that correctly! We can be either “carnal, sensual and devilish” and lose the association and aid of the Spirit—or we can be casual and be just as lost to the Spirit’s influence!
So, how do we recognize and defeat the onset of casualness?
- Dress and grooming are an outward indication of how serious you are about the work you do.
- Your actions demonstrate to members and investigators how serious and purposeful you are about sharing the gospel. You are always being observed by someone.
- Your approach to studying the scriptures will show whether you are serious or casual.
- Your private, personal prayer habits tell the Lord how serious you are about doing His work.
- Your language (the words you use, the things you choose to talk about, the kindness and love that are present in what you say).
- Taking missionary planning time seriously.
For those missionaries seeking to be happy and feel joy on their missions, President Spencer W. Kimball counsels:
“Sin never brought happiness. Carelessness does not bring happiness. Casualness does not bring happiness—only devotion and consecration.” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, p. 156)
So, if you find yourself unhappy in missionary service, see if casualness has crept in and then recommit to being a 100% focused, bright-eyed and “on-fire” missionary!