I recently had an opportunity to sit chatting with a Mission President after a coordinating meeting. Amongst other things, I asked him his thoughts on how to help Young Single Adults when they return from serving missions.
I had expectations of some answers he would give… Study, Pray, Testify, Date. But the answer, without even pausing to think was
“Plan your week”
It surprised me to be honest, until I took a moment to consider and listen. Then it became obvious and profound. There is an old adage…
When you fail to plan, you plan to fail
Week after week our full time missionaries follow the instructions in Preach my Gospel Chapter 8 and learn the skills required to use time wisely. In particular they learn to plan their time, through planning sessions.
“Once you have set goals, decide how you will achieve them. You and your companion should hold a weekly planning session on a day and at a time that is less productive for sharing the gospel. Your mission president will set the day and time of the weekly planning session. This weekly planning should not take more than two to three hours to complete.”
Imagine the contrast of spending 2 – 3 hours a week planning, then coming home and spending NO time planning.
A missionary has ONE purpose as described in Preach my Gospel.
“Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end”
A returned missionary has multiple purposes, Work, Study, Family, Dating and Self Development, to name but a few. How then can anyone go from a single purpose, to multiple roles and at the same time, drop the habit of planning ?
The simplest of things fall by the wayside when a skilled planner stops scheduling. Before long there is just no time to study the scriptures, minister or fulfil callings. .”Life” takes over and spirituality wanes.
Missions are not an isolated section of anyones life, they are a building block for the future.
I love Elder Holland’s statement
“The call is to come back, to stay true, to love God, and to lend a hand. I include in that call to fixed faithfulness every returned missionary who ever stood in a baptismal font and with arm to the square said, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ. That commission was to have changed your convert forever, but it was surely supposed to have changed you forever as well“
Elder Holland was speaking specifically about returning to activity, but it applies just as well to returning to planning and those other life skills learnt as a missionary. That consicrated service WAS meant to change you forever.
So what to plan.
Start with things that matter most, things that have to be done and things that will help you achieve your life and Eternal goals.
- Spend some time every week with a paper diary or a calander on your smart phone and make a plan.
- Ensure your schedule includes time to study the scriptures and Come follow Me.
- Can things be combined to use time wisely? Think outside of the box, be creative with your planning.
- Is there an activity or date you have planned, thar perhaps you could invite someone else to, making it an opportunity to combine fun with ministering?
- If you are dating a future eternal companion, start the habit of planning together now, especially plan to study together.
- If you are a little further along life’s path, a spouse or children will need including in your daily plans.
With so much to do, it becomes obvious why we teach missionaries how to plan. If you haven’t served a mission, planning is still a life skill that needs to be used. If you are already a habitual planner, review your strategy and tweek if required.
When Alice in Wonderland asked the Chesire cat,
What road do I take?”
The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”
“I don’t know,” Alice answered.
“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?
Let us not face life’s challenges, not planning where we want to go and what we have to do to get there.
For many missionaries there is a program in place to help the transition to home life called My Plan