In the general conference priesthood session of October 2002, Elder M. Russell Ballard challenged bishops, parent and prospective missionaries to “raise the bar” for fulltime missionary service.
At the priesthood session of this current general conference, Elder Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles extended that challenge. Paraphrasing his words of 13 years ago, he said, “What we need now is the greatest generation of young adults in the history of the Church. We need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate young adults who know how to listen and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit as you make your way through the daily trials and temptations of being a young, contemporary Latter-day Saint.”
In many ways, the world today is more challenging than it was 13 years ago, he said, citing distractions that can sidetrack many young men and women, including technology “that can capture the attention of the human family of God for both great good and unconscionable ill.”
In the early days of the Church, he noted, missionaries were interviewed by a General Authority before going into the mission field. While that is not possible today, “the Lord has provided ways for us to reach out to you.”
A member of the Quorum of the Twelve assigns every missionary to his or her mission, Elder Ballard said. “Although this is done without a traditional face-to-face interview, technology and revelation combine to provide an experience that is remarkably intimate and personal.”
Explaining the process, he said the prospective missionary’s photograph comes up on a computer screen together with key information provided by the bishop and stake president.
“When your picture appears, we look into your eyes and review your answers to the missionary recommendation questions. For that brief moment, it seems as if you are present and responding to us directly.
“As we look at your photography, we trust that you have cleared in every way the ‘raised bar’ required to be a faithful, successful missionary. Then, by the power of the Lord’s Spirit and under the direction of President Thomas S. Monson, we assign you to one of the Church’s 406 worldwide missions.”
Elder Ballard said it’s time to raise the bar not only for missionaries but for the entire generation. He asked them to ponder these questions:
“1. Do you search the scriptures regularly?
“2. Do you kneel in prayer to talk with your Heavenly Father each morning and each night?
“3. Do you fast and donate a fast offering each month?
“4. Do you think deeply about the Savior and His atoning sacrifice for you when you are asked to prepare, bless, pass or partake of the sacrament?
“5. Do you attend your meetings and strive to keep the Sabbath day holy?
“6. Are you honest at home, school, church and work?
“7. Are you mentally and spiritually clean?
“8. Are you careful with your time?
“9. And is there anything in your life you need to change and fix, beginning tonight?”