Monday, May 10, 2010

Ignoring the prophets, again

M. Russell Ballard’s “Raising the Bar” address was delivered in the October 2002 general conference. (Yes, it was that long ago, and yes, you really are that old.) The quote everyone seems to use from it is:

Please understand this: The bar that is the standard for missionary service is being raised.
To my mind, though, the most interesting thing was stated very near the end of the address (emphasis added):

Upon you bishops and you stake presidents rests the responsibility to recommend only those young men and women whom you judge to be spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally prepared to face today’s realities of missionary work. Brethren, judge wisely and remember: Not every young man needs to be called to serve away from his home; some may best serve under your direction as ward missionaries.

In my observation, however, this has been pretty much ignored—the goal is still to get every male 19-year-old in the church to serve as a full-time missionary, and those that don’t are viewed as failures on the part of the young men’s program leadership and/or the priesthood leadership of the ward and/or the young man himself (or, possibly most often, on the part of all three). And even if that’s not the view in a particular case, there’s certainly still a cultural bias against a young adult male in the church who opts (for whatever reason) not to serve as a full-time missionary.

And so, as is always the case when i notice something like this, my question is deceptively simple: Why?


Heather the Mama Duk said...

I have actually read things by several moms who were utterly furious when a bishop or stake president recommended their sons not serve full time missions. I can only think of one of those who ultimately did not serve. I think the counsel is often ignored by leaders because the parents pitch fits and insist their sons go. You don't want to "offend" people after all you know.

Michelle said...

Jim's dad is having trouble with this one. Every month (especially in the spring) he sees dozens of kids getting physicals to put in their mission papers. Since the "raising of the bar" he has been more picky in what he notes in the paperwork, resulting in more than a few nasty phone calls from parents. It's frustrating to him that parents would rather send out a child whose mission could be compromised or jeopardized by health issues, than keep that child home for a little longer or permanently in order to clear up potential problems.