It’s natural for missionaries to be concerned how they will perform when they leave home. There are whole shelves of books that promise help in becoming a successful missionary, handling companionships, living away from home, and more. It’s common for preparing missionaries to get these as gifts, or even seek them out themselves to get a leg-up on their coming service. These materials are uplifting and entertaining to read, but returned missionaries will rarely cite any of them as the most influential book of their mission.
Successful missionaries know the scriptures are the finest handbook for navigating all fear and worry in life. What is prescribed for members and investigators is more essential for you, the missionary.
Remember, your mission is not for you. Missionaries leave home to serve God by serving others, not to take an 18-month or two-year study abroad for personal growth. You will serve others more effectively if you take time before you leave to strengthen your own faith and testimony.
All members have immediate access to all recommended resources for active missionaries. Preach My Gospel is a study guide that includes references in the Standard Works and the Missionary Reverence Library. All books in this Church-sanctioned reference collection are available to read for free on the church website, or can be bought cheaply through LDS.org’s online store.
Most important are the Standard Works, which include The Bible, The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. These are the most important resources to any living person on the earth. If you don’t feel you will find help in them for your mission-related concerns, testifying to investigators that the scriptures channel God’s power for any problem will be difficult.
Craig M. Ahlstrom, former president of the Lehi Stake and currently serving as mission preparation teacher, has this to say: “I was surprised how many missionaries arrived in the field only having read the Book of Mormon once or not at all. These missionaries need a strong testimony of The Book of Mormon, The First Vision and mission of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and most importantly, that Jesus is the Christ and His church has been restored to the earth. Too often these missionaries come into the field without a basic knowledge of these things. They eventually get it, but if they could come with testimonies and a sound understanding of doctrine, they would really hit the ground running.”
The Missionary Library may seem like more than you could ever read. For those who are leaving soon, that may be true, but the point is study and understanding. Incorporate them into your regular scripture study to get to know how they enhance the doctrine and how they can be used as teaching tools.
Reading dense material on gospel topics isn’t easy, but effort is an act of faith. Take the time to address the study questions in Preach My Gospel as a dialogue between you and God, with full disclosure, honesty, and investment in your own repentance. This is the experience you will pray your investigators have as you teach.