As the use of technology has expanded exponentially in the last few years, missionary policy has recently been amended to allow the use of mission phones to call home more often. General Authorities have also issued messages of caution, urging moderation, care, and good judgement when it comes to the role of smart phones, computers, and social software in our lives. Exercising good habits now will help prospective missionaries transition to a humbler, more purposeful use of these technologies to invite others to come unto Christ.
Many young people seem glued to their devices. Games, social media, music, entertainment, calls and texts light up the screen with notifications 24 hours a day. A missionary, however, may not use phones for entertainment, distraction, or as a social fix, and the shift from a personal device to a professional one can be jarring. One way for a prospective missionary to become more aware of how much they rely on their device is to take the Prophet’s repeated invitation to begin a social media fast. He has encouraged such fasts to increase spiritual health, tuning the mind toward the softer, more tender thoughts in life, as well as to what is most important.
Take 7 days, as shared in President Nelson’s Worldwide Youth Devotional in June 2018, or 10 (President Nelson’s challenge to the women of the church, October 2018), or go forty days (and nights!) if that’s your goal. Focus on limiting social media, games, music, or other distracting entertainment. The Prophet purposefully left the challenge open to interpretation. Understand that media of all types may be addicting. Take an honest evaluation of your relationship with your technology and follow the Spirit to decide what to reduce for a better life experience.
As a representative of Jesus Christ, a missionary is expected to behave in a manner appropriate to the sacred nature of his or her calling. This includes using phones and technology in a professional manner by turning off or putting away phones during face-to-face and church meetings, appointments, and conversations with your companion and others. It means making calls and texts and other communications clear, respectful, and purposeful, and checking your messages regularly and responding promptly to show respect for the sender and their concerns. By following all mission-specific and general guidelines, rules, and protections in place for your devices, missionaries will qualify for the blessings that come from exact obedience.