Discussions of Mormons and Mormon life, Book of Mormon issues and evidences, and other Latter-day Saint (LDS) topics.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Sacrifice of Musicians Who Serve on Missions - Glad to See Stephen Beus a Winner!

Stephen Beus is a gifted 24-year-old pianist who just won the annual Gina Bachauer international piano competition. Not bad for a musician who did one of the craziest things an aspiring professional can do: he served a full-time LDS mission. See the Salt Lake Tribune story for further details.

The sacrifice of giving up two years at such a critical age is a serious one for musicians, athletes, and others in competitive fields. Thank goodness for the courage that some have to make that sacrifice, though it may jeopardize a scholarship or even a career. I'm glad some, such as Stephen Beus, have been able to maintain their competitive edge in spite of the break. It can be done!

For me, "losing" two years for my mission was more than compensated by the rich experiences and education I received in Switzerland. I met so many people from so many cultures - I taught people from 52 different countries while there - and saw so much of life that I never knew in the States. It felt like several years of education compressed into two. No regrets - but I was luckier than average in many ways, I suspect. I honestly feel that I was able to move forward faster in the rest of my life because of the experiences my mission gave. But even if it had been all sacrifice and loss, I think it would still have been worth it to go and serve.

12 comments:

Bishop Rick said...

I think the choice to go on a mission is a personal one. If someone makes the decision not to go on a mission for whatever reason, he/she should be supported in that decision. Likewise if he/she chooses to go. Otherwise it is no one's business but theirs.

Dan the Man said...

I have been augh from pretty much the day i was born that going on a mission was, for my generation, required. Yes, there are the worthiness and health exceptions, but if you are healthy and worthy, you are called to serve. Now of course, the bar has been raised- healthy, worthy and prepared. I think the idea is not to say, well, I'm not prepared to go on a mission, so I better not go, the idea is to say, the bar's been raised, I'll meet that standard.

Every case is different, yes, but I disagree with your "whatever reason" assertion, especially supporting that person for "whatever reason." If someone chose not to serve a mission because they wanted to continue their education, I would not support them in that decision. Also: afraid of losing oppurtunities, losing friends, potential companions, sports, family not supportive, and in some wards, financial reasons.

I'm going to serve my mission in just under a year and a half, and I'll be giving up a lot of stuff. My family is pretty well off, and if I go on my mission I'm leaving behind two years of paid college, a car, potential girlfriends, personal space, drumming, practically everything I love to have or do.

"Whatever reason" just doesn't cut it for me. And I'm sorry if I offend, but this is something I'm very passionate about. I've had friends who decided to not serve their missions for some of the reasons I've listed, and I've had plenty give up nearly everything just so they could go. Which ones do you think are striving to be perfect?

To clarify: i don't mean to condemn those who don't go on missions. The Lord can see the inten of their hearts, but he has continually promised us that what you give up to go on your mission is not comprable to what you get for going on your mission.

(btw, I expect a paragraph for paragraph breakdown of my argument, comment critique style)

Walker said...

I agree in spirit with Rick. Should someone decide not to go on a mission, the last thing they need is a ward-ful of snot-nosed Pharisees giving them awkward glares as they pass each other in the hall.

While I wouldn't go so far as supporting any decision, supporting a decision and loving a person are two wholly independent activities. U

Ultimately, though, going on a mission, to me, really isn't a wholly personal decision--you're affecting the lives of hundreds, possibly thousands. And that's just from those you personally contact.

Someone who simply chooses not to go because they don't feel like it needs our prayers and love, not our judgment--for numerous souls may rue that decision in the afterlife.

Travis said...

With all respect to the "sacrifices" that these men and women are making, I think that there are greater sacrifices made by brothers and sisters who serve from outside of the United States. While on my mission in Korea, I knew one man who had to give up his entire college education just to be able to serve a two year mission when he was 19. If he didn't give up his education, he couldn't have served until he was 21. Sure there were benefits, but to have to give up so much, makes the American sacrifice seem small to me.

Dan the Man said...

For rick and walker

I think a lot of it may be the age difference. I'm 17, and I haven't checked, but I don't think either of you are. I'm part of a different generation I guess.

Bishop Rick said...

Dan,

You are indeed the man for making the decision you have made to go on a mission. Having gone on a mission myself, I understand and appreciate your sacrifices.

My problem with the "required" stigma is that it places people in the mission field that have no business being there. In contrast to what you seem to be doing, these folks are going because of pressure from parents, church leaders and peers, and NOT for the reason they should be going. I have known many guys that only went on a mission because their parents pretty much forced them in an attempt to reform them. I'm sorry but the mission field is not a reform school.

I tend to think that these people could have the influence over the 100s or 1000s of people Walker mentioned, but necessarily the influence you would desire.

I stand by my assessment that if you have no desire to go on a mission, everyone involved is better off if you don't go, and it is no one's place to put undue pressure or guilt on that individual.

The LDS church causes a person to go his/her entire life feeling guilty due to not being able to reach the bar that is constantly being raised.
Go on a mission, 100% HT/VT, Magnify your calling, 10% tithing, generous fast offering, perpetual education fund, every member a missionary, support auxilaries, attend all meetings, don't be late to meetings, give talks in church, bear your testimony each month in F&TM, attend the temple regularly, study the scriptures, Have family prayer evening and night, have spiritual FHE, don't drink diet coke, appearance of evil, no tatoos, only one set of earings (none if you are male), etc. ad nauseum !!

ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

Life if hard enough as it is, without all this extra pressure that is constantly drilled into our heads in every meeting/class/activity.

This blanket treatment of all members is ludicrous. Not everyone deals with this added stress in the same way. I have seen kids break down in tears at the podium out of fear of having to give a 3-minute talk in SM. I admit this is an exception, but it is an example of someone not being able to handle stress the same way someone else can, but feeling the pressure to go thru with it anyway, and being devistated in the process.

I'm sorry, but I feel it is no one's business regarding a guy's decision whether to go on a mission or not. Regardless of what is portrayed outwardly (education, sports, girls) you never really know what is going on inside their head that they are not willing to share.

Walker said...

Stephen Robinson's book, "Believing Christ" has an excellent example of what Rick discussed with Robinson's wife breaking down in the middle of the night over precisely the things Rick mentioned.

While there are plenty of individuals, as Rick noted, that do not belong on missions, let's be careful not to eliminate some Agrippas who are teetering on desire. If a fellow is cursing the Church, doing all kinds of heinous things, then certainly, he doesn't belong there. But someone who's basically a good person who might ride his three-wheeler on the Sabbath occasionally is easily within reach for the Lord's call of service.

My experience has been if you find yourself getting bogged down in the particulars, you don't understand the Atonement. Robinson noted how interesting that as many students come closer to the central truths of the gospel, they begin to lose their footing. They can quote For the Strength of Youth but for some reason can't quite remember John 3:16 or Mosiah 3:17.

Mormanity said...

Man, it's not just FHE, prayer, HT, etc., etc., etc. - but on top of that the Church and other annoying "friends" and "helpers" tell us constantly that we're supposed to do dozens of other things. For example, we're supposed to floss daily, exercise regularly, avoid contaminated food, eat fruits and vegetables, avoid carbon monoxide inhalation, balance our checkbook, keep track of our children, change our oil every few months and rotate tires AND get a transmission flush periodically, follow dozens of traffic rules, pay state AND federal taxes, pay numerous bills on time, use anti-spyware software, protect our passwords, lock our doors at night, save money, invest wisely, and keep our tray table up and our seat in the full upright position upon landing and takeoff. Sheesh!!

To all these people who are constantly trying to tell me what to do and how to live my life, I've got just one thing to say: thanks! I just wish I had started listening a little earlier.

Bishop Rick said...

Jeff,

Hardly a worthy comparison.

Bookslinger said...

And don't forget all the READING we have to do:

1. Read the Sunday School (Gospel Doctrine) material from the scriptures indicated in the student study guide.

2. Read EQ/RS lesson from Teachings of the Presidents of the Church.

3. Read the Ensign every month, including the whopper conference issues. Perhaps re-read the coinference talk that's used as the 4th Sunday lesson in EQ/RS.

4. Read from the Book of Mormon daily.

Bookslinger said...

Back to missions...

There are several ways one needs to be prepared. Not just spiritually, but also emotionally and mentally. People who are "late bloomers" typically have problems on their mission. So there are several dimensions to the "prepared" aspect, not just having memorized some scriptures, and having a testimony.

Being able to handle repsonsibilities, be able to handle and control money, being able to clean your apartment, are also things one should be able to do before going on a mission.

I think the "worthy" aspect is also traditionally interpreted too narrowly. Most young people think that just means obeying the law of chastity and Word of Wisdom. I think "mission worthiness" also includes acknowledging and striving for Christ-like attributes. On my mission I saw some missionaries who were extremely selfish and arrogant who would often bully others to get their way. I don't think bullies or those who have an uncontrolled hot-temper are mission-worthy.

It's also important to remember that the upper age limit for entering missionary service is 25. If a young man is not healthy, worthy, and prepared at 19, he still has a few years to work to get ready.

So in addition to removing the stigma from those who don't serve missions, I think the stigma of going on a mission after age 19 should also be removed.

Anonymous said...

And to add to (or reinforce) what Bookslinger said, there are many reasons a young man may not go on a mission at 19 other than worthiness issues. My oldest son, who is on a mission now after and started after he turned 21, simply wanted to get his undergraduate degree out of the way first. Although he would have "qualified" for a mission at 19, he is much more prepared now than he would have been.

In a different situation, I know of one young man who for various reasons wasn't emotionally mature enough to leave home when he was 19. Although he was living church standards at 19, going on a mission then would have been a mistake. He didn't go until he was 25, and both he and the people are taught are better off as a result.