When I did mission prep I was pretty scared that, one day, I’d get sent home from my mission*. Now, I wasn’t a disobedient teenager at all, but before I left for the MTC, so many RM’s told me “Do this one random thing and you’ll be sent home”.

A mormon mission is as much a privilege, as it is a responsibility. You not only represent the Lord, but also yourself, your family and, if you’re serving abroad, your country.

Being sent home early from missionary service (which should never be confused with early, honourable release: like medical release) can bring feelings in inadequacy, guilt and shame… and lets not forget how disappointed everyone would be who worked so hard to help you prepare for a mission. 

However, as scary as that all sounds, very few missionaries go home early from missionary service.

Times have changed! And those that do, are often well aware of their actions. Mission President’s are amazing men, I learned quickly in the field that if you just try your best, everything works out. Your church leaders really are there to help you, not catch you out.

A source in church leadership told Mission Geek that in the 2014, Seminar for New Mission Presidents, President Monson referred to missionaries as a “precious commodity” and that he hoped Mission Presidents would do “all they could to work with missionaries and keep them in full time missionary service”.

Here are a five concepts to bear in mind when doing mission prep. Problems as well as solutions. This list was compiled with input from mission presidents current serving. These are the top five reasons missionaries get sent home.



Pre-mission, unresolved sins

This is a huge problem. If you have committed a serious sin, especially of a sexual nature, please be specific with your Bishop, he is the only person who can help you put that right in the eyes of The Lord. It might delay your missionary service, but that’s way. way better than coming home early. Your Bishop will be confidential. 

Don’t lie, it will catch up with you. The calling of a missionary is sacred and I promise you, the mission field is like a magnifying glass for your conscience, if you have unresolved sins they will only feel bigger in the mission field.

Solution: Be honest with your Bishop and Stake President

#missionclean #missiononlyonce #doitright

In this photo released on Thursday Sept. 18, 2014 by the University of Leicester, two skeletons are uncovered by archeologists at Chapel of St Morrell in Leicestershire. A team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) working with local volunteers found the skeletons appearing to be holding hands during an excavation at the Chapel of St Morrell in Leicestershire, a site of pilgrimage in Hallaton during the 14th Century. (AP Photo/University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS))

Don’t take sins with you to the grave. LOL

Disrespecting another culture

You may have heard the urban legends of missionaries being sent home for climbing on religious statues and taking photos or otherwise. Well, it gets worse than that. Some missionaries have been imprisoned for breaking the law of the land. In the missionary handbook it says:

“In some countries it is illegal to photograph government buildings, including embassies, airports, military installations, and other city, state, or national buildings. Do not take pictures of civil unrest or demonstrations. Do not photograph sacred objects or statues”. Just be sensible. Problems here are very very rare.

Solution: Talk with locals, be sensitive, understand your purpose.

#thinkfirst #respect #loveothers

COPYRIGHT Jeffrey Friedl

Be respectful. The law is the law. COPYRIGHT Jeffrey Friedl

Physical Abuse

A wall in the hole of an apartment is one thing, but a punch in the face, in fact any physical abuse among missionaries is just not tolerated. I never had any companion’s who wanted to solve problems with their fists but some have and maybe you’re one of them. If so, stop it!

A mission is one of the greatest experiences of your life. Don’t cut it short by losing the spirit, trust of your companion, mission president and The Lord. A mission is full of help to build communication techniques and patience opportunities. 

I worked with a missionary once who had some anger management issues. He’d come from a rough background where boxing had been his whole life. He now struggled to keep his emotions in check and had episodes of feeling angry. However, with help from the mission he served well, learned coping strategies and never hit anyone, not even once. If he had, it may have been ‘game over’.

Solution: Pray together, do a companionship inventory, talk openly, be understanding, talk with mission leaders. Very last resort: punch the wall.

#workitout #beaman #moveon


Never punch your companion 

Leaving your companion

This is always a really sad one, because usually it’s a missionary trying to cover up the mistakes of a companion who also goes home. Don’t do it!

If you’re going to break the trust of your Mission President by allowing your companion to go somewhere else and do something, anything without you, then you might have to go home. 

But don’t freak out, if your companions leaves you: get to a phone and call the mission president immediately. 

Don’t cover for them. What if your companion is accused of doing something bad and you can’t testify on their behalf? What if they are tempted to do something really bad whilst away from you? What if they are in danger?


#stopbeingselfish #thinkofothers


If they leave you, don’t just sit around. Call the mission president

Sexual sins

You’re a missionary. You are asked to be celibate, which means no girlfriends or boyfriends for eighteen months/two years. Keep that rule and there won’t be any problems, break it and it’s likely that you’re going home, leaving with you a trail of distrust in the members.

Again it’s really simple: Just keep the rules. Do not communicate with recent converts of the opposite sex whilst in the mission field. Do not flirt, text, spend time with anyone you become physically attracted to (which is unlikely if you are focused on the work).

Lock your heart and “Devote all your time and attention to serving the Lord, leaving behind all other personal affairs”. Missionary Handbook p4

Solution: If you do start to have feelings for someone, talk with your mission president very early on. Do not ever leave your companion. Do not linger on these thoughts. Tell your companion, let them help you.

#recognize #bebrave #askforhelp

Young couple holding hands with sun-flare.

There’s a time and a place for finding a significant other. A mission is not that time. 


All in all, the key question to remember is: Can The Lord trust me to represent Him?

Live by a resounding ‘YES’ and you’ll have no worries. Being an effective, obedient missionary will open the door to receiving some awesome opportunities to serve. As President Hinckley said “You can be wise and happy or stupid and miserable. The choice is yours”.


If you liked this, then you’ll love: seven tough mission questions answered 

*Being sent home, isn’t the same as being excommunicated from the church, it just means that you can’t hold the title of missionary and preach the gospel as a representative of Jesus Christ, set apart from the world.

Note: please do not list in the comments of all the crazy reasons missionaries have been sent home. That was then. This is now. This list was compiled with input from mission presidents currently serving. Thanks.

Feel free to drop me a line at [email protected]

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3 Responses

  1. Shedrack

    That’s a really true article. I know if the said tips are seriously considered,the potential Elder /Sister has nothing to worry about.
    My name is Shedrack,and I just got home from serving a FULL TIME MISSION.Lol

  2. Mike

    The article contains many wise words. I do not disagree with a single sentence. But it is flawed because of what it does NOT say.

    Something like 8% of missionaries return home early. The number who are sent home for behavior lapses of the sort indicated above has remained at under 2% for decades. However, the number of missionaries coming home for mental health reasons has increased.

    The most common cause is depression/anxiety. Another common cause is schizophrenia. Professional help is often effective for these conditions. But if severe, the treatment and healing or adjusting process may not be compatible with the heavy demands of full-time missionary work. A particular twisted feature of depression is that it can cause undeserved and magnified feelings of guilt and worthlessness which are intensified when it prevents the missionary from doing their work. It is a trap from which a missionary cannot escape with will power alone.

    Another category is all the other medical problems that are uncommon but not absent in missionaries. Problems like a ruptured appendix or pneumonia or the onset of diabetes. Or even severe problems like cancer or heart disease. In some cases these can be treated in the mission field and in others they can not. Most often the missionary will heal, given excellent medical treatment and is able to return. But not all of them want to return for whatever reason, just like not all eligible young men want to go in the first place.

    The best advice is to not ignore serious health problems, either physical or mental. The common minor problems can be dealt with on your own. But recognize that at times a missionary is going to need professional help beyond prayer and obedience. We all do.

    Otherwise, it was a good article focused on one important aspect of the experience of not completing a mission over which a missionary has much control.

    • Thomas Swain

      Well said. I really feel for any missionary sent home, or with early honourable release. Preparation is the key to success, however as you have said, sometimes it’s out of our control. Like a wise man once said, “just don’t do anything stupid”


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