There is one calling I secretly wish for. Prophet? Too much responsibility–and I can’t stand Larry King. Apostle? Fly more than a McKinsey consultant and no hope of retirement? Only in my nightmares. Seventy? Like playing second string on the football team. Bishop? Sobbing youth, "special" moments and an EQ full of p0rn addicts? No thanks. Mission president? Now that sounds like fun.
It seems that lots of former missionaries think the same thing. And why not–mission presidents draw a living stipend, get excellent health insurance and their kids go to BYU for free. But the best part of being a mission president would be having a captive audience hanging on your every word. Deep down, isn’t that what we really want? (Academics deny this applies to them, claiming instead they produce their ponderous presentations and papers for the "greater good", but that is a lie. Most are invested in burying insecurities derived from friendless childhoods.)
When I’m honest with myself, I know that as mission president I will be prone to abusing my power. "Elder," I would gently chide while looking loving but disappointed, "no one is trying to humiliate you, now finish the song and this time keep your foot in the jello pool." But after the novelty has worn off I will focus on the task at hand– touring the mission to give talks linking obedience, baptisms and personal worthiness. My motto: A good missionary is a missionary desperately trying to compensate for a slight-but-persistent feeling of not being good enough.
If I have to send a missionary home early I will give it to him straight: "When you return some of the saints will offer only love and charity as you complete the repentance process. Others will heap shame on you for failing this rite of passage into Mormon manhood. Your parents will profess their sincere love but be profoundly embarrassed by your early return. Chances are you will go inactive." The elder will appreciate my honesty, own up to his responsibilities and vow to beat the odds. We will then hug before the APs drive him to the airport in uneasy silence.
My favorite moments will be comforting sisters who had served honorably as they prepare to return home. "Don’t worry," I’ll tell them, "it’s not too late." Then I’ll remind them my wife was 24 when I married her. Her age didn’t matter because I saw so many other great qualities in her. Personally I don’t think 22 is really that old anyway.
It’s out in the open now; I know I’m not supposed to, but I covet a calling. I’m ready for something more than EQ instructor or membership clerk. I’m ready for the big leagues. Perhaps one of the readers of our humble little blog knows someone who knows someone who might consider me–let him know I’m ready to join the harvest.