Full-time missionary service isn’t about leaving just because you’re old enough. It’s about being ready for the “glorious, sacred privilege” of serving the Lord (First Presidency letter, Nov. 16, 2018). So how should the timing of a mission be determined?
The most important consideration, of course, is the will of the Lord. The best time to serve is when the Lord confirms the time is right, even if that timing might appear inconvenient for other reasons. In addition, there are other considerations such as worthiness, family needs, finances, health, and school and training schedules.
If you want to start or finish your mission at a certain time, the Submission Planning Tool and the Mission Release Date Planning Tool at lds.org/callings/mission/mission-timing can help you determine when to submit your recommendation.
An article in the March 2019 Ensign, “How Your Mission Can Help You Have the Time(-ing) of Your Life,” suggests three things every prospective missionary should do:
Don’t delay preparation. Whatever the Lord’s plan for your future may be, becoming better prepared to serve is always a good plan. Strengthen yourself spiritually through scripture study, prayer, and repentance.
Make a plan. Your goal should be to serve God throughout your life. Although the timing of a mission may affect education or training, ask yourself, What is the best way to serve God now? What will be the best way to serve Him later?
Seek divine guidance. When you do your best to find a solution, then humbly ask Heavenly Father for help to do His will and not your own, He will help you see the path forward.