I hope you’re doing well. I’m a young man of 18, just out of high school. I now have my entire life ahead of me with several possible life paths to choose from. I have a solid testimony of this gospel, and I’m fully aware of the importance of intellectual, philosophical, and spiritual progression versus material gain and secular praise and “success.” Unfortunately, I struggle on and off with marijuana and alcohol consumption, but that’s not what I’m getting at. I’m in a band, and extremely serious about music. It’s the most effective conduit for The Spirit in my life. I plan on touring extensively, and to be a career musician. I also have a burning desire to serve a mission however, and I just don’t know when I should do it. Everyone’s plan is different, you know? I’m very committed to my band right now, so I was thinking of waiting a few years or longer. How should I seek The Lord’s guidance in directing my own life? I wish to serve and please Him, and I want to follow his plan for me. Thank you for all that you do. I trust your wisdom.
I can relate to facing two options and the difficulty in choosing between them. At the same time, there are some points I’d like to bring up to you.
First of all, let’s just go over the Word of Wisdom matter, as you have brought it up. It relates to serving a mission in an important way. One of the most important ways to prepare for a mission is to strengthen your testimony as much as you can. A relevant question in your case would be: How strong is your testimony about the Word of Wisdom? Any testimony can be strengthened, but could you picture yourself testifying about the principle as you are today?
The problem with both marijuana and alcohol is quite simple. Using either one of them makes it more difficult to feel the Spirit. The effect is quick, and difficult to get past once it begins. This is part of why we are commanded to avoid such substances. Any time something interferes with the Spirit, we risk missing important revelations and guidance that Heavenly Father wants us to receive. Imagine trying to talk on a phone through a pillow. It is all but impossible. If your musical goals are contributing to your Word of Wisdom concerns, there’s reason to examine just how strongly the Spirit is operating in your life. I know it would be stronger without those chemicals in your body. If you are serious about feeling the Spirit direct you to serve a mission, this is something that you need to resolve right away. The sooner you remove those addictive habits from your life, the easier it will be to let them go. The longer you wait, the more difficult it will be. This brings me to the other point I want to discuss with you.
Both serving a mission and pursuing a musical career are noble desires. However, you won’t always be able to serve a mission, even if you are ready and worthy. There is a cut-off age where the church would rather see you find a wife, get sealed in the temple and begin raising your family. If you wait too long to decide, the option will pass you by.
On the other hand, a musical career doesn’t really have a cut-off date. It does require regular practice, determination, and focus. I have a feeling that if you chose to serve a mission first, the Lord would not only help you prepare for two years of serving Him, but I am confident He would help you in your efforts to improve your talents in music once you had completed an honorable mission.
This is just how I see it, and you are certainly free to choose, as you will. However I can promise you that the blessings that come from serving an honorable mission will follow you for the rest of your life as you continue in faith. Such blessings, in my experience, far outweigh whatever the world has to offer.
I pray you will seek the Lord’s guidance in reaching your decision. Pray and listen to the answers you receive. I promise you’ll be much happier as you do so.