Elder Lockhart- A Sacred Mission Experience
I get excited each time I think about my mission and how many impressions that came to me were the result of daily scripture study and prayer. Once, my companion and I had just left...
While hygiene and grooming may seem like a topic that doesn’t need to be discussed, it is something that definitely needs to be addressed with missionaries. Often, poor hygiene can be such a distraction, that your message could be overlooked because of your outward appearance.
The church’s Missionary Handbook is quite clear on the rules and regulations of missionaries when it comes to their appearance.
Appropriate dress and grooming will help you earn respect and trust. Your appearance is often the first message others receive, and it should support what you say. Therefore, wear conservative, professional clothing that is consistent with your sacred calling. Be neat and clean. Bathe daily, if possible. Use deodorant. Keep your clothes clean, mended, and wrinkle-free. Never allow your appearance or your behavior to draw attention away from your message or your calling.
-Missionary Handbook, 10
The last line is especially important, "Never allow your appearance or your behavior to draw attention away from your message or your calling."
As a missionary, your time is very limited and your time to get ready in the morning may be less than you are used to. Often you are tired and the level of exhaustion can be surprising for some once they are in the field. However, keeping a clean, well-kept appearance can truly make a difference in your work.
In my early years of marriage in one area where I lived I would often run into the sister missionaries. I was shocked to find them often wearing wrinkled clothing, no makeup, with what appeared to be a 3 day old, somewhat greasy looking hairstyle. I’ve also come across elders with buttons missing from their suits, scraggly, unkempt hair and stained white shirts and ties. Elders and Sisters, we need to step it up. As the handbook says, “your appearance is the first message others receive and it should support what you say.”
Take the time to shower daily. Sisters, even if you don’t wash your hair daily, make sure you shower daily. Wear deoderant. Wear a little perfume or cologne if you feel it is not too distracting.
Sisters, the handbook gives some guidelines on clothing and what to avoid. I would add, pay close attention to any stretch fabrics you may wear, especially fabric that lays across the bust. Sometimes, in our modern world, we tend to wear things that are a little more form fitting than they should be. When stretchy fabric is pulled tighter it can something become shear, unbeknownst to us. I have, on more than one occasion, noticed a sweet, well-meaning sister, showing off a little more than she would ever want to. Take the time to stand in front of the mirror before you leave the apartment each day. Turn around fully and check the back of your outfit as well. Does your outfit draw too much attention to a certain part of your body?
Elders, this goes for you too! As slim fit suits become more popular many elders are taking them on their mission. PLEASE, consider modesty when it comes to the cut and fit of your pants. If you find that your seams are pulling, your pants are too tight. As you continue on your mission you may find yourself riding a bike, or gaining a little weight in an area where the members love to feed their missionaries. Plan ahead of time to allow your pants a little wiggle room for such situations.
Again, “Never allow your appearance or your behavior to draw attention away from your message or your calling.” If the shape of your body is drawing people away from the message you are teaching it is a distraction. Do your best to dress appropriately. I promise you, the Lord will bless you, and you won’t be wasting time on teaching people who may be more interested in you than your message. (And believe me, it happens.) :)