3 Ways to Keep the “Missionary Glow”

When I came back from the mission, people often came up to me and said something like: “Wow, you really have that missionary glow.” Years later, I met an impressive returned missionary who was always so excited about missionary work. He spoke often of missionary experiences he had been having in his present life. I assumed that he had been back for a very short amount of time because he couldn’t stop talking about it. After church one Sunday I went up to him and said: “Jason, I just have to say that I really admire your love for missionary work, you really have the missionary glow. When did you get back from the mission?” To which he responded: “Thank you! I have been home for 5 wonderful years.” This blew me away! I was so impressed and it became my goal to keep the missionary glow for as long as I live.

Mormon Glow in Psychology Today: “Mordar”

This glow is not just a myth or silly Mormon slang. It has actually been measured and even researched. In 2008, one of the contenders of the widely-viewed reality TV show American Idol was Brooke White, a Mormon. She ended the season as a fifth place finalist on the show, yet never mentioned that she was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. However, many people assumed that she was Mormon because she did mention that she never drank a cup of coffee or watched an R-rated movie in her life. In a post-season interview she said that she never really knew she was setting off the “Mormon radar.”

The Returned Missionary - Missionary Glow

Brooke White – Mormon, 2008 American Idol Finalist

After this happened, some social scientists were very interested in whether people really could tell the difference between a Mormon and a non-Mormon by just looking at them – if the Mormon radar (what they called the “Mordar”) went off or not. In some recent studies, they found that Mormons were recognizable by those of their faith as well as those who were not members of the LDS church. You can find the whole article about Mormon glow on Psychology Today’s website.

This is also true of missionaries. They have a glow. Full-time missionaries are expected to live a higher spiritual standard because they are representatives of Jesus Christ. But when we come home, why should that change? Do you feel like you still have the missionary glow? What does it take to have the missionary glow? What do you think it takes to have the Mormon glow? Has anyone told you that you have it? Do you feel like you have it? You probably do and people have probably told you that. Keep it! Keep that glow! Even if your old friends make fun of you, or things happen in your family that feel awkward, don’t lose it.

3 Ways to Keep the Missionary Glow – Set off the “Mish-dar”

There are more than just 3, but I know that if I list more than that, you wont read. You are just scanning anyway. No one reads blog posts anymore. :)

1. Spiritual Hygiene*

  • Remember the power that comes from sticking to the basics. Maybe it seems boring to brush and floss your teeth, shower and put on deodorant on a daily basis, but in the long run those things could have a huge impact on your health. If you only brush and floss once a week, you will pay for it in a few months (and it can cost a fortune). If you don’t shower and put on deodorant, uh…that’s just gross. Similarly, there are certain spiritual hygiene principles that keep our Spirits clean and fresh and healthy. Read and study the scriptures. Pray and talk to God from your heart. Go to church seeking spiritual refreshment like a weekly spiritual shower. Just doing the basics will keep you fresh and spiritually healthy.  It doesn’t take much either. Consider Elder Boyd Packer’s analogy about leavening: “Things of the Spirit need not—indeed, should not—require our uninterrupted time and attention. Ordinary work-a-day things occupy most of our attention. And that is as it should be. We are mortal beings living in this physical world. Spiritual things are like leavening. By measure they may be very small, but by influence they affect all that we do.” (Revelation in a Changing World, Oct 1989).

2. Living Higher-Level Principles*

There are certain “higher level” principles that will give us an added measure of the Spirit. I will only list a few here, and will give examples.

  • Seek Heaven through Sacrifice - Three words: fasting always works. We fast every month and though it is a simple sacrifice, it is a quick and powerful way to open heaven’s door. But fasting isn’t easy. No sacrifice is. Fasting is especially hard when you forget that it is fast Sunday, and start making a really amazing omelet with tomatoes and basil or even pour a bowl of Quaker Oatmeal Squares – and then BAM, you remember. Strong is the man or woman who can dump that cereal. It is a sacrifice. Even if you don’t go through the forgetful cereal crisis, you still feel hungry. Maybe you even get a headache, or feel weak. But when you feel the physical difference, you know where you stand. There is no question. You just gave up your favorite cereal! Why? You know why. And every true sacrifice – like unto fasting – will plant in your heart a boldness to approach the throne of grace with confidence. When you are praying at the end of a 24 hour fast, there is no question in your mind that you are hungry. You know it, and God knows it. So if you want to keep the glow, don’t just fast, but sacrifice to come closer to heaven. Pray to know what to do. You’ll be glad you did. And you are sure to keep the glow.
  • Deep Reverence - Respect for sacred things is a sure way to keep the glow. “Reverence invites revelation” (Boyd K. Packer) and revelation will render the glow. Not just being quiet during the prayer, but doing those things that help both you and God to know that you respect that which is holy. Even little things. Getting to church 5-10 minutes early. Keeping your church clothes on all day on the Sabbath. Turning off the music in the car while you drive by the temple. Standing when an apostle enters the room. Turning off your cell phone during sacrament (not just putting it on vibrate). Praying earlier than when you go to bed to make sure you don’t fall asleep during your prayer. Saving up to purchase your own set of temple clothes. Being cognizant of how you wear your garments. There are really no rules about these things, but there are blessings of the Spirit when you have a deep reverence for that which is holy. Think of how you feel when you join the crowd in standing when an apostle enters a chapel or stake center. That is the idea.
  • Stand Up for Truth - I was in San Francisco traveling with a business partner and we had just come from a SF Giants game. We went to a hotel and were standing in line to get our room key and heard the receptionist say: “I’m sorry, but you’ll need to have someone who is older than 18 sign for you or you can’t get a hotel room here.” I looked up just in time to see two very attractive youngsters (boy and girl) walking away from the front of the line toward us. The young man approached us (we were also young and cool looking, but looked older than 18) and asked “Dude, you wanna help us out here? All we need is your signature.” In his expression was a sort of assumption that we were both “dude-like” manly men who would understand a fellow dude’s desire to have sex with an attractive young woman – as if we had gone through the same thing at his age. He looked at Jared, my business partner, who looked even more dude-like than I, with a slightly-tilted baseball cap and some facial hair. Before I could say anything, Jared looked straight at the hopeful kid and said loud and clear: “Absolutely NOT.” There was a big line of people behind us who saw and heard it all. The great thing is that this set the stage for everyone else in line. The youngster continued to ask others in the line behind us if they would vouch for them, to which all of them said: “NO.” They left embarrassed and I felt honored to be friends and partners with Jared, who stood TALL for what he (and I) believed. And you could feel it in the air after.

3. Stay Excited about Missionary Work!

  • The best way to keep the missionary glow is to never stop being one. No matter what anyone says about “you need to let go of your mission” or “Stop being such a missionary!” you must never cease to become a missionary. There is power that will begin to flow into your life the moment you fully commit to being a life-long missionary. There will always be something you can do to share the gospel. For more ideas about how you can share the gospel online, read our post about online missionary work. And while you’re at it follow the prophet (on Google+ and Facebook).

The Glow is a Tangible Reality

The missionary glow isn’t just a cute and naive lack of awareness of the world after being released from full-time missionary service. It is a tangible reality that is evident to those who possess the glow as well as those who surround them.  It is an endowment of light to those who actively receive the Holy Ghost. It inspires and invigorates those who have it and those around them.

Parley P. Pratt describes very well the glow that comes from the Holy Ghost:

The gift of the Holy Ghost adapts itself to all…organs and attributes. It quickens all the intellectual faculties, increases, expands and purifies all the natural passions and affections; and adapts them, by the gift of wisdom, to their lawful use. It inspires, develops, cultivates and matures all the fine-toned sympathies, joys, tastes, kindred feelings and affections of our nature. It inspires virtue, kindness, goodness, tenderness, gentleness and charity. It develops beauty of person, form and features. It tends to health, vigor, animation and social feeling. It invigorates all the faculties of the physical and intellectual man. It strengthens, and gives tone to the nerves. In short, it is, as it were, marrow to the bone, joy to the heart, light to the eyes, music to the ears, and life to the whole being. In the presence of such persons, one feels to enjoy the light of their countenances, as the genial rays of a sunbeam. Their very atmosphere diffuses a thrill, a warm glow of pure gladness and sympathy to the heart and nerves of others who have kindred feelings, or sympathy of spirit. (The Key to the Science of Theology, p. 101 – emphasis added).

Brooke White’s Mormon glow was recognized on national television and reported by Psychology Today. Jared’s glow was recognized by the entire line of people at the hotel. Your missionary glow will be noticed as you apply the suggested principles above.

What else can we do to keep the glow?

Happy Returned Missionaries

Actual Returned Sister Missionary

*These terms were introduced to me by Reed Davis, a friend from Harvard Business School.

avatar Andy Proctor (34 Posts)

Andy is the creator of TheReturnedMissionary.com and the co-creator of HappyMormons.com and LDSmissionaries.com. He is an internet entrepreneur and loves doing online missionary work. He graduated from BYU in 2009 after living in the Holy Land and studying at the BYU Jerusalem Center. He is currently writing a book to help returned missionaries find their new purpose and apply what they learned on their mission to their post-mission life. He is married and can't wait for the kids to start dropping from heaven.


20 Comments

  1. avatar Rachel Slade says:

    This is so great. I’m actually getting ready to go on my mission, but I talk about “the glow” all the time, so I thought this was really cool.

    • Have you received your call yet? If so where? I report next week for the Spain Barcelona mission :)

    • avatar Andy Proctor says:

      That’s wonderful! “The single most important thing you can do to prepare for a call to serve is to become a missionary long before you go on a mission.” (Elder David Bednar “Becoming a Missionary” CR Oct 2005) You will be an amazing missionary.

  2. avatar Tanya Klieve says:

    I am a recent convert, just 12 years since my baptism. I have not only witnessed the Missionary glow but with health problems, that I made faith problems, I am unable to attend meetings and at those meetings I saw it in members and missionaries. My body is broken and my spirit gets weak but the Missionaries continue to visit me and strengthen me through prayer and service. I love having chosen to be a Latter Day Saint but if I were to bore you with my journey, you would agree, that Heavenly Father chose me to be a member of this amazing church. I have people tell me that they think I am younger than my years, that I am extremely beautiful (that is not a physical trait) and that I radiate calm and peace. When the medical world gives me the physical strength I will put up my hand to be a missionary. I believe that is in my destiny and that I was born to serve. I am filled now with the spirit of the Holy Ghost and I sit alone a smile on my lips. I think that is the glow, I am so blessed!

    • avatar Andy Proctor says:

      Your optimism and faith are so refreshing Tanya. I’m so glad you have the eternal perspective. I believe that is a gift from God. Keep it up!

    • avatar Phillip Weyers says:

      Yep… beautiful to hear Tanya. I can only guess that the ‘glow’ comes from God.

  3. I love this! & I promise I didn’t scan :)

    I do believe in a noticeable spirit that overcomes a person who is full of love, peace, charity, service, an understanding of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and an understanding of the Atonement.

    It’s one of those things that makes me want to share my testimony with the world. I want to give others that peace and love i feel in my own heart and in my own life.

    Thank you for sharing <3

  4. avatar Boio Thea Peni says:

    My son finishes his mission in January and I was trying to prepare something to say when he came home and I didn’t know what to write until now. I print what is written above so that all that have returned home will be address too. The glow that you mentioned dies with alot of the Missionaries back home and I want to light that up again for them and to my son aswell. I am thankful that I click this to read. Thankyou so much again.

    • avatar Andy Proctor says:

      Boio, what a great parent you are! Feel free to share more posts with your son from this site. There is a great video about advice for returning missionaries: http://www.thereturnedmissionary.com/advice-for-returned-missionaries/

  5. thanks andy!

  6. Nice article, and good advice. I just wanted to add that this is something explicitly mentioned in the scriptures.

    22 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.
    (New Testament | Matthew 6:22)

    34 The light of the body is the eye: therefore when thine eye is single, thy whole body also is full of light; but when thine eye is evil, thy body also is full of darkness.
    (New Testament | Luke 11:34)

    67 And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.
    (Doctrine and Covenants 88:67)

    Seems the best advice to keep the glow would be to keep your eye single to the glory of God. Ironically, I wonder if this means forgetting about the beauty factor or “sign of righteousness” factor, and just…living with an eye single to the glory of God. Let’s remember that a lot of missionaries who have gone inactive since returning home have had understandings or testimonies that are practice-deep, but not rooted in doctrine. All of the suggestions that you have given “work” because they increase faith, help us repent, help us keep covenants, and help us recognize or receive inspiration from the Holy Ghost. In other words, they help us live the gospel of Jesus Christ. It may seem too simple, but this what returned missionaries need to do. Primarily, returned missionaries that are not continuing on are not “enduring to the end”–they are not continually increasing faith, repenting, making and keeping covenants, or responding to the enticements of the Holy Ghost. If our efforts to help them reflect this underlying doctrine, they will be more successful.

  7. There is definitely a “glow,” or a Light, in the faces of many LDS people. In our home, we call it the Light of Christ. It is very visible. We’ve watched many reality-type shows, and can pinpoint Mormons because of that Light. There’s just something in their eyes that is different.

    Your 3 pieces of advice that will help us keep that glow are spot-on, in my opinion. They’re simple, but vital. Our spirits need spiritual enlightenment, as much as our bodies need food.

    Great article!

  8. avatar Thomas Brimacombe says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time and effort to write this and then share it with others. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
    Most of my friends and a lot of other RMs I have known are all too happy to let go of the mission and the lifestyle that a mission brought. They actually sometimes mock those of us who want to keep this “missionary glow.” It makes me happy to see that some returned missionaries out there feel the significance of becoming truly converted and staying that way.
    I can’t give many suggestions that could be any better than the ones you provided here for keeping that glow. One that I would like to mention, though, is to keep setting and achieving meaningful goals for personal growth, especially in spiritual development. That is one attribute that I have seen missionaries learn on our missions and then forget when we return home because we don’t see the established “key indicators” like before, and we have to find out for ourselves (with help from the Lord) what we need to do next in order to keep progressing. So, the goal is up to us, the plan is up to us, and the achievement of such is up to us as well. If we don’t remember to set those things, we might “plateau” and stop striving to be better, and then we get complacent and can sometimes fall.
    Anyways, thank you once again for writing this. I’m definitely going to share it with anybody that I can get to see it.

    • avatar Andy Proctor says:

      Thank you Thomas. You are absolutely spot on. That is the whole intent behind this site – to inspire RMs to stay strong. To give them one more reason to continue to become a missionary the rest of their lives. Stay tuned for more posts and feel free to browse around. If you like this article, you may like the one on eternal life. Here is the link: http://www.thereturnedmissionary.com/do-you-really-want-eternal-life/ Thanks again! God bless.

  9. avatar Michelle Warlow says:

    I truly Believe in the LDS Glow,I am a recent convert and have to say I was asked to speak at church on how the Missionaries helped me and my family,To this day I have uttermost respect for the missionaries and yes they do have this glow and this invisible force of good will, there presents, manner and good nature helped me also to make the decision to convert.And when I did,…… I hadnt realised that in this wicked and polluted world we had Saints of Christ ,for me to be part of that is heaven on earth .I am so greatfull for Heavenly father and his plan of salvation , I pray that there will be more soules out there that will see the works of the LDS and acknowledge the church.

  10. Matt 22:21
    Alma 5:14
    Malachi 3:2-3
    Isaiah 48:10
    Zech. 13:9
    Alma 34:29
    D&C 128:24
    3 Ne. 19
    3 Ne. 24:2-3
    3 Ne. 9:20
    Alma 5:19
    Moroni 7:48
    D&C 110:1-4

    “What can I do so that others can see Christ’s image in my countenance?”

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