The Need for Structure

Part 3 of ‘The Return of the Missionary’ Series.


Need for structure.

From Dave and Wendy Ulrich

Once they have had a few days to relax, they will probably start to want some structure. Parents can help by listening, asking about lessons learned from the mission, and encouraging goals and plans. This is the time to get a non-missionary calendar/planner and start setting some goals again. They can and should schedule time to relax, have fun, think, socialize, work out, and read a good book, as well as time to pursue goals, look for work, help at home, and start schooling. Your role now switches from manager to consultant, from resource provider to resource broker, from steward to loving friend. Good questions to ask your returned missionary: What do you think? What are your options? How can I help? Would you be interested in…? Could you…?

Encourage your missionaries to think about a vision for themselves, to create specific goals, to focus in on doable actions, and to structure time to follow up with themselves at regular intervals. Focus on the five aspects of transition and well-being: emotional, physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual.


What do I think?

A missionaries life in many ways is very unbalanced. I mean that in a positive way, not negative. The bulk of the structure has been focused on their spiritual preparation; what a great way to establish spiritual habits for the future. However, now is the time to assist them to recalibrate that structure by balancing out the emotional, physical, intellectual, social, and spiritual aspects of their life. 

As suggested by my husband in the previous post, all too often that balance is tipped completely the other way on their return. Missionaries end up foregoing all that has been learned on their mission and focus is placed on everything but the spiritual; tipping the balance completely the other way. Precious lessons learnt on their mission can be lost.

Assisting the missionary to find good balance through structure will allow them to discover well-being, as well as continuing to live the higher law they lived on their mission. For this to happen it may be a wise decision, before the missionary comes home, to discuss as a family how the home environment can assist to foster a balanced structure. Is the family praying together daily? Do the family study the scriptures together daily? Is the family setting goals? Does each member of the family have a responsibility that assists in the smooth running of it? Offering a spirit led home life with structure could counterweight that extreme tip the other way.


1. What kind of structure do you have in the home that will assist each individual to maintain balance?

2. What can we do as parents to assist our returning missionary to maintain a form of structure and continue in the path that their mission taught them?

3. What can we as members of the Ward do to assist returning missionaries to maintain their focus and add structure to their lives?

4. For those parents who have had a missionary return home, how difficult has it been to switch roles from being a manager to being a consultant?

**Part 4 will explore ‘Big Goals, Little Steps’


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