Faithful Mormon parents raise their sons with the expectation that, when they turn nineteen, those worthy sons will be called as part of the missionary force the Savior instituted when he said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15).
Shortly after our third son received his call to serve in South America, a friend not of our faith, grandfather to our boy's good friend, asked if we knew yet where said son would be going.
When I told him the nation that would be our son's home for the next two years, the grandpa asked, "Does the missionary get to pick where he wants to go? How does that get decided?"
I ventured to answer honestly: "We believe the missionary is called by God through inspiration."
With a look of slight impatience on his face, this man responded, "Right. How do they really decide?"
As Mormons we share many of the same Christian doctrines as our friends of other faiths. However, if there is one thing that truly sets us apart, it could well be that we really DO believe that in Christ's church, men and women are called by God, through the Spirit of prophecy, to serve the Lord in His Kingdom.
When the Savior asked his disciples who people said that he was, Peter declared with certitude, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (see Matthew 16:15-19). The Savior then stated two great truths:
First, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona . . ."--it is a blessing to feel the inspiration of heaven revealing truth to our souls; and second, "for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven"--there is a power beyond mortal might which will teach truth to the honest seeker.
Heavenly Father wants his children to know, to experience, truth. Whether the truth has to do with the field of labor for a new missionary, or how to organize and run a local congregation, men and women who are called of God can have the gift of prophecy. That is a great blessing all of us can tap into.