Elder Wirthlin’s counsel to youth: fix clearly in your mind what you want to be

Fix clearly in your mind what you want to be one year from now, five years, ten years, and beyond. Receive your patriarchal blessing and strive to live worthy of its promises. A patriarchal blessing is one of the most important guides in life that members of the Church enjoy. Write your goals and review them regularly. Keep them before you constantly, record your progress, and revise them as circumstances dictate. Your ultimate goal should be eternal life—the kind of life God lives, the greatest of all the gifts of God.

Prepare
After you visualize yourself as you would like to be in twenty years from now, identify the preparation you will need. Determine to pay the price in effort, money, study, and prayer. Be sure you understand the course or path you will be taking. The ideal course of life is not always easy. Comparatively few will find it and complete it. It is not a well-marked freeway, but a narrow path with only one entrance. The way to eternal life is straight and narrow. When I think of staying on the right path, I am reminded of Lehi’s dream about the tree of life. In it, the love of God was likened to a tree that bore delicious fruit, fruit that was desirable above all others. As Nephi recorded his father’s words: “And I also beheld a strait and narrow path, which came along by the rod of iron, even to the tree. … And I saw numberless concourses of people, many of whom were pressing forward, that they might obtain the path which led unto the tree.” (1 Ne. 8:20–21.) Many of these people later “fell away into forbidden paths and were lost.” (1 Ne. 8:28.) But those who ignored the scoffing and ridicule of the world and held tightly to the rod of iron enjoyed the fruit of the tree. The rod of iron represents the word of God, that leads us to the love of God. (See 1 Ne. 11:25.) You must hold firmly to the rod of iron through the mists and darknesses, the hardships and trials of life. If you relax your grip and slip from the path, the iron rod might become lost in the darkness for a time until you repent and regain your grasp of it.

Remember that success results when preparation meets opportunity in your lives. You will not always know precisely what opportunities will come or when they will come. But you can be sure they will be valuable only to the extent that you are prepared to respond to them. You can see the equation of preparation plus opportunity equaling success in the lives of leaders in the Church, government, business, professions, and, hopefully, in your own lives.

Preparation is vitally important in the Church so you can do your part when called upon and so the Lord can use you when he needs you.

Joseph B. Wirthlin, “Running Your Marathon,” October General Conference, 1989

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Elder Bednar’s counsel to youth about family history work

It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies. Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.

I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead (see D&C 124:28–36). And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories.

As you respond in faith to this invitation, your hearts shall turn to the fathers. The promises made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will be implanted in your hearts. Your patriarchal blessing, with its declaration of lineage, will link you to these fathers and be more meaningful to you. Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary. As you participate in and love this holy work, you will be safeguarded in your youth and throughout your lives.

Parents and leaders, please help your children and youth to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. But do not overly program this endeavor or provide too much detailed information or training. Invite young people to explore, to experiment, and to learn for themselves (see Joseph Smith—History 1:20). Any young person can do what I am suggesting, using the modules available at lds.org/familyhistoryyouth. Aaronic Priesthood quorum and Young Women class presidencies can play an important role in helping all youth become acquainted with these basic resources. Young people increasingly need to be learners who act and thereby receive additional light and knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost—and not merely passive students who primarily are acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26).

Parents and leaders, you will stand all amazed at how rapidly your children and the youth of the Church become highly skilled with these tools. In fact, you will learn valuable lessons from these young people about effectively using these resources. The youth can offer much to older individuals who are uncomfortable with or intimidated by technology or are unfamiliar with FamilySearch. You also will count your many blessings as young people devote more time to family history work and temple service and less time to video games, surfing the Internet, and Facebooking.

David A. Bednar, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” October 2011 General Conference

Take hold of your life and order it to be valiant

It is not expected that you go through life without making mistakes, but you will not make a major mistake without first being warned by the promptings of the Spirit. This promise applies to all members of the Church.

Some will make critically serious mistakes, transgressing the laws of the gospel. Here it is time to remind you of the Atonement, repentance, and complete forgiveness to the point that you can become pure again. The Lord said, “Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.

If the adversary should take you prisoner due to misconduct, I remind you that you hold the key that will unlock the prison door from the inside. You can be washed clean through the atoning sacrifice of the Savior Jesus Christ.

You may in time of trouble think that you are not worth saving because you have made mistakes, big or little, and you think you are now lost. That is never true! Only repentance can heal what hurts. But repentance can heal what hurts, no matter what it is.

If you are slipping into things that you should not slip into or if you are associating with people who are pulling you away in the wrong direction, that is the time to assert your independence, your agency. Listen to the voice of the Spirit, and you will not be led astray.

I say again that youth today are being raised in enemy territory with a declining standard of morality. But as a servant of the Lord, I promise that you will be protected and shielded from the attacks of the adversary if you will heed the promptings that come from the Holy Spirit.

Dress modestly; talk reverently; listen to uplifting music. Avoid all immorality and personally degrading practices. Take hold of your life and order yourself to be valiant. Because we depend so much on you, you will be remarkably blessed. You are never far from the sight of your loving Heavenly Father.

The strength of my testimony has changed since I felt a need to lean on the testimonies of my seminary teachers. Today I lean on others when I walk due to age and childhood polio but not from doubts regarding spiritual matters. I have come to believe, to understand, and to know the precious truths of the gospel and of the Savior Jesus Christ.

As one of His special witnesses, I testify that the outcome of this battle that began in the premortal life is not in question. Lucifer will lose.

Boyd K. Packer, “Counsel to Youth,” October 2011 General Conference

Let them feel our confidence they can make it home to God

Henry B. EyringOf all the help we can give these young people, the greatest will be to let them feel our confidence that they are on the path home to God and that they can make it. And we do that best by going with them. Because the path is steep and sometimes rocky, they will at times feel discouraged and even stumble. They may at times become confused about their destination and wander after less eternally important goals. These inspired programs make that less likely because they will lead the young person to invite and receive the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

The best counsel for us to give young people is that they can arrive back to Heavenly Father only as they are guided and corrected by the Spirit of God. So if we are wise, we will encourage, praise, and exemplify everything which invites the companionship of the Holy Ghost. When they share with us what they are doing and feeling, we must ourselves have qualified for the Spirit. Then they will feel in our praise and our smiles the approval of God. And should we feel the need to give corrective counsel, they will feel our love and the love of God in it, not rebuke and rejection,which can permit Satan to lead them further away.

The example they most need from us is to do what they must do. We need to pray for the gifts of the Spirit. We need to ponder in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets. We need to make plans which are not only wishes but covenants. And then we need to keep our promises to the Lord. And we need to lift others by sharing with them the blessings of the Atonement which have come in our lives.

And we need to exemplify in our own lives the steady and prolonged faithfulness that the Lord expects of them. As we do, we will help them feel from the Spirit an assurance that if they will persist, they will hear the words from a loving Savior and Heavenly Father: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” And we who help them along the way will hear those words with joy.

Henry B. Eyring, “Help Them on Their Way Home,” April 2010 General Conference

Four Fundamentals for Those Who Teach and Inspire Youth

1) The first fundamental I would emblazon in your mind and heart is teach by the Spirit. 

2) The second fundamental I would strongly emphasize is teach the reality of personal communication from and to God. Help each individual understand how to pray worthily and how to receive and recognize answers from God.

3) The third fundamental I would stress is please kindle a love of the scriptures in the mind and heart of each precious youth. Help ignite within them that flame of unquenchable fire that motivates those who have felt it with a desire to know evermore of the word of the Lord, to understand His teachings, to apply them, and to share them with others.

A love of the scriptures can be encouraged in two ways:

First, walk with them step by step through many passages of the sacred word of the Lord. Help them feel your enthusiasm, respect, and love for the scriptures.

Second, help them learn to read, ponder, and pray privately to discover the power and peace that flow from the scriptures.

4) The fourth fundamental is more easily undertaken as a result of prayerful application of the other three: Encourage Your Students to “come unto Christ” (Omni 1:26). Persuade each one to make Christ the center life.

That is the most vital message of all….

Elder Richard G. Scott, published in Religious Educator, Vol 11, No. 1, 2010

Reservoirs of faith

There are in our lives reservoirs of many kinds. Some reservoirs are to store water. Some are to store food, as we do in our family welfare program and as Joseph did in the land of Egypt during the seven years of plenty. There should also be reservoirs of knowledge to meet the future needs; reservoirs of courage to overcome the floods of fear that put uncertainty in lives; reservoirs of physical strength to help us meet the frequent burdens of work and illness; reservoirs of goodness; reservoirs of stamina; reservoirs of faith. Yes, especially reservoirs of faith so that when the world presses in upon us, we stand firm and strong; when the temptations of a decaying world about us draw on our energies, sap our spiritual vitality, and seek to pull us down, we need a storage of faith that can carry youth and later adults over the dull, the difficult, the terrifying moments, disappointments, disillusionments, and years of adversity, want, confusion, and frustration. . . .

Spencer W. Kimball, Faith Precedes the Miracle (1972), pp. 110–11, or, Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, Chapter 19: Strengthening our Families

A training program to become virtuous

I truly believe that one virtuous young woman or young man, led by the Spirit, can change the world, but in order to do so, we must return to virtue. We must engage in strict training. As the marathon runner Juma Ikangaa said after winning the New York Marathon, “The will to win is nothing without the will to prepare.” Now is the time to prepare by exercising more self-discipline. Now is the time to become “more fit for the kingdom.” Now is the time to set our course and focus on the finish. A return to virtue must begin individually in our hearts and in our homes.

What can each of us do to begin our return to virtue? The course and the training program will be unique to each of us. I have derived my personal training program from instructions found in the scriptures:

“Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly.”
“Cleave unto [your] covenants.”
“Stand … in holy places.”
“Lay aside the things of [the] world.”
“Believe that ye must repent.”  
“Always remember him and keep his commandments.”
And “if there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, … seek after these things.”

Now more than ever before, it is time to respond to Moroni’s call to “awake, and arise” and to “lay hold upon every good gift, and touch not the evil gift, nor the unclean thing.”

Elaine S. Dalton, “A Return to Virtue,” October 2008 General Conference