We have heard many times that the youth today are stronger and more stalwart than those of previous ages. I think one of the things that solidified my testimony and kept me coming back to church even when my parents weren’t coming was the constant uplift I felt when the leaders would speak about the strength of the youth and how our Father in Heaven felt about us. I really don’t know how long they have been telling the youth how amazing they are, but it has been at least 31 years because I have been hearing it for that long.
Here are a few of the things they have been saying:
Young men of the Aaronic Priesthood, you have been born at this time for a sacred and glorious purpose. It is not by chance that you have been reserved to come to earth in this last dispensation of the fulness of times. Your birth at this particular time was foreordained in the eternities.
You are to be the royal army of the Lord in the last days. You are “youth of the noble birthright.” (Hymns, 1985, no. 255.)
In the spiritual battles you are waging, I see you as today’s sons of Helaman. Remember well the Book of Mormon account of Helaman’s two thousand stripling warriors and how the teachings of their mothers gave them strength and faith. These marvelous mothers taught them to put on the whole armor of God, to place their trust in the Lord, and to doubt not. By so doing, not one of these young men was lost. (See Alma 53:10–23; Alma 56:41–56.) President Ezra Taft Benson, Youth of the Noble Birthright, April 1986.
“I have said many times that I believe we have the finest generation of young people that this Church has ever known. They are better educated; they are better motivated; they know the scriptures; they live the Word of Wisdom; they pay their tithing; they pray. They try to do the right thing. They are bright and able, clean and fresh, attractive and smart. These are very substantial in number. More of them go on missions than ever before. More of them marry in the temple. They know what the gospel is about, and they are trying to live it, looking to the Lord for His guidance and help.” President Gordon B. Hinckley, November 2000, Your Greatest Challenge Mother.
Elder Anderson in April of 2010, gave this counsel:
President Thomas S. Monson has described the rising generation as “the very best ever” 1 and has said to our youth: “You have come to this earth at a glorious time. The opportunities before you are nearly limitless.” 2 But he also warned, “We have been placed on earth in troubled times.” 3 “It is a time of permissiveness, with society in general routinely disregarding and breaking the laws of God.” 4 We are surrounded by so much that is designed to divert our attention. “The adversary is using every means possible to ensnare us in his web of deceit.” 5
We hold in our arms the rising generation. They come to this earth with important responsibilities and great spiritual capacities. We cannot be casual in how we prepare them. Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith.
Just last week, I spoke with our primary children. I told them of some of the comments the Brethren have made about their generation. I wanted them to feel the power of who they really are. I wanted them to have courage and faith, that if they would do what the Lord asked of them, He would always stand by them and uphold them in whatever difficulties they may be called to face. I LOVE what Elder Anderson told us as leaders of the youth: Our challenge as parents and teachers is not to create a spiritual core in their souls, but rather to fan the flame of their spiritual core already aglow with the fire of their premortal faith.
I recognize that it does not always feel like these kids are those kind of people. But the Brethren have told us they are. Amazing things happen when you speak to them at that level. The Holy Ghost testifies of your words, or the Brethren’s words to them as you explain the truths of their spiritual identities. When the Holy Ghost comes, the atmosphere in the room changes. You no longer have to get their attention, you have it. They are riveted to your every word. Once they know who they are, then you can teach them the doctrines they need to hear and they are listening. This would be the fanning the flames part that we play.
When we try to teach the doctrine without the Holy Ghost, we might as well be herding cats into the river. When we don’t speak to them (the youth and the children) in the Spirit of love and truth and doctrine, we are wasting their time and ours. I really haven’t found anything that brings the Spirit quite as quickly as helping them to see and believe in the premortal fires of their faith—-whether you are speaking to an individual or a room full of people. When you can catch the vision of who they are and what they can do and you can share that information with them, through the power of the Holy Ghost, you can inspire them to do difficult and amazing things.
I mean, listen to the words of President Benson:
Give me a young man who has kept himself morally clean and has faithfully attended his Church meetings. Give me a young man who has magnified his priesthood and has earned the Duty to God Award and is an Eagle Scout. Give me a young man who is a seminary graduate and has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. Give me such a young man, and I will give you a young man who can perform miracles for the Lord in the mission field and throughout his life.
Don’t you love it? Boy language—straight forward—do this and here is the promise! And that goes for the Young Women too, only President Uchtdorf explained it in ‘girl language’!
My dear young sisters all around the world, I am grateful and honored to be with you today. President Thomas S. Monson and all the leaders of the Church love you; we pray for you, and we rejoice in your faithfulness.
Over the years I have been exposed to many beautiful languages—each of them is fascinating and remarkable; each has its particular charm. But as different as these languages can be, they often have things in common. For example, in most languages there exists a phrase as magical and full of promise as perhaps any in the world. That phrase is “Once upon a time.”
Aren’t those wonderful words to begin a story? “Once upon a time” promises something: a story of adventure and romance, a story of princesses and princes. It may include tales of courage, hope, and everlasting love. In many of these stories, nice overcomes mean and good overcomes evil. But perhaps most of all, I love it when we turn to the last page and our eyes reach the final lines and we see the enchanting words “And they lived happily ever after.”
Isn’t that what we all desire: to be the heroes and heroines of our own stories; to triumph over adversity; to experience life in all its beauty; and, in the end, to live happily ever after?
Today I want to draw your attention to something very significant, very extraordinary. On the first page of your Young Women Personal Progress book, you will find these words: “You are a beloved daughter of Heavenly Father, prepared to come to the earth at this particular time for a sacred and glorious purpose.” 1
Sisters, those words are true! They are not made up in a fairy tale! Isn’t it remarkable to know that our eternal Heavenly Father knows you, hears you, watches over you, and loves you with an infinite love? In fact, His love for you is so great that He has granted you this earthly life as a precious gift of “once upon a time,” complete with your own true story of adventure, trial, and opportunities for greatness, nobility, courage, and love. And, most glorious of all, He offers you a gift beyond price and comprehension. Heavenly Father offers to you the greatest gift of all—eternal life—and the opportunity and infinite blessing of your own “happily ever after.”
But such a blessing does not come without a price. It is not given simply because you desire it. It comes only through understanding who you are and what you must become in order to be worthy of such a gift.
Notice that there are a lot more words, a story and a fluffy feeling…. If you are speaking to boys (and some Type 3 women), get to the point, do this, be this and/or this will be the result or consequence. If you are speaking to girls, appeal to the emotions—light and fluffy and connected.
But whichever group you are speaking to, the point is the same, they are amazing, testimony-filled, Latter-day warriors. We need to understand who they are in order to remind them of who they are so they can become who our Father in Heaven intended them to be.
Take just a few moments and think about your own children, or the ones who you have been called to teach or lead. Pray about who they are and begin to see the gifts our Father in Heaven has given them. Take some time out of your busy schedule to sit down with that child and explain to them the things you see in them, and then teach them of what our Father expects of them in terms of their current behavior and where it needs to go and what it needs to be. Remember that ‘Satan desires to sift us as wheat,’ which means to make us common
. Teach that to our youth if it is necessary. Remind them that they are not common. They have a premortal fire burning in them. They are youth of ‘the noble birthright,’ saved to come forth in this day and age because the Lord knows who they are. He knows He can trust them to lead out in righteousness and be a light to the world growing more and more into darkness. This is their eternal heritage!!! And as their leaders and parents, we need to fan that flame and keep it moving in the right direction!
Have a great weekend fanning those flames!