Teaching young men

"What is the most correct of any book on earth?" the first counselor in the ward Young Men presidency asked the youthful quorum presidency.

The answer, of course, was easy: The Book of Mormon, for so said Joseph Smith, the prophet.But, the young men wondered, why would the counselor ask such a simple question?

Experience told them that he was going somewhere - and that he wasn't necessarily going to discuss the Book of Mormon.

That experience, born of regular quorum presidency meetings, proved to be a good teacher.

Today, as was the case each week during their quorum presidency meeting, the 15-year-old quorum president, who presided at the meeting, had scheduled time on the agenda to allow the first counselor in the Young Men presidency to teach leadership principles using the Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Handbook.

"So," he continued, "why is the Book of Mormon so named?"

The answers were just too easy. Surely everyone knew this inspired book of scripture took its name from the Nephite prophet who abridged most of the record of that ancient people.

"And how old was Mormon when he began his ministry?" he asked, with just a hint of a playful smile.

The young men knew he was getting to his point.

But they didn't know the answer to his question.

Scriptures in hand, he confidently told the young men that Mormon was just their age - 15 years old - when he was "visited by the Lord" and "endeavor ed to preach unto this people."

And he was only 10 years old when he was told that he would eventually be entrusted with the sacred Nephite record.

"Of course," the leader said wryly, "he was a ripe old 24 years when he actually got the plates." (See Mormon 1:2-3,15)

"I wonder," he proffered, "if you, worthy Aaronic Priesthood holders, don't sometimes sell yourselves a little short. Maybe you think you're just kids and don't fully realize what power and influence your priesthood affords you."

Point made.

History is full of accounts of young people accomplishing things generally considered beyond their years. Not the least of which is, of course, the 14-year-old Joseph Smith as he sought direction and received a glorious visitation of the Father and the Son.

If young men sometimes sell themselves short, then young men leaders have a sacred responsibility to help them grasp a vision of their potential.

Three things are essential to that teaching:

Essential 1: Young Men must receive regular, consistent and on-going leadership training.

The regularly held quorum presidency meeting is, of course, a prime place for this training. Using the brief-but-so-well-directed lessons in the Aaronic Priesthood Leadership Handbook is an excellent - and essential - way to start.

Those who lament that they just don't know what to do in a presidency meeting haven't read that handbook.

Essential 2: Young men must have regular, consistent and on-going opportunities to use their priesthood. In short, they need to practice what their leaders have preached.

Too often the importance and value of Aaronic Priesthood service is understated or ignored. This is the work of the Lord. The fact that He has entrusted it to teenage young men in no way reduces its stature.

Unfortunately, not all Aaronic Priesthood holders are convinced that their service is truly necessary. And they, too, sometimes think less of their callings than they should.

That is why the next essential is so important.

Essential 3: Young men need - and deserve - kind, loving, caring leaders who will go the extra mile to help create a positive experience. (See Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121.)

Despite their protestations to the contrary, these young men don't know everything. Hence, they sometimes make decisions that, given more spiritual maturity, they wish they hadn't.

So they need someone who can lead - not push - them toward correct spiritual goals - and make them feel good about that guidance.

That task isn't necessarily easy. But it is overwhelmingly worth the effort.

Though oft repeated, it is not trite to say that these young men will in just a few short years direct the Lord's Church here on earth. In the fast-paced, sin-laden society in which the Church now labors, we can't over-prepare these fine young men.

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