Heed spiritual shepherds to avoid serious mistakes

Keep eyes above crowd

Stick to principles- Beware `little wrongs'

Heavenly Father has provided spiritual shepherds to assist His children in following the gospel of Jesus Christ, Elder W. Eugene Hansen of the Presidency of the Seventy said at the Saturday evening priesthood session.

As an illustration, he told of an experience he had as a boy herding his grandfather's sheep in the mountains of northern Utah. Noticing three rattlesnakes in the path of the sheep, he tried to turn them away from the snakes. He succeeded for a time, but then two sheep broke away from the herd and moved toward the snakes. The rest followed, and despite his efforts, two of the sheep died of rattlesnake bites.

"Unfortunately, in life, we all too often see the results of those who ignore the attempts of spiritual shepherds to guide their paths past hazards and dangers that may be unperceived at the time," he remarked, applying the experience from his youth.

"Parents, bishops, grandparents, Scoutmasters, advisers and genuine friends often can provide spiritual shepherding," he said.

"A genuine friend who has your best interest at heart may often be the one who encourages or provides the strength in a weak moment to prevent another from making some serious mistake. In so doing he or she helps prevent the sorrow and sadness, the embarrassment and loss of self-respect that nearly always accompanies sin. But, unfortunately, so many times there are situations where peer influence has a definite negative effect."

Satan is aware of the influence peers can have on an individual, Elder Hansen noted. He warned: "Don't be deceived. Don't be influenced with this kind of enticement. Keep your eyes above the crowd. Be your own person. You have been taught correct principles. Stick with those principles."

Saying there is no neutral area between good and evil, he admonished young people not to justify conduct they know is wrong on the pretext of it being "such little sin, it won't matter."

"While it may be true that the particular conduct is not at the top of the scale, the more dangerous part is the road that it puts you on," he said. " Little wrongs' just have a way of leading intobigger wrongs.' "

He admonished the young brethren: "You know what is right. You have been taught well. You have the Holy Ghost. Your challenge is to remain strong and faithful. Keep your bodies and minds pure. Make the decision early to get on the right road and then stay there. Your Heavenly Father loves you. He has confidence in you. He wants you to be happy. He has provided a pattern for you to follow. (See D&C 52:14.) That pattern is the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has provided spiritual shepherds along the way to assist you."

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