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Episode 68: The Young Men general presidency on trusting in the Lord and strengthening Latter-day Saint youth


The 2022 youth theme for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has great meaning during this year, defined by culture wars and the continued COVID-19 pandemic: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

This episode of the Church News podcast features the Church’s Young Men general presidency — President Steven J. Lund and his counselors, Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox — discussing the strength and testimonies of Latter-day Saint youth. In this and other times of uncertainty, the voice of prophets can guide young people toward light, said President Lund. “It is our prayer, our constant prayer, that our youth will be able to see the power of the doctrines of the kingdom that are brought to us through the prophets, seers and revelators on the earth today.”

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Transcript

President Steven J. Lund: This new Children and Youth program has some cornerstones. One of them is the temple. Our youth, 11-year-olds can go into the temple and get that perspective that we’re talking about and begin to see their place in the stream of their existence through what they experience in the temple.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I’ve heard President Lund say, when people come up to him and say, “What’s the new eagle?” and President Lund says, “It’s called a temple recommend.” Yeah. That’s the new eagle.

President Steven J. Lund: Which matters because those covenants and those promises and that future life is all centered in the Savior. And so the temple is about us building an understanding and relationship to and commitment to the Savior.

1:20

Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

The 2022 youth theme for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be found in Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” This episode of the Church News podcast features the Young Men general presidency: Brother Steven J. Lund, and his counselors, Brother Ahmad Corbitt and Brother Bradley R. Wilcox. Brethren, welcome to the Church News podcast.

President Steven J. Lund: Thanks for having us.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: It’s great to be here with you.

1:53

Sarah Jane Weaver: Why don’t we just start, and Brother Lund, tell us why this theme is timely.

Young Men General President Steven J. Lund speaks during BYU Women’s Conference on April 29, 2021, at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah.

Young Men General President Steven J. Lund speaks during BYU Women’s Conference on April 29, 2021, at the Marriott Center in Provo, Utah.

Credit: BYU Photo

President Steven J. Lund: We live in a time, and it’s always been a time when there have been a lot of discordant voices out there, when cultural voices have been expert at making the gospel message seem kind of out of date, and out of step, with the voices of the world. And there have also been prophetic voices that have come under attack, but that, in fact, are speaking eternal truths that speak to the purposes of our existence here and so forth. That’s never been more true than in this disruptive internet age, and in this age, we see the prophet’s voice still guiding us towards light. And so it’s important that we be talking about that, and that we have youth thinking about who they’re going to trust and where they’re going to go for truth: Somebody on the internet or somebody who speaks with God.

2:48

Sarah Jane Weaver: it is a time of great conflict and misunderstanding, and tension that’s also defined by the pandemic. Brother Wilcox, what do you want youth to know right now?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: After having gone through several years of the pandemic, I think people are wondering, worried, they’re saying, “Gosh, is this going to be the story of the rest of my life? Is everything in my world going to be disrupted? Am I going to ever get back to a normal?” And I think in that kind of environment, it’s important that they learn to trust in the Lord. This pandemic wasn’t a surprise to Him, and if we step back for just a few minutes, we can see it from a perspective that allows us to see that because of the pandemic, some things have happened that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. And I think if we can just help young people step back, see it from a bigger perspective, then they really truly can trust in the Lord. 

Sarah Jane Weaver: Yeah, and Brother Corbitt?

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: That’s beautiful. I’m here shaking my head, no one can see that, but that’s so true. In some ways — Lehi says that there’s an opposition in all things, we kind of hear that and think, “Oh, no, if there’s something good going on, there’s something bad that’s going to happen,” but if there’s something bad going on, there’s something good attached to it by eternal law, and there’s so many good things about this pandemic that we can see. 

One of the things is that I think it has sort of, in some sense, stripped away the programmatic church, and exposed the faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, of all of us, and helped us see that we need to increase our faith and what else we need to do. But it’s brought people together, it’s brought families together, it’s done a whole lot of things, and some people it has actually lifted. I hasten to say, and we all do, that there have been many people who’ve suffered in this time, people who’ve lost their lives to the virus and so on. But the Lord is in charge, and I heard that the prophets say, “Plagues come and plagues go and He is in charge of His world and His people.”

5:01

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I thought of this theme last week when the Church announced that they had moved missionaries out of the Ukraine. Certainly this is a time, not just of pandemic, but of political tensions that have impacted our missionary force in ways that missionaries in the past have not had to deal with. The missionaries in the Ukraine might have done home MTC, they might have already been to a reassignment before they reached that country, and now they’re having to be flexible again.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I know a young man who just got reassigned to a mission in Canada from the Ukraine, and his companion just got reassigned to Germany, from the Ukraine. But it’s not just in the Ukraine that we’re seeing this. Look at what’s been happening in Ethiopia, and that whole mission is now functioning from Kenya. But as you read the article in the Church News about President [Robert] Dudfield, you can see how he’s trusting in the Lord, and they’ve actually found big pockets of Ethiopians in Kenya that those missionaries are teaching in Amharic. So, as Ahmad was saying, there are positive things that can come out of some of this disruption, if we trust in the Lord.

Church News podcast, episode 65: Leaders of the Ethiopia Addis Ababa Mission speak on faithfully and flexibly serving the Lord amid trials and the pandemic

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: And let me add to what Brad said: The missionary department is seeing missions that are baptizing more people now during the pandemic through technology than they did prior to the pandemic, and we know, and the brethren have taught that the Lord inspired the invention of technology for the gathering of Israel, and we’re seeing that happen, we’re learning how to do it. So by no means should anyone stay home. This is the time to sign up, get your application in to serve the Lord on a full-time mission, because you are doing so and you will do so in a unique way, and at a unique time foretold by the Lord.

7:03

President Steven J. Lund: I love to hear the passion in Brad’s voice as he talks about Ethiopia. What not many people understand is that that’s his hometown, that is a young child, he lived for several years in Ethiopia as a child. Those are his first sentient memories. We like to joke about the fact that I actually have two African American counselors, but only one of them’s ever been to Africa.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 3, 2021.

Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during the priesthood session of the 191st Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 3, 2021.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: I’m waiting to go. My trip last year was canceled because of the pandemic. That was one of the downsides for sure. 

President Steven J. Lund: And so we see this dynamic in Africa and other places in Central Europe, where there’s dislocation and relocation of missionaries, and the work goes forward. But this is not unlike what we’ve seen in previous decades, not so far away ago, when Central America was undergoing the same thing, and the work continues to go forth. Missionaries get moved around, the prophets of God deploy the battalions of Zion in various places in different ways, and the work continues to go forward.

8:07

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, my daughter is serving right now in Brazil. She started in Ohio, she had to kind of adjust to a mission twice, and she considers that a great blessing.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Wow. And many, many are. By the way, President [Russell M.] Nelson, back before the pandemic when he was chairman of the Missionary Executive Council, he called upon the missionary force to embrace technology, let’s get it out there, this is before anyone knew anything about the pandemic that we know of, and he said that we have to immunize our missionary force from the misuse of technology. He actually used that term, and I don’t think that’s coincidence. I think that not only what the prophets say, but how they say it is important. And the fact that a medical doctor leads the Church, is the Lord’s prophet today is, I don’t think, coincidence, nor do I think it’s coincidence that he served during World War II, and the first counselor was called up during the beginning of the Korean conflict. These brethren understand what the world is going through because they lived through it, and the Lord set that up, and that’s amazing to me.

9:24

President Robert Dudfield and Sister Darice Dudfield wear Ethiopian attire while attending an inter-religious event in Addis Ababa in 2021.

President Robert Dudfield and Sister Darice Dudfield wear Ethiopian attire while attending an inter-religious event in Addis Ababa in 2021.

Credit: Provided by President Robert Dudfield

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and President M. Russell Ballard, in an interview with Church News, he keeps saying, “This is not a unique time, we’ve seen hard times before, we’ll see them again, we’ll get through this.” We did do a podcast a few weeks ago with President Dudfield from the Ethiopia mission, and he spoke not just about the struggles that the pandemic have caused, but everything else that comes with just starting a new mission, and so everything we do in the Church does does take a good degree of trust in the Lord, right?

President Steven J. Lund: Let me reinforce what President Corbitt just said about going now as missionaries for that very reason. If you wanted to be born in a normal time when there would be a normal life, you were born in the wrong century. President Nelson talks, every time he talks it seems like, about this being a special time, a time prophesied by prophets from the beginning of time, 

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: A hinge point. 

President Steven J. Lund: A hinge point in history, when we are preparing for the return of the Savior. And this internet age, this internet generation that’s growing up as digital natives are being called into the mission field, not in spite of the disruptions of COVID, but because of them. They’ve been prepared for this moment, they know better than anyone how to talk to people through social media, and magnifying their reach through the internet age. So nobody should be waiting home until things get better. They were truly born for a time such as this.

Church News podcast, episode 28: : Elder Uchtdorf discusses how to incorporate pandemic lessons, move ‘back to the future’ of missionary work

10:57

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, there’s an episode in Joshua 3, where Jehovah promises the children of Israel that if they carry the ark of the covenant, that they’ll cross the river Jordan on dry ground. And it’s really not my favorite verse because they had to get their feet wet before the waters parted, but I’m assuming that youth today know something of that, that they just have to wade in and know and expect that the waters will part.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Steve Lund just did a little interview for the upcoming youth Face to Face that’s going to be broadcast on March 9, and he did an interview with some missionaries down in the MTC. And there was a young lady he spoke with who said, “I was a senior in high school in 2020, and everything just went out the window.” But she has moved forward with her life, and she says, “Now look at where I am. I’m on a mission. I’ve got a great companion.” I think it was Brazil she’s headed toward, but she’ll probably end up in North Dakota, but that’s all right, because she was so enthusiastic and optimistic, and it was exciting for me to see her response, instead of saying, “Oh, gosh, the world caved in my senior year, and now my world’s fallen apart.” She was just saying, “Nope, we’re going forward.”

President Steven J. Lund: Can I just speak to that for a moment? After my mission, I served in the military for a few years, and part of that was at Fort Stewart, Georgia, which is the home of the Army Rangers. And it was kind of fun going to church with those guys, because it was guys then, now it’s people, but they would regularly not show up for church on Sunday, because on Friday night or Saturday night, suddenly, an alarm had gone off. They had to go grab the duffel bag and go jump into a C–130 and disappear into the darkness, not knowing where they were going to land. And they might land in Alaska where they’re going to be in arctic conditions, and they might land, a door might come open and then tell them to jump over the Caribbean somewhere where they’re jumping into warm water. But they’ve got to be prepared for all the circumstances. Well, that’s the youth of today. What an exciting time. They may get called to Brazil, but in the night, an alarm may go off and they may end up in North Dakota or in the Ukraine or in some other place. It’s an exciting time and not something to fear. They’re ready for this. They’re up to this test. 

13:18

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: I so agree and that causes, you said not something to fear, and that it causes some fear, some anxiety, but that’s — now we’re back to your question, Sarah, trust in the Lord and the theme. If they do what President Lund just counseled, just go and trust in the Lord, they will see that they will have a marvelous experience. It’s going to be work. Missionary work is work, but it will change their lives for the better, and they will look back on it with joy for the rest of their lives as we do on our missions.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during the Saturday evening session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, speaks during the Saturday evening session of the 191st Semiannual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Oct. 2, 2021.

Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: On our social media accounts, we’ve been trying to introduce some of the new music that’s been written with this theme in mind, and there was a comment on my account from a sister who said “My husband just died, leaving me with three kids, and she said, “It’s very hard for me to trust in the Lord, when He would take my husband away at this time.” And she just said, “How am I supposed to trust in the Lord when it’s not working out? When I’ve had a negative experience?” And as I responded to her, I just — my heart just went out to her, because yes, that’s a very hard situation, and it is one of those moments where you say, “How can I trust in the Lord?” But remember, trust isn’t just about the easy things or the good moments. Trust is also about those hard moments. That’s when you have to say, “I have to trust in the Lord because where else can I go?” And trust that, even though He may not always lead us, as the Psalm says, by still waters and in green pastures, we can still trust that He is leading us, and where He leads us, even when it’s a dark and scary place, we can trust He’s with us, and if He’s with us, then we can safely go forward.

15:30

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I’d love to hear personal experiences from each of you from times in your own life when you’ve had to put your trust in the Lord.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: One experience that comes to my mind was when I was teaching elementary school, and a friend said, “You ought to go back and start working on your masters.” I said, “I just got out of school, I don’t want to go back.” He says, “Well, just check into it.” And I checked, and I found out that if I taught for seven years, then the school district would help me pay for my masters. So I went back to my friend and said, “That’s my plan.” He said, “OK, that’s fine.” But it wasn’t too long after that that I had a very strong spiritual impression. Do you remember the world that used to be on the floor of the Salt Lake Airport? Remember that world that was inlaid in the floor? I think they’ve torn that all out.

Security personnel check travelers as they enter the terminals at the Salt Lake International Airport on Friday, Sept. 6, 2002.

Security personnel check travelers as they enter the terminals at the Salt Lake International Airport on Friday, Sept. 6, 2002.

Credit: Jason Olson, Deseret News

President Steven J. Lund: Yeah, that makes you old, because that’s long since been torn out.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: That makes me very old. But it was right there that I had this strong impression that I needed to go back to school right then, and when I got to the long-term parking, I even prayed and said, “Did I just feel what I thought I felt Is that for real?” And once again, I just felt this prompting that I needed to go back to school right then. And I thought, the whole drive from Salt Lake to Provo, I thought, “How am I going to tell my wife that I’m going to quit my job and go back to school when the district’s not even going to help pay for it?” And I walked in the door and Debbie said, “Brad, I was washing the dishes and I had the strongest impression that you need to go back to school right now.” And I thought, “OK, OK, we are just going to trust, we’re not going to ask why or how, we’re going to just trust.” And I look back now, and I can see that I would not have gotten the job I have at BYU, I would not have been able to be in the position to reach the young people that I’ve interacted with at BYU had I not gotten my masters at a time when the window was right. If I had waited seven years, the window of opportunity would have closed for my being hired. So looking back, I can see that I was guided, but in that moment, it took a lot of trust to step forward.

Brother Brad Wilcox and Sister Debi Wilcox

Brother Brad Wilcox and Sister Debi Wilcox

Richard M. Romney, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

17:52

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: President, before you go, I think it’s significant that Brad felt that impression, hovering over the world at the airport, right? 

President Steven J. Lund: It’s kind of his way.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Or maybe it’s the world on my shoulder.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Because it’s not just your impact at BYU, you have impacted and do impact and will yet impact people all over the world, Brad.

President Steven J. Lund: That’s truly the case. I was impressed by a different thing. Debbie standing — because I relate to this — standing over the sink. My wife’s had the same experience of thinking about us, and my wife has thought too, “My husband could use some more education.” So we’ve got that in common.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: We’ve got that in common. We married up.

18:20

President Steven J. Lund: You know, I have had a very similar experience. I got home from my mission, and was praying about what to do next. I’d been a freshman at BYU, thought I was going back, had roommates all picked out and was ready to go, and had an impression that I shouldn’t, instead I should go join the military. Which was exactly the last thing in the world that I wanted to do. You know, like you, Brad, it just didn’t make sense, the timing of it, the “it” of it just made no sense to me whatsoever. And yet, I kept having this impression that I needed to do that. And so finally I broke down and talked to my dad about: “I’ve had this thought, you know, maybe I do this thing.” And my father surprised me, shocked me by saying, “Well, you know, that’s not a crazy idea. It might be — I was in the Navy during the war, and that was an important time for me. I could see you doing that.” So I knew that he wasn’t inspired. I moved on to my bishop and just kind of in the same offhanded way, you know, during a temple recommend interview: “What are you doing next?” “Probably go to BYU. Well, I’ve had this thought, you know, I mean, yeah, I just had this passing thought I might join the military.” “Really?” he said. “You know, I had a nephew who went into the military after his mission and had this marvelous — you know, I could see you doing that.” So I knew he wasn’t inspired. So a couple hours later, I’m with the stake president getting my recommend countersigned, had the same experience. And he said, “Really?” and I walked away saying, “Wow, I’m feeling the impression and everybody in my life who’s entitled to revelation about me is having those same impressions. I guess I better go do this thing.” And so I went, just trusting in the Lord that there must be something to this nonsensical idea. And for three years, I was just in a state of bewilderment about what I was doing there, but looking back, virtually every good thing in my life today flew out of that willingness —

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Including your wife —

President Steven J. Lund: Especially my wife, and including the fact that I ended up in Frankfurt, Germany, after Georgia, where I spent a couple of years and there was a family there in the ward of ex-patriots that included the woman that I would one day marry and raise a family with, at had I met her at BYU, I could never have brought her around. 

Brother Steven J. Lund and Sister Kalleen Lund

Brother Steven J. Lund and Sister Kalleen Lund

Richard M. Romney, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

21:00

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Too much competition.

President Steven J. Lund: I caught her in a state of diminished capacity, a stranger in a strange land and weaseled my way into her affections. And then later on, when she had better options, she didn’t see them. She was blind to them. So I have a very strong testimony that sometimes you just have to do what you’re impressed to do whether it makes sense or not.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: That is mostly true listeners. But Colleen Lund is fabulous. She has great judgment, the greatest taste in husbands imaginable.

President Steven J. Lund: You’re kind, but believe me, she had options.

21:37

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Well, I — no one would have reason to remember this. But as I said, in my conference talk, I was not going to go on a mission. I joined the church on my 18th birthday. I was baptized. I was born again, again, I guess, but was not going to go on a mission. That was too much, and I didn’t have any money, and most of all, didn’t want to be away for two years. I was afraid, frankly. I thought I was this tough guy coming out of West Philadelphia. But, you know, secretly, I was scared to death to go away. I guess that makes me a mama’s boy, whatever.

President Steven J. Lund: I think that makes you a disciple actually, OK? To coin a phrase.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: So I really do relate to some of the anxiety that the youth feel about going away and going on a mission and the unknown, and especially in this time of COVID, etc, etc. And I wasn’t raised with any expectation like that. So, I changed my college plans from a school in Philadelphia to Rick’s College. I wanted to learn more, and all I could about my new Church, which I knew I would die in, actually, at that young age. I knew that. So, I go away, and I had all the examples of these returned missionaries and people who are going on missions, and so on. And I felt like and got a testimony that the Lord wanted me to go: I got my patriarchal blessing, I received the Melchizedek Priesthood, I had this whole vision change, this paradigm shift, that the Lord wanted me to go and serve a mission and be a missionary. So I came back and did that. Had no money, had to work for a year and a half to save up the money, and then left a couple years after I was baptized, just trusting in the Lord without really knowing what would happen. And it’s been one of the great blessings of my life.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt and Sister Jayne Corbitt

Brother Ahmad Corbitt and Sister Jayne Corbitt

Richard M. Romney, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

23:27

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I think it’s so interesting that you were sent to Puerto Rico where you learned Spanish, but look at how much you’ve used your Spanish throughout your life, in your career, when you went back as a mission president in the Dominican Republic, and now in your work at the missionary department, in your calling. You were just interviewing some youth the other day in a Spanish unit for this broadcast that’s coming up. And I just look at that, and I see that God could see your life, Ahmad, very differently than you could.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: It’s so well said. We have to trust that. What Brad just said is at the heart of this scripture, that God sees our lives, He can work them out far better than we can and has a far deeper vision, greater vision for our lives than we do. And so, if we can do what Brad just said, and just trust that He sees our lives, and will work things out—

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: And lean not unto your own understanding.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Yeah, well said.

24:34

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I remember an interview I did with Elder Vaughan Keach, who was a late General Authority, who had a brilliant legal career for the Church and he said after he finished law school, he wanted to stay back east, and felt directed to come back to Utah, and worried that maybe his career was over. Yet by following that prompting he ended up arguing cases for the church before the Supreme Court. And I’ll never forget, he said, “The Lord took me so much further than I ever could have gone on my own.”

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Beautiful. 

President Steven J. Lund: Well said. You know, Ahmad and I are both attorneys and have great admiration for Vaughn Keach. He was one of the stellar — a Church full of great lawyers, we’re not necessarily on that list — and yet, he came out of clerking for the United States Supreme Court which gave him a ticket. He could have gone anywhere and worked for anyone in the country. But his calling was to come back here and serve the Church. His is a great inspiration was all. Thank you for recalling the great man who truly trusted in the Lord, placed him first.

25:41

Sarah Jane Weaver: And so many of the things we’re talking about are tied to the covenants we make. The covenants we make at baptism; for the young men, when they receive priesthood ordination; and ultimately, as we prepare for and go to the temple to receive temple covenants. How do covenants play into this theme of trust in the Lord?

More than 800 youth living in the Meridian Idaho Temple district gathered on the grounds of the newly completed temple on Sept. 23, 2017, to celebrate the theme of the upcoming youth cultural celebration, “Be strong, steadfast and immovable.”

More than 800 youth living in the Meridian Idaho Temple district gathered on the grounds of the newly completed temple on Sept. 23, 2017, to celebrate the theme of the upcoming youth cultural celebration, “Be strong, steadfast and immovable.”

Credit: Fabiana Huffaker

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I think young people sometimes get mixed up about covenants. They think it’s a contract. We often describe a covenant as a two-way promise, which it is, indeed. But when we focus only on that, then young people think it’s — OK, He does his part only if I do my part, and they start talking about two parts, rather than two hearts. And I hope young people can learn that a covenant is a relationship. Truman Madsen said, “It’s not a cold contract. It’s a warm relationship.” And when we realize the relationship aspect of a covenant, then we realize that we are literally yoked with the Savior and in His power, in His strength, with His help, we can do what is expected of us. We don’t have to do what’s expected first, so that then He, if we don’t do it, He worms his way out of the contract. No, it’s a matter of trusting that in this relationship, He can give me the strength I need to be able to continue to strive to keep my covenants. If young people can see a covenant like that, then they will realize the true power of covenants.

President Steven J. Lund: Yeah. Maybe to add to that: The temple has this timely, amazing feature that it places us in context. We’re in the middle of a culture war, and all of us are impacted by the concussive pressures of culture that are blowing us one way or the next as highly gifted people present cultural variances between the Church and elsewhere. What the temple does is it places us in the context of our eternal existence, and reminds us that we didn’t spring into existence at our birth, but that we are ancient, and that we’ve been working towards this day that we’re standing in today, for as long as there is, way, way beyond human memory, and that our existence is going to go on far beyond human memory going into the future, and that our purposes for being here are very real. I keep being reminded this quote that there are two really important days in somebody’s life — its been attributed to Mark Twain, I’ve learned that it wasn’t him and nobody knows where it came from —  but those two important days are the day we were born, and the day we learned why. And the temple reminds us of why and why the truths that the prophet speaks of are so relevant to us today, notwithstanding the cultural bog that’s in the air. We’re here for specific purposes, and His commandments, and the culture of the Church will keep us centered around those purposes, whereas the cultures of the world will often pull us away.

29:00

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: And if we don’t keep that focus on the why, then all of a sudden, life starts losing meaning. If we don’t keep the focus on the plan of salvation, then we start saying, “Well, why am I going to school?” “So you can get a job.” “Well, why?” So that you can earn money so you can raise a family.” “Why?” “So that they can go to school so that they can get a job so that they can —” it starts cycling into something where you just sit there and say, “What the heck am I doing?” But when you keep that big picture that’s available in the temple, that big picture of the plan, then suddenly the motivation is there, and it’s a motivation that can help us in private, as well as in public, to keep moving forward.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: I hear you both saying and I don’t want to make light of it by saying it this way: It helps you zoom out, right, and see the bigger picture. Contextualize yourself and your identity in eternity, rather than getting all caught up in mortal identities or cultural identities, which can do all sorts of mischief, if we’re not careful, and confuse us. We are first and foremost children of God, and if we start with that, then we see everything in context. We’re less confused, we’re more clear on things and the temple helps us do that. Elder Bednar, I think, would say, it’s the temple covenants and ordinances and the spirit there. He discourages us from saying, “We’re going to go to the temple,” no, the issue is more we’re going to go and worship in the temple and receive sacred covenants and ordinances in the temple, which will bless our lives for eternity.

President Steven J. Lund: Which matters because those covenants and those promises, and that future life, is all centered in the Savior, and so the temple is about us building an understanding and relationship to and commitment to the Savior, which matters to us as a presidency deeply, because this new Children and Youth program has some cornerstones. One of them is the FSY conferences that are going to start in earnest. 150,000 kids are going to go to FSY conferences this summer.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: And that’s here in North America. 

31:15

President Steven J. Lund: Yeah, here in North America. So that’s a big corner piece. Another pillar, another corner of the Children and Youth Program, though, is the temple. Our youth, 11 year olds, can go into the temple and get that perspective that we’re talking about and begin to see their place in the stream of their existence, through what they experience in the temple.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I’ve heard President Lund say, when people come up to him and say, “What’s the new Eagle? What’s the new Eagle?” And President Lund says, “It’s called a temple recommend.” Yeah, that is the new Eagle. I love that President Lund brought up FSY, because that’s going to give these young people this bigger picture, and I am so excited for what’s going to happen for the youth, for the young single adults, as, this summer, they experienced that week-long event that gives them a chance to have fun, yes, dances, and they’re going to get out on fields and play some games, and they’re going to yell and scream, and they’re going to have a big talent show. But they’re also going to have spiritual experiences, time with the scriptures consistently, every day, they’re going to have the chance to hear from dynamic teachers, and they’re going to have the chance to strengthen and bear their testimonies. And this is going to give them that big picture that will allow them to look at their lives a little differently. 

Read more: How FSY conferences anchor the Children and Youth program

We have seen miracles clear across the globe, because of this program and how it’s been instituted internationally. In Korea, when they started doing FSY, there were only about 4% or 5% of their youth who were going on missions, and now they’re at about 40% of their youth who are serving missions. And we’re going to see miracles like that, throughout North America, as FSY gives these youth a chance to gather and to feel the strength of each other, to be able to see heroes in their counselors, and to be able to say, “Gosh, if he can do it, I can do it.” And this experience will not only strengthen the youth, but it will strengthen the whole Church.

33:36

President Steven J. Lund: You know the sports analogy that the leading indicator who’s going to win a game is often time of possession, right? You can’t score unless you’ve got the ball. And one of the challenges we deal with is that our youth are spending nine hours a day immersed in modern culture and its values on their devices. And we get just a little, few minutes of time of possession here and there along the way, when they might sit it down and be able to be there. The magic of FSY is that they’re going to spend five days kind of stepping away from the world and coming under the influence of the Spirit and each other and each other’s spirit, where Heavenly Father can remind them who they are, and can center them in that context of their eternal lives. And so they come away from that experience as a sort of reset, that allows them to go forward with increased faith and with increased commitment to follow Him, trust in Him.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: So well said, and that reset as to who they are — I think where society gets in trouble is when we focus too much on mortal and cultural identities, and too little on child of God. And FSY really helps that. I love the way you said it, President, that reset as to who I am. I am a child of God, and He has sent me here and who I am in eternity, and start with that, and make sure that nothing draws you away from that focus. And as we all build this Zion society based on that eternal truth, we’ll become one. That’s our destiny. President Eyring said that the Lord Jehovah will return and find His people united, unified with Him and our Heavenly Father, and we are that people. There are all kinds of -ites, but when He comes and finds us, there will be no -ites, and FSY is a huge anchor in that effort for today’s young people.

Young men heading to classes at a For the Strength of Youth conference at Brigham Young University on Aug. 12, 2021.

Young men heading to classes at a For the Strength of Youth conference at Brigham Young University on Aug. 12, 2021.

Credit: Jon Ryan Jensen, Church News

35:46

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Sarah, I don’t know if you can help us by letting us use this opportunity to remind parents and leaders that this is the time to promote FSY. If you’re in a stake that has the chance to go this summer, tell those youth that they need to walk through fire to get to FSY. And we need counselors. If there’s 150,000 teenagers that are expected this summer, we need 3,000 counselors. So tell them to go to FSYCounselor.ChurchofJesusChrist.org. And they can find out how to apply and find out the details. If there are people who are listening or thinking, “Oh, I know, a young single adult who would be a great counselor,” or they think, “I’ve got some grandkids who really need an FSY experience,” this is your chance to start beating that drum because it was supposed to roll out in 2020. It didn’t. It was supposed to roll out in 2021. It didn’t. But it’s gonna roll out in 2022, and we need to get that on the minds and in the hearts of the youth and the young single adults. So maybe the listeners today can help us out with that.

President Steven J. Lund: And into the minds of their parents and grandparents, right, because they don’t know. This is a new culture that we’re building here. They don’t understand the power of this event, and so they may choose some other good activity at the expense of this great activity, not knowing. I think once we’ve done this for a few years, parents will get it and they will build their calendar around these events, that really needs to happen right now. It is a tragedy of significant proportion, for there to be one empty bed at these FSY conferences.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: So Sarah, we’re putting it all on you. It’s now your responsibility to get the word out. 

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: And young single adults have this opportunity to help save the rising generation. Think of it like a mission: “I’m going to go and devote seven weeks of the summer to help save the rising generation.” By the way, you get an allowance. Here in the United States, you get $475 per week for seven weeks, that’s $3,300 and change, and it’s somewhere in —

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: And your room and board are taken care of.

38:06

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Room and board are taken care of. So you don’t have to use that money to pay for that kind of stuff. 

President Steven J. Lund: And you’ll be too busy to spend any money. So you’re gonna save it.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: And you’re gonna save it. So that’s cool. And it’s anywhere in North America. And that includes, did we say Hawaii? 

President Steven J. Lund: Hawaii is in North America, isn’t it? Alright, now we’re talking numbers, and we’re selling pretty hard here. Not hard enough. This really matters.

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, it really is a time when we need that connection, connection of youth to one another, to good mentors, that the young adults can be, and certainly to the Lord and the Church and renewed testimonies. I love that we have a prophet that’s also emphasizing all of these things right now, and that he becomes the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and what’s one of the first things he does? He gathers the youth together worldwide, and ask them to join his youth battalion.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Yeah, to help gather Israel.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: You know, many of the youth don’t know what a battalion is. But Steve Lund, having served in the military, does. President Lund, what is a battalion? Why is that significant?

President Steven J. Lund: Well, a battalion is a military unit that has a specific task that they do. They might drive tanks, they might do artillery, they might there’s lots of — there might be infantry, but they go in to bring a certain strength and power and capability —

39:36

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: So they’re specialists. 

President Steven J. Lund: So they specialize in the things that they are specifically trained to do. And when — it’s interesting you say that. When the Prophet called me to be the president of Young Men, firstly, the first words out of his mouth were to say, “I’ve called them, the youth, into the Lord’s youth battalions.” I said, “Yes, President Nelson. I know that you have and I know that they’re listening.” And he said, “It’s important that they do listen, because this is an important time for the Church, and it’s an important time for them because of the role that they’re going to play in the Church.” I love Ahmad’s very focused comment that when the Savior returns, He’s going to find a unified people. Well, unified around what? What the Prophet keeps saying is that the most important thing going on in the world today is the gathering of Israel in preparation for the return of the Savior.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: Now, that’s some pretty heady language for a 12-year-old, 11-year-old, who’s entering a Young Men program, a Young Women program, but in simple language, they can just understand live, care, invite, unite. Live the gospel, care for those in need, invite others to receive the gospel, and unite families for eternity. That’s a very simple way for young people to understand what does it mean to gather Israel.

President Steven J. Lund: And it almost seems too simple to attract their attention, because they’re being pulled in a lot of directions, around a lot of good causes, a lot of things that they’re very sympathetic to, and that we all are. But the Prophet is saying, “Irrespective of how good those good causes are, they all pale into insignificance alongside of this one central organizing theme, and that is bringing Zion together to prepare for the return of the Savior.” It’s just a thrilling thing that I’d resonate in the bones of every one of our youth.

41:36

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: “Nothing else compares in magnitude. Nothing else compares in importance. Nothing else compares in majesty,” he said. So that, just what President Lund is saying: It is of supreme importance, and the youth are reserved to do it and capable of doing it. We have every and he has every every trust in them. 

President Steven J. Lund: It’s gone beyond trust, they’re actually demonstrating. 

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Yeah, yeah, they are doing it.

President Steven J. Lund: Amazing things are happening. He said that in 2018. Many of those youth to whom he said that are serving missions now, many of them are indexing, many of them are doing their own family history and helping others to do so. They’re gathering. And at the same time, many of them as 11-, and 12-, and 14- and 16-year-olds are looking out for each other in ways that we’ve not seen before in the Church, where they’re taking on their roles as class president and as quorum presidencies, and doing the work of salvation among their own. They are able to say to each other things that those others can’t hear from adults, and the result is increased resiliency and an increased commitment to that great cost.

North Houston Stake Texas Stake youth participate in planting 141 trees in the historic Oaks of Allen Parkway area in downtown Houston as part of their Easter weekend youth conference in 2014 centered around the “We are His Hands” theme.

North Houston Stake Texas Stake youth participate in planting 141 trees in the historic Oaks of Allen Parkway area in downtown Houston as part of their Easter weekend youth conference in 2014 centered around the “We are His Hands” theme.

Credit: Ciera Kizerian

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Remember that one class presidency? Two members in this class presidency of young women, and they get together, they get a list of all the girls that are not active, they’re not there, they’re not attending, and they go out and get them. Their presidency meeting was, “How can we go rescue these girls?” After a few months, all of a sudden, they’re 14 girls attending church on a regular basis. That’s the gathering of Israel. That’s the Lord’s battalion at work in a major way.

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: You know, the theme we’ve been talking about is trust in the Lord, but I think the gathering of Israel is also focusing on the fact that the Lord trusts us. The very fact that these young people have been called into this is evidence that the Lord trusts us, just as He’s asking us to trust Him.

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: Yeah. And the gathering can only be done by trusting in the Lord, but it’s by faith that people are — I was just reading Jane, my wife and I, Jane, we’re reading Alma 26 this morning as part of our Book of Mormon reading, and in Alma 26, Ammon says that it’s by faith that we can gather thousands, it’s by faith that it’s — President [Dallin H.] Oaks said that trusting in the Lord is a key part of faith in Christ. You can’t really have faith in Christ without trusting in the Lord, His timing, His manner of doing things, and the way things proceed and unfold in life.

Read more: Young Women and Young Men general leaders: 3 ways youth can ‘Trust in the Lord’ in 2022

44:13

Sarah Jane Weaver: I wish we could talk about this forever, but we’re out of time. I’m so grateful that we could all be here together and have so much fun while we did it and talk about these important issues. We have a tradition at the Church News podcast where we always give our guests the last word, and we have them answer the same question. The question is, “What do I know now?” And so we’ll have Brother Wilcox and then Brother Corbitt and Brother Lund, each, in turn, answer this question and share their testimonies. What do you know now after contemplating the youth theme to trust in the Lord?

Brother Bradley R. Wilcox: I don’t think that it’s that I know something new. I think I just know it at a deeper level. When I went on a mission as a young man, I didn’t go without a testimony, but when I came home, my testimony was so much deeper, and so much more meaningful. And in the same way, when I received this calling, I didn’t enter this calling without a testimony or an understanding of the gospel. But I know it at such a deeper level, and it just seems like every year and every experience I have just deepens and deepens that testimony, and I’m grateful for that because I don’t know what I would do in my life without having this eternal perspective that we’ve talked about today, without having a bedrock faith that tells me that I can trust in the Lord. I don’t know how I would deal with life without understanding the love that God has for me because of the relationship I have with Him. This covenant relationship that we’ve talked about, the father-child relationship that we’ve talked about: This is what gives my life purpose and meaning. It’s what gives me hope, and that’s what I want for the young people. I want their testimonies to deepen and deepen and deepen as they continue to stay on the covenant path, and continue to walk that path with Jesus Christ.

46:38

Brother Ahmad Corbitt: That’s a wonderful question, and great, great statement by Brad. I would say, something similar, that I’ve deepened my knowledge, and I would say, regarding trusting in the Lord: I study a lot about faith in Christ and faith in God. The trust element has really been deepened for me. So, starting in the beginning, where we’re spirit children of our heavenly Father and we’re coming into mortality, and we’re going to experience physical and spiritual death, neither of which we would be able to overcome, worlds without end, ever. And in order to come back to the presence of God, we would have to entirely trust Him, and Jesus Christ, to save us, to redeem us, to rescue us from our fallen state. Otherwise, as many, many scriptures say, we perish. So what I’ve learned is a deeper sense of trust, and that I have already shown a deep trust in Heavenly Father in Jesus Christ, but so have we all, and the youth have done that. These youth that we have today, they have trusted in the Lord in major and deep and profound ways, and they can do that, again. The power is in them to do that, and they just need to choose to do it, and He will respond to their faith. And as they do, I know He’ll make them capable of serving missions and doing other hard things and the anxiety that some may feel will eventually evaporate, as they trust in the Lord with all their heart, and lean not to their own understanding.

48:28

President Steven J. Lund: Well, I’m not going to be able to articulate it better than either of them. But this is what I know: That trust in the Lord means trusting in His doctrine. We live in a time of cultural disruption, where as the world becomes more and more secular, more and more good people are trying to figure out and get others to follow paths towards happiness. Everybody’s trying to figure out how to be happy in the world, and a lot of good people are guessing at approaches towards happiness. There’s some bad people in that mix, too, who are trying to get people to do things for their own personal gain. But just to focus on the good people: Our youth are often confused by highly sympathetic, articulate people who are suggesting pathways to happiness that are contrary to the doctrines of God. They’re doing the best they can, but they’re contrary to the doctrines of God. So having faith and trust in the Lord means trusting His doctrine, and it means trusting the Lord’s mouthpiece on earth, trusting in the Prophet and the way that the Prophet articulates those truths. I know that whatever the world may say will bring happiness into the world is a pale artifice of the truth and the love that flows through the Lord through His prophet to us today. And so, it’s our prayer, our constant prayer, that our youth will be able to see the power of the doctrines of the kingdom that are brought to us through the prophets, seers and revelators on the earth today. I know today that they are just that.

50:17

Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests, to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen, and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on TheChurchNews.com.

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