Decisions determine destiny, President Thomas S. Monson told the Church's college-age young adults Sept. 7.
"Young people, you live in tumultuous times," he said. "You have choices to make choices with eternal consequences. But you are not left unaided in your decisions, however small or however large they may be."
More than 18,000 young adults gathered in the Conference Center for the Church Educational System fireside, which was broadcast live via satellite to an estimated 150,000 in 77 countries. The fireside, translated into 29 languages, will also be made available on videotape to institute students around the world.
President Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, directed his remarks to three of the most significant decisions young people face today: "What will be my faith? Whom shall I marry? and What will be my life's work?"
"It has been said that history turns on small hinges and so do people's lives," President Monson said. "That is why it is worthwhile to look ahead, to set a course, to be at least partly ready when the moment of decision comes."
Sharing many experiences from his own life, President Monson then turned to the three questions:
What will be my faith? He told the young adults that they each have the responsibility to find out for themselves that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true.
"If we study the scriptures and put the teachings to the test, then we shall know the truthfulness of the doctrine, for this is our promise. Once we have such knowledge, it is up to us to decide what we will do with it."
President Monson encouraged the worldwide congregation to remain active in the Church.
"I will give you a formula which will guarantee to a large extent your success in fulfilling that commitment. It is simple; it consists of just three words: Pay your tithing."
Lasting happiness, he said, is found only when Church members live the teachings of the gospel.
President Monson shared one example of stalwart faith that was related during the funeral service of an emeritus General Authority, H. Verlan Andersen, by his son.
Elder Andersen's son told of a Saturday evening he borrowed the family car from his father, promising to fill it with gas before he came home. But he forgot the task and brought the car home with the gas gauge showing empty. Elder Andersen's son watched the following morning as his father put the car keys on the table and walked the long distance to attend early Church meetings.
"In concluding his funeral address, Elder Andersen's son said, 'No son ever was taught more effectively by his father than I was on that occasion. My father not only knew the truth, but he also taught the truth and lived the truth.' "
President Monson asked the congregation again, "What will be your faith? Decide to ever follow the admonition of King Benjamin: 'If ye believe all these things see that ye do them' (Mosiah 4:10)."
Whom shall I marry? "Now we are getting close to that which is in your mind and heart," he said.
President Monson took the congregation back to his own college days. As a student at the University of Utah, he made special effort to meet his future wife, Frances Beverly Johnson, once he had seen her at a dance on campus. "That decision, I believe, was perhaps the most important decision that I have ever made …
"You young people have the responsibility to make that same decision. You have an important responsibility in choosing not only whom you will date, but also whom you will marry."
Quoting President Gordon B. Hinckley, President Monson told the young adults that "your chances for a happy and lasting marriage will be far greater if you will date those who are active and faithful in the Church."
It is essential, he added, that young Church members become well acquainted with the person they plan to marry, making sure they are looking down the same path.
"I should like to dispel one rumor which is very hard to put to rest," President Monson said. "I know of no mission president in all the world who has ever told a missionary that he had the responsibility to marry within six months after his mission concluded. I think that rumor was commenced by a returned missionary, and if not by a returned missionary, by the girlfriend of a returned missionary."
In making the momentous decision of marriage, President Monson said, young adults can follow the formula or guide found in Doctrine and Covenants 9: 8-9: "You must study it out in your mind: then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought."
What will be my life's work? President Monson told the congregation to "study and prepare for your life's work in a field that you enjoy, because you are going to spend a good share of your life in that field. It should be one which will challenge your intellect and which will make maximum utilization of your talents and your capabilities. Finally, it should be a field which will supply sufficient remuneration to provide adequately for your companion and your children. Now that is a big order, but I bear testimony that these criteria are very important in choosing your life's work.
"While this counsel would apply to young men, it also has relevance to young women," he added. "There are situations in life which we cannot predict which will require employable skills."
President Monson asked the congregation to be disciplined in their preparations. "Should you become discouraged or feel burdened down, remember that others have passed this same way. They have endured, and then have achieved. When we have done all that we are able to do, we can then rely on God's promised help."
He pleaded with the young adults to tax their talents. "In this life, we have opportunities to strive and to achieve. I bear witness that on occasion we need to make a second effort and a third effort, and a fourth effort, and as many degrees of effort as may be required to accomplish what we strive to achieve.
Concluding, he said: "There is much importance attached to our three questions: What will be my faith? Whom shall I marry? What will be my life's work? I am so grateful that we need not make those decisions without eternal help. We can have the guidance and the direction of our Heavenly Father if we strive to receive it.
"It is well to remember that 'The wisdom of God many times appears as foolishness to men. But the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and a man obeys, that man will always be right.'
"My dear brothers and sisters, I pray with all the strength and all the fervor of my conviction that our Heavenly Father will guide and bless you in these important decisions which each of you will be called upon to make."
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