Sister Mary N. Cook asked the young women of the Church — who have already made many good choices — to establish patterns of virtue that will keep them on the right path.
"Seek out 'examples of the believers' (see 1 Timothy 4:12) who can be at your side to support and help you live a life of virtue," said Sister Cook, first counselor in the Young Women General Presidency.
Speaking during the General Young Women Meeting on March 28, Sister Cook asked why being virtuous is so important, not just to a young woman's earthly parents, but also to her Heavenly Father as well.
"Virtue brings peace, strength of character and happiness in this life," she said. "Our Heavenly Father knew that we would be faced with many choices and challenges, and virtuous living would prepare us to succeed."
For many young women, the day they were blessed was a first stop on the journey of a virtuous life, Sister Cook said. "Your choice to be baptized, confirmed, and given the gift of the Holy Ghost and your efforts to worthily partake of the sacrament and renew your baptismal covenant each week are critical forward steps in living a life of virtue. Your next step on this journey is to prepare yourself to be worthy to enter the temple where you will make additional sacred covenants and receive sacred temple ordinances, including that of celestial marriage. This will require you to be virtuous."
Sister Cook said youth is a defining time in which young women can develop patterns of virtue that will help them take necessary steps toward eternal life.
"To navigate through the mists of darkness we need the iron rod, which represents the word of God (see 1 Nephi 15:23-24). We must study and understand the truths and commandments found in the scriptures. We must listen carefully to the words of our latter-day prophets, whose teachings will give us guidance, direction, and protection. And we must hold to the standards found in 'For the Strength of Youth.' "
Sister Cook asked the worldwide congregation to stay away from situations in which they are likely to be tempted, mocked and scorned. "A commitment to remain virtuous will give you strength to withstand peer pressure."
She also asked the young women to come to know their Savior and repent of any sins. "The Savior's atoning sacrifice has made it possible for you to be forgiven of your sins. Determine to partake worthily of the sacrament each week and fill your life with virtuous activities that will bring spiritual power."
Daily habits of righteous behavior will help teens hold continually to the iron rod, she said.
The general presidency has invited all the young women in the world to develop three daily habits: pray every day, read the Book of Mormon at least five minutes a day, and smile, she said.
"Now, you must remember that you are not alone on this journey," she said. "When you were baptized and confirmed, you were given the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide you in all aspects of your life. You will need that guidance....
"The patterns of virtue you develop now will help you to continually hold fast to the iron rod. You will never be alone on your journey, because the Savior will always be with you and you can repent. You have been blessed with the Holy Ghost to comfort and guide you. Look to the 'examples of the believers' in your life and seek to help others on their journey."