"Verily I say unto you all: Arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations" (Doctrine and Covenants 115:5).
We live in a season when the Lord is pouring out blessings to help you — a beloved young priesthood man — to arise and shine forth. For example, the new and updated For the Strength of Youth resource and the new youth learning resource – Come Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth are now available for you at youth.lds.org. Consider how these developments, together with the exciting announcement that you can serve a mission beginning at age 18, will strengthen and stretch you.
For the Strength of Youth
The new For the Strength of Youth resource is dynamic and relevant for our times. How familiar are you with it? Are you utilizing it? By studying and following the counsel given in For the Strength of Youth, you will be strengthened and protected against the challenges and evils of the day. Strength of Youth Media has inspiring videos of youth just like you from around the world living gospel standards and helping others to do the same.
For the Strengthen of Youth contains important counsel such as the following in the new section entitled "Work and Self Reliance":
"Set high goals for yourself and be willing to work hard to achieve them. Develop self-discipline, and be dependable. Do your best in your Church callings, schoolwork, employment and other worthwhile pursuits."
Following this counsel will help you maintain high standards and lead you to a life of distinction and excellence. As you fill your life with good works, you will shun idleness, mediocrity, and ungodly influences. You will increase your faith and inspire others to become disciples of Jesus Christ.
Come Follow Me
At the beginning of this year the new online resource — Come Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth was implemented in all youth classes and quorum meetings worldwide, launching a new era for the Church.
An important feature of Come Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth is that soon after each general conference, the latest messages from our leaders will be added. Studying these messages will help you develop the priesthood discipline described in the oath and covenant of the priesthood: "… give diligent heed to the words of eternal life" and "… live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God" (Doctrine and Covenants 84:43-44).
Your Sunday quorum meetings will be more than just classes. Your quorum presidency will conduct quorum meetings using agendas prepared beforehand in a quorum presidency meeting (a sample agenda form is available). Your quorum will "sit in council" to conduct business and learn together. In this council setting, you will actively participate and share with others edifying experiences and testify of truths you have learned.
Your advisers will avoid doing most of the talking and will serve as facilitators for your learning activities and discussions. You will be called upon to teach more. Make sure you participate enthusiastically. You will really enjoy your quorum meetings and will learn much more as you do.
Duty to God will be part of your meetings, including one meeting a month which will be devoted entirely to Duty to God. Take advantage of this opportunity to work on Duty to God. This will help you to be spiritually strong and fulfill your priesthood duties throughout the week.
Priesthood and Missionary Service
Almost immediately after completing your service in the Aaronic Priesthood, you, as a worthy 18-year-old, can be endowed with power in the temple and sent forth as a full-time missionary. You will be part of the largest and most powerful missionary force in the history of the world. This truly is the golden age of missionary work!
I challenge you and all who shepherd you to memorize and live by the inspiring words found in the Doctrine and Covenants:
"Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work; For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul; And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work. Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence. Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen" (Doctrine and Covenants 4:1-7).
My prayer is that you develop early and sustain throughout your life a burning desire to worthily and faithfully serve God. As you do, you will be happy. You will be filled with the power of the magnificent Aaronic Priesthood to minister to the needs of others. Later, you will be prepared to minister even more powerfully as a Melchizedek Priesthood holder, missionary, husband and father. May the Lord bless you to seize now the opportunity to arise and shine forth.