In one day, six members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke to young adults throughout North America. Following is counsel offered by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Elder David A. Bednar, Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Elder Dale G. Renlund and Elder Gerrit W. Gong in a series of devotionals broadcast throughout the United States and Canada on Sunday, Nov. 1.
Elder Uchtdorf: A ‘Quick Start Guide’ to mortal life
The last time Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf received a new mobile phone, the new gadget came with a link to a comprehensive manual detailing its many new features. However, it also came with a “quick start guide,” which included a few simple steps with lots of pictures that would allow him to start using the phone quickly.
“Which one do you think I opened up?” Elder Uchtdorf asked in his devotional broadcast.
Elder Uchtdorf and his wife, Sister Harriet Uchtdorf, spoke to young adults throughout the North America Northeast Area — which includes stakes from Ontario, Canada, to Indiana and Virginia to Quebec.
Elder Uchtdorf offered his young listeners his own “Quick Start Guide to Mortal Life” in hopes to foster within them a desire to seek out greater truths.
Step one: Seek
“Seek God, learn of Him, discern His voice and follow His way.”
This first step requires humility, Elder Uchtdorf said. “There is danger in the philosophy that whatever you think must be true. There is a difference between thoughts that come from your personal experience and that of the divine voice of God speaking through His Holy Spirit. It is the quest of a lifetime to know the difference. The human challenge is receiving revelation, yes, but just as importantly it is to discern and understand revelation.”
Step two: Love and serve
“Love and serve God. Love and serve His children.”
The two great commandments — to love God and to love one’s neighbor — are the primary objective of life, Elder Uchtdorf said, or “the center of the target you are aiming for.”
As individuals reach out to the poor — whether that means temporal, social, mental or spiritual poverty — and impart of time, talents, resources and love, they will receive rich blessings, Elder Uchtdorf said. “By helping, by serving, by loving, you also purify yourselves and retain a remission of your sins. As you open the windows of your own compassion towards others, the windows of heaven will open and shower you with God’s choicest blessings.”
Step three: Joy and pain
“Cherish moments of joy. Learn from moments of grief and pain.”
Elder Uchtdorf told his young listeners that they will experience many moments of emotion throughout their lives. “Cherish the moments of joy,” he counseled.
They will also experience moments of sadness, despair, grief and pain. “Learn from them too,” he said.
“These experiences can also be enriching, refining and inspiring. They can be pivotal in building you into the person God intended for you to become.”
Step four: Be grateful
“Let thy heart be full of thanks unto God.”
Elder Uchtdorf said the greatest souls he knows have a common attribute — “they walk in a spirit of gratitude,” he said. “To be grateful in any circumstances will help you to gain divine confidence and trust.”
Consider gratitude as a supernal bridge or a divine door to a sacred place to hear and experience God. “Being grateful opens your heart and soul and fills them with the gifts of the Spirit,” Elder Uchtdorf said.
Step five: Light
“Be a gatherer of light and act upon that knowledge.”
Each individual came to earth to receive a body but also to gather light, Elder Uchtdorf said. “You do that through study, prayer and experience.”
But while it is important to learn and study truth, “learning by itself cannot save you,” Elder Uchtdorf said. “Paul warned Timothy about those who are ‘Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth’” (2 Timothy 3:7).
Rejoicing in learning and truth, by themselves, are inadequate. “May we follow the example of the Savior and go about doing good,” he said.
Elder Bednar: ‘Hear Him’
During a special, virtual devotional for young adults in the North America Southeast Area, Elder David A. Bednar led a panel discussion with young adults about receiving revelation and hearing the voice of the Lord.
The panelists lived in various locations in the North America Southeast Area and came from differing backgrounds such as: only member of their family, only active member of their family, brand new member of the Church, university students, newly married, returned missionaries, and serving in the National Guard.
Before the meeting, the Apostle asked the panelists to review President Russell M. Nelson’s April 2020 general conference message titled, “Hear Him.”
In his conference address President Nelson stated, “As disciples of Jesus Christ, our efforts to hear Him need to be ever more intentional. It takes conscious and consistent effort to fill our daily lives with His words, His teachings, His truths.”
Elder Bednar said, “President Nelson extended the invitation for all of us to work, as diligently and effectively as we can, to learn how to hear Him better and to be guided by Him.” He invited the panel of young adults to “think about what has happened in your life because of what President Nelson taught. What have you learned and what have you done because of what you have learned?”
Elder Bednar called the virtual gathering “a remarkable opportunity” — gathering in ways that had never been seen before.
“The objective tonight is for each one of you to listen much more intently to the Holy Ghost than to listen to us,” he said. “If you do, you will hear things that are not being said tonight. You will be tutored individually and personally by the power of the Holy Ghost. We cannot possibly address every question, every issue, every concern that everybody listening tonight has, but the Holy Ghost can.”
“If you are asking, seeking, and knocking spiritually” then the Holy Ghost will “bless you in powerful ways,” he added.
In turn, each of the panelists spoke about what they learned by acting on President Nelson’s invitation — becoming better acquainted with the Holy Ghost, realizing that listening to the Holy Ghost takes time and comes incrementally and gradually, learning that hearing Him is not only comforting but an opportunity for increased and effective study, understanding the importance of the covenant path, and overcoming loneliness and fear.
Elder Bednar counseled the young adults that if they feel their prayers are unanswered to keep the commandments and keep going. “Keep pressing forward in faithfulness,” he said. “If you are doing what is right and according to God’s will, you are being guided.”
He blessed all participating with “the desire, the diligence, and the faith to press forward along the covenant path, trusting in the Eternal Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ.”
Elder Cook: Strengthen faith to face life’s challenges
The challenge for young adults today is to find the time for spiritual growth, while acquiring the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed in a very competitive world, said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.
“My counsel to you is to first prioritize your faith in Jesus Christ as you make important life choices,” he told young adults during a North America West Area devotional broadcast on Nov. 1.
Faith and acquiring skills and knowledge require equal effort and
commitment, he taught. “We cannot expect to have faith at the center of our lives if all of our efforts are expended on skills, knowledge, making money, sports, hobbies, or other pursuits.”
Elder Cook told the congregation when he was about their age, “I was introduced to some wonderful advice by Harry Emerson Fosdick, the famous Protestant pastor of the Riverside Church in New York City.
“He taught: ‘Ah, my soul, look to the road you are walking on! He who picks up one end of a stick picks up the other. He who chooses the beginning of a road chooses the place it leads to. It is the means that determines the end.’”
Elder Cook shared five principles for young adults to follow as they
strengthen faith in Jesus Christ and while seeking diligently to acquire
knowledge and skills:
- Understand that there is truly opposition in all things. The
choices you make are critical.
- Strengthen your own testimony as a foundation for all of the
choices you make.
- Seek knowledge diligently, wisely, and with humility.
- Follow the Prophet’s counsel as you make your choices.
- Live so the Atonement can be efficacious in your life.
“The choices you will make are the key to your future and your
happiness,” he said. “Remember, you are the sum total of every decision you make. I want you to know, and I testify to you, that you will receive
guidance from the Lord if you walk in His paths and live His
The North America West Area will hold a series of devotionals next year for single adults on the theme “The Abundant Life.” A culminating conference will be held in early August 2021.
Elder Stevenson: ‘This is my beloved Son, Hear Him’
During the historic April 2020 general conference — as the Church was celebrating the 200th anniversary of the First Vision — President Russell Nelson issued an important question to the Church: “How do we hear Him?”
Addressing young single adults in Utah, Elder Gary E. Stevenson spoke with a panel of young people gathered in the Conference Center theater about hearing the voice of the Lord. The conversation was broadcast to young single adults in 600 stakes throughout Utah.
Each panelist had the chance to share how they “hear Him” and what that means to them, and those listening were invited to participate by texting in their responses. Over 2,000 young adults in Utah shared how they “hear Him” via text.
Elder Stevenson said the invitation to “hear Him” comes from God the Father.
The Apostle shared three examples of such invitations:
The first, recorded in Matthew 17:5 came from the Mount of Transfiguration: “Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them; and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.”
A second account, recorded in 3 Nephi 11:7, occurs as the Resurrected Savior visits the New World. “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name — hear ye him.”
The third came from the First Vision. “This is my beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith—History 1:17).
Panelists shared personal experiences and examples from their lives, they spoke of repentance, sharing their testimony, scripture study, learning from children, and meditation and prayer during quiet moments as ways they have heard the Lord in their lives.
Joined by his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, Elder Stevenson facilitated the discussion by sharing videos from Church leaders and officers talking about how they “Hear Him.”
Part of hearing Him, said Elder Stevenson, is finding times and places “we can be quiet and still.”
A phone — which gives Latter-day Saints access to scriptures all the time — can also be a distraction. “We have to be careful that we don’t let this thing that we always have with us become a distraction in the moments that can be our quietest moments.”
Revelation comes when we are still and childlike — “keeping our hearts open to the voice of the Lord,” he said.
He also asked young single adults to testify of the Savior. “We give the Holy Ghost an opportunity to speak when we share our testimonies,” he said.
Elder Renlund: ‘Small and simple things’
Elder Dale G. Renlund, who was a physician prior to full-time Church service, began his remarks to young adults in the North America Central Area by talking about the flu.
The 1918 influenza pandemic, known as the Spanish flu, killed more than 20 million worldwide, at least twice the number of combat deaths in the First World War. The greatest minds of the early 20th century did their best to prevent the flu and to treat an infected person. “Nothing new worked,” Elder Renlund said. “Looking back, the only things that really made any difference were simple things that were already well known.”
Fast forward 101 years and the novel coronavirus is causing today’s pandemic. One might think that with modern scientific and medical discoveries there would be a novel approach to prevent this novel virus, Elder Renlund said.
“But although the virus is new, the way to prevent getting sick is not. Those simple, well-known measures that were advocated in 1918 work in 2020. The simple things — wear a mask, wash your hands, keep away from crowds, maintain social distancing, and stay home when sick — are still the best ways to protect yourself and loved ones.”
The same is true for spiritual illness, he said. This year marks the bicentennial of the beginning to the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ. “We might expect that the approaches to our novel spiritual illnesses are more advanced and more sophisticated than earlier in this dispensation,” Elder Renlund said.
The early Saints were admonished to “pray always, lest they fall into temptation,” study the scriptures, keep the sabbath day holy, repent and prepare for and worthily partake of the sacrament, and give heed to the words of the living Prophet.
“Those small and simple measures that were counseled in the 1830’s and 1840’s are the same small and simple measures that work today,” Elder Renlund said. “Nothing new, nothing novel. When faced with temptations or challenges that easily beset us, we are wise to be on guard every day. We need to do the small and simple things — praying, reading the scriptures, keeping the sabbath day holy, repenting daily — that protect us. Letting our guard down, even briefly, can quickly remind us that we are spiritually vulnerable.”
Elder Gong: ‘The good word of God’
A great gift and blessing is to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ through consistent study of the good word of God, said Elder Gerrit W. Gong.
“Brothers and sisters consistent and careful study of the good word of God, including in institute, will bless you today, tomorrow, and for your whole life,” said Elder Gong. “As we learn, serve, encourage each other and ourselves, we increase faith in our Savior, deepen our gospel understanding, and develop lifelong scripture study habits.”
Elder Gong and his wife, Sister Susan Gong, addressed young single adults in the North America Southwest Area, which includes seven states — Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Texas and Oklahoma.
“The word of God is sunlight to our souls,” he said. “It is living water in our lives. To hear or feel the word of God is to feel the Lord’s face smile upon us and give us peace.”
Latter-day Saints have been invited to feast on the words of Christ, he said. “The word is not nibble, it is not ‘pick at,’ it is not ‘tentatively sample,’ it is feast. Feast as in feel deeply nourished as you savor every bite.”
Young single adults should focus on the holy scriptures and the words of the prophets and apostles and what they learn through prayer, temple service, sabbath worship, institute and personal revelation, he said.
Mortality is intended for God’s children to learn and grow by our own choices and experiences. “Part of the miracle and blessing of the covenant path is that in our mortal journey, He invites us at every junction to connect our name with His name by covenant so we can receive His guidance, inspiration, protection and forgiveness.
“Dear brothers and sisters, it is so worth it! Each of us, in some way each day, can come closer to our Savior in our desires, thoughts, and actions. We can be loving and kind, and non-judgmental with each other and with ourselves as we do so. Please do not let any feeing of loneliness, unworthiness or trusting in our own flesh keep us from His infinite and eternal love.”
As President Nelson teaches, purity, obedience, seeking, feasting on the words of Christ, regular temple and family history work is a formula for enduring joy.
“Please remember we do the best we can, not running faster than we have strength, grateful for blessings which come line upon line, grace upon grace,” he said.