Understanding and implementing the Children and Youth program: What President Nelson has said about today’s youth

PROVO, Utah — As President Russell M. Nelson concluded his worldwide devotional for youth in June 2018, he told his young audience, “You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.”

President Nelson didn’t say today’s youth are smarter and wiser or will have more impact; he said they have the capacity to do so, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon pointed out. 

“And this is where you come in,” she told BYU Education Week attendees gathered in the Marriott Center on Tuesday, Aug. 17. “How do we increase the capacity of our youth to be able to be smarter and wiser and have more impact? How do we strengthen their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? …

“When their cause is the cause of Christ, they really will be the Lord’s battalion that our prophet has invited them to be part of.”

President Cordon and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund led the first of four sessions on “Understanding and Implementing the Children and Youth Program” in a class titled “Noble Youth Called of God.” Other members of the Young Men and Young Women general presidencies will speak in subsequent classes Aug. 18-20. 

Read more: How the Children and Youth program supports the rising generation in accomplishing the work of salvation and exaltation

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during the Worldwide Youth Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 3, 2018.
President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints speaks during the Worldwide Youth Devotional at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, June 3, 2018. Credit: James Wooldridge, Deseret News

Youth are taking an active role in preparing for the Savior’s return, President Lund said. President Nelson doesn’t talk about youth as “future leaders” of the Church. “He says you are prepared today to step up and take your rightful place in the kingdom and to be leaders, to lead out.”

President Lund and President Cordon reviewed the new Aaronic Priesthood quorum theme and revised Young Women theme, both of which testify of the capacity and divine nature of youth. They invited the audience to memorize these themes and do so with a youth.

The general youth leaders then introduced a video clip from President Nelson that was shared during pilot For the Strength of Youth (FSY) conferences this summer. In the clip, President Nelson reminded youth of who they really are as sons and daughters of God, preserved for this time. 

“Using a baseball analogy, we are in the last half of the ninth inning,” President Nelson declared. “Our Heavenly Father and His Son chose you to be on Their team when the game is on the line. This means They know you, They trust you and will help you fulfill your personal mission on this earth.”

He invited youth to follow the example of young Joseph Smith and pray to know if they are really one of God’s elect and noble spirits, with a special part to play in the gathering of Israel. 

“If you will ask sincerely, with great humility, I promise you that the Lord will let you know through the whisperings of His Spirit. The answers may not come quickly, but they will come. And when you know who you really are, you will have the courage to enlist in the Lord’s battalion to help gather Israel for the rest of your life,” President Nelson said. 

President Cordon and President Lund added their testimonies to President Nelson’s message, emphasizing that the Lord has confidence in His youth and they succeed when given opportunities to lead in quorum and class presidencies. 

Read more: 6 reasons why President Lund and other Church leaders have faith in the Children and Youth program

“I hope that we are courageous enough not to inadvertently release them by taking over their call,” President Cordon said. “So many times as leaders, we know we can do it faster, cheaper, cuter … but I think what the Lord is asking is please, allow them to be part of the work.”

President Lund added: “We say to you that if this is a marked generation, this is a generation that was sent for a time such as this, well then, so is yours. And so are you, sent here, to nurture and prepare these great young people.”

The class series “Understanding and Implementing the Children and Youth program” continues tomorrow, Aug. 18, with Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency, and Brother Ahmad S. Corbitt, first counselor in the Young Men general presidency. They will speak on “Accomplishing the Work of Salvation and Exaltation.”