Elder Soares addresses young adults’ concerns about commitment, loving those who disagree and other issues

Roughly 1,500 young adults from throughout the Phoenix Valley in Arizona filled the chapel and cultural hall and overflowed into the foyers, hallways and offices of the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute Building to listen to an Apostle’s loving counsel regarding topics specific to their situations.

In answering the young adults’ inquiries about making life decisions, navigating life post-mission, holding true to doctrine while showing love to those who believe differently, and other areas of worry, Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles testified that each individual could find answers to his or her deep and important concerns by focusing their life on the Savior.

“I assure you that our confidence in our Savior Jesus Christ will strengthen us to continue moving forward in life, despite the challenges we go through,” Elder Soares said during the devotional on Sunday, Oct. 17.

Red Mountain Institute director Kyle Pickeral said the excitement and enthusiasm for the devotional was reflected in the “incessant hum” heard throughout the building as the young adults have continued to discuss Elder Soares’ message.

“It really resonated with them,” Pickeral said. “It’s been pretty cool to listen to [young adults] discuss how pertinent his counsel was to them as individuals.”

Young adults line the halls and overflow of the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute Building to listen to a devotional by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021.
Young adults line the halls and overflow of the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute Building to listen to a devotional by Elder Ulisses Soares of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Sunday, Oct. 17, 2021. Credit: Preston Cameron

Making life decisions

With many of his young audience facing big decisions regarding marriage, education and career, Elder Soares noted that although it is true that “God has a plan” for them, that does not mean that every decision has been mapped out beforehand.

“God’s plan is for each of us to come to Earth, receive a body, and use our agency in ways that will allow us to return to Him and become more like Him.”

Individuals must seek the Lord’s guidance and inspiration, he said, “But we also know that we are here to be ‘agents unto [ourselves],’ to act and not merely to be acted upon” (2 Nephi 2:14).

All must learn to be obedient to the commandments but also to act and make decisions. The Apostle encouraged listeners to seek the Lord’s counsel in prayer and then to have the humility to alter a decision if inspired to do so.

“The Lord expects us to study our concerns carefully and make up our mind on a direction to pursue. Then, in sincere, faithful, and real intentioned prayer, go to the Lord. If it is right, we will get the sweet surety that comes only from the Holy Ghost. If there is anxiety and uncertainty in our heart, it is better to go back to the drawing board, as you say in English, and start the process over again.”

In the process of making decisions, Elder Soares invited listeners to pray daily for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

During a devotional at the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute on Oct. 17, Elder Ulisses Soares encouraged young adults to stay close to the Lord through prayer, scripture study and service.
During a devotional at the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute on Oct. 17, Elder Ulisses Soares encouraged young adults to stay close to the Lord through prayer, scripture study and service. Credit: Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

Citing Doctrine and Covenants 80:3, Elder Soares said that if individuals are going about doing good things and they still don’t receive specific direction from the Lord, it could be because the Lord is leaving the decision up to them. 

“So, let us always do the things that keep us close to the Lord, like prayer, immersion in the scriptures, serving others, etc., and find our own way to hear Him.”

Loving those who disagree

To the young adults who struggle to know how to hold true to the doctrine of Jesus Christ while trying to love and accept those who believe differently, Elder Soares first shared two truths. 

First, those who strive to be good disciples of Jesus Christ will always be tested in their character. “We will receive criticism no matter the circumstances. … Our strength as an individual depends on how we respond to the tests in life.”

Second, the world is more concerned with reputation than character. Elder Soares then quoted the late UCLA basketball coach John Wooden, who said, “Be more concerned with your character than with your reputation, because your character is what you really are, while your reputation is merely what others think you are.”

Don’t be frightened or discouraged by opinions and influences of the world, Elder Soares told his listeners. “Let us choose to live based on who we are, and make our choices in life based on our discipleship. … Those who live with real, focused intent keep persisting in the right direction, no matter the pressure or distraction. Our testimony and faith in God, in His plan, and in Jesus Christ and in His atoning sacrifice, are the foundation we need to live with real intent.”

At the same time, Latter-day Saints can hold fast to their standards without judging others or making them feel like they are not important. “Learning to listen with love is perhaps the most important thing we can do to be inclusive. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we can always be better listeners.”

The Apostle asked the young adults to apply the principle of love as taught by the Savior and shared four things he has learned on how to treat others from examples from the Savior’s life:

  1. Show a genuine love for them. 
  2. Try to be a good influence for them through your light. 
  3. Serve them the best way you can. 
  4. Let them know you care about them.

Fear of marriage and future family

In addressing those in the audience who face a fear of commitment to marriage, Elder Soares taught the doctrine associated with marriage and shared a quote by President Thomas S. Monson, who said: “I realize there are many reasons why you may be hesitating to take that step of getting married. If you are concerned about providing financially for a wife and family, may I assure you that there is no shame in a couple having to scrimp and save. It is generally during these challenging times that you will grow closer together as you learn to sacrifice and to make difficult decisions. Perhaps you are afraid of making the wrong choice. To this I say that you need to exercise faith. … If you choose wisely and if you are committed to the success of your marriage, there is nothing in this life which will bring you greater happiness.”

Elder Soares shared how his own 39-year marriage to Sister Rosana Soares has been full of marvelous experiences, difficult challenges and memorable blessings. “Without her in my life, I can honestly say that I would not be the same person I am today.”

Elder Soares then invited two young married couples to share what encouraged them to marry and start a family, even though they were still attending school and working on their temporal and spiritual self-reliance.

There were two common elements in their responses, he noted. First was their faith and commitment to include the Lord in their decisions and to follow His direction. Second, their desire for eternal marriage was influenced by their knowledge of making and keeping sacred covenants.

Jesus Christ is depicted in scene in Bible videos published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During a devotional at the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute on Oct. 17, Elder Ulisses Soares encouraged young adults to stay close to the Lord through prayer, scripture study and service.
Jesus Christ is depicted in scene in Bible videos published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. During a devotional at the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute on Oct. 17, Elder Ulisses Soares encouraged young adults to stay close to the Lord through prayer, scripture study and service. Credit: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Source of true peace

In conclusion, Elder Soares encouraged young adults to receive personal revelation about gospel topics by asking the Lord and seeking appropriate answers from good sources. “I assure you that you can find all the answers you are looking for from your Heavenly Father, who loves you so much, and who is the source of all knowledge.”

He testified that those who rely on the Savior and act in faith upon His invitation to come and find rest in Him will be strengthened to deal with all struggles, weaknesses and temptations. “He will increase our capacity to feel a consistent peace in every circumstance of our lives. Jesus Christ is the source of true peace in this world.”

Correction: A previous version of the article misidentified Kyle Pickeral. He is the Mesa Arizona Red Mountain Institute director.