Young Women general presidency: Using the ‘For the Strength of Youth’ guide to increase discipleship

‘Perhaps one of the most important gifts we can give our youth is helping them learn to align their will with His will by making righteous choices’

“Our dear young brothers and sisters, we love you and have confidence in you,” the First Presidency writes in their message at the beginning of “Message From the First Presidency” in the “For the Strength of Youth” guide.

What a powerful statement of truth from the Lord’s prophets, seers and revelators. Take a minute and reflect on your feelings and beliefs about the youth and their ability to make choices. Are you confident in them and their ability to make good choices? Do you see them as disciples of Jesus Christ? 

Living in the last days continually demands the very best of our agency and theirs. President Russell M. Nelson has invited all of us to “Learn about God and how He works” (“The Power of Spiritual Momentum,” April 2022 general conference). We — and our youth — are incessantly barraged by a variety of choices that seem to need to be made quickly. Learning to pause and prayerfully discover what the Lord would have us do takes great effort. Perhaps one of the most important gifts we can give our youth is helping them learn to align their will with His will by making righteous choices (see Bible Dictionary, “Prayer;” 1 Corinthians 2:16; 1 John 3:22). 

The Young Women general presidency: President Bonnie H. Cordon, center, Sister Michelle D. Craig, left, and Sister Rebecca L. Craven.
President Bonnie H. Cordon, Young Women general president, with her counselors, Sister Michelle Craig, left, and Sister Rebecca L. Craven, right. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Consider the opportunity this new “For Strength of Youth guide can be to help youth learn how to make righteous choices and become better disciples of Jesus Christ. In his October 2022 general conference talk, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told the youth, “It is the reason why you’re on the earth — to learn, grow and progress and become everything your Father in Heaven has created you for” (“Jesus Christ Is the Strength of Youth”). 

How can we learn to align our will with that of Jesus Christ? It is a lifelong process of repentance, striving, holiness ― discipleship (see Isaiah 55:8-9). How can we learn to make decisions with His influence? What would He have us consider? What priorities would best align our actions with His desires for our growth? And how can we help the youth align their will with God’s in their decision making? 

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While there are many ways to help a youth develop and make righteous choices, our desire is to see them turn to their Father in Heaven for answers and learn ways to strengthen their individual relationship with Him. Each day the youth are faced with choices of how to best live the gospel in their current circumstances. The following questions can guide you as you help them seek to do God’s will and live with more light and truth (see Doctrine and Covenants 93:28): 

  • What is your question or concern? 
  • What do you already know about the topic or question? 
  • What other gospel truths might be connected to your question/concern? 
  • What lines or phrases from the “For the Strength of Youth” guide connect with your question? 
  • What do the scriptures and Church leaders (particularly current members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) say about your question? 
  • How did Jesus Christ live the truth/principle? 
  • What could possible consequences be? Positive? Negative? Short-term? Long-term? 
  • What do people you look to as examples think about it? Family? Friends? Church leaders? 

Again, there are many ways to help youth learn to make decisions and even more questions to be considered. Whatever the questions or considerations they make, perhaps the most important step for adults is to help the youth process what they learned after they have made the choice. A few simple questions like, “What did you learn from that choice? Would you do anything different next time? Did it bring you closer to Jesus Christ or take you further away from Him?” are essential in helping them continue to process what is happening for them. The Holy Ghost can help them see things “as they really are” (Jacob 4:13) when they pause to take a moment and review what they are learning and experiencing. 

It is important during this process that we are not too quick to give our own responses to their questions. In time, the Spirit will help you to lead them to see what you see, to know what you know and to feel what you feel (see President David O. McKay, “Pathways to Happiness,” p. 312). We need to do our best to be curious about their choices and learning. The ability and confidence to bring a question to the Lord and learning how to receive answers through the Spirit will affect the rest of their time and eternity. 

Because we live in a fallen world, our youth will not always make righteous choices, even if we have done all we can to help them. Learning always has — and always will — come line upon line (2 Nephi 28:30) and at the cost of pain — Christ’s pain and ours (Doctrine and Covenants 19:15-19).

Because of the suffering of our Savior, “they could learn from their experience without being condemned by it,” said Elder Bruce C. Hafen, then a General Authority Seventy, in his April 2004 general conference address. This beautiful truth allows learning through repentance. It is essential that we focus on repentance through Jesus Christ as we help youth learn to align their will with God’s. 

This is an exciting time for our youth — and for us to watch them learn and grow and prepare the earth for the Second Coming of the Savior. What a sweet and humbling privilege it is to be the trusted adults in their lives, the very ones that Father in Heaven has confidence in to raise up His youth battalion. We get to teach and listen to them. We testify that the Lord will help each of us as we seek to align our will with His and become more like Him. 

We embrace the challenges of discipleship and look forward excitedly to the opportunities we will encounter through our faithfulness. Our differences make us powerful.

In his April 2017 general conference address, President Nelson, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “True disciples of Jesus Christ are willing to stand out, speak up, and be different from the people of the world. They are undaunted, devoted and courageous. ... Our focus must be riveted on the Savior and His gospel. It is mentally rigorous to strive to look unto Him in every thought. But, when we do, our doubts and fears flee.”

Jesus Christ truly does give us the power to overcome all situations and become more like Him each and every day.

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