Young Women general presidency: Engaging young women in Christlike leadership

‘When young women are invited and allowed to lead in their Young Women classes, they not only gain confidence, but their faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel increases’

Sometimes one wonders how many miles the Savior walked with His disciples. What did they talk about? What did His disciples observe? How did they participate in the work? What did they learn?

In the miracle of the loaves and fishes, we catch glimpses of how the Savior mentored and guided those who would one day be the leaders of His Church after His death and Resurrection. 

The Young Women general presidency: President Bonnie H. Cordon, center, Sister Michelle D. Craig, left, and Sister Rebecca L. Craven.
The Young Women general presidency: President Bonnie H. Cordon, center, Sister Michelle D. Craig, left, and Sister Rebecca L. Craven. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
  • John 6:9: Christ takes the offering from “a lad” and then multiplies it to feed more than 5,000. Can you imagine how the lad felt to witness the Lord’s miracle — made with his contribution? 
  • Verse 10: The Lord asks the disciples to give direction to the people; He gave them responsibilities and opportunities to contribute. Their obedience prepares for the miracle. Can we teach obedience based on love of the Lord?
  • Verse 11: Jesus “distributed to the disciples.” Why did He have them serve? What do you suppose happened to each disciple as he sent his basket around and it remained filled? What might have changed inside of each of them? How might this experience have prepared them for leadership after the Savior was gone? He had them do this for the bread and the fish. They witnessed the miracle twice.
  • Then verse 14: They testify of Christ.

When young women are invited and allowed to lead in their Young Women classes, they not only gain confidence, but their faith in Jesus Christ and His restored gospel increases. 

One of our youngest class presidents shared her experience after conducting an annual meeting with the young women, their parents and leaders. She said, “I am so glad that I had the opportunity to conduct the meeting because it helped me feel more confident in being a leader. Thanks for letting me do it on my own.” The key words here are “letting me do it on my own.”

Our beloved young women are capable of so much. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said about our youth, “We underestimate their ability and overestimate their experience.”

Add to this the powerful invitation from President Russell M. Nelson: “We need to let the young people lead, particularly those who have been called and set apart to serve in class and quorum presidencies. Priesthood authority will have been delegated to them. They will learn how to receive inspiration in leading their class.” They are capable. They have the authority. Our task is to give them training, mentoring and opportunity ― to build their capacity.

In 3 Nephi 27:21 we read, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church.” Youth need to do the gospel to truly build capacity and strengthen faith in Jesus Christ. Active participation is not just more assignments from adult leaders, it is being involved from the beginning, helping to create agendas and plans, counseling together about details and assignments and leading one another. 

As youth serve and lead, they learn how to connect to heaven, increase their capacity to receive revelation, deepen their conversion and increase in their faith of Jesus Christ. As adult leaders of youth, our focus must be building faith in Jesus and increasing capacity. 

To help us in this effort, resources are available in the Gospel Library app. 

Lesson 1: Preparing for and conducting meetings

Having a brief weekly presidency meeting is like reviewing the week ahead with your family at Sunday dinner. Everybody is informed. Needs or concerns can be quickly addressed. And it is easy to offer encouragement and support where needed. Don’t forget to let the class president set the agenda. You may need to help her once or twice, but then watch as she takes the lead.

Lesson 2: Counseling together 

This may be the first opportunity class presidency members have to participate in a council — but it will certainly not be the last. The Lord’s way of leading His Church is through councils, and we hope young women will know that their voice is needed. This lesson and the Handbook can help. And don’t forget to turn them to the Lord for answers. We want them to gain confidence in their ability to seek and act upon revelation and to know the joy that comes from working in unity with one another and the Spirit.

Lesson 3: The work of salvation and exaltation

President Nelson has called all youth to participate in the great and mighty work of gathering Israel ― the work of salvation and exaltation. We hope class presidencies will study this work and seek inspiration on how they can help their class members live the gospel of Jesus Christ, care for those in need, invite others to receive the gospel, and unite families for eternity. They will bring fresh energy and perspective to the work. They will see miracles. 

Lesson 4: Planning service and activities 

There is power in gathering. The Lord has promised, “where two or three are gathered together in my name, … behold, there will I be in the midst of them—even so am I in the midst of you” (Doctrine and Covenants 6:32).

As class presidencies counsel together about the needs of their class, the Lord will guide them as they plan service and activities. Don’t forget to review the purpose of their planning. Build faith in Jesus Christ. Have fun, Increase unity. Learn something new. Strengthen class members and their families. (See Handbook 2.1.)  And with the nurturing guidance of adult leaders, they will learn skills that will bless them, their families, and the Church for decades to come.

Lesson 5: Ministering

Jesus Christ taught us how to minister. He did so by caring for individuals’ physical and spiritual needs, strengthening their hands and their hearts. When the Young Women class presidency follows His example, they will be able to see the needs of those in the class and ask for His help and guidance on how they can minister. Through prayer, they will receive promptings from the Holy Ghost to strengthen their love for their sisters and understand their unique strength and talents. 

Our sincere desire for each young woman in the Church is that each will gain a personal testimony that “the Lord knows you. … He chose you. You have been set apart by one who has priesthood authority; this means as you perform the duties of your calling, you exercise priesthood authority. You have an important work to do. Be sensitive to and act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost. As you do so, you can serve with confidence, for you do not serve alone” (President Bonnie H. Cordon, October 2019 general conference).

Our youth have tremendous capacity, and we have confidence that as adult leaders “lead, guide and walk beside” them, they will “find the way.”  And that way is Jesus Christ (see John 14:6).

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