Who has been on our minds lately? How can we help these individuals?
Who needs our help and prayers? What do we feel impressed to do to help them?
How can we reach out to people in Christlike ways when we see a need and don’t know what to say?
These questions are samples from the “Counsel Together” portion of Young Women and Aaronic Priesthood “Come, Follow Me” lesson outlines. Think of the powerful conversations that could take place in a class or quorum following questions like these. Asking these kinds of open-ended questions helps the entire class to focus on others and opens hearts and minds to revelation.
The Lord uses His youth to work miracles in the gathering of Israel. Young women and young men value opportunities to contribute to the work of salvation and make a difference in the lives of their peers, wards and communities. The “Counsel Together” portion of the Sunday meeting is an opportunity for the youth to unite in the cause of Christ to bring souls unto Him.
Counseling together can sometimes be met with uncomfortable silence. Sometimes it is filled by the adult leaders suggesting things that youth could or should be doing or asking them about what has been going on during the week — the highs and the lows. Other times, it is quickly moved through or even skipped to get to the lesson. As a result, many have wondered, “What is the purpose of the ‘Counsel Together’ section? And how do we use this time more effectively?”
As class presidencies consider how to involve their class members in the work of salvation and exaltation — “living the gospel, caring for those in need, sharing the gospel and uniting families for eternity” (General Handbook 1.2) — they will experience revelation and feel the joy of being instruments in the Lord’s hands. Taking time to teach youth how to counsel and then allowing them to do it will pay valuable dividends in their spiritual growth and prepare them for future opportunities to lead.
How to use the time effectively
Allow class and quorum presidencies to determine how to use the time and what to focus on. This is done in presidency meeting. Advanced preparation to lead the “Counsel Together” portion will increase their confidence and help them direct the conversation in an inspired way. Ultimately, the uncomfortable silence will disappear.
The “Come, Follow Me” youth curriculum provides sample questions that can assist youth leaders in leading the discussion. Teach them how to ask additional questions — this is the best way to have conversations that are relevant and meet needs. Then meaningful assignments can be made. Remember that the questions asked are not nearly as important the outcome: strengthening faith in Jesus Christ and accomplishing the work of salvation and exaltation.
Put the Savior at the center
The most important element of counseling is seeking the will of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Help youth leaders focus on doing His work in His way. Consider asking questions like, “How would the Savior seek to accomplish this task? What do we already know about Him that could help us face this challenge? How will He help us fulfill this assignment — even though we are busy?” As we seek to accomplish His work, we need to remember that “[We] can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth [us]” (Philippians 4:13).
Will it be perfect? No. Will this accountability allow for unfulfilled assignments and uncomfortable silences? Yes. Will there be a need to continue to help the youth accomplish the Lord’s work? Always. Will there be growth in the youth? Slowly and steadily. Will there be revelation and increased faith in Jesus Christ and mighty miracles? Without question.
Counseling together will bring great blessings. The Lord is interested in the success of these discussions. He will bless and magnify you as you help your class and quorum presidencies more effectively lead the “Counsel Together” section of their classes and quorum meetings. Together they can discover what God would have them do. Remember, there will be miracles.