At the end of each year, Church youth leaders are asked to hold a Temple and Priesthood Preparation meeting for 11-year-old boys and girls and their parents. But with the recent emphasis on home-centered gospel learning, there is a greater need to begin teaching those principles long before the ward preparation meeting. Here are 10 gospel lessons that will benefit incoming young men and young women.
1. The Truth That God Loves You
This topic is a great place to start for so many reasons. It can help you as a parent determine where your child's gospel knowledge stands. It can help your son or daughter establish a solid understanding of their divine heritage and potential. It can lay the foundation for strong self-esteem and self-worth. And, if it isn't already, it can become the basis of their budding testimony.
When posed with a question he couldn't answer, Nephi said, "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." You can teach your children from an early age that even if they don't know everything, they can always know that God loves them.
2. The Importance of the Temple
President Nelson recently taught that we should “begin with the end in mind,” and that our ultimate end goal to return to live with Heavenly Father requires temple covenants and ordinances. Since temple ordinances are sacred and not talked about in great detail outside the temple walls, it can hold an element of mystery or confusion for Primary-aged children. It's important to have open and honest conversations, ask what questions they have, help them understand what it means to be worthy to enter the temple, go over the temple recommend questions, and share your testimony about the blessings of temple covenants. For more help to know what is appropriate to talk to your children about and other resources, visit ChurchofJesusChrist.org/temples.
3. The Significance of Their Baptismal Covenant
Elder Robert D. Hales said, "When we understand our baptismal covenant and the gift of the Holy Ghost, it will change our lives and will establish our total allegiance to the kingdom of God. When temptations come our way, if we will listen, the Holy Ghost will remind us that we have promised to remember our Savior and obey the commandments of God."
Once they understand its importance, the covenants your son or daughter made at baptism will be a protection to them in their everyday life and can help them be worthy to enter the house of the Lord.
► You may also like: 3 Tips for Preparing Your Children for Baptism
4. The Importance of the Sacrament
Elder L. Tom Perry said, "The sacrament is one of the most sacred ordinances in the Church. Partaking of the sacrament worthily gives us an opportunity for spiritual growth."
When youth truly understand the importance of the sacrament ordinance—the renewal of our baptismal covenants and what it really means to "take upon us the name of Christ"—they are more prepared for life's challenges and more likely to have a desire to develop a personal relationship with their Savior.
5. The Priesthood Power of Both Men and Women
President Nelson's recent talk "Spiritual Treasures" is a great place to start on this topic.
On the keys and authority of the priesthood, President Dallin H. Oaks said, “These subjects are of equal concern to men and women. . . . Priesthood power blesses all of us. Priesthood keys direct women as well as men, and priesthood ordinances and priesthood authority pertain to women as well as men.”
Understanding the differences between priesthood power, ordinances, keys, and authority will help any young man or woman use these beautiful gifts in their daily lives. The book The Priesthood Power of Women is also a great resource for parents trying to teach their daughters or sons about these important differences.
6. The Importance of Family History
Elder Quentin L. Cook taught, “Much of the heavy lifting in hastening the work of salvation for both the living and the dead will be done by … young people.”
The important work of family history has never been so easily accessible via FamilySearch's website and mobile apps—and nobody knows how to navigate technology better than today's youth! Many young men and women are literally fulfilling the prophecies of Elijah and turning their hearts to their forefathers, and it's having a profound impact on both sides of the veil.
This article from the August 2016 Ensign shares great quotes from real young men and young women on how family history has blessed their lives.
7. The Power of Repentance
Repentance and sin can sometimes sound scary or overwhelming for children and teens. But the way you teach it can be very simple. Elder Neil L. Andersen said, "When we sin, we turn away from God. When we repent, we turn back toward God."
The February 2019 Ensign has some great tips. By focusing on the positive, distinguishing between guilt and shame, and continually pointing to the Savior, you can give your son or daughter a healthy understanding of repentance, Godly sorrow, and the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
8. How to Be a Good Friend
Of course, it's important for teenagers to have good friends, but it's important for them to first know how to be a good friend.
At the core of every good friendship is charity, kindness, compassion, respect, humility, and so many other Christlike attributes that will serve your son or daughter well in every aspect of their life.
9. Where to Go When They Have Questions
Sheri Dew's book Worth the Wrestle is an excellent resource on how to ask questions and where to find answers.
In it, she says:
The Lord needs men and women who know how to get answers. Men and women who aren't easily deceived and whose testimonies aren't shaken by someone with carefully crafted talking points. Men and women whose faith isn't threatened when they don't have all the answers and can't always effectively respond to alternate points of view. Men and women who have had witness after witness that Jesus is the Christ and that the gospel has been restored—so that when circumstances confuse or discourage them, they turn toward the Savior rather than away from Him. And men and women who are secure enough in their own testimonies that they can help others who are struggling to find their way.
It's important for children and youth to know where they can turn when they have questions because, inevitably, questions will arise. And questions are good when the answers are sought out in a faithful, positive, open-minded way because they lead to spiritual growth. So your daughter or son should feel safe and comfortable coming to their parents for answers but also in seeking their own answers from the scriptures, the words of the prophets, and personal revelation from Heavenly Father.
10. Focusing on the Savior Will Help You Resist Temptation
At the end of the day, it is hard to be a teenager today. As hard as it is to think about for you as their parent, there are temptations and challenges and trials unknown that lie ahead of every young woman or young man.
Another popular Primary song, "I'm Trying to Be Like Jesus," provides a very simple but important lesson: "At times, I am tempted to make a wrong choice . . ." But if your son or daughter knows at their very core that living worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost—and striving to live and do as the Savior would—will help them overcome temptation and be truly happy, they will have that much more of a head start when those temptations come.