In a live, worldwide event, youth asked Elder David A. Bednar questions that ranged in topics from member missionary work to pride and doubt. Youth were able to submit questions before the event and also during the event on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #LDSface2face.
To open the meeting, Elder Bednar noted his excitement to participate in what was doubtless the largest youth event in the history of the Church.
At the opening of the event, the hostess explained an important concept to remember: "There's no way for us to answer all of your questions tonight, but what . . . I have learned through this is that it's not just about Elder and Sister Bednar answering our questions, but it's also about finding out own answers through the Spirit."
Here are eight important questions that were asked during the event, along with Elder and Sister Bednar's answers:
1. How do I avoid becoming discouraged based on the direction this world seems to be going?
Elder Bednar shared that this experience is not new. After sharing his own experience with such problems in his own school growing up, he said, "I would invite [you] to carefully study the story about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the book of Daniel in the Old Testament." Summarizing the account of the trio's unwillingness to bow before an idol, Elder Bednar concluded, "If [you] will prayerfully read that story, what was it about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego that enabled them to be saved and preserved. But more importantly perhaps, how did the stink of the smoke, how did the influence of all that opposition not come upon them?"
Sister Bednar added, "we can survive with faith," and that it is by faith we can find answers and overcome discouragement.
2. How can I make missionary work a bigger part of my life?
Elder Bednar's experience growing up in California, as one of only a few members, taught him that "if we grow up living the gospel, then we are strange in a very positive way." Citing the scriptural reference to a "peculiar people," he explained that some of the things we do or don't do will often prompt questions from friends and family members.
In his childhood, Elder Bednar refused to participate in some weekend activities, which acted as a gateway for him to have gospel discussions. "If you just live the gospel," he says, "they're going to ask you why you are like that and why you do the things that you do. You don't have to try to push the gospel on to people; just live it."
Sister Bednar also offered the additional insight to pray for missionary opportunities. "That's something you can do every day is pray in faith for missionary opportunities and then have the courage to act on it." Another specific piece of advice she gave was to try giving away a For the Strength of Youth pamphlet—which worked for their sons.
3. Can I do certain things on Sunday? What advice do you have for questions regarding specific standards?
Many youth asked questions like, "Is it okay with watch a movie with violence in it?" "Can I steady date?" and "Can I kiss while I'm a teenager?"
In response, Elder Bednar gave this advice. "For the folks who are asking these questions, I hope they'll choose not to be offended by my answer, and that is, they need to elevate the questions." More than asking after specific standards, he says, baptized members should use their personal Liahona (the Holy Ghost) to make decisions. "Be prayerful about it," he says. "You'll come to know for yourself." A question they should ask instead, he says, is, "What signal do I want to send to God?"
4. How can I better control my thoughts?
"Our thoughts are extremely, extremely important," Sister Bednar shared after quoting the scripture, "As a man thinkest, so is he." Admitting that it can be very difficult, she explains that disciplining our thoughts takes help from the Holy Ghost and prayer. "If we're trying to remember Him, then our thoughts will be clean and pure. And if they're not, then we need to pray for help."
Making an important distinction, Elder Bednar added that in today's world, unclean thoughts often come unbidden. However, "It's only a sin if once you've seen it, you let it stay." To get rid of bad thoughts, he suggested learning a large amount of uplifting material to use when an unwelcome thought enters our minds. That way we have a large store of clean, bright, uplifting things to replace bad thoughts with.
5. Why is it so hard to accept the way I look? How can I stop caring what others think of me?
Sister Bednar focused her answer on understanding who we are as God's children. "I just look at young people and if I can see the light of the gospel in their eyes, they're beautiful to me." For those struggling to feel a sense of self-worth, Sister Bednar recommended that we pray to know in our hearts that we are truly children of a loving Heavenly Father, and that we have a divine nature we can use to bless others. "That's what really matters."
One additional thought Elder Bednar had was that the world's definition of beauty is associated with physical attraction—but that's not what true beauty is. "There is a beauty in [the] countenance that's not physical."
6. How can I drive my feelings of pride away?
As a follow-up to questions about self-esteem, one young man wondered about the opposite. Sister Bednar answered him, "When you let it control you and you miss opportunities to grow in other ways and to serve and to expand yourself and to get outside of your comfort zone of things to do well, then you're not allowing yourself the kind of growth that you need to grow and mature and become what you want and need to become."
Elder Bednar invited those struggling with pride to read of the example of Moses in the Pearl of Great Price, "Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I never had supposed." He also offered Nephi as an example, who lamented, "Oh wretched man that I am!" By studying those experiences, we can learn how people change from being prideful to humble.
7. How do I tell the difference between promptings and my own thoughts?
"I think we overcomplicate this," Elder Bednar said. He said, "All good emanates from Christ, so if you have a thought to do something good, it's prompted by the Holy Ghost." Going on, he said, "If it invites and entices to do good, it comes from Christ, and we ought to do it."
In cases where we're making decisions, and the answer is less clear, Elder Bednar explained that we have to study our options out in our minds. Learn about the two options, understand them, and compare them. Then, when you've made a choice, take it in prayer to Heavenly Father. "If it's right, then over time we'll come to know through the simple assurance of the Holy Ghost that this is the thing to do." He added that no member will fail to be warned when they start on a bad path, and "most answers from the Holy Ghost come a little bit at a time." Persistence is key in slowly understanding the will of Heavenly Father.
Sister Bednar shared a scripture that answered this question for her, Moroni 7:13. "But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God."
8. Did you ever have any doubts about what you know to be true? How did you combat that?
Beginning with a definition of doubt, which means to be distrustful, cynical, and to disbelieve, Elder Bednar explained that questioning is not doubt. We can be curious without becoming distrusting or cynical. "Is there perfect information about every question I'd like to have answered? No." Referring youth to the conference address, "You Know Enough," Elder Bednar said, "The few things I don't have answers for do not overrule or overwhelm the fundamental basic things for which I do have answers."
So the answer to this question, he says is, "You keep pressing forward. Because that inquiry, the honest spiritual, intellectual inquiry never ends. But there's something wrong if that turns to mistrust, suspicion, disbelieving, and cynicism."
Watch the entire broadcast at lds.org/youth