Three talks were given last week wherein the majority of the audiences included people that fall under what has been termed “Gen Z.” Elder David A. Bednar spoke to missionaries in person for the first time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Elder D. Todd Christofferson spoke at a Logan Utah Institute devotional, and Elder Ronald A. Rasband spoke to young adults in California.
Driven to Succeed
Elder D. Todd Christofferson chose to speak directly to college students about the generation they know best: Themselves.
“See if you agree,” Elder Christofferson asked, “You are driven to succeed. Is that true?”
Elder Christofferson told the students in attendance that recent studies have shown that ambition and the drive to succeed are key generational attributes demonstrated in today’s teens and young adults. Elder Christofferson explained that they are multiple ways this ambition can impact someone’s life. On one hand, there are those who want so badly to make the right decisions that they become anxious or fearful. On the other hand, a strong drive to succeed can help people feel empowered to accomplish their goals, satisfaction in their life choices, and optimism for their future.
“Certainly, it can be empowering and lead to wonderful rewards and contributions to your happiness and that of those you love and even society at large. It is natural that success would become part of one’s sense of self, but it is easy to see that if taken to the extreme, that could overwhelm marriage, family, service to others, and even Christian discipleship,” Elder Christofferson taught.
Church News reports that Elder Christofferson also addressed an “unfortunate ethic” that has developed over the past few generations that places excessive emphasis on individual autonomy and selfishness.
“It is the opposite of a life of service,” Elder Christofferson warned. “With this paradigm, many conclude that each individual must focus on his or her own happiness and fulfillment: get all the pleasure out of life that you can, and don’t make sacrifices for others—your one big concern is you. I plead with you, do not fall into that trap.”
Sister Christofferson also addressed the audience and said that it is easy to become concerned with the world we live in at the present. But she taught that the key is to look at the world with a perspective beyond what our natural eyes can see and remember that prophets have seen the latter days and rejoiced.
“Not just the early days when the gospel was first restored, but our day, too. Yes, it has challenges, but it also has great possibilities. We need to have hope in that.”
Covenants and Ordinances
In his address to missionaries being trained at the MTC in Provo, Utah, Elder Bednar taught what they will be inviting people to do as missionaries: Make and keep covenants through sacred ordinances.
“Ordinances are not simply routine rituals,” Elder Bednar said. “They are not just perfunctory performances. Through those sacred ordinances, we can be blessed with access to the power of godliness in our lives.”
Elder Bednar taught that covenants and ordinances “properly administered with the authority of God open heavenly portals so that each one of us can receive strength beyond our own.”
Questions and Answers
Meanwhile, Elder Rasband spoke at the Orange County Multi-Stake Institute Devotional. Elder Rasband highlighted the scripture where Christ’s disciples say, “Some say thou art John the Baptist. . .” and used the verse to illustrate the importance of seeking doctrinal answers from the right sources.
They “listen to those who think political pressure, marching in the streets, and signing petitions will change Church policy or even eternal doctrine,” Elder Rasband said. “The adversary likes to stamp speculation as truth, cloud our thinking with frustration and disrespect. We have to be very careful, my friends, about where we go for answers to our most important questions.”
Instead, doctrine is established by God and is found in the scriptures and in the teachings of latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators. He continued to teach how answers to questions are found. Elder Rasband was accompanied by his wife, Sister Melanie Rasband, who told those in attendance that they are the generation “that needs to learn all that they can, needs to feel the Spirit, needs to learn how to hear Him in your lives, so that you can go forward and not only go where He would like you to go, but to say and to do and to be an example and to become all that He would have you become.”