Today’s young adults are facing more challenges than ever before. So to help them navigate a complicated world while also finding the best within themselves, the members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles offer the following messages in hopes of specifically ministering to our young brothers and sisters, taken from We’re with You: Counsel and Encouragement from Your Brethren.
The Good News of the Atonement
President Russell M. Nelson
Jesus personally defined the gospel. This term [gospel] comes from the Old English godspell, which literally means “good news.” “The good news is that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement for mankind that will redeem all mankind from the grave and reward each individual according to his/her works. This atonement was begun by his appointment in the premortal world but was worked out by Jesus during his mortal sojourn” (Bible Dictionary, s.v. “Gospels,” 682).
I would like to share a remarkable quotation that I found in a rare book in London one day while searching through the library of the British Museum. It was published as a 20th-century English translation of an ancient Coptic text.
It was written by Timothy, Patriarch of Alexandria, who died in A.D. 385. This record refers to the creation of Adam. Premortal Jesus is speaking of His Father: “He . . . made Adam according to Our image and likeness, and He left him lying for 40 days and 40 nights without putting breath into him. And He heaved sighs over him daily, saying, ‘If I put breath into this [man], he must suffer many pains.’ And I said unto My Father, ‘Put breath into him; I will be an advocate for him.’ And My Father said unto Me, ‘If I put breath into him, My beloved Son, Thou wilt be obliged to go down into the world, and to suffer many pains for him before Thou shalt have redeemed him, and made him to come back to his primal state.’ And I said unto My Father, ‘Put breath into him; I will be his advocate, and I will go down into the world, and will fulfil Thy command’” (“Discourse on Abbaton by Timothy, Archbishop of Alexandria,” Coptic Martyrdoms Etc. in the Dialect of Upper Egypt, vol. 4 of Coptic Texts, edited, with English translations, by E. A. Wallis Budge , 482; brackets appear in printed text).
Jesus’ responsibility as Advocate, Savior, and Redeemer was foredetermined in premortal realms and fulfilled by His Atonement (see Job 19:25–26; Matthew 1:21). Your responsibility is to remember, to repent, and to be righteous.
When We Don't Receive Revelation
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
We do not always receive inspiration or revelation when we request it. Sometimes we are delayed in the receipt of revelation, and sometimes we are left to our own judgment. We cannot force spiritual things. It must be so. Our life’s purpose to obtain experience and to develop faith would be frustrated if our Heavenly Father directed us in every act, even in every important act. We must make decisions and experience the consequences in order to develop self-reliance and faith.
Even in decisions we think very important, we sometimes receive no answers to our prayers. This does not mean that our prayers have not been heard. It only means that we have prayed about a decision which, for one reason or another, we should make without guidance by revelation.
No answer is likely to come to a person who seeks guidance in choosing between two alternatives that are equally acceptable to the Lord. Thus, there are times when we can serve productively in two different fields of labor. Either answer is right. When a choice will make a real difference in our lives—obvious or not—and when we are living in tune with the Spirit and seeking His guidance, we can be sure we will receive the guidance we need to attain our goal.
Elder M. Russell Ballard
While it is not possible for me to shake hands with you and look you in the eye personally, I want you to know that you are precious in the sight of your Heavenly Father. He loves you. The leaders of the Church love you.
I look at you and see the future of the Church—not just the future bishops, stake presidents, mission presidents, and auxiliary leaders, but the great ranks of future mothers and fathers, Primary and Sunday School teachers, youth leaders, home teachers, visiting teachers, Scout leaders, choir directors, and countless others who will serve the Lord in the 21st century.
It will be a different century from the one before it. In some ways it will be better; in other ways it will be much more difficult for you and for your children. But one thing is inescapable: it will be your century—one in which you have the opportunity to leave your mark for good or otherwise. You will try to influence others, and others will try to influence you. Either you will share and promote your core values, rooted in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, or you will allow others to define your values for you and your posterity.
Preparing for a Life of Service
Elder Robert D. Hales
To assist you in living lives of service, let me suggest three essential principles:
First, help others succeed.
In the world you will discover many people who seem to be average in their intelligence and yet are very, very successful. Why? Because they know that it is impossible to succeed alone. The only way to truly succeed is to help others succeed as well.
Second, learn and develop your own talents and value the talents of others.
Which part of the process is most important? The only right answer to that question is: None is most important because all are necessary. Or, to say it scripturally, “The eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you” (1 Corinthians 12:21).
Third, obtain a spirit of serving and giving.
Let me remind you that your capacity to obtain and act upon this spirit of service and giving may depend upon your obedience to temporal commandments. Let us reap the blessings that will come from obedience to this counsel.
What are those blessings? In time, as you work hard and pay an honest tithe, you will be able to provide for your own needs and the needs of your family. Then you will have the privilege of acting upon the spirit of service and giving.
The Manner of Happiness
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
I do not think God in His glory or the angels of heaven or the prophets on earth intend to make us happy all the time, every day in every way, given the testing and trial this earthly realm is intended to provide. But my reassurance to you is that in God’s plan we can do very much to find the happiness we do desire.
Above all else, ultimate happiness, true peace, and anything even remotely close to scriptural joy are found first, foremost, and forever in living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
When the Apostle Thomas asked the Lord the question young people often ask today, “How can we know the way?” (and that really translates, “How can we know the way to be happy?”) Jesus gave the answer that rings from eternity to all eternity, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: . . . And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do. . . . If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:5–6, 13–14).
What a promise! Live my way, live my truth, live my life—live in this manner that I am showing you and teaching you—and whatsoever you ask will be given, whatsoever you seek you will find, including happiness. Parts of the blessing may come soon, parts may come later, and parts may not come until heaven, but they will come—all of them. What encouragement that is after a blue Monday or a sad Tuesday or a tearful Wednesday! And it is a promise the realization of which cannot come any other way than by devotion to eternal truth!
Second, learn as quickly as you can that so much of your happiness is in your hands, not in events or circumstances or fortune or misfortune. We have choice, we have volition, we have agency, and we can choose if not happiness per se, then we can choose to live after the manner of it.
Happy people aren’t negative or cynical or mean, so don’t plan on that being part of the “manner of happiness.” If my life has taught me anything, it is that kindness and pleasantness and faithbased optimism are characteristics of happy people.
When Answers Don't Come Quickly
Elder David A. Bednar
Jesus Christ knows and loves us individually. He is concerned about our spiritual development and progress, and He encourages us to grow through the exercise of inspired, righteous, and wise judgment. The Redeemer will never leave us alone. We should always pray for guidance and direction. We should always seek for the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. But we should not be dismayed or discouraged if answers to our petitions for direction or help do not necessarily come quickly. Such answers rarely come all at once. Our progress would be hindered and our judgment would be weak if every answer was given to us immediately and without requiring the price of faith, work, study, and persistence.
For more inspired words from the Brethren, read We’re with You: Counsel and Encouragement from Your Brethren, available at Deseret Book.
Focus on the Temple
Elder Quentin L. Cook
When my wife and I were starting out as a newly married couple in the San Francisco Bay Area in the mid-1960s, the LDS population was relatively small. In addition, that area had become a magnet for drug usage and all manner of promiscuous and sinful conduct. A concerned stake president back then asked the leadership of the Church if leaders should encourage Church members to remain in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Elder Harold B. Lee, then a senior member of the Quorum of the Twelve, was assigned to address the issue. He met with a group of priesthood leaders and told them that the Lord had not inspired the construction of a temple in our area only to have the members leave. His counsel was:
1. To create Zion in our hearts and homes.
2. To be a light to those among whom we live.
3. To focus on the ordinances and principles taught in the temple.
If you will follow President Lee’s counsel, you can successfully be in the world but not of the world. However, we must each determine whether we will face the world or focus on the temple.
Putting the Savior First
Elder D. Todd Christofferson
Many of us became members of the Church without opposition, perhaps as children. The challenge we may confront is remaining loyal to the Savior and His Church in the face of parents, in-laws, brothers or sisters, or even our children whose conduct, beliefs, or choices make it impossible to support both Him and them. It is not a question of love. We can and must love one another as Jesus loves us.
[But] in reality, the best way to help those we love—the best way to love them—is to continue to put the Savior first. If we cast ourselves adrift from the Lord out of sympathy for loved ones who are suffering or distressed, then we lose the means by which we might have helped them. If, however, we remain firmly rooted in faith in Christ, we are in a position both to receive and to offer divine help. If (or I should say when) the moment comes that a beloved family member wants desperately to turn to the only true and lasting source of help, he or she will know whom to trust as a guide and a companion. In the meantime, with the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide, we can perform a steady ministry to lessen the pain of poor choices and bind up the wounds insofar as we are permitted. Otherwise, we serve neither those we love nor ourselves.
Elder Neil L. Andersen
Faith is the muscle of spiritual knowledge and power. Faith is a spiritual gift of God, but it is developed and magnified as we eagerly pursue our journey of embracing and following the Savior. I remember once long ago, before I was serving as a General Authority, having a man approach me whom I had known for some time in business. We talked about a challenge he was facing in his life, and I gave him some of my thoughts.
He then said to me, “Neil, you have something I don’t have. You have faith in God.”
The way he said it to me, I sensed he felt that having faith was not something chosen or determined by me or by him but that somewhere in the lottery of life my gene pool had brought a quality of believing and trusting in God that his gene pool had not. This, my brothers and sisters, is not a correct notion of faith in God or faith in Christ.
Our Heavenly Father desires that faith will grow within the hearts of all His sons and daughters. As one repents, opens her heart, or seeks to strengthen his faith, the Lord is magnanimous and generous in return. Never forget that the seed must be nourished. We need to help those we love to understand that faith is not stagnant.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband
After a year or so of knowing the Huntsmans, I was surprised one day when Jon invited me into his business office. I was a beginning senior at the university and just one year away from that longsought- after degree in business. In that meeting Jon invited me to join his company in marketing and sales. I was overwhelmingly honored, and I felt that the deep and sincere prayer Sister Rasband and I had of finding meaningful employment was being answered.
I told Jon that I would be thrilled to join his company in the spring after graduation. I explained to him my quest for a college degree and how important it was to my family and me. Jon, in his very kind yet pointed way, explained that he needed me now. The next week he would be in Troy, Ohio, at one of his packaging plants to negotiate with a major customer. He told me if I wanted the job, I needed to be there to become their account manager. That was it—next week in Troy, Ohio, or no job offer at all!
That evening [my wife and I] prayed earnestly and sought the counsel of close loved ones and friends. The most important advice to me was from my sweet wife, Melanie: “Isn’t this what people go to college for, to find an opportunity like this one?” The Spirit confirmed our decision, and I took the job in Ohio.
That week I walked off the campus of the University of Utah, just two semesters short of receiving my degree. Eleven years later, I was humbled when Jon Huntsman appointed me as the president of his global corporation with thousands of employees and billions in revenues. This should suggest that there is a masterpiece within each one of us, and when spiritually nurtured, carefully mentored, and loyally engaged in building up our families and the Lord’s kingdom, all things are possible.
Thinking of Others First
Elder Gary E. Stevenson
Think more about the welfare of others than you think about yourself. Martin Luther King Jr. noted, “On the parable of the Good Samaritan: I imagine that the first question the priest and Levite asked was ‘If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?’ But by the very nature of his concern, the Good Samaritan reversed the question: ‘If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?’” (Strength to Love ). Dr. King understood that service and selflessness could eradicate fear.
My wife demonstrated her understanding of this principle when she instituted what we called “Lesa’s cookie therapy” while we were serving as mission presidents in Nagoya, Japan. Occasionally, we would have a missionary come to us who was struggling, often with doubt or fear, and ready to call it quits. Lesa would gather a few supplies, hand them to the missionary, and say, “Here’s what I want you to do. Take these ingredients and make chocolate chip cookies every morning. Package them and deliver them to someone who needs them.” This act of thinking about someone else rather than oneself often cured the missionary of his or her fears. The same is true for you. The warm, golden glow that accompanies service and selflessness has the power to melt away doubts and fears.
The Pure Love of Christ
Elder Dale G. Renlund
The pure love of Christ, or charity, is selfless and self-sacrificing; it emanates from a pure heart and a good conscience. Charity is more than an act or action. Charity is an attitude, a state of heart and mind that accompanies one’s actions. It is to be an integral part of one’s nature. In fact, all things are to be done in charity. Charity casts out all fears and it is a prerequisite for entering the kingdom of heaven.
Conversion to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement is the key to developing charity. Development of charity then leads to the development of other Christlike attributes.
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve have stressed that the way to increase faith in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement is to improve our Sabbath day observance at home and at church. Improved Sabbath day observance is vital to increasing our own conversion.
I promise you that as you make the Sabbath day a priority in your own life, your ability to feel charity, this pure love of Christ, will increase. As you take time each week to prepare conscientiously for and worthily partake of the sacrament, you will see and feel the fruits of charity developing in yourself, in your very character, in your very being.
If you want to be happy in school, or on a mission, or in a marriage—work at it. Learn to work. Serve diligently. Don’t be idle and mischievous. A homespun definition of Christlike character might be the integrity to do the right thing at the right time in the right way.
Illustrations by Jon Krause
For more inspired words from the Brethren, read We’re with You: Counsel and Encouragement from Your Brethren, available at Deseret Book.