This is indeed an exciting time for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We witness an outpouring of continuous revelations received, discussed, and confirmed by prophets, seers, and revelators to hasten the Lord’s work of salvation on both sides of the veil. There is an urgency to help the rising generation to move forward and upward in preparation for their foreordained missions on earth.
One of the key changes to the children and youth programs is the autonomy given to our young people to pursue personally tailored goals to follow Jesus, who “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” 1 The Savior is the perfect model of all righteousness. Hearing and following Jesus is the only way to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. As children learn to make choices on their own as guided by their parents and Church leaders, they begin to form a pattern in their formative years. Despite living in an ever more complex world, they can learn to make decisions based on the Savior’s example.
Parents will always be the first source of motivation and assistance to their children’s accomplishments. This significant emphasis taught long ago by latter-day prophets continues today:
“…gospel learning, the privilege of service, personal development, and exciting activities. This effort starts at home. Parents have a sacred responsibility to teach their children in light and truth. Church leaders offer valuable support and guidance to children, youth, and their families.”2
Parents are supported in their important role by priesthood leadership:
“…in each ward [or branch], the Lord’s youth battalion is led by a bishop [or branch president], a dedicated servant of God. His first and foremost responsibility is to care for the young men and young women of his ward [or branch].”3
Through this collective effort of 1) personal goal setting, 2) parental guidance, and 3) priesthood leadership, our children and youth will experience far more success as they progress along the Lord’s covenant path.
There are many worthy goals that children and youth can set and pursue for themselves. But one of their greatest goals, which will have deep spiritual significance in their lives, will be living and qualifying for a valid temple recommend. What a great blessing to know that “young women and ordained young men will be eligible for limited-use temple recommends beginning in January of the year they turn 12.”4 They can enter the House of the Lord to perform vicarious work for their kindred dead. By performing temple ordinances, they will feel they are working in partnership with the Saviour as prophesied of old, “…saviours shall come up on Mount Zion…”5 They can also look forward to the day when they will receive their own temple endowment after receiving a mission call from a living prophet. Then help to gather Israel in temple worship throughout their lives.
“Anytime you do anything that helps anyone—on either side of the veil—take a step toward making covenants with God and receiving their essential baptismal and temple ordinances, you are helping to gather Israel. It is as simple as that.”6
“Anyone” includes themselves, their kindred dead, and anyone else living today.
Even if no temples are available in their own countries, our youth can know that obtaining a temple recommend is one way to “Hear Him!”7 It will be a reminder to them that to hear Him is to live virtuous lives as part of their sacred baptismal covenants.
“Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place? “He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart…”8
“It seems to me it would be a fine thing if every set of parents would have in every bedroom in their house a picture of the temple so the child from the time he is an infant could look at the picture every day and it becomes a part of his life. When he reaches the age that he needs to make this very important decision, it will already have been made.”The Teachings of Spencer W Kimball (1982), 301
One way to reinforce the importance of making Christ the centre of their life through temple worship is to follow the counsel given by President Spencer W. Kimball.
“It seems to me it would be a fine thing if every set of parents would have in every bedroom in their house a picture of the temple so the child from the time he is an infant could look at the picture every day and it becomes a part of his life. When he reaches the age that he needs to make this very important decision, it will already have been made.”9
As parents and leaders, we have a moral responsibility toward the wellbeing of the rising generation. We need to assist them to grow, develop, and fulfil their foreordained missions. However, we first need to live worthy lives and hold a valid temple recommend. Only then can we teach them with the “power and authority of God” 10 that Christ is indeed the centre of our lives. Emphasizing that temple worship keeps our eye single to His glory, and embeds Christ’s teachings, “…whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants…”11 in our hearts and minds.
'And they pitched their tents round about the temple, every man having his tent with the door thereof towards the temple, that thereby they might remain in their tents and hear the words which king Benjamin should speak unto them.'12
1. Luke 2:52.
2. Foreword by The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles in Children and Youth of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—An Introductory Guide for Parents and Leaders.
3. President Russell M. Nelson, “Witnesses, Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, and Young Women Classes,” General Conference, October 2019.
4. First Presidency’s Letter to the Church, “Age-Group Progression for Children and Youth,” December 14, 2018.
5. Obadiah 1:21.
6. President Russell M. Nelson, “Hope of Israel,” Worldwide Devotional for Youth, June 3, 2018.
9. The Teachings of Spencer W Kimball (1982), 301.
10. Alma 17:3.
11. D&C 1:38.
12. Mosiah 2:6.