Viewpoint: Deepened Discipleship
To those who are listening carefully, the Lord regularly sends calls to action by the Spirit. To the humble, these calls bring changes to personal wills and plans—to perform an act of service, reach out to bless someone in need, seek new knowledge and understanding, or change our behavior in a positive way. Quiet calls to change are the pattern for all those who sincerely seek to become deeper disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Nathanael was called to “come and see” (John 1:46).
Peter and others were called to become “fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19).
Sometimes calls to action come more directly from God’s living prophets. President Spencer W. Kimball called the Church to take the gospel to all the world; President Ezra Taft Benson called members to remember the Book of Mormon; and President Howard W. Hunter called members to focus on the temple. Recent announcements by President Thomas S. Monson regarding temple worship, missionary age, and teaching and learning for youth are a collective call to this generation to arise and shine forth.
With all the excitement and opportunity associated with every prophetic call to action comes a commensurate level of responsibility and accountability for the individual, for families, and for the Church to deepen our discipleship.
Each young man and young woman can recognize the great trust the Lord is demonstrating in this generation. Each must also consider what obligations and responsibilities are associated with the announcements and prayerfully consider those changes that may be needed in individual lives as the result of a prophet’s call to action. Perhaps you will feel the need to deepen discipleship, spending more time on the study of the scriptures and words of living prophets. Or perhaps you may be drawn to learn and understand more about your ancestors and their lives and help them receive the blessings of the gospel by performing work in temples on their behalf. Whatever changes you are prompted to make will require you to adjust current patterns and reallocate the time and priorities in your life.
Parents and grandparents are already feeling the urgency to provide better instruction at home to help the youth they love prepare to make and keep sacred covenants in holy temples and to serve faithfully as missionaries. Fortunately, families can now find all of the resources needed to perform this important work at no cost on LDS.org.
In addition to the scriptures, other key resources include Church magazines, Come Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth, Preach My Gospel, and Endowed from On High. Parents need to listen carefully to the questions their youth have, spoken and unspoken. Thoughtful parents will be guided as they prayerfully consider how to help their children grow and become spiritually prepared by providing them opportunities to teach, share the gospel, and participate in the work of redeeming the dead. As with all disciples, it is important to ask questions that lead to actions such as: “Based on what we have studied, what are you feeling you would like to do?”
The call to action requires involving the youth in the work of salvation—the work of disciples. Adult Church leaders and youth advisers will need to listen and engage the youth in the challenges of each ward and stake. Rather than prepackaging programs to entertain youth, leaders should discuss the issues the youth feel are important, empower youth to seek answers and solutions, and engage Aaronic Priesthood quorum and Young Women class presidencies in creating plans to bless and serve individuals. Then, adult leaders need to get out of the way and let the youth shoulder their share of the work of the kingdom. The power and strength that will flow into wards and stakes will be commensurate to the degree adult leaders will unleash the inherent spiritual power and strength of their youth to begin to act as disciples.
With every call to action comes a need for caution. Always there are some who wrest prophetic directives in ways to promote personal views or agendas. The prophet’s words provide a broad array of options for youth—all of which are acceptable to the Lord. A young man has the option to go on a mission at age 18 or later depending on his circumstances and preparation. A young woman may choose to focus on preparing for marriage and motherhood and education, or she may choose to serve a mission at age 19 or later. Each youth has the flexibility to focus on his or her individual life path of discipleship within the context of the larger covenant path defined by the Lord’s prophet. Care should be taken to help all youth feel accepted and included in the discipleship decisions they make.
The prophet’s call to action is a call to deepen discipleship. Youth, parents, and Church leaders must all re-examine themselves and where they stand as disciples. We must review the covenants we have made as individuals, husbands, wives, parents, and as servants in the kingdom. We must have ears to hear the call and the faith to answer it.
“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great” (D&C 64:33).
Speaking during the October 2012 general conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve had the following words for “the youth of the Church rising up to missions and temples and marriage.” He said, “Love God and remain clean from the blood and sins of this generation. You have a monumental work to do, underscored by that marvelous announcement President Thomas S. Monson made yesterday morning [about age of eligibility for missionary service]. Your Father in Heaven expects your loyalty and your love at every stage of your life.”