10710_000_011With the lowering of the age requirement for full-time missionaries, tens of thousands more teenagers are now making sacred temple covenants.
As temple workers, we have had the blessing of meeting with young adults coming to the temple to receive their own endowment. We have found that a temple preparation seminar was helpful to them, but the influence of righteous parents and leaders played a more significant role in helping them prepare to make temple covenants. As parents and leaders, we need to help youth not only prepare for full-time missionary service, which lasts for but a few months, but also for making and keeping temple covenants, which last for eternity. The first steps can begin in childhood.
Parents can show their children the importance of the temple by worshipping in the temple and by sharing their testimonies of temple work. Even in areas where frequent temple attendance is not possible, parents can instill in their children the desire to attend the temple.
President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) taught parents: “Let us share with our children the spiritual feelings we have in the temple. And let us teach them more earnestly and more comfortably the things we can appropriately say about the purposes of the house of the Lord.”1 Our children need to know that the temple is a place where we have received answers to prayers and where we feel God’s love.
Parents can also teach their children to look forward to and live worthy of their own limited-use recommend that they have the opportunity to qualify for when they turn 12 years old. When the time comes for these youth to attend, we observe the joy and pride with which they present these recommends at the temple.
Parents can help their children become involved in family history research so that when they turn 12 years old they can take family names to the temple. To the youth who do so, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has promised: “Your love and gratitude for your ancestors will increase. Your testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding. And I promise you will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary.”2
We have seen many examples of this promise being fulfilled. Recently a young woman told us that after having researched her grandmother’s name, she had come to the temple to do the work for her. She said that as she was baptized for her, she had the clear impression that her grandmother would greet her in the next life. Experiences such as these strengthen testimonies and instill a desire to participate in further ordinances of the temple.
Many of the youth face temptations to dress immodestly. When parents and leaders wear attractive, modest clothing, youth will realize they can do so as well. Youth need to understand that the way they dress and how they treat their bodies can demonstrate their discipleship.
Parents can help youth prepare to enter the temple by helping them understand the covenants they will make there. The covenants of the temple include promises to “observe the law of strict virtue and chastity, to be charitable, benevolent, tolerant and pure; to devote both talent and material means to the spread of truth and the uplifting of the [human family]; to maintain devotion to the cause of truth; and to seek in every way to contribute to the great preparation that the earth may be ready to receive her King—the Lord Jesus Christ.”3 Parents can testify that the youth will receive personal and powerful blessings throughout their lives as they keep these covenants, and these covenants will become more meaningful to the youth as their parents help them understand that both the blessings and the covenants are made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
There are many ways we can help prepare our children and youth to receive the blessings of the temple. The more prepared they are, the more likely they will be at peace and feel the Spirit and thus be able to have great spiritual experiences as they receive their endowment. An uplifting temple experience will make them more committed disciples of Christ and better missionaries—motivated to help those they teach to prepare to receive their own sacred temple ordinances.