We often sing this line in a favorite LDS hymn: “We thank thee, O God, for a prophet, to guide us in these latter days.” Part of the enormous blessing of the restored gospel is the fact that we know we have a living prophet to advise us and to teach us.
Our prophet, President Gordon B. Hinckley, has spoken many times to the Church. The New Era has gathered some of the statements he has made on subjects of interest to teens. From these we have developed a series of articles, each on a different subject, which will be included from time to time in the magazine.
If we are thankful to the Lord for a prophet to guide us, let us listen to and follow his words.
There are young people in the Church of whom I am proud and concerning whom I have a great sense of gratitude and a compelling sense of optimism.
In saying this, I do not wish to imply that all is well with all of them. There are many who have troubles, and many who live far beneath the high expectations we have concerning them. There are also those who waver in their faith and who are troubled and frustrated within themselves. There are some, I regret to say, who step over the line of acceptable behavior and suffer great tragedies in their lives.
But even considering these, I have great confidence in our young people as a whole. I regard you as the finest generation in the history of the Church. I compliment you, and I have in my heart a great feeling of love and respect and appreciation for you (from Ensign, May 1992, 69).
Each time I have stood before a group of young people, there has come into my mind the great and prophetic statement made by Peter of old. Said he: “Ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Pet. 2:9).
I know of no other statement which more aptly describes you, nor which sets before you a higher ideal by which to shape and guide your lives (from Ensign, May 1992, 69).
As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have been taught many values of divine origin. These values are based on the commandments which the finger of the Lord wrote upon the tablets of stone when Moses spoke with Jehovah upon the mountain. The values you have been taught likewise are based upon the Beatitudes which Jesus spoke to the multitude. To these have been added the precepts and commandments of modern revelation.
Combined together these basic, divinely given principles, laws, and commandments must constitute your value system. If you will shape your lives according to their pattern, I do not hesitate to promise that you will know much of peace and happiness, of growth and achievement. To the degree that you fail to observe them, I regretfully say that the fruits will be disappointment, sadness, misery, and even tragedy.
You of this generation, this chosen generation, this royal priesthood, this holy nation, you of this peculiar people, you cannot with impunity follow practices out of harmony with values you have been taught. I challenge you to rise above the sordid elements of the world about you (from Ensign, May 1992, 71).
You cannot afford to drink beer and other liquors which can rob you of self-control. You cannot afford to smoke cigarettes or use other forms of tobacco and still live up to the values which the Lord has set for your guidance. The partaking or distribution of illegal drugs is to be shunned as you would shun a terrible disease.
You cannot afford in any degree to become involved with pornography, whatever its form. You simply cannot afford to become involved in immoral practices—or to let down the bars of sexual restraint. The emotions that stir within you which make boys attractive to girls and girls attractive to boys are part of a divine plan, but they must be restrained, subdued, and kept under control, or they will destroy you and make you unworthy of many of the great blessings which the Lord has in store for you.
You cannot afford to cheat in school or to shoplift or steal or do anything of the kind.
You cannot afford to do any of those things which do not square with the precepts, the teachings, the principles which the God of heaven has set down because of His love for you and His desire that your lives be rich and full and purposeful.
Nor can you afford to idle away your time in long hours watching the frivolous and damaging programming of which much of television is comprised. There are better things for you to do. The world into which you will move will be terribly competitive. You need to increase your education, to refine your skills, to hone your abilities (from Ensign, May 1992, 71).
I should like to offer what I have chosen to call the Four Bs.
Be smart. I mean be wise. Be smart about training your minds and hands for the future. Plan now for all the education you can get, and then work to bring to pass a fulfillment of that plan.
You live in a complex age. The world needs men and women of ability and training. Do not short-circuit your education. Whatever you choose to do, train for it. Qualify yourselves. Take advantage of the experience and learning of those who have gone before you in whatever field you choose.
Be fair. Learn the importance of friendshipping and fellowshipping. Now is the time to practice these principles, to reach out with appreciation and kindness to others. I want to suggest that we develop an outreaching attitude to help those who are not of us, to encourage them, to lead them in a gracious and kindly way toward those associations which could expose them to the wonderful programs of the Church.
In athletic contests, there is no occasion for booing and catcalls. Of course mistakes are made by umpires and referees. Of course players do things outside the rules. But the score will not be changed by all the booing in the world.
Clean competition is wholesome; but immoral, dishonest, or unfair practices are reprehensible.
Be clean. We live in a time when the world considers virtue lightly. Loss of virtue inevitably means loss of self-respect, loss of discipline in managing one’s mind and body. Of course there is repentance, and of course there is forgiveness. But there will also be heartache and regret and disappointment. There may likewise be cast a cloud upon your opportunity for future service in the Church.
I am not asking you to be prudish. I am asking you to be virtuous, and I think there is vast difference between the two.
Be true. You are youth of the noble birthright. You may not at this time know what that means. It means that behind you are great men and women who did wonderful and brave things. They made decisions that were not easy to make, and in many cases they paid a terrible price for those decisions, some of them even giving their lives rather than forsake the truth they had embraced (from Ensign, Nov. 1981, 40–42).
I return to Peter’s great statement as I make a plea and offer a challenge: “Ye are a chosen generation.” How very true that is. Notwithstanding all of the problems that we have, this, I believe, is the greatest generation in the history of the world. And you young people are a part of it. You are the beneficiaries of it. Its fruits are here to bless your lives if you will grasp them and live worthy of them (Ensign, May 1992, 70).