They say a good friend is someone who helps you be your best. Someone who will always tell you the truth. Someone who will give you advice you can count on. Someone who will help you become the kind of person the Lord expects you to be.
For years, For the Strength of Youth has been just such a friend to Latter-day Saint youth. But now you’ve probably been hearing that that friend has changed somewhat. It’s only logical to ask how and why.
Obviously the standards themselves haven’t changed. Church standards are guidelines for behavior based on eternal principles of happiness. Follow those standards and you will be both happy and safe.
But if the standards haven’t changed, why update For the Strength of Youth? Because the world has changed. Elder Cecil O. Samuelson Jr., executive director of the priesthood department and a member of the Presidency of the Quorum of the Seventy, recently spoke to the New Era about the new For the Strength of Youth.
“The youth today are stronger than they have ever been. But we live in an increasingly difficult and complex world. Our youth have many tough decisions before them. It is hoped that the new For the Strength of Youth will give them an even clearer sense of what they need to do and what they need to think about to live the kinds of lives that our Heavenly Father wants.”
But don’t expect to be told in more detail what you should and shouldn’t do. Instead, you’ll find even more help in understanding gospel principles and being guided by the Spirit to live them. Elder Samuelson says much more attention has been given to helping you understand the whys of the standards. There are also some great helps for explaining those whys to your friends.
What else is new in For the Strength of Youth? “New material has been added that focuses on what President Gordon B. Hinckley is saying. … There is a new First Presidency message. Scripture verses and scripture references have also been added, and there are seven new topics,” Elder Samuelson says. The testimony of the living Christ and the proclamation on the family have also been added. “The inclusion of these documents not only communicates that their messages are important but also emphasizes that we have living prophets to guide us.”
How much does the new For the Strength of Youth deal with real-life issues and situations? Elder Samuelson explains that it is “a doctrinal document, but it is also very practical. It is hoped that youth will not only want to learn what the standards are, but will want to apply the sensible ideas given to help them keep the standards. It is not intended that these ideas be unduly prescriptive, but youth should carefully consider how to apply the doctrine.”
As the First Presidency says in its introductory message: “We promise that as you keep these standards and live by the truths in the scriptures, you will be able to do your life’s work with greater wisdom and skill and bear trials with greater courage. You will have the help of the Holy Ghost. You will feel good about yourself and will be a positive influence in the lives of others. You will be worthy to go to the temple to receive holy ordinances. These blessings and many more can be yours.”
Clearly, For the Strength of Youth is a better friend than ever.