To the Point


Responses are intended for help and perspective, not as pronouncements of Church doctrine.

“The youth in my ward are divided into two groups that don’t get along. What can I do to help improve things?”

It’s difficult to understand why members of the Church sometimes exclude each other and form cliques. The Savior said, “He that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

“Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away” (3 Ne. 11:29–30).

There are a few ways you can help do away with contention among the youth in your ward and encourage them to love one another.

Start by being an example. Include those who may feel left out of your circle of friends. Invite them to church and activities and sit with them. Working, playing games or sports, and serving together are other good ways to form friendships and build unity.

Try to find out why the groups don’t get along. This is a situation you could discuss with a youth leader or your bishop. Get help from others who feel as you do. Remind youth leaders to invite and involve everyone in activities. You can also fast and pray for the Lord’s help in solving the problem.

Change takes time, so don’t be discouraged if things don’t improve all at once. You can do your part, but the unity in your youth group will depend on each person trying his or her best to make things work with Heavenly Father’s help. (See Mosiah 18:21; D&C 38:27.)

“How do I get rid of inappropriate thoughts?”

Protect yourself from bad thoughts by surrounding yourself with uplifting influences: friends, family, good music and entertainment, and anything that invites the Spirit into your life.

When bad thoughts do creep in, you can get rid of them by doing the following:

—Sing a hymn, focusing on the meaning of the words.

—Pray. The Lord wants to help you find the strength you need, and the very act of praying changes your thoughts.

—Turn to the scriptures to enlighten your mind with gospel truths. President James E. Faust, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said scripture study can “clean” your thoughts: “I believe reading the scriptures is the best washing machine for unclean or uncontrolled thoughts” (“The Power of Self-Mastery,” Ensign, May 2000, 44).

—Reject bad thoughts immediately. President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) compared your mind to a stage, with good and bad thoughts trying to play a part. He then said: “You are the stage manager—you are the one who decides which thought will occupy the stage” (“Think on Christ,” Ensign, Apr. 1984, 11). You can get into a habit of thinking good thoughts if they are what you choose to dwell on.

For more ideas, talk with your bishop and parents. They can teach you how to encourage appropriate thoughts.

Pure and positive thoughts improve your self-control and view of others. When you have clean thoughts, you allow the Spirit to guide you, and you will be happier. By improving your thoughts, your outward actions and appearance will reflect your inner spiritual strength. (See D&C 121:45.)

“I went to an R-rated movie. It made me feel awful. What can I do to feel better?”

That awful feeling is there to motivate you to get the Spirit back into your life. When you sin, the Holy Spirit leaves you, but you can get His companionship back when you repent. Praying, reading the scriptures, and talking to your bishop and parents can also help bring the Spirit back into your life.

Part of repenting is forsaking your bad habit. That means avoiding inappropriate movies, no matter what the rating is. As you replace the bad things you do with good things, you will begin to feel better. (See Isa. 1:18 and For the Strength of Youth, 17, 19.)

E-mail your questions to newera@ldschurch.org. Please put “To the Point” in the subject line.

[photos] Photography by David Stoker, posed by models