Young adults, youth, and children are the future of the Church, and when Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles met with members in Australia and New Zealand recently, he urged parents and leaders to be careful when interacting with them.
“In the Doctrine and Covenants it talks about a principle I think is very important when we are talking about the rising generation,” Elder Cook said. He quoted section 1, verses 25–28: “And inasmuch as they erred it might be made known; and inasmuch as they sought wisdom they might be instructed; and inasmuch as they sinned they might be chastened, that they might repent; and inasmuch as they were humble they might be made strong, and blessed from on high, and receive knowledge from time to time.”
Elder Cook said that parents need to make clear what is sinful and how to avoid it and that they should encourage repentance. But they should not take the “silly mistakes” of youth and treat them as enormous errors. Many mistakes and errors of youth are different than sins, Elder Cook said. “Don’t be hard on them because of the mistakes of youth.”
Negative influences on youth, such as movies, TV, social media, the Internet, and unrighteous peers, Elder Cook said, should be combatted by the positive influence of righteous parents, family home evening, prayer, scripture study, righteous peers, bishops, and counselors.
“I hope that throughout the Pacific Area we will teach people to do that. Be kind and loving to children. Help them to grow and develop in an appropriate way.”
Elder Cook counseled that bishops, other leaders, families, and friends need to rescue those among the rising generation who have lost their way, by going out and finding the missing youth and young single adults.
Follow the Prophet
“Prophets help us keep focused,” Elder Cook said during meetings with missionaries, members, and Church and community leaders in Sydney and Melbourne, Australia, and in Christchurch and Auckland, New Zealand.
“Prophets are not just talking about what is happening today, but what is going to happen in the future,” Elder Cook said.
He said that the seventh President of the Church, Heber J. Grant (1856–1945), “always taught the Word of Wisdom. Then the 1960s drug culture began devastating families. President McKay taught the importance of the family in the life of children. Then California led out in adopting no-fault divorce. President Kimball taught that we must be unified as Church members. Then people of many nations began coming into the Church, leaving no room for feelings of superiority. President Hinckley, in 1998, before all this financial disaster, taught, ‘There is a portent of storm clouds ahead. … Prepare your houses for the lean years.’ President Monson is teaching us to follow the example of the Savior, reach out and rescue, and strengthen our families. These things are critical.”
“As you emphasize your faith and not your doubts, your faith will grow,” Elder Cook said. “As you seek inspiration you will receive spiritual guidance through prayer that will allow you to become who your Father in Heaven wants you to be.”
The Best You Can Be
During a meeting with missionaries serving in the Sydney Australia Mission, Elder Cook encouraged them to “be the best missionaries you can possibly be.”
“All that is near and dear to you will be blessed because you are serving this mission,” Elder Cook said. “Regardless of your success, this is the single most important thing you can do—it is a seminal experience in your life.”
For those in attendance who had not yet decided to serve a mission, Elder Cook offered three considerations: Is Jesus Christ divine? Is the Book of Mormon the word of God? Was Joseph Smith a prophet?
Elder Cook noted that knowing the answers to those questions would also affect every decision in life.
Strengthen Your Families
In Australia and New Zealand, Elder Cook also visited with members of Parliament, interfaith councils, and community leaders. In Christchurch, New Zealand, he expressed concern for those who had endured the recent earthquakes. He encouraged those in attendance to not only rebuild the quake-shaken city but also to look after and strengthen their families.
“Parents, love and look after your children,” Elder Cook said. “And couples, love and look after each other.” He gave a blessing that members would discover how to touch the lives of their loved ones and that, especially within family units, they would know how to rescue straying youth.