Parents and Teachers Can Expect More from Youth, Leaders Say
Contributed By By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- Raise children in righteousness by making decisions based on the long view and by using true principles of teaching and guidance.
- Have greater expectations for the youth of the Church.
- Teach and testify in ways that will anchor youth and young adults to the Savior and His true Church.
“We need to step up our teaching so that our youth do more on their own to understand the doctrines of Christ and the reality of the Restoration, and we need to find a way to motivate them to write these things on the ‘tablets of their hearts.’” —Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president
Establishing greater expectations for the youth of the Church and teaching with unity and power were among the topics discussed by Church leaders during the annual Seminaries and Institutes of Religion training broadcast held on August 5.
The live broadcast originated from the Conference Center Theater in Salt Lake City and will be translated into more than 20 languages for Seminaries and Institutes of Religion personnel and stake and institute teachers and supervisors throughout the world.
Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy and Commissioner of Education for the Church spoke of two things that parents—and instructors—can do to raise children in righteousness.
First, make decisions based on the long view.
“Decisions aren’t based on what is easiest now, but what will be most helpful to their children later in life and even in the eternities,” he said. “They seem to have a sense about what is best to do now to help their children become all that they should become.”
Often parents are tempted to make decisions based on what will make the parent look better at the moment or what is easiest in the short term, he said.
“It seems that some parents end up doing much of their children’s schoolwork and school projects,” he said. “While we want our children to do well in school, a parent who does the work designed to help the student learn will actually cripple the child’s learning and put them at a disadvantage in the future. Sometimes that pressure to be able to brag about how well our children are doing in school or in other activities or awards they have received can blind us to what will actually help them learn and grow.”
Elder Johnson said children can sense—even if they can’t articulate it—whether a parent is motivated by selfishness or by what the parent believes is best for the child.
“We can help our children see the long view in their own lives,” he said. “Possibly, the most powerful way to do this is by being the type of people we want them to become. … If they see us trying to be Christlike, they will be more likely to try to emulate Him too.”
Second, use true principles of teaching and guidance.
Drawing from Doctrine and Covenants section 121, Elder Johnson shared scriptures about principles of priesthood leadership, adding that they can also be applied to parenting. It is upon principles of righteousness that parents are able to help guide their children.
“Fear, force, manipulation, and unrighteous dominion won’t affect changes we want in our children,” he said. “These tactics may bring results, but not the results we want, because the powers of heaven are not brought into the equation.”
It is through using righteous principles that parents are able to help children see their own potential and develop a desire to try and to succeed.
“These two principles of parenting—taking the long view and using true principles of teaching and guidance—are as applicable to teachers as they are to parents,” he said.
“I hope we can all take the long view and help our children and our students become more than they imagine of themselves,” he said. “I hope we help our children and our students progress by adhering to righteous principles that are connected with the powers of heaven. We need the powers of heaven in this sacred work. It can’t be done without them.”
Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president, spoke of the need to have greater expectations for the youth of the Church.
“We often refer to the scripture that ‘where much is given, much is required,’” she said. “I believe that a close corollary to this is that ‘where much is required, much more will be given.’ In other words, if we expect more of our youth, they will step up to the challenge, and I do believe that we need to require more of them. We need to step up our teaching so that our youth do more on their own to understand the doctrines of Christ and the reality of the Restoration, and we need to find a way to motivate them to write these things on the ‘tablets of their hearts.’”
The atmosphere in which the youth live when they are outside their homes is often the equivalent of a spiritual land mine, Sister Oscarson taught.
“Unfortunately, many of our youth do not have ideal family situations to counterbalance the influence of the world,” she said. “Satan is having a heyday in our time. … Everything that is sacred, critical, or of most importance to our salvation is being assaulted.”
In a world where spirituality in general is under attack and being trivialized by pop culture, temptations are more enticing and easier to access and hide from the eyes of parents than ever before. Because of this, it is not a wonder that youth are sometimes confused or tempted to wander into strange paths, said Sister Oscarson.
“We should not become discouraged with all of this bad news,” she said. “I truly believe that our Heavenly Father has reserved some of His choicest spirits to come to earth in this time.”
Because seminary and institute teachers have, after the home, more formal teaching time with the youth of the Church than any other organization or auxiliary, they have a tremendous opportunity to teach things of righteousness that will help the youth of the Church become truly converted and committed disciples in the Lord’s kingdom.
“We need to help our youth understand the Atonement and what it personally means to each of them,” she said. “Teach them that because of the Atonement there is hope in this life and in the life to come. Somehow, we need to help our youth see how relevant this is to their everyday lives, their happiness, and their eternal salvation.”
Instructors must help the youth understand, as they read the words within the scriptures, that they are hearing the voice of Jesus Christ and becoming familiar with who He is. Teachers must also do all they can to help the youth gain a testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and the Restoration of the gospel.
As the youth read the Book of Mormon, study, and pray to know the truth, they are able to build a testimony through the confirmation of the Spirit and understand that through the Prophet Joseph Smith all keys, powers, authority, and ordinances necessary for salvation are restored to the earth.
“Teachers of seminary and institute youth have a great charge and a great trust placed in you. … Do not hesitate to expect more of the youth in your classes,” she said.
Chad H. Webb, Church Educational System administer of seminaries and institutes, also spoke during the broadcast, emphasizing the need to teach and testify in ways that will anchor youth and young adults to the Savior and His true Church. He spoke of the book of study next year—the Doctrine and Covenants—and the importance of youth studying the scriptures.
“Please encourage those students in our Doctrine and Covenants classes to read, study, and ponder this sacred book of scripture,” he said. “Please help them to have an experience that deepens their faith and commitment to the Savior and to His teachings. A meaningful study of the Doctrine and Covenants will also deepen their testimony of His true and living Church, of His commissioned prophets, His priesthood authority, and His covenants that have been restored again in our day.”
Other speakers included Russell G. Bulloch, Richard Hawks, and Scott Wilde, all administrators in the Church Educational System. An institute choir from Johannesburg, South Africa, provided a prerecorded musical number for the event.
Audio and video archives of the broadcast will be available for seminary and institute personnel at si.ChurchofJesusChrist.org approximately three weeks after the broadcast.