Part 2: Spiritual Preparation Foundational for Young Women Youth Leaders
Contributed By Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president
- Help a newly called class president understand that preparing spiritually is foundational to being an effective leader.
“Teach your youth leaders that their own personal, private spiritual habits and behaviors will have a powerful impact on their ability to lead and minister effectively to the young women in their class more than anything else they can do.” —Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president
• This article is the second in a series on class presidencies.
The young women in the restored Church are amazing people who have an important role to play in building the Lord’s kingdom in these latter days and in helping to prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Savior.
One of the significant opportunities they have to participate in this work is as youth leaders in their class presidencies. These are sacred callings and can be meaningful opportunities if we as adult leaders have the vision to step out of the way and let our youth lead, minister, and grow.
In the first article of this series on youth leadership, Sister Carol F. McConkie pointed out that young women who serve in class presidencies are called by revelation, set apart by those holding priesthood keys, and function with delegated priesthood authority as they act in their callings. She listed many of the responsibilities they have as leaders, which adults and parents will help a newly called youth leader understand as she begins to serve (see “The Influence of Young Women Class Presidencies”).
The first principle of gospel leadership listed in Handbook 2: Administering the Church is spiritual preparation (see section 3, “Leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ”). We as adults understand the need to seek for the guidance of the Holy Ghost through prayer and scripture study as we begin a new calling, and we need to help a newly called class president understand that preparing herself spiritually before she ever conducts her first meeting or helps plan and carry out an activity is one of the most foundational things she can do to be an effective leader.
The leadership lessons “Leading in the Savior’s Way” for class presidencies found on the Young Women web page on ChurchofJesusChrist.org have some wonderful suggestions for ways young women can prepare spiritually to be effective and Christlike leaders.
Study the words of Christ daily. Study with a specific young woman in mind or a challenge you are having as a leader. Pay attention to impressions from the Holy Ghost as you look for ways to follow the Savior’s example.
Observe the standards you see your young women struggling to live. Counsel together as a presidency to know how to help them.
Pray individually and as a presidency for guidance in your callings. Listen for the promptings of the Holy Ghost as to how you can be an instrument in the hands of the Lord.
Think about the young women in your class and pray for them by name. Seek guidance from the Holy Ghost on how to bless individual class members, and act on your impressions.
Select a Christlike attribute you would like to develop personally. Study scriptures that teach you about that attribute. Pray for the Lord to help you develop that quality, and note how your efforts help you fulfill your role as a leader.
Teach your youth leaders that their own personal, private spiritual habits and behaviors will have a powerful impact on their ability to lead and minister effectively to the young women in their class more than anything else they can do.
Teach the importance of consistent scripture study and prayer and encourage them to make their prayers specific to individuals in their classes and special challenges among their peers.
Part of a youth leader’s spiritual preparation should involve reading the scriptures and lesson ahead of time and being prepared to be an active participant in the class discussions. Members of class presidencies can plan with adult leaders to lead certain parts of the class discussion. Imagine how much more participation would occur if a member of the class presidency led the discussion at the end of the lesson in determining how class members can live the principles they have been discussing and encouraging them to set goals for the coming week. It will take thought, planning, and effort ahead of time.
Teach what it means to be “set apart”
Being spiritually prepared qualifies youth leaders to receive the blessings associated with the calling for which they have been set apart. We need to help them to understand what it means to be set apart for a calling. President Spencer W. Kimball said: “The setting apart may be taken literally; it is a setting apart from sin, apart from the carnal; apart from everything which is crude, low, vicious, cheap, or vulgar; set apart from the world to a higher plane of thought and activity. The blessing is conditional upon faithful performance” (Preach My Gospel: A Guide to Missionary Service , 4).
Becoming a Christlike leader
Being a good leader who is spiritually prepared includes being a good example. The Savior led first and foremost by His perfect example. He said, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). A good youth leader will also strive to be obedient in keeping the commandments so she can be a light for those in her class and qualify for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in her calling.
Our young women are not just future leaders of the Church; they are leaders now, if we let them. Their capacity for leading, loving, teaching, and ministering is unlimited. As we continue this series on class presidencies, let us begin by teaching them the importance of spiritual preparation as they become Christlike leaders in His Church.
Other articles in the series