“Prophet, Church Leaders Counsel Youth at Fireside,” Ensign, Mar. 2007, 74–75
Thousands of youth, their parents, and their leaders gathered at the Conference Center or watched by satellite Sunday, December 31, 2006, for a special New Year’s Eve youth devotional that Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles called “remarkable. … There is not anything like this anywhere else in the world.”
President Gordon B. Hinckley, Elder Holland, and Young Women general president Susan W. Tanner spoke during the devotional. Ten musical numbers were provided by the Orchestra at Temple Square and a choir made up of members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and selected seminary students from across the Salt Lake Valley, along with special soloists Peter Breinholt, William Joseph, and Ryan Tani.
President Hinckley counseled young people not to spoil the future before them. “Don’t make the kinds of mistakes that will bring regret. You can be wise and happy or stupid and miserable. The choice is yours.”
President Hinckley emphasized several principles as guidance to the youth for the future.
Be grateful. “My first suggestion to you, my dear young friends, is that you walk with gratitude in your hearts. Be thankful for the wonderful blessings that are yours. Be grateful for the tremendous opportunities that you have. Be thankful to your parents who care so very much about you and who have worked so very hard to provide for you.”
Be smart. “You need all the education you can get. You should sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. … Train your mind and your hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your life.”
Be clean. “Be clean in every way. Someday you will meet the man or woman of your dreams. Be clean for the sake of your future companion. Be clean for the sake of your posterity. Be clean for the sake of your self-respect.”
Be prayerful. “None of us can do it alone. … Prayer will change your life. It will bring you peace. It will give you direction and guidance. It will help you feel that you are not alone in this big and sometimes brutal world. The Lord answers our prayers. I know that.”
Encouraging the youth to follow counsel, President Hinckley assured them that with such obedience would come blessings and happiness.
Acknowledging that the most common illness that those in their teens and 20s experience is feelings of low self-esteem, self-doubt, and the like, Elder Holland spoke about his personal struggles with such problems and how to overcome them.
“Yes, I can remember all the things you remember—not being sure about how I looked or if I was accepted or what the future would hold for me.”
Elder Holland said that with the new year one could gain a new confidence.
“I wish to speak pointedly tonight about how to have a very special kind of confidence in this new year, a confidence which when rightfully earned does wonders for every other aspect of our lives, especially our self-esteem and how we view the future.”
Elder Holland said that positive feelings felt when one is personally worthy would bring such confidence.
Sharing a story of a young man who had borne his testimony about the importance of personal worthiness, Elder Holland illustrated that in order to be personally worthy of the Holy Ghost we must garnish our thoughts unceasingly, as it states in Doctrine and Covenants 121:45–46: “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth.”
Youth should not be so preoccupied with the troubles of the world that they become discouraged. If they think and act virtuously, then they will have confidence, Elder Holland said.
“Have a wonderful life. Think the best and hope the best and have faith in the future. You have a great life ahead of you. Your Heavenly Father loves you.”
Also speaking on the scripture in Doctrine and Covenants 121, Sister Tanner pointed out: “Our thoughts are so important. Proverbs says that as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he (see Proverbs 23:7). The Book of Mormon says that we will be judged by our thoughts (see Alma 12:14). We are admonished in Doctrine and Covenants 121:45–46 to ‘let virtue garnish [our] thoughts unceasingly’ so that our confidence will ‘wax strong in the presence of God’ and ‘the Holy Ghost shall be [our] constant companion.’”
Sister Tanner said that virtuous thought would invite the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and one could find confidence and comfort in such a companionship.
Sharing a personal story, she spoke of a time when she was struggling with despair, yet found comfort in thinking positive thoughts.
“I concentrated on three things: Finals will be over in three weeks. I know my family loves me. And I know Heavenly Father loves me. … These thoughts elevated me enough to feel the comfort and guidance of the Holy Ghost through a difficult time.”
Everyone struggles with hard times, everyone needs to be rescued from time to time, but everyone has a loving Heavenly Father who is always there, Sister Tanner said.
Personally living by the motto “I can do hard things,” Sister Tanner encouraged all the youth to resolve to let virtue garnish their thoughts unceasingly, that their confidence may wax strong in the presence of God.