Preparing for the Future
September 2011

“Preparing for the Future,” Ensign, Sept. 2011, 26–29

Preparing for the Future

Adapted from an address given to young single adults at an April 28, 2011, meeting in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. For the full text, visit lds.org/study/prophets-speak-today/in-terms-of-the-future.

Elder M. Russell Ballard

You need to see yourselves 20 years from now. By then, you young men will be sitting in stake presidencies, on high councils, and in bishoprics, elders quorum presidencies, and high priests group leadership in your wards and in your stakes. You young women will be called to direct the affairs of the Relief Society, the Young Women, and the Primary. We need you to catch the vision of what your roles will be 20 years from now, maybe even sooner than that. Some of you may be called in your late 20s and early 30s to carry on some great responsibility in the kingdom of God.

I want to make it very clear that we understand that not every one of you may find an eternal companion. Some of you may not have the privilege or the opportunity to marry in mortality. But we promise you in the name of the Lord, as prophets have promised both anciently and in the modern day, that if you remain true and faithful, keep your covenants, serve God, and love your Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ, you will not be denied any of the eternal blessings our Heavenly Father has for His faithful children.

You ought to enjoy the Church. The reason we’re eager for you to reach out and to encourage some of the young single adults that are not active is that one of the great ways to enjoy peace and joy and fellowship, a sense of belonging, is by being active in the Church. The Church is established to give us guidance and direction and to make available the ordinances and covenants that we need to progress in this life and prepare for all that our Heavenly Father has in store for us in the life to come.

Therefore, I would like to draw your attention to why we have asked over and over again that you do what you can to try to draw some of those who are less active back into fellowship in the Church. That is critical for us to understand because it’s what the Atonement is all about. When we contemplate the Savior’s experience in Gethsemane, when we think of Him in that moment in His majesty and His love for you and for me and for every other child of God, when we pause and ponder what He has done, then all of a sudden we see that every living soul is precious—very precious—to our Father in Heaven because they are His children, and to the Lord Jesus Christ because He went to Gethsemane for each one of them.

And so as you look about in your ward and your area and as you’re going to school or to work, may I give you an assignment to have the courage to accept the challenge to try to bring one of our Father’s children back into activity. I promise you as you do that and as you trust the Lord and you pray about it and you seek for guidance and for strength to do what you can do, you’re going to have some spiritual experiences. You’ll have some promptings of the Spirit that will be unusual to you. That will happen because all of God’s children are precious to Him, and all are precious to the Lord Jesus Christ, and this is the Church of Jesus Christ, restored to the earth in these, the latter days.

I encourage you to not be afraid of the future. Don’t let anything that’s going on in the world slow you down in your progress in mortality. Don’t be afraid to marry. Don’t think you have to have everything lined up. Don’t think you have to have all of the resources and finances “necessary” to enter into that kind of a commitment.

Sister Ballard and I have been married for more than 60 years. I think back to when I returned from my mission to England, over 60 years ago. I used every skill I had developed as a full-time missionary to convince Barbara that I was the only true and living returned missionary that she should give any consideration to. If you could see her, you’d know that she was very beautiful and still is, and a lot of young men had the same idea I had. So I used the old commitment pattern, elders. I asked find-out questions, and I resolved concerns, and we moved on, and that’s what you’ve been counseled to do.

Don’t be afraid of marriage. I have been much more effective and much more able to accomplish things in my life with Barbara at my side than I ever would have been alone. Did we have hard times? Oh, yes. But they were some of the best times because we drew together, we prayed together, we worked together, we saw our way from one point of our lives on until today. We are so blessed that we’ve had seven children, none of which we could afford. You young people are very expensive. But don’t let that worry you. Pay your tithing. The Lord said that He’ll provide, He’ll make the way, and that was the case with us. Those wonderful seven children have given us grandchildren, and those grandchildren have given us great-grandchildren.

Our family, and your family, is an eternal unit. As an eternal unit, families go to the eternities together. My counsel to you is do not lose your faith. Go forward with faith. Faith is a principle of the gospel. Faith is one of the greatest powers that you and I have in this sojourn of mortality. Fear is one of those principles that the devil uses. He likes to seed in your minds and in mine doubt and questions. He’s the father of all lies; he lies to us, and he can confuse us if we allow ourselves to be caught up in fear. So replace any fear or apprehension you have now with faith—faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, faith in your fathers and your mothers. Stay close to them.

You may be living a long way away from your mom and your dad. My counsel is that you stay constantly in touch with them. Communicate. You can do that easily now, and at no cost. It’s so important for you to keep that tie to your mother and your father wherever they may be.

We’re on a journey, you and I, a great journey. We knew the consequences of this journey when we left the presence of our Heavenly Father to come here and receive a body, a tabernacle of flesh and bone. We knew that we would make some mistakes as we went along this pathway, and God gave us the wonderful principle of repentance. There’s not any one of you who has done anything that you can’t fix and who can’t have a sense of peace and calm as you continue your sojourn in mortality. If you have something that’s seriously weighing on you, then take care of it. Work it out with your bishop and move on so that faith and trust in the Lord can have their greatest possible power in your lives.

I’d like to ask our Heavenly Father to bless you. It’s one of the privileges we have as members of the Twelve, to leave a blessing upon you in the name of the Lord and through the holy apostleship. I ask Heavenly Father to bless you now that you capture the vision, maybe in a deeper and a more meaningful way than you ever have before, of who you are and what the purpose of your mortal existence is. I ask Heavenly Father to bless you with faith to trust in Him and to call down the blessings of heaven into your lives.

Trust the Lord. Believe in Him. Study His words. Worship your Father in Heaven in the holy and sacred name of His Beloved Son. May the Lord bless you with courage to do now the next things that are very most important in your lives. May you have the courage to reach out and bring souls unto Christ on conditions of repentance. May every righteous desire of your hearts be granted through your faithfulness and your trust in your Heavenly Father. May this blessing go with each and every one of you.

Enjoy the future; prepare, my beloved brothers and sisters. When the Lord needs you, you’ll be able to say, “Here am I; send me” (2 Nephi 16:8). May this be the case in your lives.

Image of earth by NASA; photo illustrations by Matt Reier