Brothers and sisters, this afternoon I would like to direct my message toward the young men and young women who are growing up in these troubled times. Many of you young people have established, at least in the back of your minds, lofty goals which probably include missions, education, temple marriage, successful careers, and, of course, the safe return to your Heavenly Father’s presence in the celestial kingdom.
One of the great challenges of being a teenager is successfully connecting these celestial goals with your everyday life. This is difficult because our lives are jammed so full of worldly stuff. You’re involved with schoolwork; dozens of activities which include music, dance, sports, various clubs; and, of course, many throughout the world work part-time jobs as well. Mixed in with this hectic schedule are weekend activities such as games, dances, Scouting activities, and parties. Everywhere you go you’re bombarded with temptation from peers, television, movies, and music. Wow! What an adventure!
The real trick is trying to balance the importance of what is happening next Friday night with what’s going to be happening 2, 5, or 10 years from now. You might be asking, “What does Friday night have to do with two years from now?” Well, it could have a lot to do with it, depending on where you are and what you are doing.
If you want to reach your potential in the future, if you want to become the person the Lord wants you to be, you had better work on it today, because it is a true principle that we become what we do. If we want to be a successful university student, we had better be successful in high school. If we want to live a celestial life in the hereafter, we had better live a celestial life here on earth. Our futures are truly connected to our past.
One of the great purposes of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to teach us of our eternal potentials. The purpose of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ is to help us reach that potential.
It is important for you young people to recognize that the foundation of your future success, both temporally and spiritually, is being built while in your teenage years. If those years are fractured with sin and go unrepaired, then the structure of your life will be built upon a weakened foundation. Your future will be less secure and certainly more stressful.
We all realize that in today’s society, the family, and particularly our youth, is under assault throughout the entire world. The prophet Isaiah saw our day and that it would be a day turned upside down. This prophecy and warning is found in Isaiah 5:20–21 [Isa. 5:20–21]:
“Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!
“Woe unto them that are wise in their own eyes, and prudent in their own sight!”
As young people growing up in this upside-down world, you have quite a challenge confronting the various pressures of modern-day life. How will you make it through your teenage years spiritually prepared for your celestial future? How will you connect your celestial goals with your everyday life?
I have yet to meet a businessman, educator, artist, or athlete who has attained a high level of excellence in their chosen field who has not successfully been able to connect the vision of their future to their everyday life. It is very likely that a goal or vision not connected to everyday life by specific action will become just another unrealized dream with nothing more than hope to support it.
So how is it done? How do we connect our hectic daily life to these lofty celestial goals? The answer is simple.
Let’s take an example we can all relate to. Suppose you have a midterm test coming up in geometry in two weeks. One of your goals is to get an A in geometry. How do you go about reaching that goal? Do you wait until the last minute and cram the night before the test? This technique is filled with risk. Instead of truly understanding the material, the attempt is to learn enough that somehow you can make it through the test successfully. Unfortunately, instead of being totally prepared and confident about the subject, you walk into the classroom a little bit nervous, with a lot of hope that the teacher will ask you the questions which you happen to know. I have a feeling I’m not the only one here today who has experienced this uneasy feeling.
Now let’s take another student who, with the same goal of attaining an A in geometry, realizes that he doesn’t want to count on the intangibles of luck and hope. So, instead of cramming, he or she sets aside a little time every day to calmly and in depth study the subject. This gives the necessary time to digest and properly understand the material. If confusion arises on any given topic, there’s plenty of time to ask the teacher for help. What’s the result from this second technique? A deeper understanding of the material? Increased self-confidence going into the test? Less reliance on hope? I think so.
Is it actually possible to go into the classroom knowing beforehand that you will get an A on the test because of your preparation? I know it is. I’ve seen it done.
Therefore, if you want to get an A in the classroom, continual daily dedication is the answer. If you want to get an A in your celestial goals, the same daily technique needs to be applied.
Young friends, it is very difficult to cram for a mission, and it is equally difficult to cram for a temple marriage. Don’t take the risk. Be wise. Prepare yourselves daily. Study the scriptures. Communicate with your Heavenly Father in prayer. Attend seminary. Keep yourselves clean and prepared. Understand that what happens on Friday night will ultimately impact your celestial future.
If these seemingly little things seem tiresome, tedious, or time consuming, carry on! The little things that confound the wise also confound Satan. Remember, celestial blessings are on their way.
How else can you protect yourself against the pressures and evils of the world? Three hours of church on Sunday? Not likely. Just like in your studies, a concerted daily effort is the only sure way to come out victorious. The Lord wants you to succeed, and He will be with you. He will help you and support and sustain you in your time of need if you are true to His plan. If you stay close to Him on a daily basis, He will stay close to you, and you will reap untold blessings in every aspect of your life, especially the most important, the spiritual.
And when the day comes to enter the classroom door of the temple, you will be at peace, your conscience will be clean, your self-confidence high, and you will know in your heart that you will receive an A in the most important of all your subjects: your celestial future.
Young brothers and sisters, it will ultimately be your love of the Lord which will help you commit and then stay true to your celestial daily plan. I know the Lord lives and His desire and hope for us all is a celestial future. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.