Choose a Bright Future
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“Choose a Bright Future,” Liahona, Sept. 2006, 34–36

Choose a Bright Future

From a youth devotional address given on June 8, 2004, in the Salt Lake Tabernacle. Elder John H. Groberg served as a member of the Seventy from 1976 to 2005.

Elder John H. Groberg

One of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make is whether or not you are going to trust the Lord. If you want a bright future, you have to make the decision right now: do you trust the Lord or not? If you trust Him, you will keep His commandments.

You can either trust man, or you can trust the Lord. You are a lot better off trusting the Lord, because if you trust man, who knows where you will end up? I have a little saying: “If you do what’s right, things will turn out right. If you do what’s wrong, things will turn out wrong.” It’s as simple as that. Trust the Lord. Obey Him.

A Huge Difference

How do we obey the Lord? There are a lot of ways. I would like to address one particularly for the young men.

You have a responsibility. When you received the priesthood, you took upon yourself the responsibility to share the gospel. One of the best ways to do that is to serve a mission. Now, in order to serve a mission, there are a lot of things you have to do. You have to pay your tithing. You have to attend church. You have to be morally clean. You have to be worthy in every respect. You have to prepare. You have to study the scriptures. But I promise you that if you will prepare yourself, if you will keep the Lord’s commandments, and if you will serve a mission, it will make a huge difference in your life, and it will make a huge difference in the world.

On a mission you not only teach others the truth, but you learn more of the truth yourself. I can honestly say that I learned more eternal gospel principles on my mission than any other single time. Even today I look back on my mission and realize lessons I learned then.

Go on a mission. Prepare.

Now you young women might say, “Well, you have talked about the young men. What about us?” Young men have the responsibility to go on a mission, and young women have the opportunity. You have the choice. You can go or not go.

My wife and I have quite a few daughters. About half of them went on missions. Those who went are very happy they went. Those who didn’t are also very satisfied. They’re married and have families of their own. It’s your choice.

But you young women have the responsibility to make sure that the young men you associate with are eager and worthy to serve. Don’t do anything, and don’t allow them to do anything with you, that would discourage or disqualify them from serving a mission. Always encourage them.

Jill’s Answer

Sometimes you wonder, “Do I really have much power to encourage others to serve?” You have more power than you think. Let me give you an example. Several years ago I had a stake conference assignment in a small mining town.

As I visited with the stake president prior to leaving, he said, “Do you have time to visit with a young man? This young man is a good young man. He always planned on going on a mission. But just recently he said he isn’t going. We’ve talked to him, and we can’t seem to make any difference. Would you talk to him?” I said I’d be happy to.

The young man had grown up active in the Church, but he had seen his father in and out of work in the mines. Just before this young man turned 19, he had a job in a store. The manager was so impressed with him that he said, “If you’ll take this job right now, I’ll make you the assistant manager, and in a couple of years you’ll be the manager.”

“I was planning on going on a mission,” he said.

The manager said, “Well, you can do whatever you want, but you’ll lose this job. I need you right now.”

Well, he thought about it. He had a girlfriend named Jill. And he thought, “I really love Jill. If I get this job, I won’t have to work at the mine. We can get a house. We can get married and have a family.” So he made up his mind that he wasn’t going on a mission because he had this tremendous opportunity.

He talked to his father, and his father did everything he could to persuade him to go on a mission. He couldn’t persuade him. The father asked his son to talk to the bishop. The bishop couldn’t persuade him. The stake president couldn’t persuade him. I talked to him, and I couldn’t persuade him. He was determined to work at this store.

Finally, when it became evident that he wasn’t going to go, his father said, “Well, what are your plans?”

“I’m going to marry Jill.”

“What does Jill have to say about it?”

“Well, I haven’t talked to her yet.”

“How do you know she’ll even marry you?”

He had just assumed that she would.

His dad told him, “You’d better talk to Jill.”

So he explained to Jill about this great job and how he would make good money. Finally, he said, “You know, with this job we can buy a house. We can start a family.”

Jill asked, “Are you proposing to me?”

“Well, yeah, I guess so.”

“What about your mission?”

“I’ve already told you that if I go on a mission, I’ll lose this job. If I lose the job, we won’t have the income. We won’t be able to get married. We won’t be able to have a home.”

Now, remember, four priesthood brethren—father, bishop, stake president, and General Authority—couldn’t sway him.

Jill looked at him and said, “No mission, no Jill.”

He was in the bishop’s office the next day filling out his papers to go on his mission.

The Lord Will Prepare a Way

He served a mission, and while he was serving, Jill married someone else. But he had been out on his mission long enough that he had gained a solid testimony.

When this elder came home after serving a wonderful mission, he went to his folks and said, “I’ve decided I’m going to go on to college.”

They almost fainted and said, “No one in our family has gone to college. How can you do that?”

“I don’t know, but I talked to my mission president, and he said he thought it was a good idea and, if it was right, the Lord would prepare the way.” And the Lord did prepare a way. He was a smart young man. He eventually became a dentist, married a wonderful woman, and they raised a great family.

Now the sequel to this story is that not very many years after he had started his dental practice in a different area—guess what happened? They closed the mine, in effect, closing the town. And the store that was such a big thing to him years earlier closed. It couldn’t stay in business.

What if he had followed the dictates of man or just his own feelings? He might have married Jill, and they would have had a mortgage they couldn’t have paid and a house they couldn’t have sold.

God always blesses you when you keep His commandments. But if you go on your own thinking, you are at the mercies of the world. It’s a lot better to be at the mercies of God—a lot better.

By doing right, things will turn out right. If you want a bright future, trust the Lord and keep His commandments.

Photographs by Christina Smith, posed by models