In my experience as the bishop of a young single adult ward, I often met with young brothers and sisters who wanted to receive their temple endowment. In most cases, these young adults were ecstatic about the opportunity. But in many cases, they were concerned about whether they were ready because they weren’t planning to get married or serve a mission at the time.
Some of these young adults had these ideas of unreadiness because previous handbook guidelines (that have now been updated) implied that they should wait until marriage or a mission to make this important step in their lives.
Many faithful young adults prayerfully prepare to progress on the covenant path. They seek to come closer to Jesus Christ through temple covenants. They desire to hear the sweet whisperings of the Spirit as they strive to understand His will during quiet moments of pondering in the celestial room. They simply yearn to spend time in the house of the Lord and hope to receive further light and instruction from their Savior.
So how can one know when he or she is ready to receive the temple endowment?
Many may not be aware that the General Handbook: Serving in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was recently updated to explain with clarity the blessings and purposes of this sacred ordinance and how we can qualify for them.
“The word endowment means ‘a gift.’ The temple endowment is literally a gift from God through which He blesses His children. The endowment can be received only in holy temples. Some of the gifts that members receive through the temple endowment include:
Greater knowledge of the Lord’s purposes and teachings.
Power to do all that Heavenly Father wants His children to do.
Divine direction when serving the Lord, their families, and others.
Increased hope, comfort, and peace.
All the promised blessings of the endowment are in force both in this life and for eternity. The fulfillment of these blessings depends on faithfulness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.”1
The updated handbook also emphasizes that young adults may receive the temple endowment as soon as they are ready (saying nothing of prerequisites such as marriage, a mission, military service, or college), granted that they meet the following conditions:
“They are at least 18 years old.
They have completed or are no longer attending high school, secondary school, or the equivalent.
One full year has passed since their confirmation.
They feel a desire to receive and honor sacred temple covenants throughout their lives.”2
Alex (name has been changed) was one of my first encounters as a bishop with a young sister who wanted to receive her endowment but wondered if she was ready since she wasn’t getting married or preparing to serve a mission.
However, when Alex met with me, she shared that she had felt inspired to start preparing to enter the temple anyway and spoke of her desire to deepen her faith. As I continued to meet with her, I saw that she met every qualification to receive her endowment, and we worked together until she was able to reach her goal.
As I sought revelation on the matter and studied the handbook, I received reaffirmation of the truth that a young adult’s readiness to go through the temple is often a matter of their heart and their desire to come closer to the Lord.
If a young adult feels spiritually ready, is obedient, and is willing to make covenants with the Lord, his or her desire to enter the temple should be encouraged and honored. The temple is something we all need during this time on earth.
As President Russell M. Nelson stated: “Our need to be in the temple on a regular basis has never been greater. … If you have reasonable access to a temple, I urge you to find a way to make an appointment regularly with the Lord—to be in His holy house—then keep that appointment with exactness and joy.”3
The role of stake and ward leaders is to “regularly encourage members to prepare to receive their own temple ordinances [and] emphasize the importance of honoring temple covenants and remaining worthy of and holding a temple recommend.”4 This includes all members beginning at age 18. If “ye shall know them by their fruits [or their works]” (3 Nephi 14:16), then ward and stake leaders will be able, through meaningful interviews guided by the Spirit, to determine how best to help someone progress on the covenant path.
With that counsel in mind, if a young adult brings forth a worthy offering of selflessness, time, talents, spiritual readiness, and obedience, have they not prepared themselves to enjoy additional temple blessings and the privilege of associating with God in His holy house, regardless of age or marital or mission status?
I’ve realized just how much the temple can increase one’s capacity to receive personal revelation and provide strength to walk the “strait and narrow path” (2 Nephi 31:18), especially during the young adult years. There are great blessings that come from temple attendance, and we should encourage those who are prepared and wanting to invite those greater blessings into their lives to enter the temple. Few things can be of greater assistance than the impressions from the Lord that we can receive in His holy house.
President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015), former President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, once taught that “the Lord will bless us as we attend to the sacred ordinance work of the temples. Blessings there will not be limited to our temple service. We will be blessed in all of our affairs. We will be eligible to have the Lord take an interest in our affairs both spiritual and temporal.”5
One example of how receiving our endowment can be helpful in navigating all areas of our life can be found in Hannah’s story.
Hannah (name has been changed) was a young single adult sister in my ward who was going through some personal trauma when she came to meet with me. She had just broken off a relationship that had started out with a lot of promise, leaving her feeling alone and despondent. She wasn’t planning on serving a mission, but after seeking personal revelation on how to move forward in her life, Hannah received an impression to start preparing to receive her endowment. I encouraged her to do so.
A few months later, Hannah and I met for a temple recommend interview. As we prayerfully discussed her feelings and the efforts she’d been making to prepare herself for the temple—including attending a temple preparation class and studying scriptures and other materials produced by Church leaders—a clear impression came to me that she was prepared to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple.
I felt that the Lord was pleased with her diligent preparation and was desirous for her to come into His house and receive the greater gifts found there. Hannah was seeking greater enlightenment for her life, a stronger relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, and healing.
Hannah witnessed President Packer’s truths stated above. She shared with me that she has been able to deepen her knowledge of the Lord, to keep an eternal perspective, and to become more like Christ through reflecting on the covenants she made during her endowment. And as she has consistently returned to the temple, she has been able to invite the Savior’s healing power into her life and has been guided in many life decisions by Heavenly Father, including in her decision to be sealed to her husband for time and all eternity.
We are in the Lord’s hands. He knows our hearts, and He desires us to come into His house to receive His gifts and to make covenants with Him. It is my prayer and hope that all who desire to go to the temple—both men and women—will start preparing to attend and enjoy the blessings of temple worship as soon as they are ready.