“What the Scriptures Say About: Serving the Lord While We Are Young,” New Era, May 1972, 30
The scriptures offer many examples of young people doing the work of the Lord. The greatest example is when Jesus astounded the learned doctors of the temple in Jerusalem, “both hearing them, and asking them questions” as a boy of twelve. “And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.” (Luke 2:46–47.)
And there are many other examples:
Noah was “ten years old when he was ordained” to the priesthood by his grandfather Methuselah. (D&C 107:52.)
“Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.
“And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch.” (JST, Gen. 14:26–27.)
Joseph was sold into Egypt as a youth of seventeen years, and already he had had dreams from the Lord. (Gen. 37:1–28.)
“… Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child. … And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favor both with the Lord, and also with men.” (1 Sam. 2:18, 26.) “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him,” but one night the Lord called him and he answered, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.” (1 Sam. 3:7–10.)
David offered to fight Goliath the Philistine giant who was challenging Israel, but King Saul was dubious because David was so young. Said Saul: “… thou art but a youth, and he [Goliath] a man of war from his youth.” However, David, not easily discouraged, reiterated to Saul that he had already fought both a lion and a bear. Then said David: “The Lord that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine.” (1 Sam 17:33, 37.)
Jacob, the son of Lehi, got an early start in things of righteousness and led his father to exclaim: “… thou hast beheld in thy youth his [the Redeemer’s] glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh.” (2 Ne. 2:4.) Nephi emphasized the spiritual nature of his young brother Jacob by saying, “And my brother, Jacob, also has seen [the Lord] as I have seen him.” (2 Ne. 11:3.)
The two thousand stripling warriors of Helaman were characterized by their great faith in the blessings of the Lord.
Of these young men the scriptures say:
“And they were all young men, and they were exceedingly valiant for courage, and also for strength and activity … who were true at all times in whatsoever thing they were entrusted.” (Alma 53:20.)
“Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea, they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them.” (Alma 56:47.)
“… they are young, and their minds are firm, and they do put their trust in God continually.” (Alma 57:27.)
“… for they were all of them very young. …” (Alma 56:46.)
The prophet Mormon wrote:
“And I, being fifteen years of age and being somewhat of a sober mind, therefore I was visited of the Lord, and tasted and knew of the goodness of Jesus.” (Morm. 1:15.)
“And notwithstanding I being young, was large in stature; therefore the people of Nephi appointed me that I should be their leader, or the leader of their armies.
“Therefore it came to pass that in my sixteenth year I did go forth at the head of an army of the Nephites. …” (Morm. 2:1–2.)
Joseph Smith received his First Vision while he was still in his fifteenth year. He later wrote of these early events and described himself as being young and “unacquainted with men and things … an obscure boy, only between fourteen and fifteen years of age, and my circumstances in life such as to make a boy of no consequences in the world. …” (JS—H 1:8, 22.) Yet the work that the Lord accomplished through him was second only to that of Jesus in importance. (D&C 135:3.)
To his young friend Timothy, Paul said: “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers. …” (1 Tim. 4:12.) “Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness. …” (2 Tim. 2:22.) He commended Timothy because “from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation. …” (2 Tim. 3:15.)
The possession of wisdom does not always connote great age, for as Elihu said, “Great men are not always wise: neither do the aged understand judgment.” (Job 32:9.) And Alma explained that “little children do have words given unto them many times which confound the wise and the learned.” (Alma 32: 23.)