“Prepare and Do,” New Era, July 2016, 22–23
I was a seminary teacher for six years. We met at 6:00 a.m. every morning in my home in Puerto Rico. It was a lot of work to prepare lessons every day, Monday through Friday. But I enjoyed it, and it helped me develop an even greater love for the youth of the Church.
I noticed that much of what the students gained from seminary depended on their preparation. So if you would like to gain a lot from a seminary lesson, I invite you to study the lesson beforehand and really ponder. Come to class with a thirst for knowledge. Come as a little child, always wanting to learn. Prepare in order to participate so that you can teach each other. And come with questions. Another youth, a scripture that is read, or perhaps a comment the teacher makes may answer your questions.
The best instruction during any class or Church meeting comes when you have prepared and you receive spiritual promptings that come as thoughts. Write them down, and then act upon them. Look for more scriptures or general conference talks or articles from Church magazines about those ideas. Ponder them in your mind and heart and be ready to serve, because once you have these truths inside you, the Lord will use you to help others.
Later, when I served as a mission president with my wife, I realized that seminary is a great preparation for missionary service. Over the years I have seen the marvelous power of the gospel bless those who were faithful seminary students. They have applied what was taught in those lessons to significant challenges in their lives and have come through the challenges, even returned to the Church after a period of being less active.
You are very important to the Lord. You really are. The work of the youth is to prepare for missionary work and then do missionary work. Now, you must understand that as you continue to do missionary work, and as you continue to prepare, this will drive and guide your further development as the Lord’s missionary. You don’t need a missionary name tag to do missionary work, because you carry the name of Jesus Christ written on your heart because of your covenants.
The same is true in family history and temple work. For example, in the Caribbean Area, where I serve, stakes that use youth as family history consultants have a higher percentage of members finding names for temple work and doing the temple work. In one stake there are 20 youth who were called to be family history consultants for one year before they are old enough for missions. As they visit members in their homes to show them how to do family history, they talk to people along the way and tell them about family history and the temple. That is missionary work!
I hope that when they serve missions, they have already felt the Spirit in a powerful way—hopefully in their homes, but if not there, then certainly as they do missionary, family history, and temple work. Then, when they enter the missionary training center, I hope none of them tells me, “I have felt the Spirit more strongly here than ever before in my life.” They should have felt His influence strongly even before that.
The Lord loves you. His vision is for family history, temple, and missionary work to be driven by you. You have the skills and the knowledge. When you prepare well, you can do this work. It will bless and change your life.