“A Foundation for Your Future,” New Era, Aug. 2020, 20–23.
During your teenage years, you are developing many goals you would like to accomplish in your life. These goals probably include a mission, education, temple marriage, successful careers, and, of course, your safe return to your Heavenly Father’s presence in the celestial kingdom.
One of the great challenges you will face in reaching these goals is successfully connecting them to your everyday life. This can be difficult because your time is jammed so full of worldly stuff. You may be involved with both school and activities such as music, dance, sports, or various clubs. Many of you may work a job as well. Mixed in with this hectic schedule are weekend activities such as games, dances, ward activities, and parties. Not only that, but everywhere you go you’re bombarded with temptation from peers, social media, movies, video games, and music. Wow! What an adventure!
The real trick in balancing all these things is to keep the eternal big picture in mind. For example: How will your activity this Friday night affect what’s going to happen 2, 5, or 10 years from now? You might think that Friday night doesn’t have much to do with 2 years from now, but it could, depending on where you are and what you’re doing. If you want to reach your potential in the future and become the person the Lord wants you to be, you had better keep the eternal big picture in mind and work on it today.
The prophet Isaiah saw our day and warned that it would be a day turned upside down. He prophesied: “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!” (Isaiah 5:20–21).
As you grow 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 future?
It is important for you to recognize that the foundation of your future, both temporally and spiritually, is being built today. If your foundation is fractured with sin and goes unrepaired, then the structure of your life will be built upon a weakened foundation. Your future will be less secure and certainly more stressful.
One of the great purposes of the gospel of Jesus Christ is to teach us of our eternal potential. One purpose of the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ is to help us reach that potential. We are taught, “It is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation.” Our Savior, Jesus Christ, “is a sure foundation, a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall” (Helaman 5:12).
I have yet to meet a businessperson, educator, artist, or athlete who has attained a high level of excellence who has not successfully connected the vision of their future to their everyday life. A goal or vision that is not connected to everyday life by daily action will most likely become an unrealized dream.
For example: Suppose you have a midterm test coming up in geometry. One of your goals is to get a good grade in that class, so how do you go about reaching that goal? Do you wait until the last minute and cram the night before the test? This approach is filled with risk. Instead of truly understanding the material and being totally prepared and confident about the subject, you’ll walk into the classroom a little nervous, hoping the teacher will ask only questions you happen to know the answers to. (I’m sure I’m not the only one who has experienced this uneasy feeling!)
Or do you set aside a little time every day to calmly study the subject in-depth? This approach will give you the necessary time to properly understand the material, and you’ll have plenty of time to ask the teacher for help if confusion arises. This will result in a deeper understanding of the material and increased self-confidence going into the test.
To achieve any goal—especially celestial goals—continual daily dedication is the answer. Can you protect yourself against the pressures and evils of the world by just spending two hours at church on Sunday? Not likely. 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. Just as in your studies, a focused daily effort is the only sure way to come out successful. Prepare yourself daily. Study the scriptures. Communicate with your Heavenly Father in prayer. Attend seminary. Keep yourself clean and prepared. As you do so, you will be at peace, your conscience will be clean, your self-confidence high, and you will know in your heart that your future will be bright and wonderful.
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.
It will ultimately be your love of the Lord that will help you commit and then stay true to your celestial goals. I know that the Lord lives and that His desire and hope for us all is a celestial future.