Five Ways to Help Youth Have Spiritual Experiences

No one can force youth to have spiritual experiences, but parents and leaders can foster opportunities that lead to conversion. The new Church curriculum for young men and young women, Come, Follow Me: Learning Resources for Youth, introduces ways adults can help youth become more fully converted to the gospel.

Here are five things leaders can do to promote spiritual experiences for the youth with whom they work.

1. Give Youth Opportunities to Serve

“It is an eternal truth that the greatest satisfaction we find in this life is not that which is done for self but that which is given for the benefit of another” (L. Tom Perry, “Unseen Service,” New Era, December 2002).

The bishopric and Young Men leaders in the Granja Viana Ward in the São Paulo Brazil Cotia Stake decided to focus more of their activities on service. This included visiting less-active quorum members, participating in proselyting with the full-time missionaries, and administering the sacrament to homebound ward members.

“We were amazed when on a particular fast Sunday, all of our young men bore their testimonies,” says one priesthood leader. “As they did so, many of them recalled in tears the good spirit they had felt … and realized the difference the gospel makes in people’s lives” (see Melissa Merrill, “Helping Youth Have Spiritual Experiences,Liahona, October 2012).

From Come, Follow Me

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2. Connect Youth with the Word of God

“Today, we have … apostles, seers, and revelators who are watchmen on the tower, messengers of supernal, healing truth. God speaks to us through them. … They point the way, and they offer help for our difficulties, not through the wisdom of this world but from an eternal Source” (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Heeding the Voice of the Prophets,” Liahona, July 2008).

David Elmer, a Young Men leader in Texas, USA, wanted to provide the young men with a meaningful experience that would help prepare them for the future.

After prayerful consideration he felt directed to a talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. On a trip, Brother Elmer taught from that message, including the story Elder Andersen shared of Sidney Going, a New Zealand rugby star who put a sports career on hold to serve a mission.

The experience was powerful, Brother Elmer says, because he taught from the words of a living prophet (see “Helping Youth Have Spiritual Experiences,Liahona, October 2012).

From Come, Follow Me

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3. Be Consistent

“It frankly does not make sense to occasionally ‘fill up’ with water, with long periods of dehydration in between. The same thing is true spiritually. Spiritual thirst is a need for living water. A constant flow of living water is far superior to sporadic sipping” (David A. Bednar, “A Reservoir of Living Water,” [CES fireside for young adults, Feb. 4, 2007]).

Brother Elmer says he wants the young men to remember something else about the trip: their gospel study was consistent.

“Elder David A. Bednar has taught about creating spiritual patterns in our lives, patterns like scripture study and prayer and family home evening. And as we were gone that week, we maintained our spiritual patterns. … The point was that even though we were away from home and our activities were different than they normally are, our spiritual patterns didn’t get interrupted” (see “Helping Youth Have Spiritual Experiences,Liahona, October 2012).

From Come, Follow Me

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4. Tap into Existing Opportunities to Teach and Listen

“Our most important and powerful assignments are in the family. They are important because the family has the opportunity at the start of a child’s life to put feet firmly on the path home” (Henry B. Eyring, “Help Them on Their Way Home,” April 2010 general conference).

Jocelyn Fielden of Nova Scotia, Canada, says that the most crucial lessons she learned from raising six children have to do not only with direct teaching, but also with “creating an environment where children can learn truths for themselves.”

“Don’t be quick to make all their choices or answer all their questions,” she says. Instead, she recommends directing children “to the scriptures or counsel from our prophet for guidance and answers.” She adds, “And be ready to discuss their findings.” In addition, when she gets questions from her children, she sometimes answers by asking a question of her own: “What do you think you should do?” (see “Helping Youth Have Spiritual Experiences,Liahona, October 2012).

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5. Work Together toward a Common Goal

Leaders who provide example, encouragement, and caring can be invaluable to youth at this important time of their lives. As leaders learn about each young man and young woman, they can receive inspiration for how best to help them.

One Sunday, Sister KaYan Danise Mok, a Young Women president in Hong Kong, recognized a prompting to read the Book of Mormon with a particular young woman.

“My counselor and I responded quickly by setting goals to complete the Book of Mormon as a team with the young woman,” Sister Mok says.

Sister Mok says she saw evidence of remarkable change in this young woman’s life stemming from her scripture study. “In my experience, some youth worry and feel unsure about whether they can receive a testimony and have spiritual experiences as others have,” she continues. “By working together, we assure them with our action that this works and that we’re there to support them every step of the way” (see “Helping Youth Have Spiritual Experiences,Liahona, October 2012).

From Come, Follow Me

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