A sacred call: Working with young men
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In connection with the April 2011 general conference, the auxiliary general presidencies of the Church held training workshops for stake and ward leaders.
Two reports are included in this week's Church News and others will follow in the coming weeks. Reports are available online at ldschurchnews.com.
The revised Duty to God program is a divine resource "that if used properly will help young men gain power in the priesthood."
That was the promise delivered by David L. Beck, Young Men general president, March 31 at the organization's annual auxiliary training at the Salt Lake Tabernacle. The instruction was heard far beyond the walls of the historic building. A live broadcast of the proceeding was transmitted over the Internet to Aaronic Priesthood leaders living across Utah's Wasatch Front.
The meeting was also interactive. Local youth leaders in the Tabernacle audience were frequently invited to stand and share their thoughts or suggestions. Meanwhile, leaders in other locations utilizing the web broadcast were also able to submit comments that arrived in real time during the training.
Besides offering counsel, members of the general presidency used several video clips depicting young men in various parts of the Church who are utilizing the principles of the Aaronic Priesthood and the Duty to God program to bless the lives of others. (The stories behind some of the videos will be highlighted in the Church News in the coming weeks.)
The First Presidency and their fellow General Authorities recognize a battle is being waged over the young men of the Church. The adversary, said Brother Beck, is doing all he can to destroy them and their families. "He knows their vulnerabilities and he's unrelenting."
The revised Duty to God program was designed to help win that battle. It's not an achievement program. "This is about young men becoming priesthood men," he said.
The program also helps refine young men while teaching them to pray, live worthy lives and serve others. "Through this process of learning their duty to God and fulfilling that duty, they acquire power and are converted. They become what God would have them become."
Brother Beck then spoke about the "learning-acting-and sharing" process that defines the program. It's essential that every young man learn his duty that prompts him to action. Sharing is the "great opportunity" young men have to implement their duty to God and express their thoughts, testimonies and feelings.
The youth leader then invited members from the audience to offer their ideas about effective ways young men can "share." One spoke of the importance of personal priesthood interviews. Another said journal writing is a powerful sharing method.
Others said home teaching assignments and family home evening can provide young men with priceless sharing opportunities.
Brother Beck said those who have been called to work with young men should "thank God that you have the privilege to associate with some of the most noble spirits that have ever graced this world."
Brother Beck's first counselor, Brother Larry M. Gibson, spoke of the power that fills a faithful young man when he opens his mouth and invites others to participate in the gospel.
Scouting, he said, offers a "wonderful opportunity to build relationships. …It is the tool that helps develop [young men] physically, socially, temporally and emotionally, as well as spiritually."
The program is not simply for young men.
"Scouting is for adults," said Brother Gibson. "It's one of the greatest tools we have to become leaders."
Young men need to know that when they are ordained to the priesthood, they are entrusted with the same power Heavenly Father has to help others, said second counselor in the Young Men presidency, Brother Adrian Ochoa.
Brother Ochoa spoke of the importance of young men understanding doctrine, experiencing the gospel and enjoying the shepherding influence of a faithful leader, friend or father.
"We need to teach [young men] that they will be blessed as they keep the commandments of Heavenly Father," he said.
A wise parent or a good friend can help a young man understand and fulfill his duty to God.