In the Spring Young Women Auxiliary Training, Sister Ann M. Dibb and I taught Young Women leaders some new algebra: "L3 = Let Laurels Lead." Specifically, we encouraged leaders to invite our Laurels to plan and execute all that happens at camp. (Young Women auxiliary training.)
As we have attended Young Women camps this year, we have watched Young Women leaders empower these marvelous young women to lead. We observed greater unity among the girls as plans and activities were focused on needs identified by the Laurels. We saw Laurels conduct with confidence and teach and testify with courage.
We watched Laurels model journal keeping, scripture reading, living the standards and care and compassion for the one. Camps seemed to be more about individuals and helping young women grow in skills and testimony. We believe it was in large part a result of setting high expectations, trusting our Laurels and letting them lead.
These are the observations of us, as adults, but what did the Laurels learn and feel?
Analee, a Laurel on one stake youth committee, said, "I felt the Spirit guiding me in what to do and say. Sometimes I had to lay down the law! I knew what the other girls were struggling with because I could see it. This helped us choose our theme, 'What Matters Most.' I love these girls and wanted the theme to be something they would always remember."
Ali, another Laurel leader, said she has changed as a result of planning and leading out at camp. She reflected, "Now I look for opportunities to serve. I look at my Young Women leader and now realize there is always something to do. I need to offer my help to her more."
The question is, "Now what?" What can we do to continue to let our Laurels lead and invite all other young women to join them? We must trust them, give them responsibilities and empower them in a variety of settings and opportunities.
Teach Leadership Skills and Attributes
Now is the time for every young woman to develop leadership skills and prepare for her future roles. Class presidency meetings are the ideal place to teach specific leadership skills and allow young women to practice these skills. Now online are the first of a series of simple leadership lessons entitled "Leading in the Savior's Way."
These lessons can be taught at the beginning of class presidency meetings and are written so that the young women can teach them to each other. As they learn together they will become familiar with common leadership principles found in the Church Handbook of Instructions (see Handbook 2:3.2). (Handbook of Instructions)
As young women teach these lessons, they will learn how to counsel together, prepare spiritually and minister to individuals. They will be able to apply these principles and practice leadership skills as they learn to plan activities with a purpose, conduct meetings, delegate responsibilities and develop Christlike attributes.
Be an Example
As young women learn more about leading as the Savior led, they will be able to follow His example of ministering and serving others. Remind young women of the powerful influence they have on all around them, just as the Savior did. Encourage them to begin by setting the example in their homes as they pray, read the Book of Mormon, obey the standards and smile 100% each day. They can encourage each other in dressing modestly at school and for special events. I know of a group of young women who did this using their code word of "adorable." When they observed another young woman dressed modestly at school or church they noted it with a smile and simply said, "You are adorable."
One of the purposes of Personal Progress is to develop leadership skills. When young women are working on value projects, encourage them to lead out! They can enlist the help of others and not only accomplish their project, but also practice leadership skills as they organize, delegate and involve others.
A requirement for the Honor Bee charm is to mentor other young women. This is leadership! This is a perfect opportunity for them to lead as the Savior led, as they teach, minister and encourage other young women in their Personal Progress efforts.
Mutual and Activities
Allow your class presidencies to identify what your young women need to learn and do. Have them determine a variety of activities that young women will want to attend because they are relevant and meaningful. Help young women plan with individuals in mind and seek the help of and delegate assignments to others — their mothers, young adults, Relief Society sisters, priesthood leaders and even young men! Mutual and activities are ideal places where leadership skills can be practiced and applied.
The chance to stand in front of a group and conduct with confidence is a vital skill for everyone to learn. The leadership lesson on conducting a meeting (conducting a meeting) will teach them how well-planned opening exercises can invite the Spirit. As young women prepare for opening exercises on Sunday and at Mutual, you should have high expectations and ask them to come with a completed agenda and ready to conduct in a dignified and efficient manner. Have them practice conducting in class presidency meetings. Trust them!
The new youth curriculum, "Come, Follow Me: Learning Resource for Youth," (learning resources)
gives young women multiple opportunities for active participation and encourages them to teach each other. The focus of these lessons is to help young women learn, live and lead like the Savior. Give them assignments ahead of time so they can come prepared and lead discussions with confidence. In this setting, they will practice articulating their beliefs and have opportunities to apply what they are learning. This is leadership!
In this most recent, historic conference, President Thomas S. Monson invited young women to prepare to serve missions. "Today I am pleased to announce that able, worthy young women who have the desire to serve may be recommended for missionary service beginning at age 19, instead of age 21. ...They are not under the same mandate to serve as are the young men. We assure the young sisters of the Church, however, that they make a valuable contribution as missionaries, and we welcome their service." This announcement puts a greater emphasis on the importance of young women learning — very early — to lead out by strengthening their testimonies, sharing what they believe, and being an example of the believers.
President Ezra Taft Benson described a young woman who is an effective leader when he said, "Yes, give me a young woman who loves home and family, who reads and ponders the scriptures daily, who has a burning testimony of the Book of Mormon. ... Give me a young woman who is virtuous and who has maintained her personal purity, who will not settle for less than a temple marriage, and I will give you a young woman who will perform miracles for the Lord now and throughout eternity" (Ezra Taft Benson, "To the Young Women of the Church," Ensign, Oct. 1986).
This is the description of a young woman who is leading. Let's let them lead! I assure you that as we empower and trust them we will witness miracles!