Last year, Oxford Dictionary officially designated “selfie” as the word of the year. A selfie is defined as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smartphone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” While bloggers and pundits discuss whether the emergence of a “selfie society” indicates increased self-awareness or total self-absorption, the statistics show that over one million selfies are posted every day. Research shows about one-fourth to one-third of selfies are digitally enhanced or retouched. We might ask: Does a stylized pose really develop a lasting sense of self-worth or true joy?
In the Book of Mormon, we learn of the damage of becoming continually absorbed in ourselves. The children of the Lamanites caused great sorrow because “they became for themselves” (3 Nephi 1:29-30). As a consequence, they were led away by lying and flattering words causing a decrease in faith and righteousness. They were led away from the perfect plan of happiness.
In contrast to a focus on oneself, the Savior taught, “Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it” (Mark 8:34-35).
Our young women have a remarkable capacity to turn outward and to lead others to the Savior and His gospel. With their testimonies, they “become the transmitters of the Light of Christ to [their] brothers and sisters across the world and across generations” (President Henry B. Eyring, “A Living Testimony,” Ensign, May 2011).
In class presidencies, as youth camp leaders, as mentors in Personal Progress, in various ways at home and in school and by personal example, young women lead in righteousness.
To help young women learn how to lead effectively, parents and leaders have a wonderful resource on the Young Women website at lds.org, Leading in the Savior’s Way: Leadership Lessons for Young Women Class Presidencies. These are short 10-minute lessons designed to teach leadership principles for class presidencies. But the principles apply to every young woman and could also be used in the home, as part of a Sunday lesson, or even a Mutual activity. These are the principles found in Handbook 2, Administering the Church, Chapter 3: Prepare Spiritually, Participate in Councils, Minister to Others, and Teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
The leadership lessons help young women understand that righteous leadership begins with personal spiritual preparation. Fasting, prayer, scripture study and faithful obedience to the words of the prophets prepare a young woman to enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost. With the Spirit of the Lord as their guide, young women may receive revelation and be inspired to act in order to bless others. With the companionship of the Holy Ghost, young women feel love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith and humility; (see Galatians 5:22) those Christlike characteristics enable them to be “an example of the believers”(1 Timothy 4:12) and to lead in the Savior’s way.
The leadership lessons teach young women to counsel together with members of their families, in class presidencies or as part of a bishopric youth committee. Young women learn that counseling with others, as guided by the Spirit, reveals wisdom and understanding greater than their own. In class presidency meetings, they plan Sunday lessons, activities and determine how to help strengthen individuals and bring unity and love to the entire class. They learn to conduct a meeting with the dignity and reverence that invites the Spirit of the Lord. Class presidency members remember that every young woman is a daughter of God, and as they counsel together, they seek inspiration to do the Savior’s work in the Savior’s way.
Minister to Others
The leadership lessons teach young women to minister to others as the Savior did. They reach out in love and compassion. They welcome and embrace each girl as she enters Young Women and then help her feel accepted and nurtured as she progresses in the organization. Young women also learn to minister in their homes and families. They are kind and considerate and exemplify the Savior. They walk in truth and soberness and they love and serve one another (See Mosiah 4:15).
Teach the gospel
Young women teach the gospel, both formally and informally. They may teach in class presidency meetings, Mutual, camp, family home evening or as they share and contribute to the discussions in seminary and Sunday lessons. They may teach as part of conversations with family members, friends and others. They may teach as they share uplifting messages on social media. They are always teaching by example. Leadership lessons help young women teach and share the gospel in the Savior’s way.
Acting upon these leadership principles will help prepare young women to invite others to come unto Christ. They will feel the confidence, assurance and sincere sense of self-worth that comes through the Spirit of the Lord. They will feel more prepared to lead in their future homes and families, in the Church and in their communities. Posting selfies may be great fun, but our young women can lead in the Savior’s way and post selfies that share gospel messages, reflect the Light of Christ and uphold the Lord’s standards for righteousness. As they do so Jesus Christ has promised, “how great shall be your joy!”(Doctrine and Covenants 18:15).