What’s with today’s LDS youth? We used to compare our youth to Helaman’s mighty Stripling Warriors, but that doesn’t quite work anymore. Something about them makes them completely unique to any other previous generation of Young Men and Young Women. A new comparison is in order.
Prior to my mission in the late 90’s, I was often reminded by my church leaders of President Benson’s famous quote. “You are a marked generation” we were told. We were and we are. We were also compared to the mighty Stripling Warriors whose faith was so great that they “did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness, yea and even according to their faith it was done unto them”. We would sing, “and we are as the armies of Helaman!”
But now we have another generation of youth preparing to serve missions. President Monson announced in October 2012 that these youth would be allowed to enter the mission field at a much younger age then missionaries before them. And you know what? They aren’t so much like the Stripling Warriors. I don’t mean to disrespect the Stripling Warriors, but they “obeyed with exactness”. Today’s youth do not obey with exactness. No, instead they act before being asked. They do before they are told. They are proactive in their pursuit of pleasing their Heavenly Father and in doing what is right. The youth of today are boldly moving forward in the great cause of our Heavenly Father without waiting for an invitation. If I were to compare the youth of today with a Book of Mormon character, it would be the brother of Jared.
The brother of Jared was given an opportunity to prove his worth. The Lord asked him to solve the problem of crossing the ocean in darkness. The brother of Jared approached the Lord in great humility and faith and asked that the Lord to touch the sixteen stones and cause them to glow. His faith was so strong! He not only believed that the Lord could do this, but that the Lord would do this. After the brother of Jared saw the finger of the Lord, he was asked ‘Sawest thou more than this?’ ‘Nay Lord, show thyself unto me’. It was at this point that the brother of Jared was brought into the presence of the Lord and the Lord says, ‘Never have I showed myself unto man…for never has man believed as thou hast’. Now on the surface, this statement simply isn’t true. Adam walked and talked with God. Enoch talked with the Lord face to face.
Elder Holland offers some clarification as to what might be happening here: “As a rule, prophets are invited into the presence of the Lord, are bidden to enter his presence by him and only with his sanction. The bother of Jared, on the other hand, stands alone then in having thrust himself through the veil, not as an unwelcomed guest but perhaps as an uninvited one. The Lord said, ‘Never has man believed in me as thou hast’. If the vision is not unique, then it has to be the faith—and how the vision is obtained—that is so remarkable. The only way this faith could be so remarkable would be in its ability to take this prophet, uninvited, where others had only been able to go by invitation.”
As I visit priesthood quorums on a regular basis, it is easy to see that these are no ordinary youth. The same applies to the young women, I know. One Deacon’s quorum attends the temple every Thursday to perform baptisms for the dead. They depart for the temple at 5:00 in the morning. Their quorum president had a conflict and needed to change the time to 4:30 in the morning. No complaints were given, no adult leader made the arrangements. They are just a small group of 12-13 year olds that want to be in the temple, doing the work of the Lord.
The youth preparing to serve missions are like the brother of Jared. Never before has an entire generation been permitted to enter the mission field at such a young age. It is as if, like the brother of Jared, the Lord has no choice but to let these youth go immediately after high school. They are the epitome of Doctrine & Covenants 4. They don’t only know and agree to the principles of that section but they live those principles because they are those principles. “Many are called but few are chosen”, “If ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work”. These scriptures do not come with age restrictions. Like the brother of Jared, the youth of today are walking through the veil of doubt armed with faith, desire, worthiness, knowledge, and commitment. It is my opinion that the Church is making adjustments to accommodate the youth; the youth are not making adjustments to accommodate the new age limits. The youth are asking to serve, and the church is accommodating.
My generation was the ‘marked generation’ and I believe that we are marked. We are marked with a great responsibility. It is our generation that is to lead, to parent, and to teach God’s Greatest Generation ever.