Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ f Latter-day Saints, sometimes called Mormons, often advises youth about how to cope with the challenges of growing up. In these passages from previous talks, he discusses the importance of goals and of his faith in our youth to grow up well and to overcome trials.
It is necessary to prepare and to plan so that we don’t fritter away our lives. Without a goal, there can be no real success. One of the best definitions of success I have ever heard goes something like this: Success is the progressive realization of a worthy ideal. Someone has said the trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never crossing the goal line.
Years ago there was a romantic and fanciful ballad that contained the words, “Wishing will make it so / Just keep on wishing / And care will go.” 4 I want to state here and now that wishing will not replace thorough preparation to meet the trials of life. Preparation is hard work but absolutely essential for our progress.
Our journey into the future will not be a smooth highway which stretches from here to eternity. Rather, there will be forks and turnings in the road, to say nothing of the unanticipated bumps. We must pray daily to a loving Heavenly Father, who wants each of us to succeed in life.
Thomas S. Monson, “In Search of Treasure,” Ensign, May 2003, 19
I plead with you, my young brothers and sisters, to remember who you are. You are sons and daughters of Almighty God. You have a destiny to fulfill, a life to live, a contribution to make, a goal to achieve. The future of the kingdom of God upon the earth will, in part, be aided by your devotion.
Let us remember that the wisdom of God may appear as foolishness to men, but the greatest single lesson we can learn in mortality is that when God speaks and we obey, we will always be right. Some foolish persons turn their backs on the wisdom of God and follow the allurement of fickle fashion, the attraction of false popularity, and the thrill of the moment. Their course of conduct so resembles the disastrous experience of Esau, who exchanged his birthright for a mess of pottage. 4
And what are the results of such action? I testify to you that turning away from God brings broken covenants, shattered dreams, vanished ambitions, evaporated plans, unfulfilled expectations, crushed hopes, misused drives, warped character, and wrecked lives.
Such a goal is not achieved in one glorious attempt but rather is the result of a lifetime of righteousness, an accumulation of wise choices, even a constancy of purpose. Like the coveted A grade on the report card, the reward of eternal life requires effort. The A grade is the result of each theme, each quiz, each class, each examination, each library project, each term paper. So each lesson in church, each prayer, each date, each friend, each dance all precede the goal of temple marriage-that giant step toward an A grade on the report card of life.
Our goal is to achieve, to excel, to strive for perfection. Remember, however, that our business in life is not to get ahead of others but to get ahead of ourselves. To break our own record, to outstrip our yesterdays by today, to bear our trials more beautifully than we ever dreamed we could, to give as we never have given, to do our work with more force and a finer finish than ever-this is the true objective. And to accomplish this task, our attitude is reflected in a determination to make the most of our opportunities. We turn from the tempting allurement and eventual snare so cunningly and carefully offered us by “old man procrastination.” Two centuries ago, Edward Young said that “procrastination is the thief of time.” Actually, procrastination is much more. It is the thief of our self-respect. It nags at us and spoils our fun. It deprives us of the fullest realization of our ambitions and hopes. Knowing this, we jar ourselves back to reality with the sure knowledge that “this is my day of opportunity. I will not waste it.”
Thomas S. Monson, “The Lighthouse of the Lord: A Message to the Youth of the Church,” Ensign, Feb 2001, 2
Youth is not a time of ease nor of freedom from perplexing questions. It wasn’t then, and it surely isn’t today. In fact, as time passes it seems that the difficulties of youth increase in size and scope. Temptation continues to loom large on life’s horizon. Accounts of violence, theft, drug abuse, and pornography blare forth from the television screen and appear constantly in most daily newspapers. Such examples blur our vision and fault our thinking. Soon assumptions become generally accepted opinions, and all youth everywhere are categorized as “not so good as yesteryear” or “the worst generation yet.”
True, today is a new day with new trials, new troubles, and new temptations, but hundreds of thousands of Latter-day Saint youth strive constantly and serve diligently, true to the faith, as their counterparts of earlier years so nobly did. Because the contrast between good and evil is so stark, the exceptions to the prevailing trends are magnified, observed, and appreciated by decent persons throughout the world.
Thomas S. Monson, “Profiles of Faith,” Ensign, Feb 1997, 2