The strength of youth – if only they knew it

The age for missionary service has changed!!  This is so wonderful and inspired.  Changes are happening, and there will be more missionaries available to teach the gospel to those who are searching for answers in their lives.

This weekend the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints changed the age of missionary service from 19 to 18 for young men, and from 21 to 19 years old for young women.  So many youth at these ages are ready to go and serve the Lord – what a testament to the strength and faith of LDS youth today!

I know this change is inspired.  In my work I see so many young people who have lost direction in their lives.  Near the end of high school they don’t know what to do next.  Some can’t afford college.  Some don’t think they can excel in college.  So many have doubts about themselves and their potential.  So many are out of work, out of school, and have lost self-confidence in life and the opportunities it has to offer.

But LDS youth are different.  They work towards the end of high school with a knowledge they are needed and that they can offer so much in the world.  As they forsake other interests, they go forward, often to other undeveloped countries, and serve others.  They serve for 18 months to 24 months with the sole focus of bringing others to Christ.  They learn languages that will help them in the future, and they become so thankful for the opportunities and comforts that they have.  For many it gives a new perspective about life.  They learn hard work, how to communicate effectively, and they serve God selflessly with all their hearts and souls.  When they return, they have so much more to offer themselves, their families, and society.  What a contrast to those I work with who are so lost, and who find themselves in trouble with the law because they do not know what to do with their lives or what they can accomplish.

I am so incredibly thankful for the gospel of Jesus Christ and the plan of happiness that it provides.

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The age of accountability

About six months ago, a good friend of mine told me that his son was having a birthday and that his family was getting ready to celebrate.  “How old is he going to be?” I asked.  “He will be eight,” he replied.   Oh eight!  What an awesome birthday!  So much changes, so much happens.  It is such a special birthday!  I told my friend that the 8th birthday is a very special one for members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  I explained that we believe a child can be accountable for their actions at that age, so this is when they get baptized.  I’m not really sure why I told him all of that, we weren’t even talking religion!  Anyway, it just spilled out.

His reaction was unexpected and so sincere.  He said that he had noticed that his son was becoming more able to have self-control.  He said that the idea that a child is accountable at 8 years old totally made sense to him and he was going to go home and talk to his son about it.  It was such an awesome experience!

Last week, my friend brought up the subject again.  He said, “That whole idea of being accountable for your actions when you turn 8 has really struck home with our family and with my son.”  He said that he and his son talk about it all the time, and that his son understands that he is now able to make better decisions.  He told me that this concept had really blessed his family.  I love that.

Sometimes we forget how even the simplest doctrines can be so meaningful.  I will not take this one for granted ever again!

Eight is great!