Spiritual Messages and Teachings for LDS Youth and Youth Leaders

A Message To The Youth of the Church


I REMEMBER when I was a young man of hearing a great many men who were along in years—particularly those not of our faith—expressing the idea that when Brigham Young and the first leaders of the Church passed away, “Mormonism” would end. I learned that originally the feeling was that with Joseph Smith, “Mormonism,” socalled, would die. But it is wonderful to see the growth of the Latter-day Saints. I understand that from national statistics we are growing more rapidly in proportion to our numbers than any other church. This is as it should be. … The Church is progressing, and progressing in a most satisfactory manner….

I rejoice in the very splendid record that has been made from Canada on the north, clear down into Mexico on the south, by the Latter-day Saints that have been true to the principles of the Gospel. We are known today as a God-fearing, upright people. Every individual who lives up to the principles of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as established here on the earth through the instrumentality of Joseph Smith is worthy of honor and respect. The day of persecution and of slander and of lying has almost disappeared. Of course, there are a few liars who still go telling the old stories against us. … But today I am safe in saying that where we are actually known we are known as a God-fearing people, and those who are living the Gospel are respected and esteemed as among the finest citizens in our country. The character of every true Latter-day Saint is worthy of the respect of all men.

So far as the youth of Zion are concerned, I have no fear, because those who are keeping the commandments of the Lord are progressing and growing in strength and in power and in influence, and those who are drifting away from the principles of the Gospel are losing in influence and power and prestige. I happen to know of one instance of a boy who worked in a bank, today one of the leading banks of the city. The bank was owned almost exclusively by a non-member of the Church. The boy went into the bank with a cigar in his mouth, and the president of the bank said: “Come in my office.” The boy went in, and the president of the bank said: “Young man, go and get your time, and go home.”

“What is the matter? Haven’t I done my work well?” the boy asked.


The boy said: “What is the matter, then, if I have done my work well?”

“You are smoking a cigar.”

“You smoke—your boy smokes.”

“Yes, and I drink, and my boys drink; but your parents have taught you to leave tobacco alone, that it is not good for you, that it will detract from your capacity and your ability to accomplish things in the battle of life, and that it will burn up, so to speak, part of your income. And I don’t want any boy handling money in my bank who I believe is going contrary to the teachings of his father and his mother. I doubt very much if they know that you are smoking. I am inclined to think that you are smoking on the sly. Just get another job.”

I call to mind a young man who made quite a success down in California. He was applying for a position to manage a large real estate company. The president of the company, who was examining him, had made some good remarks about him, and expected to employ him, but finally he said: “You are a Mormon.”

“Oh, I have outgrown that.”

“All right,” the president said, “come back tomorrow.”

The employer then sent for the president of the stake, and said: “The youngster feels he has outgrown ‘Mormonism.’ I know there is nothing in ‘Mormonism’ to outgrow. If he lived up to the principles of ‘Mormonism’ it would make him a better man. Now, unless you can individually recommend this young man, he will not get the position.”

The president of the stake said, “Well, he has been studying psychology to a fare-you-well, and he just thinks he has outgrown ‘Mormonism’.”

I wish before he passed on—which he did, by the way—he had read the psychologist Link’s book, The Return to Religion, one of the finest books I have read during the past year. This man was a psychologist and agnostic, and in giving advice to people on how to reform their lives he had to give them so much scriptural advice that he finally has turned to religion himself.

There is nothing within my power that I can possibly do for the advancement of the youth of Zion but that I propose to do it. I have been laboring, as you know, from the time the first Y. M. M. I. A. was organized…. From that day to this I have taken great pleasure in laboring for the advancement of the youth of Zion. I believe in you. I love you. I respect you. I think you are the finest young men and women to be found in any part of the world. And why shouldn’t I want to labor for people of this kind? I do, and I expect to continue, and I expect to stay here and continue it just as long as the Lord wants me….

May the Lord bless us and help us to grow in this, the Church of Jesus Christ, the one and only Church, speaking of the Church collectively, in which the revelation says the Lord is well pleased. I ask it all in the name of our Redeemer. Amen. (From President Grant’s Greeting at the 42nd Annual Conference of the M. I. A.)




I SHOULD like to touch upon a very few of the many problems which confront you. I warn you they are the veriest commonplaces; the obvious; you have heard them often before; wisdom seemed to suggest it might be well for you to hear them again. They concern you as the youth of today.

And speaking of youth, I wish to touch upon some of the ideas underlying the so-called Youth Movement of the day—not because I am justified in feeling that you here are infected with these ideas, for I must assume, to the contrary, that the spirit and teachings of this Church will have given you the true view of life, its meaning, its high purpose, its destiny of ultimate divinity. But I shall do it merely by way of inoculating you against future contagion or infection. I shall do it with such soberness as an old man can muster, who has had some experience, some disillusionment, but who stands in a faith which strengthens day by day, with some vision of the beauties and glories of the Gospel and of its eternal principles which, obeyed, will lead us on to salvation and exaltation.

We again, all of us, even though we have passed by the dead line of seventy years, still remember in a sort of debilitated way, how we felt when we went over the top for a piece of sheepskin. I say “went over the top,” but some of us slipped through between the bars, and others just managed to crawl under the bottom one. But, old as we are, we remember some of the things we boasted and prophesied on that great, long ago day of ours. We are a little shame-faced about them now, because even to our dimming eyes and jaded imaginations, the actual realities bear to the things we boasted and prophesied, hardly the resemblance of a thin, pale shadow of a defaming caricature. And in turn, the things we then had the courage to boast and to prophesy were but the faintest echoes of what we dreamed and visioned.

In that far-away day, some of us strutted off the campus great warriors, others sort of smirked off as renowned diplomats, eclipsing Machiavelli at his best—or worst; others went forth jurists, statesmen, orators, painters, dramatists, officers of cabinet, presidents. Strength knotted our muscles, courage fired our blood, the will to do was king; hope leaped to the top of the topmost sky, ambition was a roaring lion, victory stood with arms outstretched, fame smiled and beckoned. Oh, what a glorious day it was! What a distinguished class we were!

So we went forth in ecstasy, treading on air. Then we dreamed on, and dreamed to put the world in step, our step, the step of buoyant, vibrant youth. But youth passed on away from us, with the world, not ourselves, still out of step.

In this time we first learned some rather obvious things, that to then we had not really known. Of course you know them already. We learned there were day and night, that there were twenty-four hours in a day and 365 days in a year; that we did not keep the same age, but year by year we grew older (that is half of us learned this); that every year had four seasons, falling in the same sequence; that the rain fell on the just and the unjust and that the sun shone on all alike; that when it was cold it was cold for everybody, and the same with the heat. We found that springtime was the time of planting, that fall was the time of harvesting; that if we did not plant in the spring, we could not harvest in the fall; that seasons of big crops might be followed, and in the long view were always followed, by small crops or none at all. We found that the earth and its people were governed by law and order and not by whim and caprice, nor by our desire. We learned that the mass of people cared little for what we said and less about what we thought. And Nature did not even know we had spoken or thought.

THESE things we learned; a dream-destroying consciousness began to come to us as it does to one who awakes from a sound sleep. Our eyes slowly opened; we blinked out upon a strange world, one of realities.

Then along came full manhood and womanhood to live with us. We began to feel the press of gaining a livelihood, the responsibilities of a family; we met greed and avarice; we came to know deception and falsehood; cheating and dishonesty visited us; the bitter conflicts of life pushed themselves upon us; we had to do battle for the existence of ourselves and loved ones. We learned we could not cheat, cajole, deceive, or defraud nature, nor great natural laws, nor spiritual laws, either. We found that the law always exacts its penalty.

PRESIDENT CLARK was invited to deliver the Commencement address to the 1937 graduates of Brigham Young University, which he did on June 9th at Provo, Utah. From out of that vital message to youth facing life in a world of growing complexity has come this article, adapted by the editors of the “Improvement Era,” which will give pause to many who have not thought so clearly on some currently popular misconceptions.

This time was, for all of us, the time of disillusionment, and, for some of us, the time when hope died and discouragement came to dwell with us. But as troubles piled higher and higher, there came to those who lived righteously, enduring faith, the hope of eternal life, a knowledge that God lives, an understanding of the truths of the Gospel and of its saving principles, a love for God and for fellowmen, an abiding trust in the divine will and purpose. And so we passed to the middle-aged maturity.

As knowledge grew and experience multiplied, we gathered wisdom, the most precious of God’s gifts to the mind. Then this maturity, which had so gradually worked its way amongst us, it too passed on. Ripeness came, sometimes over-ripeness; and finally we are become as you see us today—your parents and your grandparents, and rightly or wrongly, we see ourselves in you. And because we passed through all these things I have spoken about, and our parents and grandparents passed through them before us, and theirs before them, we, from this experience of ours that I have told you about, conclude that you will travel along by the very same way.

Someone shakes his head. May I ask him to think of this: The experience of humans through the ages prophesy what each generation will do with its time, its effort, and its life. Sometimes political, economic, or moral plagues afflict humanity and the prophecy seems to fail, just as diseases and physical plagues poured out upon men may seem to break for a time the mortality rules of the actuary’s insurance tables which predict the length of human life with the accuracy of an algebraic formula. But time in each case rights all this, and the great constants of human life resume control. Nothing is more certain in all the universe than human nature, even though in its variations among individuals it approaches infinity. Youth may not expect any change in this principle.

If I were reading the thoughts of someone holding the ideas of the youth movement of today, I should see plainly written out on the illuminated leaves of his brain, a protest against what I am saying and a declaration that these times are different, that old rules are gone, that old laws have been changed, that a new world is here with new hopes, new ideas, new standards, new aspirations, new achievements, new adjustments, that the world belongs to youth, which is to come now into its long postponed heritage.

To us who have been working, struggling for a lifetime to get a small portion of the earth, this idea of owning the earth has its allurements. As our early youth dreams were not pictured in quite such bold colors as yours, two questions come to our aged minds, disciplined by many disappointing years: Who is youth? Is it you who are here today, or those who were here a year ago, or ten years ago, or those who will be here a year hence, or ten years hence? And the other question is: When is youth? Is it from 15 to 18, or 19 to 20, 21 to 24, or 25 to 30, or all the way from 15 to 30; and if 15, why not 14, and then down to the cradle roll; and if 30, why not 31, and up to take in us of the classes of the 80’s and the 90’s of the last century? This latter idea looks so attractive to us that we should like time to consider it.

Of course, if you include anyone more than 21 or 22, you will find that the older ones have already staked out a claim to some of the earth’s crust and they may not willingly give it up. Furthermore, when you have reached that age, you will have staked out your claim and you may not be quite willing to give it up to some youngster who is three or four years your junior, just because he feels the acquisitive urge. You will think he might get to work and earn his own, just as you did, and not take what you have worked for.

But even if youth (whoever and whenever it is) could accomplish these little turn-overs to themselves of flocks and lands, houses and stocks, that belong to someone else, what about jobs and places and positions requiring experience and long cultivated skill? A playwright for instance; the public may not consider each one who wishes to write a Shakespeare. The public is peculiar that way, and has its own inconvenient ideas. So of painting and sculpture, and music and law and so through the list of professions and of the management of any great business, industrial or financial. And the same principles hold true in the schools, in the Church, and in all activities of life. People want in responsible places persons of experience in whom they have confidence and trust; but experience, confidence, and trust are plants of very slow growth.

Some may say: We could learn. Surely youth can learn. And that answer solves the problem. But learning takes time, and time breeds age, and age murders youth. So if it be to youth that the earth belongs, then youth loses by robbing itself through gaining age.

But another one may say you are speaking of the grossly material things. True, there are things we have to eat, to drink, and to wear; these are rather important, too. But we are thinking of the higher things that make—I wonder if I dare say it, it is a fine phrase—the “more abundant life.” Some youth are saying we are planning new laws of economics, new political tenets, new rules for finance, new principles of international conduct and relations. We will let you old men do all these other old-fashioned, necessary things. I suppose that means that we old fellows are to continue to feed and clothe youth as we have largely and gladly done until this time. Well, there might something be said for that. But have you thought how hard it is to make canary birds or mice sing? I recently listened over the radio to an international contest of singing mice; some refused to sing, some apparently died as the result of the effort to make them sing. We old ones might be like the mice.

IT HAS always been contrary to law, to order, and to morals since society was organized, for John to take the property of James without paying for it, even though some James has, in fact, always taken some John’s property by robbery. The Johns have always resented this; they devised such phrases as that “a man’s house is his castle.” “Thou shalt not steal” and “thou shalt not covet” came from the thunders of Sinai. When government was organized for the protection of all, it became necessary to take some of the property of each for the joint benefit of all. Government is a joint enterprise for the joint welfare. Sound government has the purposes prescribed for it in the Preamble to the Constitution of the United States. But when government goes beyond these purposes and undertakes to clothe and to feed its society and then begins to take John’s property without compensation to feed James and clothe him, while James lolls in unnecessary public office or lazes away his time at home or loafs all day on the street corner, then this is making John work to support James in idleness, and this is the old time slavery.

You may try to hide this ugly fact of slavery or dress it up, or disguise it, you may call it by all sorts of fancy, high-sounding names, but the fact remains it is slavery. And slavery is an anachronism in today’s human society, a reversion to an abandoned type, a setting up of an outgrown, outworn system that will lead, as always, to the wiping out of the people who practice it. The ages of the past are filled with this constant human experience. The earth belongs to him only who works for it. Neither nature nor God gives something for nothing. Work must be done for whatever man has. Even breathing requires muscular effort and we must move our bodies if we would lie always in the sun.

I am sure that study and reflection will show that our economics, our politics, our finance, our principles of international conduct and relations are at least a part of the best of all that has gone before. Not all bad has yet been cut out; but over the centuries the worst always dies; the best lives.

ANOTHER notable item from President Clark’s address to the Youth of a modern day is here reprinted:

“No baser thing, nor more destructive of all the finer sentiments and sensibilities of life, was ever concocted than the idea that the sex impulse is like the impulse of hunger and thirst and is to be like gratified. This doctrine is born of the evil one; it leads to destruction. Sex is scarcely held in bounds when banked about with all the restraint and control which a mature and disciplined will can build up, and when that will is helped by attaching to sex the sanctity which belongs to it as being placed in man that he may help carry out the divine plan of giving bodies to waiting spirits. But when sex is bidden to well up within the bodies of immature, undisciplined, unknowing, unwise youth, it becomes a boiling caldron that consumes all the finer instincts and leaves its victims physical and moral wrecks.

“You Youth, facing the divine relationship of parenthood, do not, I beseech you, drag yourselves and your children down to the ground among the beasts; rather raise yourselves to the skies among the angels.”

But the times also bring youth other problems we did not have. Our freedom, our guarantee of liberties, our Constitutional government, these were not threatened when we went forth. The world threatens them now, in every land and clime. Lawlessness, disorder, greed, avarice, swagger about us. Free government, the government of democracy, is challenged. If it is to be saved, then the youth of yesterday, the youth who are here, the youth who are coming, must save it.

Civil war again threatens, indeed may even now have begun. This time it is class war, the most cruel, the bloodiest, the most inhuman of all, as the French and Russian Revolutions and the existing civil war in Spain so clearly show.

A few generations back, your ancestors gave their lives to establish democracy on this continent: your grandfathers fought and died to give the freedom of that democracy to all men, irrespective of race or color; some of your fathers and brothers went to the front in the recent World War to maintain democracy, and some of them never returned. The price of human liberty has always been human suffering and human sacrifice. You may have to determine how much this freedom which has come to you without price, is worth to you and to your children,—what price will you pay,—whether, if necessary, you also will make the final sacrifice as did your forefathers. I pray the Lord to give you wisdom and courage. You will need both.

We may not set up falsehood in any of its myriad forms, and worship it; false lives, false living; false standards; false ideals; false doctrines; false principles; false companions; false prophets; false Christs; false Gods. This we must not do.

I must not get the profits and pleasures of my life from the goods and sorrows of others. What the world needs today as badly as it needs anything is a knowledge between meum et tuum—between mine and yours. You may reasonably expect to enjoy your own rights and your own goods, only if you will respect the rights and goods of others. There can be no peace and safety in the world, and no liberty, without these. Indeed, with these gone, civilization will go. I pray you ponder this over in your minds; its truth will come to you. Then guide your actions by it.

For a full century it has been our declared Church belief “That no government can exist in peace. except such laws are framed and held inviolate as will secure to each individual the free exercise of conscience, the right and control of property, and the protection of life.”

The movement of the world today against these is not inspired from above.

And in this relation, let me urge you to consider this: It is one thing for an individual to fail to live a standard, and quite another for him to change his standard of life, even though he does the same wrong each time. Society has survived arson, pillage, robbery, and murder, however widespread they were, in fact, when they were under the ban of social order and of the mass conscience; we shall not continue as a social organism when these crimes shall become the standard by which the mass is guided, no matter what the avowed motive or pretended need for the standard, and no matter how circumscribed the occasion for doing the crimes is made. Because in the one case, the standard is righteous, with some man falling away therefrom; the other standard is unrighteous, with all men paying their homage thereto. It is in this last direction that the world now plunges. We must count upon you to save it, that human liberty and freedom of conscience shall be saved, that the Lord’s work may continue on earth so that men’s souls may be saved.

How glorious the principles of our great Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

God grant that you may enthrone these principles in your minds and your hearts; that for you they will be altars upon which you will offer when needed the utmost sacrifice their preservation may need.

Presenting another Cuthbert story which deals “tenderly” with the plight of Budding youth

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