Young women need the example of virtuous and righteous women, Bonnie L. Oscarson, newly called Young Women general president for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, said during Women's Conference at BYU on May 3.
In their first public speaking assignment since being called to serve as the Young Women general presidency, Sister Oscarson and her counselors Sister Carol F. McConkie and Neill F. Marriott, encouraged women to help the youth recognize the dangers surrounding them as they nurture their flames of testimony.
"I can't overemphasize enough the power of our examples as mothers and grandmothers and youth leaders in influencing the testimonies and belief of our young women," Sister Oscarson said. "We cannot expect them to dress modestly and attend their church meetings, to pray daily, study the scriptures and make wise choices if we are not doing those things ourselves. They need to see us modeling virtuous and righteous lives if we want them to develop the good habits that will increase their faith and belief. They need to see us making the temple a priority in our lives."
The presidency drew from the words President Thomas S. Monson shared during his talk in the 2012 General Young Women Broadcast, when he encouraged young women to 'believe, obey and endure.'
"Our prophet counseled our youth to look to the lighthouse of the Lord," Sister Oscarson said. "The Lord's lighthouse sends out signals that will guide our young women back to their heavenly home."
Sharing an experience she had as a young woman attending a camp sponsored by another Christian church, Sister Marriott said it was while she was there — singing a song &mash; that she first realized her belief in God.
"As we began to sing the words, something happened to me," she said. "It was during the third verse ... I couldn't sing, I was weeping, because of what had started in my heart — this warm feeling I had never felt before. ... I had never had that personal experience before, but a belief started to grow. A tiny, young, immature belief, but it was real. There was a God, and he knew me and loved me."
From that day on she decided to start a search for God through reading her scriptures and praying daily. Leaders and parents can help young women strengthen their beliefs as they set the example of developing good habits.
Sister McConkie said that individuals have the responsibility to grow their own testimony through study, prayer and church attendance.
"I think we want to help our young women understand that obedience is not restrictive, but that it brings blessings," Sister McConkie said. "Obedience does not restrict us or bind us down. Obedience expands our horizons and increases our capacity."
Sharing an example of when she was a young woman and her parents were going through a divorce, Sister McConkie said that it was the example of her Laurel teacher that taught her the joy of living the gospel and importance of obedience to the commandments.
"I remember clearly what I felt as my teacher taught lessons about eternal marriage, eternal families and temple preparedness," she said. "It seemed that every lesson inspired me and touched on these sacred topics."
Even though her experience at home was different than what was being taught, she knew the importance and blessings that come from being obedient to God's commandments.
"My personal struggles didn't go away, but I found peace and direction ... and my commitment to be obedient to the commandments came through the teaching and the testimony of a faithful woman ... at a critical time in my life."
To help young women understand what it means to endure, leaders can invite them to do difficult and challenging things that will bless their lives, the presidency taught. By participating in Personal Progress, reading the Book of Mormon and serving others, they are able to participate in activities that teach them to make a commitment to do something hard, to endure to the end and to receive the reward.
One way to help the youth believe, obey and endure is to focus on the temple, Sister Oscarson said.
"We live in a perilous world where our young people are being exposed to unrighteous and unholy things at younger and younger ages," she said. "We as mothers, aunts, grandmothers friends and leaders can have a tremendous impact on helping them navigate the treacherous shores. We can help our young women believe, obey and endure as our prophet has testified."