And the lad be not with me

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Priesthood Session of the October 1977 Conference.
In the Priesthood Session of this Conference, Elder Marion D. Hanks gave a talk to the men about the importance of being not only good fathers, but also good mentors to children who don’t have good father figures in their lives. As I read, I thought about how much I love the church leaders that teach my boys. Even though my boys DO have a good father, they get so much benefit from getting to know and learn from these other good people too!

When I was young, the bishop of my ward challenged all the adults to learn the names of all the children and youth in the ward. He put up pictures of every family (and their names) in the church to help people. I remember laughing at it a little with my friend. “Ha! WE don’t care if the adults know our names or not! What does it matter?”

But it’s funny. Even though I KNEW it was “just because” the bishop told them to, I couldn’t help but feel kind of important when people knew who I was. And I liked it. Old ladies (who were probably much younger than I realized! Ha ha) would say hello to me in the halls. They would ask my parents about me when I was gone. And they STILL ask her about me, even now! I don’t know if all of it stemmed from that specific push to get the adults knowing and caring about the youth, but it does seem like there’s something valuable, if unquantifiable, about those connections.

Even though I loved being Young Women's president several years ago, and I learned that the youth aren’t as intimidating as they first seem, now that I’m out of that calling I still tend to tell myself that the youth don’t WANT my attention; they’re way too cool for me. But—reading this talk and remembering my bishop's challenge made me think maybe I’m neglecting a chance to do something good. Even if it’s just learning all the kids' names and saying hi to them! Or saying something beyond “hi” when my kids' friends are over.

Elder Hanks says,
“…How wonderful it is to have someone who has lived a little longer and learned to love, to reach out and help us, and then help us help others.”
Then my favorite part, because I’ve never read this verse with this context:
In the scriptures is a magnificent sermon in a single line…: “For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad be not with me?”
Our Father wants us to bring as many of His children back to Him as possible. Maybe we should all feel that kind of responsibility—an unwillingness to return to our Father without helping those around us get back too!

Other posts in this series:


  1. What a cool idea your bishop had! And really, I think that "young people" don't find it weird or whatever for ward members to take interest in them and know their names. I think, like you said, it just makes them feel special. I went through a spell of feeling some of my older nieces and nephews who I hadn't been around as much were "too cool" and I kind of quit saying much to them at our big family gatherings. But I've been trying hard to make up for it in recent years as I've realized they think an aunt has a right to hug them and ask about them no matter how "cool" they are or how little they see her. And they feel that love and like it. And now I will try to do better with the kids in my ward. I've been a little better with the YW since I'm in there, but not do great with the YM or primary kids.

  2. It's funny the fronts the youth put up even though inside they are mushy and need our love.


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