Follow the counsel from our leaders will protect us from sin and pain. If we begin to apply the counsel we receive we will have the Spirit with us.
The Good Shepherd
In the account given by John, the Lord described himself as the Good Shepherd.
1 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
Sheep fold Story
Elder M. Russell Ballard, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, while teaching a group of seminary students shared a story about when he and his family visited Jerusalem many years ago. They went to shepherd’s field in the evening and they watched with great interest as the shepherds were bringing in their sheep. The shepherds were coming over the mountain and there were several of them and the sheep were following the shepherd and Elder Ballard was very interested in what was happening and then the sheep went into the sheepfold. Then Elder Ballard thought to himself, “We better be here early in the morning to see what happens.”
The next morning they went to the sheepfold. And it was fascinating. The shepherd would go to the door of the sheep fold and he would call his sheep and only his sheep would follow him. The shepherd went out of the sheep fold and the sheep would follow him. Then another shepherd came to the sheep fold and called his sheep and his sheep followed him. From this story, you can see why Jesus taught this parable because the people understood that sheep would follow the shepherd.
Next, the Lord teaches the people a more important principle.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
The principle that the Lord is teaching us is that everything we need to find joy peace and happiness can be found if we would follow Him, listen to Him, accept Him as the Good Shepherd and that he will lead us, protect us, and keep us safe through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as we follow Him1.
The Savior always wants us to be safe in our journey in life. He is consistent in providing a safe path for us to walk. He calls to us through various ways so that those who are interested and willing will accept it. Included in those ways is the delivery of his message through the mouths of His prophets, when the people have qualified to have the prophets of God among them. This address will discuss the principle of following the counsel of the Lord. The servants of the Lord, his prophets, are always given the mandate to warn the people and tell them the way to safety or higher ground. When there were problems in Northern Missouri in the fall of 1838, the Prophet Joseph Smith called for all the Saints to gather to Far West for safety. Many were on secluded farms or on settlements that were scattered across the area3.
The Prophet Joseph Smith specifically counseled Jacob Haun, founder of Haun’s Mill. A record from that era states, “Brother Joseph had sent word by Haun, who owned the mill, to inform the brethren who were living there to leave and come to Far West, but Mr. Haun did not deliver the message” (Philo Dibble, in “Early Scenes in Church History,” in Four Faith Promoting Classics , 90). The prophet Joseph recorded in his history the following words, “Up to this day God had given me wisdom to save the people who took counsel. None had ever been killed who [had abided] by my counsel” (History of the Church, 5:137). The Prophet recorded that innocent lives could have been saved at Haun’s Mill if his counsel had been received by the people and followed3.
Pay Tithes and Offerings
The Lord has counseled us through his servants the prophets to pay tithing (one-tenth of your income) and fast offerings. All of the prophets in this dispensation have given this counsel. In my final semester at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT, our family did not have enough money to pay both our tithing and our obligations. However, we decided to move forward in faith and pay our tithing believing that the Lord would provide. Some time passed and we noticed that we had received a deposit for our tax return, for the same amount that we had paid in tithing. When we follow the counsel of the Lord he will bless us.
Seminary and Institute/Religion Classes
We follow the counsel from our leaders by attending early morning seminary during our high schools years. In seminary, we study the scriptures (the standard works of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-days are the Holy Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price). My attendance in early morning seminary helped me prepare for my mission. It helped me become familiar with the scriptures and it helped me to develop a love for scriptures. I was able to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ using the scriptures and this helped me be more effective.
Similarly, we follow the counsel from our leaders by attending institute or to take religion courses at Brigham Young University. I really enjoyed learning the scriptures from religion teachers at Brigham Young University – Idaho and Brigham Young University. I was able to deepen my love for the scriptures and I was able to have the Spirit in my daily life as I immersed myself in the scriptures. I felt more peace and joy as I developed my testimony through scripture study.
Take Advantage of Educational Opportunities
One counsel that I remember very well was given by President Hinckley during October 2006 priesthood session of General Conference. He counseled the young men to “rise up and discipline yourself to take advantage of educational opportunities”. I recall feeling the Spirit so strongly and I made a promise to myself that night to do my best to complete a good education. Now seven years later, I have successfully completed my degree in Computer Science at Brigham Young University. The blessings that have come from making that commitment are tremendous. I am blessed with a wonderful job as an IT consultant here in the city of Dallas which allows me to provide the needs and wants for my wife and kids.
Follow the Counsel From Our Leaders Found In For the Strength of Youth
As a youth in the church, we are counseled to follow the standards in the For Strength of Youth pamphlet. The standards in the For Strength of Youth Pamphlet were not just suggestions they are the things that if done consistently will bring true happiness and success in your life. Some topics found in the pamphlet included Agency and accountability which teaches the principle “you are free to choose your course of action, but you are not free to choose the consequences.”
Other topics include, counsel on Dating, Dress and Appearance, Education, Entertainment and Media, Family, Friends, Gratitude, Honesty and Integrity, Language, Music and Dancing, Physical and Emotional Health, Repentance, Sabbath Day Observance, Service, Sexual Purity, Tithes and Offerings, Work and Self-Reliance. These principles provided me with strength during my youth. In the message from the First Presidency found at the beginning of the pamphlet, there is a promise which says, “We promise that as you keep the covenants you have made and these standards, you will be blessed with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, your faith and testimony will grow stronger, and you will enjoy increasing happiness.” This is true for me. I have had the Holy Ghost in my life and my faith and testimony have grown stronger and I have enjoyed increasing happiness as I strived to live the principles found in the For Strength of Youth pamphlet!
Brothers and Sisters, counsel given by our leaders from the Holy Spirit is counsel received from the Lord. As we follow their counsel, we are following the counsel of our Savior. This is the safety and protection that the Lord desires for us and our families. May we take a moment to review the inspired counsel from the First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints found in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and apply it is my hope in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
References and Resources
- The Good Shepherd Elder Ballard teaches a group of seminary students about the story of the Good Shepherd. (4:57) Video source
- John 10:1-15
- Finding Safety in Counsel Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, General Conference April 1997.
- For the Strength of Youth The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints