Twice in the Book of Mormon, we read of times when young people turned away from the faith of their parents:
- “Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin, being little children at the time he spake unto his people; and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers…. And now because of their unbelief they could not understand the word of God; and their hearts were hardened” (Mosiah 26:1, 3).
- “And there was also a cause of much sorrow among the Lamanites; for behold, they had many children who did grow up and began to wax strong in years, that they became for themselves… And thus were the Lamanites afflicted also, and began to decrease as to their faith and righteousness, because of the wickedness of the rising generation” (3 Nephi 1:29-30).
When Alma preached in Zarahemla, he made it clear that his message was intergenerational:
I am called…to preach unto…every one that dwelleth in the land; yea, to preach unto all, both old and young, both bond and free; yea, I say unto you the aged, and also the middle aged, and the rising generation; yea, to cry unto them that they must repent and be born again.Alma 5:49
It is common for older people to worry about younger generations. It’s always been that way. When young people make foolish decisions, it’s hard to know whether to attribute it to a lack of maturity or to a directional shift away from true principles. Other times, older people are inspired and even awe-struck by the amazing things young people can do.
As we grow older, the Lord wants us not only to observe and evaluate the younger generations; He wants us to influence them. In his epistle from Liberty Jail, Joseph Smith urged church members to gather up all information they could about the way they were treated in Missouri. Why? For a number of purposes, but one of them was for their descendants to know what they had gone through because of their faith:
It is an imperative duty that we owe to all the rising generation, and to all the pure in heart—
For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it.Doctrine and Covenants 123:11-12
Sister Joy D. Jones recently reminded parents of their duty to prepare the next generation of believers:
As children learn and progress, their beliefs will be challenged. But as they are properly equipped, they can grow in faith, courage, and confidence, even in the midst of strong opposition.
Alma taught us to “prepare the minds of [the] children.” We are preparing the rising generation to be the future defenders of the faith, to understand “that [they] are free to act for [themselves]—to choose the way of everlasting death or the way of eternal life.” Children deserve to understand this great truth: eternity is the wrong thing to be wrong about.
May our simple yet essential conversations with our children help them to “enjoy the words of eternal life” now so that they may enjoy “eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.”“Essential Conversations,” General Conference, April 2021
Today, I will remember that I have a duty to younger generations. I will share my faith with my children and with other young people and will do what I can to strengthen their faith.