Often, members of the church associate self-reliance with food storage, so teenagers often think it has nothing to do with them. However, the commandment to become self-reliant involves far more than just food, and the time to become self-reliant is while you’re young. If you can achieve this as a teenager, your adult life will be far more successful and productive.
“It’s my life and I can do what I want with it.” That’s a popular refrain among teenagers outside the church. As a new member of the church, you may already be aware that there is more to this story than that.
As a new teen convert, you will want to pay close attention to the teachings found in For the Strength of Youth. This pamphlet, written for teenagers, helps LDS youth learn to live the life of a Latter-day Saint.
One of the many wonderful changes you may be making as a new member of the church is in the media you choose for yourself. Sometimes, just at first, this doesn’t seem so wonderful. You’ve had years of listening to certain types of music and watching certain types of movies and television programs. Now you’re being asked to evaluate those and decide which are worth keeping in your life. Do you know why you’re asked to do this?
How important did you consider education before you joined the church? As you begin to work towards an LDS-mindset to life, think about your education. The church encourages its youth, and in fact, all its members, to get as much education as possible, both formally, and through personal learning.
The last thing my new LDS friends convinced me to attend was seminary. After all, it was held very early in the morning before school and I was not a morning person. As strong as my new testimony was, I wasn’t sure it was strong enough to make me get out of bed before daylight to learn the gospel.
As a youth leader, you may be one of the most important people in the life of a teenager who joins the church without her parents. While her parents should always be the most important resource for her, there will now be some things they simply won’t understand, and may not be able to help her with. As her leader, you will be the person she will turn to when she needs a “church parent.”
Often, when teenagers join the church, they start to become more aware of what is going on in the world around them. As they participate in service projects through church and learn about the impact of service in their lessons, and as their love for the Savior grows, their hearts are filled with a desire to do even more. Class and quorum service projects don’t seem to be quite enough when your heart is burning with a desire to change the world.
A few years before I joined the church, I mistakenly chose as friends some teenagers who were popular, but not well-behaved. I was naïve, and had no idea what they were really like. One day, at a school party, they decided to go for a “walk.” I foolishly thought that’s what they really wanted to do and joined them. However, the walk only took us out of sight of adults. Then they pulled out cigarettes. I refused, having watched a grandmother die of emphysema, but they persisted, and began taunting me. I had never actually experienced this before and didn’t know what to do. Fortunately, one of the group made the others leave me alone.
Soon after beginning to investigate the church, I realized members of the church love to dance. There were church dances several times a month and even a large dance festival. I obtained a dance card (a card that allowed me to attend dances and showed I knew and accepted the rules for the dances) and learned the rules for dress and appropriate dancing. The slow dances I had done in the past disappeared from my life.