Just this week, I listened again to a General Conference talk that reflects a pattern I’ve seen in many talks. Our leaders believe in the youth. This particular talk — “The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy” — was focused on young men, and that is the focus of this post.

I’m the mom of a teenage boy. I love this young man so much, and am so grateful for leaders who have believed in him through the years. In a culture that often likes to denigrate teenagers, it’s remarkable to have reminders such as Elder Callister’s talk that if we “we have high but loving expectations of them” and trust and train them, our young men (and young women, but again, the focus today is on young men) can grow and rise to great heights in their lives.

I believe the Lord expects that of us as adults to lovingly believe in these youth.

This post on the priesthood (about the ordination of her 12-year-old son) by my friend, Michelle, captures what is in my heart about this topic. I, like her, am so grateful that “In this world where we desperately need good men, honorable husbands and devoted fathers, nothing prepares boys better than the priesthood…. Every Sunday they are taught to love God, be kind to their neighbor, avoid pornography, speak kindly and serve, serve, serve.” In the Church, as part of their priesthood duty, young men help with monthly fast offerings, monthly service visits to the homes of Church members, weekly sacrament service, helping take care of the church building, planning and executing youth activities, and more. But “the most important setting in which an Aaronic Priesthood holder can fulfill this duty is in his own home. He provides priesthood service to his father and mother as they lead the family. He also watches over his brothers and sisters….” (From Sacred Keys of the Aaronic Priesthood.)

Imagine if every young man in the world could grow up knowing that he had something to offer, that people needed his service, that the choices he makes in his youth really do matter, that he is loved and cared for by many people, and (most importantly) that he is loved and known by God and invited to be an instrument in His hands to bring people to Christ. What a different world we would experience! Imagine the impact on society to have young men raised from before their teenaged years to respect and honor women, to live sexually pure lives, to prepare to care for a family, to serve in their church and community. This is what priesthood quorums and service are about.

I am so grateful for the reality of the restored priesthood of God, and that young men from a tender age have the opportunity to taste and witness what it means to be a man of God.