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Young Men Striving to Become Lifelong Disciples Need Coaches, Mentors

Bishopric members, advisers and specialists can be the caring coaches and mentors who provide experience, instruction and encouragement, says Brother Thomas E. Mullen

Young men and their leaders have a conversation as they leave the temple in Ghana. © 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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By Brother Thomas E. Mullen, Young Men General Advisory Council

Church President Russell M. Nelson told the youth, “You have the capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation” (“Hope of Israel” Worldwide Youth Devotional, June 3, 2018).

However, we all know capacity must be developed if the youth are truly going to reach their potential.

One young man in our ward was a talented runner. With a lot of hard work and supportive friends and family, he saw great success. He became one of the best college runners in the United States. Once when I congratulated him on his success, he replied, “Running is just one of my gifts.” In addition to his talent and hard work, he also had great coaches. His coaches helped him develop his talent.

Young men who are striving to become lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ need coaches too. That’s where bishopric members, advisers and specialists come in. They can be the caring coaches and mentors who provide experience, instruction and encouragement to help young men see capacity turn into competence.

An adult leader talks with a youth on a hiking trip with their group.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.


Coaches know people learn best by experience. They don’t just talk to young men about ministering, they minister with them. They don’t just talk about leadership, they have a presidency meeting with them. Coaches make sure youth are registered to attend For the Strength of Youth conferences and clear calendars to participate in camps and youth conferences. Coaches extend personal invitations if needed.


Coaches help young men reflect on their experiences. They ask: “What went well? What didn’t go so well? What will you do next time?” They offer advice and instruction. For example, President Nelson said, “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting and constant influence of the Holy Ghost” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” April 2018). Coaches can help young men learn how to seek and act on spiritual promptings. They don’t just say, “Pray, read your scriptures and make good choices.” They share how they do those things and offer tips and suggestions for how to make prayer more meaningful and scripture study more effective. They help young men become familiar with and apply the principles in “For the Strength of Youth: A Guide for Making Choices.

Aaronic Priesthood holders need to have opportunities to develop leadership skills. Young Men advisers and bishopric members don’t just teach leadership skills but they exemplify the skill and practices with the young man until the skill becomes a strength.© 2024 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Along with experiences and instruction, coaches offer encouragement. They know that praise is to the spirit what food is to the body. Coaches say, “Good job,” “Well done,” “Way to go” and “Keep trying!” Coaches celebrate effort, progress and accomplishment. The Young Women and Young Men general presidencies recently suggested, “As you create your annual calendar, plan an evening toward the end of the year when parents and even extended family members can be invited as leaders highlight accomplishments of youth in quorum, class or ward groups” (“Why Parents, Leaders Should Celebrate the Spiritual Milestones of Latter-day Saint Youth,” Church News, Jan. 2, 2024).

Adult leaders can act as coaches and mentors to help young men develop their “capacity to be smarter and wiser and have more impact on the world than any previous generation.” Capacity coupled with experiences, instruction and encouragement can help young men develop their potential to become lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ.

Copyright 2024 Deseret News Publishing Company.

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