I’m extremely impressed with the youth in our community. I see immense potential in them and hope that they see that potential in themselves. I am grateful for all those who raise, teach, coach, mentor and bring out the best in them.

I recently had the opportunity to attend the eighth and fifth grade promotion ceremonies for my two sons. It was a fun and uplifting experience. I was impressed with the youth that I saw there and the experiences that they’ve had during these formative years. 

Bishop Matt Deakin

One example—I saw band students not knowing how to hold their instruments as new sixth graders to later perform marvelous and advanced pieces as eighth graders. The progress they made each year was astounding.

These youth are the future of our city, state, country and world. It’s important for their parents, extended family, teachers, friends and neighbors to play an interested and guiding role in their lives. We need to pay attention to them, their circumstances, their challenges and their successes. 

Elder Ronald A. Rasband, an Apostle from our church, said: “Our rising generation is worthy of our best efforts to support and strengthen them in their journey to adulthood.”

We have about 50 youth that regularly attend our Sunday services and our weekday activities. They are from diverse backgrounds and home circumstances. As their Bishop (the lay leader of our congregation), it has been my privilege to get to know them, their strengths and challenges. One of my main responsibilities is to be with them and counsel them. Many of them serve in leadership roles within their groups at our church. I help these leaders plan their weekly activities and attend those activities with them. 

It is a ton of fun! As I spend time with them, I realize the God given potential and unique abilities they have to adapt to the world we live in and to be a force for good. They are talented and willing. A little bit of guidance and encouragement can go a long way.

The youth in our community are not without challenges and trials. At times, some of them will make poor choices and may influence others to do the same. 

The isolation that came during the pandemic has posed unique challenges to our youth and has brought on anxiety and depression in many of them. It’s important that we love them and help them through their challenges. 

Taking an interest in the youth and in their lives is one step to help them overcome their challenges, make good choices and let them know that they aren’t alone as they go through trials.

My invitation is for you to get to know the youth in your neighborhood and congregations. Play an active role in their lives that will help them reach the divine potential they have.

Matt Deakin is the Bishop of the Morgan Hill Ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is a member of the Interfaith Clergy Alliance of South County. Bishop Deakin can be reached at [email protected].

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