Repeating the words of President Gordon B. Hinckley, more than 21,000 young adults and youth gathered in the newly-dedicated LDS Conference Center spoke in unison, resolving to "be grateful, be smart, be clean, be true, be humble and be prayerful."
The capacity congregation was joined by hundreds of thousands of young people around the world who participated in the first-of-its-kind fireside via satellite. During the fireside, President Hinckley addressed Church members ages 14 to 25 — all on the threshold of their mature lives — expressing his love for them and his worry for them. President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, conducted the fireside meeting.
"This is the age of great opportunity," said President Hinckley. "You are so fortunate to be alive. Never in the history of mankind has life been filled with so many opportunities and challenges."
Of all the challenges faced in the past, said President Hinckley, the ones of today are the most easily handled. "I say that because they are manageable. They largely involve individual behavioral decisions, but those decisions can be made and followed. And when that happens, the challenge is behind us."
Noting that he wanted the young people in the Church to strive for "A" grades in school, President Hinckley spoke about "B's." "You get the A's, I will give you the B's," he said.
After encouraging the congregation to be grateful, smart, clean, true, humble and prayerful, President Hinckley had the young adults repeat each trait with him to emphasize its importance. Then he spoke in detail on each element.
Be grateful: President Hinckley told the worldwide congregation that there are two little words in the English language that perhaps mean more than all others. "They are 'thank you,'" he said. "Comparable words are found in every other language — gracias, merci, danke, obrigado, domo."
The habit of saying "thank you" is the mark of an educated man or woman, he continued.
"Walk with gratitude in your hearts," said President Hinckley. "Be thankful for the wonderful blessings which are yours. Be grateful for the tremendous opportunities that you have. Be thankful to your parents who care so very much about you and who have worked so very hard to provide for you. Let them know you are grateful."
President Hinckley told the young people to thank the Lord for His goodness to them. "Thank the Almighty for His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, who has done for you what none other in all this world could do. Thank Him for His great example, for His tremendous teachings, for His outreaching hand to lift and help."
Finally, President Hinckley told the congregation to thank the Lord for His Church. "Thank Him for all that it offers you. Thank Him for friends and loved ones, for parents and brothers and sisters, for family. Let a spirit of thanksgiving guide and bless your days and nights. Work at it. You will find it will yield wonderful results."
Be smart: "You are moving into the most competitive age the world has ever known," said President Hinckley. "All around you is competition."
Education, he said, offers the competitive edge. "Sacrifice a car, sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of the world. That world will in large measure pay you what it thinks you are worth, and your worth will increase as you gain education and proficiency in your chosen field."
President Hinckley emphasized that the Church teaches the importance of education. "You have a mandate from the Lord to educate your minds and your hearts and your hands," he said.
To illustrate his point, President Hinckley recalled an experience he had years ago while working for the railroad in Denver, Colo. One morning he received a call telling him that 300 passengers in Newark, N.J., were missing baggage transported in a lost baggage car.
"I went immediately to work to find out where it may have gone. . . . Some thoughtless switchman in the St. Louis yards moved a small piece of steel just three inches, a switch point, then pulled the lever to uncouple the car. We discovered that a baggage car that belonged in Newark, N.J., was in fact in New Orleans, La. — 1,500 miles from its destination. Just the three-inch movement of the switch in the St. Louis yard by a careless employee had started it on the wrong track and the distance from its true destination increased dramatically.
"That is the way it is with our lives. Instead of following a steady course, we are pulled by some mistaken idea in another direction. That movement away from our original destination may be ever so small, but if continued that very small movement becomes a great gap and we find ourselves far from where we intended to go."
Be clean: President Hinckley said the world today is filled with sleaze and reeks of evil. "It is all around us. It is on the television screen. It is at the movies. It is in the popular literature. It is on the Internet. You can't afford to watch it, my dear friends. You cannot afford to let that filthy poison touch you. Stay away from it. Avoid it."
Do not take the name of the Lord in vain, he continued. "It is not a mark of manhood to carelessly use the name of the Almighty or His Beloved Son in a vain and flippant way, as many are prone to do."
President Hinckley told the young people to choose their friends carefully. "While you should be friendly with all people, select with great care those whom you wish to have close to you. They will be your safeguards in situations where you may vacillate between choices and you, in turn, may save them."
President Hinckley told the congregation that he recently spoke to their parents about tattoos. "What creation is more magnificent than the human body?" he asked. "What a wondrous thing it is as the crowning work of the Almighty. . . .
"Do you ever think that your body is holy? You are a child of God. Your body is His creation. Would you disfigure that creation with portrayals of people, animals and words painted into your skin? I promise you that the time will come, if you have tattoos, that you will regret your actions. They cannot be washed off. They are permanent. . . .
"We as your Brethren who love you, plead with you not to become so disrespectful of the body which the Lord has given you."
President Hinckley also spoke about earrings and rings placed in other parts of the body. "You young men look better without them, and I believe you will feel better without them," he said. "As for you young women, you do not need to drape rings all up and down your ears. One modest pair is sufficient.
"How truly beautiful is a well-groomed young woman who is clean in body and mind. She is a daughter of God in whom her Eternal Father can take pride. How handsome is a young man who is well-groomed. He is a son of God, deemed worthy of holding the holy priesthood of God."
President Hinckley then spoke on pornography, admonishing the Church's young people to stay away from it. "It is exciting but it will destroy you. It will warp your senses. It will build within you an appetite that you will do anything to appease."
Illicit drugs, continued President Hinckley, utterly destroy those who become addicted to them. "My advice, my pleading to you wonderful young men and women, is to stay entirely away from them. You don't need to experiment with them. . . . Stay clean from these mind-altering and habit forming addictions."
Finally, President Hinckley counseled the young people about the relationships they have with one another. "My dear young friends, in matters of sex you know what is right. . . . I plead with you to be careful, to stand safely back from the cliff of sin over which it is so easy to fall. Keep yourselves clean from the dark and disappointing evil of sexual transgression."
There is hope, however, for young people who have already transgressed, he said. "Where there is true repentance, there will be forgiveness. That process begins with prayer."
Be true: "You who are members of this Church must have a loyalty to it," said President Hinckley. "This is your church. You have as great a responsibility in your sphere of action as I have in my sphere of action. It belongs to you just as it belongs to me.
"You have embraced its gospel. You have taken upon yourselves a covenant in the waters of baptism. This you have renewed each time you have partaken of the sacrament. These covenants will be added to when you are married in the temple. You cannot hold them lightly. They are too great a thing."
President Hinckley urged the young people to be true to their convictions. "You know when you are doing the proper thing."
Be humble: President Hinckley said there is no place for arrogance, conceit, or egotism in the Church. "If we are without conceit and pride and arrogance, if we are humble and obedient, then the Lord will lead us by the hand and answer our prayers. What greater thing could we ask for? There is nothing to compare with this."
President Hinckley said that in the Sermon on the Mount, the Savior declared, "Blessed are the meek." (Matthew 5:5.)
"I believe the meek and the humble are those who are teachable," he said. "They are willing to learn."
Be prayerful: President Hinckley told the young members that they all need the Lord's help. "You cannot do it alone," he said. "You will come to realize that and recognize that more and more as the years pass. So live that in good conscience you can speak with the Lord. Get on your knees and thank Him for His goodness to you and express to Him the righteous desires of your hearts.
"The miracle of it all is that He hears. He responds. He answers. Not always as we might wish He would answer, but there is no question in my mind that He answers."
President Hinckley told members of the congregation to stand tall, proud of their inheritance as sons and daughters of God.
"Look to Him for understanding and guidance. Walk according to His precepts and commandments. You can have a good time. . . . We want you to have fun. We want you to enjoy life. We do not want you to be prudes. We want you to be robust and cheerful, to sing and dance, to laugh and be happy. But in so doing be humble and be prayerful, and the smiles of heaven will fall upon you."
President Hinckley concluded his remarks by invoking blessings upon the young members of the Church, that God would lead them gently by the hand in the direction they should follow. (Please see full text of prayer.)
He said, "I could wish for you nothing better than that your lives be fruitful, that your service be dedicated and freely given, that you contribute to the knowledge and the well-being of the world in which you live, and that you do it humbly and faithfully before your God."