Bruce Chang, an institute teacher from Logan, Utah, gave a lecture to youth attending Education Week on how to find safety in a spiritual war.
Chang centered his lecture on Aug. 16 on the armor of God, including its different parts and the practical application for youth. He encouraged listeners to consider their own spiritual armor and what areas they could strengthen.
“Most youth may or may not realize that they’re involved in a dangerous battle,” Chang said. With more than 20 years of experience teaching seminary and institute, Chang said he’s well aware of the struggles youth and young adults face in the world.
Of the many dangers youth should be aware of, Chang said self-criticism is one of the biggest. He said many people misunderstand what perfection means to God, and explained how misunderstanding makes them overly critical of their own flaws.
“If we don’t understand the doctrine of perfection we would think that it means mistake free,” he said. “Don’t do that to yourself.”
He told the audience that to be perfect in God’s eyes means to be complete, not flawless. Chang said since everyone is more complete today than they were two years ago, they should be happy with their progress and patient with their weaknesses.
“You’re okay just the way you are,” he said. “Please don’t beat yourself up.”
Chang challenged the audience to listen to or read scriptures for five minutes every morning.
“Every morning you wake up, get dressed and go to high school, you’re going to war,” he said. He promised their day would go better if they went to school “armed” with the Spirit every day.
“You’ll find that you’ll have a better day,” he said, citing his personal experience and that of his seminary and institute students who have accepted similar challenges.
He reminded youth about how the little things, which may sometimes seem insignificant, are the most important for spiritual growth. Chang said prayer, scripture study, going to church and going to the temple are the things which will help elevate their lives. However, he acknowledged those are also the things which may seem most tempting to skip.
Chang, who moved from Taiwan to Hawaii in high school and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 17, shared an experience he had with a spiritual struggle shortly after joining the Church. He said he went to a party with some friends and quickly realized he shouldn’t be there, since everyone was smoking, drinking alcohol and doing things he had decided to leave behind when he was baptized.
None of his friends would drive him home and he didn’t have any phone numbers memorized to call for a ride, so he walked 40 minutes to his house.
“The farther I walked, the stronger I felt,” he said, recounting how he grew more assured and confident in his choice and in himself as he walked home, singing hymns along the way.
“There’s a price to be paid to put on the armor of God,” he said. “If you have to make sacrifices, make them.” Although those sacrifices may include leaving friends behind, he reminded the youth they can find a friend in Jesus Christ.
Chang encouraged youth to be strong in the face of challenges and remember they always have help from God and Jesus Christ.
“Guess what?” he said in closing. “You’re awesome. You’re amazing. You’re better than you think.”