LDS boys and men should find ways to reach out to Mormons who have strayed and bring them back to the faith, LDS Church President Thomas S. Monson said Saturday night.
"For those members who have slipped from activity or who hold back and remain noncommittal, we can prayerfully seek for some way to reach them," the 85-year-old Monson told the all-male priesthood during the 182nd Semiannual LDS General Conference. "Asking them to serve in some capacity may just be the incentive they need to return to full activity."
LDS leaders should "bear in mind that people can change. They can put behind them bad habits. They can repent from transgressions," he said. "They can bear the priesthood worthily. And they can serve the Lord diligently."
Monson also reiterated his advice to young Mormon men to prepare early to serve an LDS mission, which, with Saturday's historic announcement, they now can do a year sooner, at age 18.
LDS apostle Todd Christofferson lamented the mixed signals men and boys get from many of today's societies.
"In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those who denigrate men and their contributions," he said. "They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female that one must dominate the other, and now it's the women's turn. ... This cultural emasculation of males is having a damaging effect."
Some men, he said, use these signals as excuses to duck responsibility.
"In the church and kingdom of God in these latter days, we cannot afford to have boys and men who are drifting. We cannot afford young men who lack self-discipline and live only to be entertained," Christofferson said. "We cannot afford young adult men who are going nowhere in life, who are not serious about forming families and making a real contribution in this world."
He urged young Mormon men to focus on their studies and continue their educations beyond high school so they can provide for their families and boost their communities.
Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Monson's two counselors in the governing First Presidency, emphasized the notion of individuality.
"Every person is different and has a different contribution to make," Eyring said. "No one is destined to fail."
Uchtdorf, a former pilot, described two kinds of airplanes: an old and slow Piper Cub and a sleek and speedy F-18 fighter.
"Figuratively speaking, some of you are flying in F-18 jets, while others are flying in Piper Cubs," Uchtdorf said. "Some of you live in wards and stakes where every position ... is filled with an active priesthood holder.
" ... Others of you live in areas of the world where there is only a small handful of church members and priesthood holders. You may feel alone and burdened with the weight of all that needs to be done. ... However, no matter what your responsibilities or circumstances may be, you and I know there is always a special joy that comes from dedicated priesthood service."