Back as a beehive, I remember having a mutual Personal Progress night where we'd been asked to find a talk on womanhood to discuss together. We all came excited to discuss and share, and when it came time to read, it turns out we all had the same talk (thanks to the fact that it ranked #1 of LDS.org's search). It was President Faust's "Womanhood; The Highest Place of Honor" from the year 2000. And so we discussed it really in depth and had a great experience. The brownies didn't hurt either.
I don't think I've read the talk since I read it six years ago with my Beehive class, but I recently felt inspired to take a glimpse at it again. I was reminded of being a beehive, brand new to Personal Progress. I was strolling through memory lane when something really cool stood out to me. President Faust totally predicted what it would be like in 2016! Specifically, how Personal Progress would've changed by 2016.
We wonder what the Young Women requirements for Personal Progress awards will be like in the year 2016. Hopefully the values and standards of Young Women will be increasingly focused on spirituality and service to others.
Personal Progress has changed significantly since the year 2000. Back then, young women were still using the program started in 1985. This program included the seven YW values, each with a selection of experiences. There was a set number of experiences you needed to complete each year as a Beehive and a Mia Maid, and then as a Laurel you were supposed to complete two 20-30 hours projects centered around a Young Women value.
In 2002, they changed the structure of the program around quite a bit. They kept the seven values, and the experiences and projects, but now instead of pacing out the experiences and projects based on age, you could go at your own pace. The other significant change was that you now needed to complete a project for each value, following six experiences per value.
Most recently in 2009, they changed the program again. They kept the structure the same (though changing a few experiences and minor guidelines) but added the value of Virtue. This value is unique because it has fewer experiences, and has a required project of reading the Book of Mormon.
Now that we've had that brief history lesson, what does it have to do with President Faust's statement?
He mentions two specific things which he hoped Young Women would be increasingly focused on: spirituality and service to others.
A huge element of spirituality is self-reliance, and the way the program has changed is definitely designed for increasing self-reliance. The program restructure in 2002 enabled Young Women to work at their own pace without the pressure of deadlines every birthday. It also gave them more freedom in selecting the experiences and projects which would help them grow the most.
Another significant change which has definitely encouraged a spiritual increase is making reading The Book of Mormon mandatory. With the 2002 program, reading one of the Standard Works was a suggestion for a Faith value project. Now that it's required, and especially under the value of Virtue, it has prompted Young Women around the world to actively increase their testimony of The Book of Mormon.
Just this past April 2016 Conference, Elder Rasband shared
What did we learn [from the Youth]? We learned that our youth love the Lord, sustain their leaders, and desire to have their questions answered! Questions are an indication of a further desire to learn, to add to those truths already in place in our testimonies, and to be better prepared to “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ.”
This newly called Apostle has noted this spiritual growth among youth in the church, and the fact that they're actively seeking further knowledge of this Gospel.
SERVICE TO OTHERS
Personal Progress has always heavily emphasized service. The way Personal Progress enables service hasn't changed much--but the opportunities for youth to serve have never been so plentiful. Youth are getting involved in their communities more and more. Studies have shown that millennials are more compassionate and charitable than previous generations, and chances are good that that trend will continue to grow.
Another huge and unprecedented way young women and finding service opportunities is through the growth of missionary and family history work on the internet. Young women are blogging, Snapchatting, Tweeting, Instagramming, and everything-elsing about the way the gospel (and Personal Progress) is blessing their lives. There are Missionaries who are required to use Facebook for missionary work!
And family history and temple work are moving forward in ways nobody could imagine 16 years ago. Research has never been easier, and temples are being built at an accelerated rate. Indexing millions of records takes only 5 minutes at a time. Elder Bednar shared:
Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation.
Personal Progress is the greatest tool available to young women in 2016 to help them increase their spirituality and service to others. Not because it's a great to-do list, or because it keeps you perfectly on track, but because it's designed to help you with YOUR personal progress. It helps you to stay focused on what is spiritually important while going at your own pace and focusing on your interests.
President Faust was certainly following inspiration when he made that statement. If he were alive today, he would certainly be impressed with the virtuous young women of 2016. So let's keep going!