Dear 100 Hour Board,
I feel awful about this, but lately I have been having a hard time with the focus on the youth of the church. Don't get me wrong - I totally recognize how important it is for the youth to recognize how important THEY are. But as a non-youth, I have concerns. I heard the same messages in my youth, and felt empowered and inspired by them. Now that I have left that time in my life behind me, I feel like I am not as useful or something. Obviously I know I have responsibilities to strengthen the youth in my ward and my family, but even that doesn't seem like a big deal. On top of that is the worry that I didn't live up to MY potential when I was at that point in my life. I was part of the "hope of Israel," saved for these last days, etc etc., with great work to do, and then all of a sudden....I wasn't. So did I accomplish whatever my mission was as a youth, or did I fail in that vital life stage and now that there's a new generation, do I just live out my adulthood wondering what more I should have done? I sure hope at least some of that made sense!
Yeah, there's definitely a weird paradigm shift in the church, where everything is about you as a kid and a youth, and then you grow up and have kids of your own, and suddenly your life is about helping others. It can be a little abrupt to go from one to the other, but the thing is, you never lose your worth or your purpose as a person, whatever stage of life you're in. You matter no matter what! The youthsss matter partially because of what they can do as youth, but also because of the adults they grow up to be. You don't suddenly cease being "the hope of Israel" just because you're a few years older. You get to continue being the hope of Israel. You get to continue making a difference and being a cool person. You're now an adult who probably has even more ability/resources to do good things, and not just in terms of "strengthening the youth in your ward and family," but in every aspect of your life.
Probably one of the reasons they talk so much about the youth in the Church is because they're at a stage of life where they have more self esteem issues than other age groups, but also to help prepare them to go on to live fulfilling and meaningful lives.
I think the focus on the children and the youth of the church is more about teaching and developing righteous habits while people are still in the stage of life where they're establishing daily habits. The youth of the Church are perhaps going to be the most zealous in spreading the gospel because of their youthful enthusiasm, but I don't think one particular group or generation is any more important than the next. The rhetoric surrounding the importance of the youth is about teaching people while they're most susceptible to such teachings, and should in no way diminish your sense of purpose in adulthood.
I agree with Luciana that a large part of the focus on youth is because they're still in such a formative stage of life. The way I see it, is that as youth we were told all about our potential for building up the church. Now it's time for us to realize that potential. Personally, I never interpreted the focus on young women and young men as a sign that they're going to do great things as youth (though I suppose that's possible), but that they're going to do great things as adults thanks to the foundation laid at this time.
Don't worry about whether or not you fulfilled your mission as a youth, and concentrate on fulfilling your mission now, whatever it may be.