Highlights from the Spring 2022 Prospective Missionary Devotional

Marcus B. Nash

Marcus B. Nash, "Highlights from the Spring 2022 Prospective Missionary Devotional," Religious Educator 23, no. 3 (2022): 10–25.

Elder Marcus B. Nash is a General Authority Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is currently serving as Executive Director of the Missionary Department.

Elder Marcus B. NashElder Marcus B. Nash. Courtesy of Intellectual Reserve, Inc.

This article is a transcription of the Spring 2022 Prospective Missionary Devotional featuring Elder Marcus B. Nash of the Seventy, with two future missionaries, Hannah Bingham and Carter Boswell, serving as hosts. The semiannual Prospective Missionary Devotional is presented by BYU Religious Education and the Utah Valley Institute of Religion. During the devotional, Elder Nash asked several current and future missionaries to answer questions about their experiences and the challenges they were facing. Following this portion, Elder Nash answered questions that the audience had submitted. The devotional concluded with Elder Nash giving prospective missionaries some crucial tips on how to prepare for a mission.

Elder Marcus B. Nash was sustained as a General Authority Seventy of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 1, 2006. He is currently serving as Executive Director of the Missionary Department. Elder Nash graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in International Relations and earned a Law Degree from the J. Rueben Clark Law School at Brigham Young University. Elder Nash has served as a full-time missionary in the El Salvador San Salvador Mission. He is married to Shelley Hatch and they are the parents of five children.

Elder Nash: It is so good to be with you. I leaned over to Hannah and Carter and I asked, “Do you know why we sit on the stand in meetings?” And I said, “The main reason we sit on the stand is so we can see you.” Something happens when you have an assignment to be at a meeting and the Lord wants you there and you sit on the stand and you look at people’s faces: you receive insight.

Before we get into all the many things we have prepared for this evening, I want to express to you how deeply, profoundly, and truly you are loved. The phrase went through my mind as I was looking at you, that he would cause his truth to sweep the earth as with a flood. And the purveyors of that flood are you.

Another scripture comes to mind. Joseph F. Smith saw in vision some wondrous things we have recorded as scripture now in Section 138 of the Doctrine and Covenants. And in my opinion, he saw you. After observing some of the great men and women who helped lead the restoration and bring it about in these final days of the earth’s history, he made this observation of what he saw in vision. He said, and I quote, “I observed that they were also among the noble and great ones who were chosen in the beginning to be rulers in the Church of God. Even before they were born—”they meaning these wonderful giants of the restoration—“they, with many others, received their first lessons in the world of spirits and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men” (vv. 55–56).

During these unsettled times in which you and I are blessed to live, there is a need for those people who have been prepared from long before the foundation of this world. And guess who that is? As you go to your knees and ask some of the questions we’re going to be talking about, you’ll see, you’ll hear, you’ll feel who you are. So, with that expression of love and complete confidence in you, in preparing for tonight, we’ve asked you to submit questions.

What is the at-home and in-person MTC experience like?

Elder Nash: Let’s hear what some in-field missionaries say:

Sister Larson: It brought more of the Spirit into our home. My mom is the young women’s president, and every morning we had a group of young women join us for a walk. I was receiving text messages from them saying, “Thank you, because I’ve seen the Spirit that you have felt, and I’ve felt that Spirit, and I want to serve a mission.” And coming to the MTC in person is so fun. We see these people, our districts, on a screen, but seeing them in person you’re actually able to feel their spirits. All of the missionaries that had just come into the MTC began singing ‘Bring the World His Truth.’ It felt right, you know? It felt like what I was doing was correct, that I wasn’t alone in this experience. I had Heavenly Father by my side.

Sister Missionary 1: For me the at-home MTC experience is really great. It was good seeing my family, and it gave me a new perspective and deeper love for them, as well as for those around me. And don’t be too afraid of it; it was hard to sit for a while, but it was good.

Sister Missionary 2: Well, the online MTC was definitely interesting. It was all on Zoom, and as you know, Zoom is a little bit limited. But once we got in person you could feel the Spirit way more, and it could get a little scary at first, but you could get used to everything.

Elder Missionary 1: Howdy y’all, I’m Elder Preiss, I’m from Dallas, Texas and I’m going to the Korea Seoul South Mission. I spent two weeks online in Zoom, and that was . . . it was really amazing, actually. I really felt the Spirit increase in my life, my sensitivity to it increased. Even my parents said that having a missionary in the home is such an amazing experience, they said that it makes them want to improve. The MTC experience at home is a little difficult for some, but you can push through it with your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Elder Missionary 2: I’m Elder Monett, I’m assigned to Los Angeles, Korean speaking. So, for those learning a language, the MTC can be a daunting experience. As you’ve heard in the past, when you show up it’s one hundred percent in the new foreign language and you have no idea what’s going on, but the way they’re doing it now, it’s two weeks of English online and then once you get to the MTC you get to transition a little bit better. For me the online MTC helped me transition to the missionary life so when I showed up on site it wasn’t as much of a huge change, so it was a good experience.

Elder Nash: From the time I went into the MTC (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth) to now, much has changed. So, we came into this room, we did not know anybody—well, I knew Elder Lee, he was from my stake and he was coming to my mission, so I had that advantage. So, we came in, and they introduced us all to some of the leaders in the MTC and then they said, “Okay, parents you go out that door, Elders and Sisters you go that way.” We said, “Okay, bye Mom, bye Dad.” And off we went. And then we met with the other missionaries and I was nervous. “I don’t know these people, and I’ll be serving with them?” Now, the bonds of friendship grow, it’s wonderful. But guess what happens now? You have the online experience at home. It’s a week, or it’s two weeks if you’re learning a language. And when you come to the MTC, the nerves are not all that big because you’re looking for friends that you have grown to know on screen time. It’s like a reunion and the dynamic is fabulous.

How do I know if I should serve a mission now?

Elder Makechnie: How can I know to serve a mission? I think it depends on who you want to become and who the Lord wants you to become. There are things that you’re going to have to give up, and there are things you’ll have to put on hold for a little bit. As you commit to serving with your heart and with your might, mind, and strength (see Doctrine and Covenants 4:2), the Lord will bless you and give you great opportunities.

Sister Hornberger: The idea of serving a mission was kind of overwhelming for me. But I definitely wanted to serve the Lord. I decided at this point that I should probably pray about it, because before that I hadn’t prayed about it because I didn’t really want the answer. I asked my dad for a priesthood blessing. He told me to remember that the work of the gathering of Israel was the most important work on the earth today. The Lord trusted me to be able to make a decision. I started reading my scriptures, and of course the first scripture that I opened up to was the Lord saying, take your journey two by two and go and preach the word of the gospel (see Doctrine and Covenants 60:8). That just struck me so hard, and I knew that I needed to serve a mission. I whipped my scriptures to another scripture and it said, “Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:7). If you pray and if you seek for an answer, the Lord will give you an answer.

Hannah Bingham: I have my mission call to Lisbon, Portugal, leaving March 21, 2022. The decision to serve a mission is big, it’s really exciting, and it can be a little scary too. The decision to serve is definitely something that you have to receive through personal revelation; it’s between you and God. Having a relationship with God, he’ll let you know if serving a mission is the right thing for you to do if you’re in tune with his Spirit. By receiving personal revelation, you can decide if a mission is right for you and if it’s something that God wants you to do.

Carter Boswell: Just this last Sunday I had my final interview, and my papers were submitted Sunday. So, my decision going on a mission was always just something that I had planned on. I had been taught from a young age that exact obedience yields unbelievable blessings. And I just decided that I wanted to follow that call that I’d received. But as I’ve been in my preparation stage for the mission, especially this last interview that I had on Sunday, my stake president challenged me to study the Book of Mormon for one hour every day. That was a pretty hefty change for me, I’ll be honest. But I was so glad to accept it because I knew that with faith I would be blessed for my efforts. So, I got to work, I had faith, and just through this week following through with that studying and following through with those challenges I have received divine confirmation that this is the right decision for me to make.

Elder Nash: Wonderful, thank you for sharing that. Now, whenever you’re searching for truth and understanding, it’s nice to go to your peers, and you listened to them, but it’s also nice to go to an expert. So, let’s listen to the world’s leading expert on the decision to serve a mission, President Russell M. Nelson:

My dear extraordinary youth, you were sent to earth at this precise time, the most crucial time in the history of the world, to help gather Israel. There is nothing happening on this earth right now that is more important than that. There is nothing of greater consequence, absolutely nothing. This gathering should mean everything to you. This is the mission for which you were sent to earth.[1]

Elder Nash: Well, need I say more? It’s an outstanding statement. I want you to know that I’ve had several occasions to be in President Nelson’s presence, close. And I want you to know, he is every inch of him a prophet of God. When the prophet speaks, I like to listen. I know that I’ll be better for it if I will both listen and hearken. So, that’s my little amen to the world’s leading expert on the question.

How has your relationship with Christ changed as you have served a mission?

Elder Wright: My relationship with the Savior has changed throughout the course of my mission. I definitely feel a lot closer to him now than I did before. I’ve had experiences where I’ve seen prayers answered in ways that are so unique to me. I was called to serve in Côte d’Ivoire, which I was pretty nervous about, but I resolved to trust the Lord and go and serve there. That’s when everything with COVID happened, and I was reassigned to California. After being there for a few months I received a message from my mission president that it was time to go to Africa. I knew that whenever I ended up there, that was when the Lord needed me to be there. Even though I can’t see the end results, I know that it’s all for a reason and that the Lord has a purpose in everything he sends our way.

Elder Nash: I’ll give my personal answer as well. I served my mission a few years ago now. The experience then was probably not that different from how it is today. But one big difference is that we did not use social media, that wasn’t even a phrase. Back in those days, a phone had a cord attached to it. That’s how it was. And so, we didn’t have that means of spreading the gospel, that really powerful instrument [that missionaries have today]. This little thing here can reach the world, and if it’s used for good it can accomplish a lot of good. But my mission was more just garden-variety mission work.

I served my mission in El Salvador in Central America. I remember when I opened my call, it was a paper envelope, it came in the mailbox. Nobody was home at my house. I pulled it out of the mailbox, I came in, I put it on the kitchen table and thought, “I really should wait until everybody’s here . . . forget it.” And I ripped the thing open, I know, isn’t that terrible of me? I pulled it out, I had to know where I was going! And the letter said, “You are hereby called to serve in El Salvador San Salvador Mission.” I went, “Oh, that is awesome! Where’s El Salvador?” I had no clue!

We had this globe, and I remember I got the globe out and I began to comb the earth for El Salvador. It took me a long time to find the smallest nation in the western hemisphere. It’s about the size of a large county in the United States. I found it and then I put a big paper arrow on it with my opened call and left it on the kitchen table. And then I went out to go run to get my excess energy off, I tripped over a log, fell down, and skinned my knee, but that’s another story.

And then I went and served my mission. I don’t know how to describe how my mission changed my relationship with the Savior. I’ll try to describe it this way. When you serve the Lord with real intent—meaning that you’re really trying to serve him and not just trying to log time, you’re not perfect at it, but you’re trying—however imperfect you may be, as you serve him you actually begin to labor by his side. He says in the scriptures, “and whoso receiveth you, there will I be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88) And it’s true. Oh, the stories I could tell you.

But how did my relationship with him change? It grew, it deepened, why? Because I was focused on him. As I looked at people, I was focused on him. And I began to have experiences with him because he loves those people. It’s a privilege to serve the Lord, and not always an easy one. And sometimes it’s the not easy times that really sharpen our focus on him. Because sometimes not all the people are friendly. So, we focus on him and he walks by our side, he goes before our face and we come to know him.

How can we overcome the feeling of not being good enough to serve a mission? How can we overcome the doubt that Satan puts into our minds?

Elder Nash: I’m going to share a little story and then I’ll share a scripture. Sister Nash and I have five children. Our oldest is a son, he served his mission in Nicaragua in Central America, right next to the country where I served. Our next is a daughter, she served a mission in Chile, Vina del Mar. Our third daughter served her mission in Uruguay, Montevideo. Our fourth daughter did not serve a full-time mission, but she was with us when we were living in Peru and she figured that was mission enough for her. It was. She’s fantastic. And our fifth child is a son, and he served his mission in Chile, Vina del Mar, the same mission as his older sister.

I’m going to talk about the third daughter for just a moment. I’m her dad, Shelley’s her mother, so you’re going to have to forgive me if I’m just a little biased. I think she’s wonderful and love her very much. I was on the phone with her mission president while I was serving as the area president, as a general authority, in Lima, Peru. There had been a death of a close personal friend of our daughter up in the states, and I called the mission president to let him know so she didn’t hear about it by email from someone else.

And I asked him if he wanted to tell her or if he wanted me to tell her and he says, “Oh please, please will you call your daughter, you have my permission to call your daughter and let her know so you can help her.” And he said, “I’m getting in the car right now, I’m going to go be by her side as soon as I can.” I said, “Thank you very much.” At the conclusion of this phone call with the mission president, he said, “What should I do about your daughter?”

I said, “What do you mean?” And he said some nice things about her. And I said, “Well, I do have some advice for you about my daughter. Our daughter.” He said, “What’s that?” Now listen carefully to what I told him. I said, “Please tell her she’s good enough.”

She’s good enough. If you feel incomplete and wonder if you’re whole enough to serve the Lord as a missionary, I’m going to give you a really simple straight answer. You ready? You’re good enough. He takes someone like me, with all the imperfections and shortcomings that I have, and he calls me to serve him, knowing that I’m good enough to start. He knows I need to grow up a lot, and I’m still in that growth pattern, but you’re good enough. You have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you have a strong feel and sense that the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, it is true.

Do you have a feeling that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God? How else could this miracle have happened? You’re good enough. Please don’t compare yourself with others. It’s not useful at all. Be you, and turn to the Lord being you, and he can take who you are and grow you. Just let him.

This is in 2 Nephi 28:30. It’s interesting, I felt impressed to share this scripture a while ago tonight. “For behold, thus saith the Lord God: I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.” So, how does he grow us? He gives us a little bit. Here a little, there a little, precept by precept. Then listen to what Nephi says, quoting the Lord: “And blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more . . .” That makes me feel better. “And from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.”

So, what I’m trying to express is, you’re good enough to start. Just don’t think you’re a finished product yet, because you’re not. I’m not. Listen to the expert who spoke to us earlier, to the Prophet. If the Lord is calling you to serve as a full-time missionary, hearken and he’ll give you more.

Continue to hearken and act upon the precepts and invitations he extends to you and you will grow. I spoke at the last general conference, and I concluded my talk with a personal favorite scripture that states that the Lord is the author and the finisher of our faith (see Moroni 6:4). He’s the author, he gives us reason to act, to obey, to lift, to accept his invitation to serve and to move through our lives serving him. He gives us reason because as we follow him, life becomes brighter and better. We continue to repent and change and grow and we realize repent is a happy verb. It just means I can change; I can become better by his power as I exert myself to follow him.

I love it! This is called the doctrine of Christ; faith in Christ unto repentance. As we have that and as we grow and develop, he then finishes, did you know that? Give yourself to him and then allow him to finish you. And it’ll be a lifetime of discipleship, but he’ll finish it. And when he’s finished, it’s perfection. It’s good. It may not happen all in this life but it’s really good, and you can start now.

What do you do if you feel like giving up in the field? How do you remain strong through those tough moments?

Elder Nash: I’m going to go back into Nephi. This is in 2 Nephi 4. Listen carefully to these words. I feel like this is a beautiful answer to a very good question. This is what I’d almost call a turn to the camera moment. If this was a film, Nephi would turn and talk to the camera. He’s really talking to us here. And he says, “Upon these,” meaning the plates, “I write the things of my soul, and many of the scriptures which are engraven upon the plates of brass. For my soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children. Behold, my soul delighteth in the things of the Lord; and my heart pondereth continually upon the things which I have seen and heard” (vv. 15–16).

So, Nephi’s giving us a little background. Did you know that receiving strength from the Lord does require work on our part? We have to make some effort, and Nephi’s talking about the effort he makes. He likes to read this, ponder it. Write down his thoughts about it for the blessing and benefit of those who would read his writing.

And then he says, “Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am!” Nephi? Wretched? That’s how he felt. He knew more about himself than we know about him, right? “O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities. I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me” (vv. 17–18).

Can you identify with Nephi? I can. “And when I desire to rejoice,” when I want to be happy on my mission or now, “my heart groaneth because of my sins . . .”—my shortcomings, my weaknesses, my imperfections. Now listen to what he says! I love this. He says, “Nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted” (v. 19).

And then he says this, based on experiences he’s had with God:

My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions in the wilderness; and he hath preserved me upon the waters of the great deep.

He hath filled me with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.

He hath confounded mine enemies, unto the causing of them to quake before me.

Behold, he hath heard my cry by day, and he hath given me knowledge by visions in the night-time.

And by day have I waxed bold in mighty prayer before him; yea, my voice have I sent up on high; and angels came down and ministered unto me. (vv. 20–24)

Nephi describes these experiences he had with God. And many of these experiences were prompted by difficulty he was experiencing. So often we look at opposition and what we see is the opposition. You could start with the same letter and just call it opportunity. This is an opportunity, as tough as it is, to turn to the Lord, who is the author and finisher of our faith, and he will come. He will minister. He will strengthen. And then we’ll begin to have experience that when time is tough, we can look back and say, “he has helped me there, and there, and there, and there. Though I don’t see the end yet, I know again, because he’s unchanging, he’ll be there.”

I’ll conclude with what he says here. I love these words from Nephi:

O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.

Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. (vv. 34–35)

There’s a relationship there. That’s what will sustain you. That relationship, above any other relationship. Your companion will help you; leaders will help you, young mission leaders, sister training leaders, district leaders, zone leaders, your mission president and his wife. You’ve got all this help. But day to day you have the Lord Jesus Christ whom you serve. And Nephi said it well.

In regards to mental health challenges, such as anxiety, ADHD, depression, or bipolar disorder, how can one best prepare to serve the Lord?

Elder Nash: Oh, I’m glad you asked that question. I wish I had all the answers. Let me use this scripture. And I hope it’s helpful.

“Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men. Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all—”I’m going to underscore a word here—“with all your heart, might, mind and strength.” He doesn’t say, “with all the might, mind and strength that others have.” Isn’t that interesting. “With all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day. Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work” (Doctrine and Covenants 4:2–3). Now those scriptures really do answer the question to some extent.

I’m going to expound upon it just a little bit. I’m going to go to section 46 of the Doctrine and Covenants. The Lord says, “seek ye earnestly the best gifts, always remembering for what they are given; For verily I say unto you, they are given for the benefit of those who love me and keep all my commandments, and him that seeketh so to do; that all may be benefited that seek or ask of me, . . . And again, verily I say unto you, I would that ye should always remember, and always retain in your minds what those gifts are, that are given unto the church” (vv. 8–10).

So, here’s my answer. There are a lot of ways to serve a mission. Opt in to serve. We will work with you as you bring your heart, your might, your strength, and your desires to serve God. Some will serve Church service missions. Do you remember this quote from Elder Uchtdorf a conference or two ago? “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.”[2]

I was just in Montana last weekend at a stake conference and visiting with the mission president. And the woman that ran the food bank, this woman with some stature in the giving community, joined the Church because missionaries were serving there and helping do good works. “Preach the gospel, and if necessary use words.” Your call is to prepare to gather Israel, to be a missionary. That can be a full-time teaching missionary, or a church service missionary. Is the Lord going to say, “Oh, you’re this type or you’re this type?” No. He is going to say, “You served me with all of your heart, all of your might, all of your strength.” And he will accept the offering—just offer it.

We love you for who you are today. Remember he’s the author and the finisher. Give your heart, your strength, and he’ll take it the rest of the way.

What are the things you can do to spiritually prepare in the months before your mission?

Elder Nash: I’m going to read a quote. President Nelson said this in the last general conference. “Contrary to the doubts of some, there really is such a thing as right and wrong. There really is absolute truth—eternal truth. One of the plagues—” that’s a strong word to use, plague. Do you know what a plague does? It destroys life. “One of the plagues of our day is that too few people know where to turn for truth.”[3]

I want to speak to you about two pillars of eternal truth. They are rock solid, bedrock solid. First, God the Father is our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ is the living son of the Living God.

Do you know what that one sentence means? It means that you and I are children of a loving Father in Heaven, that life has purpose, that this world was created for his children so that we could grow and develop and become like him, inheriting all that he has. That’s a generous Father who knows we have a lot of growing up and development to do to receive all that he has.

This pillar means that he sent his son knowing we would be imperfect and that we would make mistakes, that we would sin. He sent his son to atone for us and to resurrect, so that we would have this perfect opportunity to grow by exercising agency. We learn to follow and exercise faith in the Savior, the author of our faith, and repent so that he can finish us. We’re baptized so that we can participate in these ordinances and enter into covenants.

You know what covenants do, right? If I enter into a covenant and keep it, God lifts me, and I’m bound to him. So, we’re baptized, and we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost so that he can guide, direct, and sanctify us. And then we endure to the end by doing what? By exercising faith in Christ unto repentance, receiving all the ordinances, entering into covenants so that he can lift us, and walking with the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

And on we live in this wonderful ascending cycle like a helix as we draw closer and closer to him. That’s what this pillar means. Christ, by his sacrifice, made the Father’s plan operative. Stunning truth. Does the world know this? Most of the world does not. Most of the world is taught all sorts of things about life and our purpose in life, who we are and who we aren’t. And this is something that people flock to when they know this is true and the Spirit touches their heart. So, brothers and sisters, my dear friends, know this truth. Learn all you can about this great truth.

Here’s the second truth, are you ready? God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith. Now, why is that one so important? Well, because that means that God the Father and his son appeared to Joseph to restore, to put back upon the earth again, God’s priesthood authority and power. He did this by angelic ministration and heavenly visitors, more than we probably can count. These heavenly visitors taught Joseph, lifting and instructing him, and he received light, knowledge, and priesthood keys so the work of God could go forward. So the people could enter into covenants with God so that they could have his lifting influence and so they could help each other. This second great truth is vital.

And you know what else this pillar means? It means that in an unbroken chain of priesthood keys and authority, we have a living prophet today. One cannot fully measure the impact and power of that great truth. When you go on a mission, whether church service or teaching mission, you are called by a prophet of God.

Do you know how many people say, “There’s something about those missionaries! What is it?” I’ll tell you what it is. They’ve been called by God. Christ goes before their face. Angels are roundabout them and the Holy Ghost is infusing them with strength and comfort and help.

There’s this little scripture that I love in the book of Jeremiah, just this short little verse. I want you to know that Jeremiah that day had had a very bad day. Okay? He’d been put in stocks, he’d really been rejected by the people. And do you know what Jeremiah did? This is a great prophet! He went home, and I’m paraphrasing, and I hope this is fair to Jeremiah, but he basically said, “I’m done! They don’t like me, they don’t want to hear what the Lord wants me to say, so why say it? I’m done.” And then he recorded as if he was writing in his journal, I love this line, he says, “But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay” (20:9).

So how do we get that fire burning in the bones? And believe me, the fire waxes and wanes; it’s not always burning as bright as other days. We’re all human beings. But let me give you some tips specifically about preparing.

First: Pray always. Remember that first great pillar of truth? You are his sons and his daughters. You are beloved. Speak with him. If you can’t find a private place at BYU, try to. Go into the bathroom, shut the door and lock it, and spend just a few minutes on your own—wherever you can find a private place, a private moment with him to start and end your day.

Remember, what did Nephi do when he was down? He could hearken back to experiences he’d had with God. And if you don’t feel like you’re getting an answer, don’t hyperventilate. Relax. Let your emotions settle. Just know he’s a loving God. Knowing that, sets the perfect stage for peace and quiet and strength to settle like the dews settle on the grass on a beautiful spring day.

Second: Treasure up the word of God. I love the word treasure. I love the scriptures. I can honestly say that the Book of Mormon has had more of an impact on my life than just about any other instrumentality. It’s like manna to my soul. I spend a lot of time with it every day. I do not know how many times I’ve read it, I’ve not kept track. But I’ve read it continuously for decades. It brings insight, it brings peace, it brings joy, it brings the Holy Ghost into my life. It brings power. I love the Book of Mormon, it’s true. And all the other scriptures that we’ve received from the Lord are true, so treasure them up. To treasure means to value. The Book of Mormon is sweet, its taste is delicious, it matters. Find some time every day to read it—even when you’re busy, when you’ve got finals and midterms. Hey, I’ve done all that. Find some time daily.

Third: Keep the covenants and commandments you’ve made with God. Keep them. Don’t negotiate with him. Don’t act like you can pick and choose. Recognize that he’s given us the commandments and given us covenants to grow and become like him. So, start the journey, and when you fall short, repent.

Do you want to ask me how much I’ve repented in my life? Does the word infinity mean anything to you? It’s just constant in my life, it really is. He likes that, he likes people making an effort. That’s what matters. Not that you’re perfect here today. Just keep the covenants, keep the commandments, do your very best. And never, never stop trying.

Let me read this promise. The Lord says, “Keep all the commandments and covenants by which ye are bound—”bound to whom? Bound to him—“and I will cause the heavens to shake for your good” (Doctrine and Covenants 35:24). That’s a pretty good promise.

Fourth: Live the doctrine of Christ. I’ve described it to you, and I don’t need to spend a lot of time on it now. I invite you to read this scripture reference, it’s not that many verses: 3 Nephi, chapter 27, verses 13 through 22. Read it and then reread it, and keep pondering these verses, and you’ll see the power of living the doctrine of Christ. It makes anyone who is a perfectionist realize that repentance is not the “backup plan,” it is the plan.[4] So, you can take a big breath and not get too intense. Just live the doctrine of Christ. That’ll help you taste his love so others can taste it through you.

Last: Bring others to him. Do you know how the Apostles were called in the days of the Savior? It began with someone saying, “Come and see.” And you’re bringing someone with you to come see the Savior. If you do that, you’re partnering with the Lord and you begin to have experiences with the Lord. So start now. Take something you like from ChurchofJesusChrist.org, or find some uplifting thing that you think would have a tendency to draw people to Christ, and share it on your social media. And if someone comments back, comment back to them. That prepares you to share the gospel.

Brothers and sisters, I’m going to close by bearing you my witness. Do you know what that means, to bear witness? It means simply to declare truth that we know. So, let me declare truth that I know. I know with all of my knowing that Joseph Smith was and is a prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is, as Parley P. Pratt once said, “the book of books.”[5] It’s true. When the Lord says to “thrust in our sickle with all our might to reap the harvest” (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:3), guess what the sickle is? It’s the Book of Mormon. This book has unique power to draw people unto Christ. And I bear witness it is true.

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord’s church. It is the true and living Church of Christ upon the earth. And when I speak with others [not of our faith] who have truths, I don’t say, “Throw it all away,” I say, “It’s like a keyboard! A piano keyboard. You have some wonderful keys and they make nice music, let’s just play the whole keyboard.” The Church of Jesus Christ, with the fulness of the gospel, is the whole keyboard. And it is beautiful.

I bear witness this is his church and his gospel. I know that we have a living prophet today. You’ve heard me say that three times. I think the Spirit wanted me to say that at least that many times. Russell M. Nelson is a prophet and that I know. I also want you to know that I know with all of my knowing that we have a Father in Heaven. You really are my brothers and sisters, and we are children of a common Father. He loves us, and he has given us this incredible opportunity, this great and glorious plan of salvation.

I close by bearing my witness that I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is the living son of the living God. I cannot fully articulate the depth of my feeling for him. I love him, I trust him, and I seek to follow him in my imperfect way. He is patient with me, and he is kind.

I want you to know that the Lord is brilliant, yet his brilliance is not the “catch me if you can” type; it is simply kind, meek, and patient. I bear witness of his perfect capacity to heal, to bless, to make whole, and to bring hope and light into our lives and into the lives of those we serve and teach.

I invite each of you to “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written” and testified (Ether 12:41), so that the grace—the enabling power—of God the Father and his son Jesus Christ may abide in you forever. I extend that invitation and bear this witness with love and gratitude for who you are. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] Russell M. Nelson and Wendy W. Nelson, “Hope of Israel” (worldwide youth devotional, June 3, 2018), supplement to the New Era and Ensign, churchofjesuschrist.org/study/broadcasts/worldwide-devotional-for-young-adults/2018/06/hope-of-israel.

[2] Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Waiting on the Road to Damascus,” Ensign or Liahona,May 2011, 77; quote attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi, quoted from William Fay and Linda Evans Shepherd, Share Jesus without Fear (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1999), 22.

[3] Russell M. Nelson, “Pure Truth, Pure Doctrine, and Pure Revelation,” Liahona, November 2021, 6.

[4] Neil L. Andersen, “Teaching Repentance: The Powerful Combination of the Scriptures and Preach My Gospel” (address given at the mission leadership seminar, June 25, 2018).

[5] Autobiography of Parley P. Pratt, ed. Parley P. Pratt Jr. (New York: Russell Brothers, 1874), 37–38.