Editor’s note: Education Week coverage can be found in this section of the website.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles gave five messages “that all of God’s children need to hear” during his Education Week devotional address Tuesday morning in the Marriott Center.
Elder Uchtdorf said he has learned while traveling the world that the key to creating an edifying, spiritual learning experience for a wide variety of people is to have the teacher teach with the Spirit and the learner learn by the Spirit. When this happens, all involved are edified.
When teaching with the Spirit, a member of the Godhead is directly speaking to those involved and can personalize the messages being shared. “He will provide a way to share and receive sacred revelatory messages from our loving Heavenly Father,” Elder Uchtdorf said.
As he has traveled all around the world, Elder Uchtdorf said the message of “We are all God’s children,” has become very distinct to him.
“Though our circumstances may be different, our hearts are not. For this reason, there are certain messages that all of God’s children need to hear,” he said.
Move toward the light
When Elder Uchtdorf was an airline captain, he said he frequently relied on the sun while traveling west or east as the sun never changed course. His access to the warmth and light from the sun depended on his location, direction and speed.
“Similarly, God is in His heavens. He never changes. He never retreats. He does not alter His course. But we do.”
Elder Uchtdorf said God’s children all need His light, but that dark times will come in life and people will sometimes wrongly alter their course. “When those times come, we can be assured that God, like the sun, is always there. When we incline our hearts to Him, He embraces us and fills our souls with light, warmth, knowledge and guidance. He is always there.”
You are better than you think you are
Even the most successful people in life, such as Fred Astaire, Walt Disney and Vincent Van Gogh for example, face insecurities and need to be reminded of their worth, Elder Uchtdorf said. The prophets of old such as Gideon, Moses, Enoch and more also had doubts about their worth. He explained everyone has feelings of inadequacy at times and faces self doubt.
Elder Uchtdorf said the Lord will often accomplish the most with those who feel least accomplished. “He has always used the small and weak things of the world to bring about his glorious purposes.”
For example, God mentored the prophet Joseph Smith as a young, unschooled farm boy who eventually began a marvelous work and wonder, Elder Uchtdorf said.
If someone sees themselves as less than they are, Elder Uchtdorf said “welcome to the club! You may be just the person God is looking for.”
He said the Lord frequently chooses the humble and weak, because they are humble and weak, and transforms them to be successful. “These wonderful, ordinary people accomplish great things not because of who they are, but because of who God is!”
God does not need people who are flawless, Elder Uchtdorf said. Instead, God seeks those who offer their hearts and willing minds.
Learn to love God and your neighbor
The two great commandments, loving God and loving your neighbor, are the center of the gospel, Elder Uchtdorf said. He encouraged the audience to put their focus on loving God and loving their neighbor in everything they do.
“The canvas of the gospel is so broad and rich that we could spend a lifetime studying it and scarcely scratch the surface,” he said. The principles of the gospel are important, but Elder Uchtdorf told the audience not to forget what is most important.
Elder Uchtdorf explained how the Pharisees were so worried about exact obedience that they lost sight of the most important thing. “They saw the multitude of rules as ends in themselves instead of the means to an end.”
Many in today’s world fall into the same trap where they are so focused on things that lead to the center of the gospel, they forget about the actual center of the gospel. When everyone meets the Savior at judgement day, Elder Uchtdorf said they will be held accountable for how they lived the two great commandments.
All of the gospel points to the two great commandments. “This is the bullseye of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the foundation of who we are as His followers”
Conflict is inevitable. Contention is a choice
“Sometimes we think how pleasant life would be, if only we didn’t have so much opposition. Our Lord Jesus Christ — our model of perfection — did not live a life free of conflict,” Elder Uchtdorf said.
Jesus faced opposition throughout his whole ministry, and as followers of Christ, conflict is inevitable as a condition of mortality and part of the test of life. “Contention, however, is a choice. It’s one way that people choose to respond to conflict.”
Elder Uchtdorf said much can be learned from how Christ responded to others contending with Him. Christ stood in His place, trusted in His Father, and stayed calm in His testimony and firm in the truth.
“We cannot adjust the volume on others’ bitterness, wrath or rage. We can, however, choose our response. We can choose a better way. The Lord’s way,” Elder Uchtdorf said.
He encouraged the audience to “emulate the gentle Christ.” People can do that through learning to love God and reaching out to bless others.
“Yes, there will still be conflict. But our all-powerful Father in Heaven has promised that He will fight our battles for us.”
Our Heavenly Father is a God of new beginnings
Making mistakes and causing harm to others and even the Earth is not a surprise to God, Elder Uchtdorf said. Because God knew mankind would make mistakes, He sent Jesus Christ to atone for everyone. As people repent and change their ways, they can receive forgiveness from God. But they also need to forgive others to receive that gift.
“Because of Jesus Christ, our mistakes, our sins — even our everyday sorrows, pain, disappointments, frustrations, and shortcomings — can be healed. Thanks to our Savior, such things need not prevent us from fulfilling our divine destiny,” he said.
Without the Atonement, many would be discouraged from trying to move forward, Elder Uchtdorf said. But he assured that Christ wants everyone to come unto Him and find rest. Through true repentance, “The God of the Universe will infuse you with the strength and motivation to do better.”
“He offers forgiveness and strength to improve. Because of Jesus Christ, we can leave our burdens behind, resolving each day to better follow Him, the Perfect One,” he said.
Every day and every hour can be a fresh start and opportunity to renew oneself and grow in the Holy Spirit to become better at walking as true and faithful disciples of the Savior, Elder Uchtdorf said. Christ’s gospel is the good news that all can begin again and become new creatures in Christ.
“There will be mistakes and stumbles in the future. But just as each sunrise signals the beginning of a new day, each time we repent we make a fresh start on our path of discipleship,” Elder Uchtdorf said.
Elder Uchtdorf concluded and said that just like everyone else, he is a poor pilgrim striving imperfectly to walk the path of discipleship. He hopes to fulfill the great desire of Heavenly Father to return and live with Him.