Barbara Morgan Gardner, BYU associate professor of Church History and Doctrine, shared principles for leading with God’s endowed power during the university’s devotional Tuesday, July 11.
She began by sharing stories from her life and the life of her mother. Her mother chose to be married and raise 13 children, while Gardner served a mission at 21, received her education, began a career and was married later in life.
“Why do I tell you such personal stories? I want to be both authentic and intentional with you,” Gardner said. “I want you to see how individuals can uniquely walk in the covenant path.”
Gardner said one example of faith is Joan of Arc. She said she was intrigued and humbled by Joan’s story and decision to follow God.
“Joan of Arc’s life was vastly different than my mother’s and mine,” Gardner said, “yet each of our lives have similar patterns based on true principles.”
Gardner said Joan’s decision to follow the Lord endowed her with the power to lead, and invited all to learn who to embrace God’s endowed power in their own lives.
She then shared five principles for such power: (1) all are children of God, born to lead; (2) learning to hear God is necessary; (3) leading requires courage, effort and power from Christ; (4) God’s power is gained through keeping covenants and (5) endowed with His power, all lead as joint heirs with Christ.
A child of God, born to lead
Gardner shared President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints taught that the three most important identifiers for an individual are “child of God, child of the covenant and disciple of Jesus Christ.”
She said the most important cause on earth today is the gathering of Israel and all are capable of leading and participating in it.
“Like the young prophet Joseph Smith, whom God called by name, you too are known and you have a unique leadership role in the gathering of Israel and in the bringing forth of the Savior’s second coming,” Gardner said.
Learning to “Hear Him” is necessary to fulfill one’s unique errand
Learning to hear God is an important part of becoming endowed with the Lord’s power, Gardner said. To do so, she invited individuals to follow the example of Joseph Smith.
She shared President Nelson’s invitation to “pray in the name of Jesus Christ about your concerns, your fears, your weaknesses — yes, the very longings of your heart … and then listen.”
Gardner said in her religion class, she invited students to participate in an experiential learning project meant to help them study and apply prophetic promises from God.
She asked them to study each of President Nelson’s addresses since becoming the prophet and look for invitations and promised blessings, choose one, and then apply it to their own lives.
“I can report that every student who followed through with the prophetic invitations received the associated promised blessing,” Gardner said. “I promise that as we follow His divine pattern we will grow into the principle of revelation, learn to hear Him and lead as He would have us lead.”
Gardner said Christ’s power is critical to leading God’s children. “Christ’s power is available to us,” she said. “Accessing His power takes effort.”
God’s power is gained through keeping covenants
Gardner said access to God’s power, priesthood power, is done by virtue of living covenants. She shared President Nelson’s invitation to women of the Church to “study prayerfully all the truths you can find about priesthood power.”
“‘God grants authority and power to His sons and daughters on earth to help carry out this work,'” Gardner said, quoting the 2023 Church Handbook. “Who’s power? God’s Power. Power to do what? All the power necessary to lead out in saving souls,” she said.
Gardner also cited the covenants members of the Church make during the endowment session in the temple.
“Keeping each of these laws is critical to becoming leaders endowed with His power,” she said.
Gardner said the laws of the gospel are evidence of God’s love.
Endowed with God’s power, all can lead as joint heirs with and be perfected in Christ
Gardner said the purpose of Christ’s priesthood power is to save souls.
She shared the Hebrew word “hesed” and said scholars have best described it as meaning “lovingkindness.”
The purpose of making covenants with God is to become closer to Christ and be perfected.
“There is a difference in the relationship with God between those who make and keep sacred covenants with Him,” she said. “Those who make and keep sacred covenants with Him experience ‘hesed,’ a covenantal love.”
In conclusion, Gardner invited everyone to embrace the principles to be endowed with God’s power and to make covenants with Him.