“Patterns of Discipleship”

Elder Joseph W. Sitati

October 2022 General Conference Address

“Day and night is one example of patterns that God has given to everyone who has ever lived on the earth, of things as they really are. It is an absolute truth of our human existence that we cannot negotiate around according to our own desires and get away with it. …Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Spirit of the Lord affirms, “And again, I will give unto you a pattern in all things, that ye may not be deceived; for Satan is abroad in the land, and he goeth forth deceiving the nations.” We do not need to be deceived. …Yes, God our Heavenly Father lives, and He manifests Himself to us all the time in multiple ways. But to acknowledge, believe, and continue in God, our hearts need to be receptive to the Spirit of truth. Alma taught that faith is preceded by humility. Mormon added that it is impossible for anyone who is not “meek and lowly in heart” to have faith and hope and to receive the Spirit of God. King Benjamin declared that anyone who prioritizes the glory of the world is “an enemy to God.”

…Humility inclines the heart of the disciple toward repentance and obedience. The Spirit of God is then able to bring truth to that heart, and it will find entry. It is a lack of humility that contributes most to the fulfillment of the Apostle Paul’s prophecy in these last days: “For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good.” The invitation of the Savior to learn of Him is an invitation to turn away from the enticings of worldliness and to become as He is—meek and lowly of heart, humble. We are then able to take up His yoke and discover that it is easy—that discipleship is not a burden but a joy, as President Russell M. Nelson has so eloquently and repeatedly taught us.

Learning about Christ and His ways leads us to know and to love Him. He showed by example that with an attitude of humility it is indeed possible to know and to love God the Father with all our being and to love others as we love ourselves, holding back nothing. His ministry on earth, during which He put both His will and His body on the altar, was a pattern for the application of these principles on which His gospel is founded. Both principles are outward looking and are about how we relate to others, not about seeking personal gratification or glory. The miraculous irony of it is that when we focus our best efforts on loving God and others, we are enabled to discover our own true divine worth as sons and daughters of God, with the complete peace and joy that this experience brings.

We become one with God and with one another through love and service. Then we can receive the witness of the Holy Ghost of that pure love, the fruit which Lehi speaks about as “most sweet, above all that [he] ever before tasted.” The crown that Christ received by giving and doing all in His ability to set the pattern of loving the Father and loving us was to receive all power, even all that the Father has, which is exaltation. Our opportunity to nurture in our souls a lasting love of God and of our neighbor starts at home… As we each individually grow in our knowledge and love of the Father and the Son, we grow in appreciation and love for one another. Our ability to love and serve others outside the home is greatly enhanced.”