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Discipleship: Your Life Can Be “Another Testament of Jesus Christ"

My dear friends, what an incredible sight you are. Congratulations on reaching this significant achievement in your life. I’m so grateful to join you on this special day in recognition, celebration, and reflection. Today stands as a testament to your principled priorities, dedication, and effort. And while this particular season of your education may be reaching its vibrant sunset, I pray that you’ll carry forward what made your time at BYU-Idaho truly distinctive. Even more than the quality of your excellent education, careful efforts have been made to ready you for enduring discipleship in our Lord Jesus Christ. The academic and spiritual knowledge you’ve acquired during your time at this university is designed to inspire the next hopeful dawn of leadership in your homes, the Church, your places of employment, and the communities in which you’ll live. The hope of this institution, as Elder David A. Bednar has characterized it, was to have been to you a “disciple preparation center.” [1]

I hope you recognize how much your completion is a sign of your personal growth. This day stands as a testament to your ability to persist through challenges and obstacles over an extended period of time. It testifies of your ability to meet rigorous academic standards and requirements. It’s evidence of your time spent adapting and navigating, building self-discipline, and learning to be resilient. It’s confirmation of your capacity to set goals and to put in the effort to realize them.

I hope you were able to see the hand of the Lord helping you during the years of dedicated hard work you’ve spent on your walk toward this day. And I hope that you’ll take all that you’ve learned and all that you’ve experienced and find ways to consecrate it to the Lord and to His service, so that this triumphant season of discipleship preparation can be another testament of the Savior as your Master Teacher.

I hope that in your time here you’ve developed serviceable routines and patterns that will continue to guide your life of discipleship in our Savior—daily, weekly, and monthly behaviors that cultivate physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being in your lives and draw you closer in your relationship to our Father in Heaven and His Son, Jesus Christ. The Lord promises that He “will give unto you a pattern in all things,” [2] and His patterns are built for your happiness in the present, as well as in your eternal future. Your happiness matters to our Father. Prophets have called the plan of salvation “the great plan of happiness.” [3] The Savior taught His Apostles that the pathway of discipleship leads to happiness, saying: “I have given unto you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. . . . If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.” [4] God’s chosen prophet on the earth today, President Russell M. Nelson, has further taught that this path is the covenant path and that it’s a “path of love.” [5]

Regular righteous habits and routines can keep our feet steadfastly moving along the covenant path and can testify of your commitment to Jesus Christ and His gospel. The Chinese philosopher Confucius has been purported to have said that “men’s natures are alike, but their habits separate them.” As children of a loving God, each one of us has been sent to earth with the Light of Christ within us. [6] Any effort that we make to consistently nurture His light pulls us toward Him and increases our spiritual sensitivity.

I’ve recently considered some of my own observable routines and what they are teaching and testifying about my lifelong desire to be a disciple of Jesus Christ. If you’re alive and you live in my home, you have a name; that includes my husband, my children, my dog, and my plants. Now, I don’t talk to my plants all the time, but I do introduce them. That means, at times, visitors will come to my home and ask me what my plants are, inquiring about the species. And I generally have no insight to share regarding that information. But I do know who they are. For instance, Esther is my favorite. She’s a prayer plant, and when I look at her, I’m reminded to talk to God daily and always hold a prayer in my heart. And then there’s Eleanor, who takes the second-place prize in my top ten houseplants. She’s some type of a fern, and she lives in a pot in my living room that’s fancier than my entire house all together. But when I look on her fullness it reminds me to be grateful for the abundance of blessings I can see in my life.

Every Friday I water Esther, Eleanor, and all the plant friends within my home. I routinely turn and position them so that they receive the optimal amount of sunlight according to their needs. And every few weeks I provide them with additional nutrients designed to help them thrive, promote their root development, improve their resiliency, and encourage their overall growth and development. The primary reason I do these things so consistently is because I’ve had experience with more than a few dearly departed plants that did not receive such regular attention from me in the past. My deficiency as their caretaker exacerbated their natural insufficiency to prosper on their own because of the shortage of nutrients and other essential elements necessary for their survival that need to be administered to them regularly. So it is with each one of us. Our spiritual survival is dependent upon a regular application of nourishment received from divine sources:

  • Daily prayer in the name of Jesus Christ to draw us closer to Him and Heavenly Father and to help us lean into Their constancy and love.
  • Regular scripture study to hear the voice of the Savior speak truth and provide answers to our questions through His doctrine.
  • Consistent study of the words of prophets and apostles to help us understand the will of the Lord for us in our day and to provide direction for our future.
  • And frequent worship in the house of the Lord to “bring the miracles [the Savior] knows you need as you make sacrifices to serve and worship in His temples.” [7]

President Nelson teaches us that “it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” [8] Alongside keeping the sacred promises we’ve made to God through covenant, small daily efforts toward developing habits of faith will invite the Holy Ghost, a member of the Godhead, to be your constant companion in your life. Adherence to these practices will set you apart from the world and will give you experiences through which the power of God will be demonstrated in your life. The daily signals that you give to God that His path and His plan are paramount in your life will help to produce a confirming witness for yourself that our God is “a God of miracles.” [9] My dear friends, this is education that we all desperately need in our lives, especially given the reality of an adversary and the circumstances of trials that will present themselves in your life. A beloved daughter of one of my dear friends recently taught me that “through [Jesus Christ’s] atoning sacrifice, the Savior paid the tuition for our education here in mortality, and that education includes the opportunity to ‘retest’ again and again, as many times as it takes.”

The Savior will respond to the daily habits you turn to faithfully again and again, teaching you through small and substantial miracles.

Parents, leaders, and loved ones, including your educators here at BYU-Idaho, have been your shepherds, spending faith-filled time inviting you to love learning and centering you and your successes in their best efforts. The very heart and fabric of this campus has been designed to lovingly persuade you, individually, to center Jesus Christ in your life and build upon the rock of your Redeemer. [10] I testify that our Savior’s sure foundation will support the life you build upon it. Your testimonies will stand against any forceful and gusty winds that may blow in your lives, and you will have the strength to endure any difficulties that may arise. Sometimes what’s next in your life is unexpected, and you may feel unprepared or unqualified for the conditions therein. I’ve long reflected on a quote often attributed to C. S. Lewis, when he asserted that “we are what we believe we are.” I’ve also come to learn that who our Savior knows us to be and what we have the potential to become is truer than our own vision of ourselves.

I vividly remember an experience I had in my sunrise season of young motherhood. One afternoon, my infant woke up from her nap incredibly hungry and in a state that audibly notified me of that fact. As her cries grew louder, I rushed to prepare her normal bottle of formula and feed her so she could be satiated. In that ravenous way that babies can at times drink when they’re both hungry and upset, she voraciously consumed the several ounces that I had prepared. And as soon as the last drop was dispensed, she began to clearly and loudly express her urgency for more. So I went to prepare another bottle to repeat her feeding. But to my absolute bewilderment, I soon realized that I had no more formula in my house. Likely due to the lack of sleep that often comes with this stage of parenthood and a small dose of inexperience incorporated into the mix, I now found myself standing in my kitchen completely surrounded by the stunning absence of baby milk—and with an agitated infant in the background bellowing out an aria of such epic proportions that it would rival any soprano’s vocal performance. I’ve wondered if in that moment I might have shared in a possible union of feeling with Nephi when he broke his bow and felt the weight of his family’s hunger on his shoulders. Could he have had a moment of disbelief? A moment of personal recrimination? A moment of self-doubt like I was feeling?

I quickly bundled up my wailing infant so that I could speedily head to the local grocers to get her some milk. My daughter cried as I dressed her, cried as I strapped her into her car seat, and cried as I began the less than 10-minute drive to the store. No less than 5 minutes along the route, in my rearview mirror came the familiar flashing of blue and red lights of a police car. I knew immediately that in my fatigued and agitated state, my foot was likely pressed very heavily and firmly on the accelerator pedal. As the officer approached my driver’s side window, I defeatedly rolled it down and watched his face transform from a stern expression to complete shock as he was overwhelmed by the unrelentingly high-pitched peal coming from my daughter in the back seat. His countenance immediately softened to what I can only describe as a kind paternal gaze. I nervously and apologetically sputtered out disjointed explanations about the lack of formula at home and the urgency to get milk from the store. But rather than issuing admonishments and tickets, he simply said, “I understand. You’re going to be fine. Go safely.” He then gently patted my car’s window seal and returned to his patrol car. As I watched him pull away and drive down the road, I added to my daughter’s tears with a few of my own. But not from frustration or self-pity. I cried because I felt seen. That anonymous officer, with his simple message, became a much-needed reminder from an all-knowing Heavenly Father and a loving Savior that They understood how tired and overwhelmed I was. They understood that in those early days I felt unprepared and unqualified for motherhood, that what I believed about myself and my circumstances was that I was less deserving of paternal love and more accustomed to harmful self-criticism and inadequacy. They knew I needed gentleness and validation that this life I was building was secure on our Savior’s bedrock, that God’s power would remain with me and be a source of strength in all my experiences as I kept my priesthood covenants and steadfastly looked to Him. [11]

I share with you what I learned from this simple experience—that even your challenges can become another testament of your discipleship in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

The Book of Mormon boldly proclaims on its front cover that every page from the first to the last represents “Another Testament of Jesus Christ,” that every triumph, righteous tradition, and trial can “work together for good” if we love God and desire to become more Christlike. So too can our personal triumphs, the righteous traditions that we cultivate, and our fiercest struggles written across the pages that make up our book of life be emblazoned in capital letters of pure gold: ANOTHER TESTAMENT OF JESUS CHRIST.

My dear friends, with all the feeling of my heart, I earnestly invite you to look “unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” [12] for you and for me. I testify that Jesus Christ can write a better story for our lives than any one we can author for ourselves. And today, as you turn to this clear sheet in your book of life, having been prepared to be His disciple, give Him the pen and let Him write upon it. I testify that He will inscribe a plan for your happiness and a path for your eternal life and exaltation. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.


[1] David A. Bednar, “Brigham Young University-Idaho: A Disciple Preparation Center,” BYU-Idaho Speeches, Aug. 31, 2004,

[2] Doctrine and Covenants 52:14.

[3] Alma 42:8.

[4] John 13:15, 17.

[5] Russell M. Nelson, “The Everlasting Covenant,” Liahona, Oct. 2022, 11.

[6] “Every child of Heavenly Father born in the world is given at birth, as a free gift, the Light of Christ” (Henry B. Eyring, “Walk in the Light,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 123).

[7] Russell M. Nelson, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2018, 114.

[8] Russell M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 96.

[9] Mormon 9:11; see also Russell M. Nelson, “Let God Prevail,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2020, 95.

[10] See Helaman 5:12.

[11] See Doctrine and Covenants 122:9.

[12] Hebrews 12:2.