The Gospel Doctrine lesson # 26 manual objective is “to help class members feel the Savior’s love for them and increase their love for him and their gratitude for his atoning sacrifice.”
To discuss women and their personal missions in building the kingdom of God, following Christ’s example and conviction of mission in the statement “to this end was I born.”
One of the most pivotal moments in the sacred history of the world is recounted in the gospel of John. Christ’s testimony of his mission to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, takes my breath away: “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37). Imagine if Christ had been cowed by the powerful and the craven and had shrunk from his ponderous task in the Father’s plan. Surely such a proposition is unthinkable. We know better. We know that Christ was aware of his identity, his role in the eternities, and was prepared to meet his divine destiny.
Contemplating the heroes and heroines of sacred history, it is easy to feel hopelessly inadequate or as though our tasks and assignments are not as noble or as noteworthy as those of renowned figures. This burden of self-doubt can be crushing and interfere with the essential work we have been given to do in building the kingdom. Patricia Holland gave a BYU Women’s Conference address on February 1, 1980, in which she stated, “I believe that every one of us has a specific mission to fulfill on this earth….I believe that we made sacred promises in premortal councils regarding our role in building the kingdom of God on earth.” She also quoted President Spencer W. Kimball, who spoke about the assignments women received before coming to the earth that they are accountable to carry out.
Although the Atonement is Christ’s specific province, we share Christ’s purpose to redeem and uplift humankind; we can be saviors, with a little “s”, within our sphere of influence, however large or small that may be. Perhaps you have a sense of destiny in the work you do, perhaps not. Perhaps you are still searching for what you feel your path is. Whatever your work may be, it matters—not just because you are important (which you are) but because it matters to the kingdom, which I believe extends to all spheres of our endeavor. What would the kingdom lack if we stopped making our unique offerings?
It is easy to get caught up in cultural scripts about who we ought to be as women, or maybe we become conflicted about what work is appropriate for us to pursue at certain times. The truth is, as we all discover, that each of our paths are unique and individual and that God has a variety of personal, professional, educational, ecclesiastical, relational assignments for us. These may variously play out on the individual, local, national, and even international levels. Sister Holland said, “We all know there was a great difference between the assignments of, say, Mary Fielding Smith and Eliza R. Snow. Yet both eagerly sought the will of the Lord. Both sought marriage and family. Both gave everything they had to the kingdom.”
I am so blessed to have been born into a home with parents who valued education. Because my mom had a master’s degree, I imagined pursuing a path of higher education. While I was in high school, she and her friend Irene Ericksen wrote a book designed to help young women find their personal missions. In Where Do I Go from Here? they write, “Your personal mission is not something mystical and elusive. It is not something ‘out there’ far in the future that you will find only if you don’t make any missteps. Actually, you can think of your personal mission as a combination of three things you already have. Your gifts . . . your challenges . . . The needs in your world and what God needs you to do about them.”
I feel that having a profession is an important part of my work on the earth. Ironically, in spite of my mother’s wonderful advice, I still searched for my profession over four years after I finished a graduate degree. When I finally found it, though, and had the answer confirmed by the Spirit, it was one of the happiest days of my life. Along the way I experienced doubt, trepidation, and anxiety, and it took years for the answer to unfold. Nevertheless, the journey has been well worth it.
Our missions are significant. Each of us has divine commissions to fulfill, each of us has many ways in which to serve, in the home and out. Many of our limitations come from the voices of fear that daily plague us. Let us cast off the chains of fear and instead see Zion spreading across the earth. Our vision can be one of tikkun olam, of healing the world in our sphere, of encouraging wholeness and opportunity and gospel-growth for everyone we come in contact with in whatever small or large ways we can. We, too, can learn of our true identity as daughters of God, as workers in His vineyard, as saviors on Mount Zion. We, too, can boldly proclaim the truth before the world.
Related Mormon Women Project Interviews
A Calling and a Purpose, Katie Jennings
And then I got a calling that saved my life and taught me my true purpose in this world. I was called as a Primary president in my ward. Heavenly Father gave me 60 kids to call my own and to love and to teach. I made the decision right then and there to throw all of the love, caring, and nurturing that I had in my heart and soul towards those 60 kids. They have returned it in a million different ways, which makes me love them all the more. I love them like they are my own. I count myself blessed to be part of their lives.
A Family Production, Erin Morley
Most importantly, we pray about every decision we make. Every job that I am offered must be considered carefully. I feel like I can tackle any challenge if it’s part of God’s plans for me! I know that if I receive that confirmation, that feeling that it’s right to accept this work, then my family will be taken care of. With two careers, a child, a home, a traveling schedule, a nanny, housing arrangements abroad . . . there is a lot to manage! But as long as we all remember who we are, stay firmly rooted in our beliefs and our connection to each other, we feel a peace about the situation, and in fact a real purpose in all of our work, professionally and as a family.
Street Smart and Math Wise, Janet Nelson
I just feel like I am just a basic mom who goes to church and does what I am supposed to do, but Heavenly Father is my rock and He knows who I am. I may not always be able to see my potential but I feel like my husband is a great advocate for me and I feel like Heavenly Father knows what I can do and I have really learned to trust that. So as overwhelming as it was initially, I feel like He knows what I can do. It gives me a lot of faith to think Joseph Smith was a farm boy with a third grade education and look what he did. So if I just put my trust in Heavenly Father I can be whatever instrument He wants me to be. That is really comforting.
I think part of the purpose of being called to something, to anything, is to stretch us and to take us out of our comfort zones. The board is made up of amazing women. Just across the board really great women! So to have that association is amazing! But also I’m being stretched and asked to do things that I am not really comfortable doing. And it’s okay.
Other Related Women’s Voices
Stand Tall and Stand Together, Sheri Dew
My prayer tonight is that we can be equally clear about our mission as women of God. This isn’t just a really nice church that teaches really nice ideas so that we can live really nice lives. This is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, endowed with His power and charged with carrying His truth to the ends of the earth. I love our Father. And I love His Son. And I have come to know for myself that this is Their work and Their glory and that we are the most blessed of all women to have such a vital part in it. May we lift our “voices as with the sound of a trump” (D&C 42:6). May we find joy as we stand tall and stand together. And may we “cheerfully do all things that lie in our power” (D&C 123:17), and then stand still to see the arm of God revealed as His work goes forward boldly and nobly until “it has … swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done” (History of the Church, 4:540).
Hold High the Torch, Margaret D. Nadauld
Never belittle the gifts God has given to you. Develop the divinity that is within you. Don’t dull the brightness of the spirit you came with from heaven. The Lord needs your goodness and your influence in this world.