In “Are You Still Willing?”, Elder Kevin W. Pearson states “our willingness to follow Jesus Christ is directly proportionate to the amount of time we commit to be in holy places.” In our sacrament prayer on the bread, the phrase “willing to take upon them the name of thy Son” reminds us that we have an active role in our salvation. What are we “willing to take upon [ourselves]”?
Definition of Willing
The dictionary definition of “willing” has two parts:
- ready, eager, or prepared to do something – “he was quite willing to compromise”
- given or done readily – “willing and prompt obedience”
I have had several pivotal moments in my life where I have been “ready, eager, or prepared to do something.” This blog was born because I was willing to look at the addresses given in the General Conferences of the Church and share my understanding of the topics covered. When I was in college, I was willing to find out where truth lay. Even today, I’m willing to increase the time I spend in studying the gospel as I “hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6).
The second definition applies to how we behave in the gospel. For instance, I don’t loathe paying tithing. I don’t see it as a burden or a “I have to do this”. Instead, I give my tithing readily. I see tithing as a blessing and have seen how it has blessed my family. I willing give that 10 percent to the Lord and trust that He will use it as He sees fit.
One area where we need to be willing to take upon ourselves the gospel of Jesus Christ is through continuing revelation. Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf in “Are You Sleeping through the Restoration?” states “Sometimes we think of the Restoration of the gospel as something that is complete, already behind us—Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he received priesthood keys, the Church was organized. In reality, the Restoration is an ongoing process; we are living in it right now. It includes ‘all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal,’ (Articles of Faith 9) and the ‘many great and important things’ that ‘He will yet reveal. Brethren, the exciting developments of today are part of that long-foretold period of preparation that will culminate in the glorious Second Coming of our Savior, Jesus Christ.”
Recently we have seen this process in action. There have been changes made to the way covenants in the temple are presented, and word changes in some of the ordinances. When these changes occur, are we willing to take them upon ourselves and understand why it has happened? To me, these changes don’t change the covenants I have made. In fact, these changes clarify the covenants and bring greater understanding to the promises God and I have made.
This is not unlike Jesus teaching in parables and then explaining the parables to those who sought better understanding. The changes we are seeing are the explanations for those who want better understanding and an increase in temple worship.
I have no issues with the church being progressive in the restoration of the gospel. We do not know everything, nor has God seen fit to give us everything yet. We must be willing to accept ongoing revelation as the process of restoration continues.
Depth of Willingness
“If our spiritual foundation is shallow or superficial, we might be inclined to base our willingness on a social cost-benefit analysis or a personal inconvenience index. And if we embrace the narrative that the Church consists primarily of outdated or politically incorrect social policies, unrealistic personal restrictions, and time commitments, then our conclusions about willingness will be flawed. We should not expect the principle of willingness to trend positively with social media influencers or TikTok enthusiasts. The precepts of men rarely align with divine truth.”
The question now becomes “What is the depth of our willingness to center our lives on Jesus Christ?” This requires us to take a self-inventory and see where we lie. Do we increase our spiritual fortifications by relying on the truth? Or do we “wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed” (James 1:6)?
Our actions show our willingness. I have found that doing the simple things like daily prayer, scripture study, and serving, lead me to want to know and do more. My willingness to center my life on Jesus Christ is in direct proportion to the time I take learning about and growing closer to Him.
Our willingness to center our lives on Jesus Christ naturally leads us to be His disciples. President Ezra Taft Benson once stated “The great task of life is to learn the will of the Lord and then to do it” (Benson, The Great Commandment – Love the Lord) Elder Pearson defines this as the “cost of discipleship” and asks “Are we willing to pay the price of discipleship?”
Again, this requires self-reflection on our state of discipleship. Am I willing to learn and do the will of the Lord? I believe that we accomplish this in phases. When we first start out in the gospel, we learn about prayer and scriptures and how those help us to build our foundation on Christ. As we progress, we begin to study the scriptures and search for greater meaning in them. We seek to have the influence of the Holy Ghost to guide us. The testimony and leadership of the First Presidency, Apostles, General Authorities and Local Leaders are then sought after and followed. We serve in the callings we have been asked to perform. As this happens, our foundation grows stronger and our house is more stable.
We must also remember the words of Nephi “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life” (2 Nephi 31:20, emphasis added). Just because we have done the will of the Father in the past doesn’t mean we’re finished. We must continue to not only do the will of the Father, but be willing to do as well. Our lives are not a checklist of things to accomplish. They are a steady progression to become more and more like our Savior Jesus Christ.
“Are we still willing to follow the living prophets? What is the level of spiritual oil in your lamp? What changes in your personal life would enable you to have the influence of the Holy Ghost more constantly?” These questions, when answered honestly and sincerely, allow us to gauge our willingness to center our lives on Jesus Christ.
“Behold, the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days” (Doctrine and Covenants 64:34)
Tips for Teaching
When teaching this topic, you may want to consider using some of the following:
- Ask what the word “willing” means? Ask what things in life are the members of the class willing to do? What things do they willing do today?
- Discuss ongoing revelation and what that means to members of the Church. Why is it important to know that God will continue to reveal things through his prophets? Read Amos 3:7. Why do we need prophets today?
- Discuss what it means to take self-inventory. Why is it important that we take inventory about our willingness to place Jesus at the center of our lives?
- Read and discuss Doctrine and Covenants 64:34.