Divine nature and purpose: The incoming Relief Society general president’s message to women of the Church

As Primary General President Camille N. Johnson has met with children worldwide in the last year, she has extended a heartfelt invitation to them. 

Now, as she prepares to begin service as the Relief Society general president on Aug. 1, she extends the same invitation to her fellow Relief Society sisters: “Ask your Heavenly Father, do You love me? Do You need me? And tell me in a way I can understand.” 

“I am confident that that sincere prayer will be heard and answered,” President Johnson said. “Our Savior Jesus Christ is merciful and loving and wants to help us.”

In a Church News podcast interview that will be released Tuesday, July 26, President Johnson said the messages she and her counselors have prayed for and taught Primary children are also important for Relief Society sisters. 

“First and foremost that we are children of our loving Heavenly Father. We teach our children to sing ‘I Am a Child of God,’ and I think our sisters need to know that,” she said. “They need to remember that they are children of a loving Heavenly Father with a divine nature and a divine purpose. …

“When we have that as our core, then we can look outward, then we can recognize the needs of others, and keep the first and second great commandments: love the Lord and then love others as He would love them.”

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham, left, and Primary General President Camille N. Johnson listen during a tour of historic Nauvoo, Illinois, on Friday, Sept. 24, 2021. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Divine nature and purpose

President Russell M. Nelson recently taught young adults about who they are: a child of God, a child of the covenant and a disciple of Jesus Christ. His message is applicable to all, President Johnson said. “The sequence is key.”

“I’m a child of God” is acknowledging one’s divine nature. “I’m a child of the covenant” is one’s divine purpose — returning to God by keeping covenants made with Him. “Understanding the first two, I think, is critical to being that disciple of Jesus Christ,” she said. “Then we can reflect the light and love of our Savior Jesus Christ to all of those around us.”

Quoting Sister Reyna I. Aburto, who will conclude her service as second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency Aug. 1, President Johnson said: “Anywhere and everywhere we go, we are always part of Relief Society as we strive to fulfill its divine purpose, which is for women to accomplish God’s work in individual as well as collective ways by providing relief: ‘relief of poverty, relief of illness; relief of doubt, relief of ignorance — relief of all that hinders … joy and progress.’”

President Johnson added: “I hope that our Relief Societies are safe places where sisters can share their life experiences. It’s that diversity and life experience that’s going to help us get home. We’ve got to draw upon one another’s strengths. And sometimes strengths are born of weakness. The weaknesses that we’ve overcome become our strengths, and then we can help others work through their challenges.”

The same objective

While raising her three boys, President Johnson often told them, “We’re all on the same team.”

It’s the same for sisters in Relief Society, she said. “We’re all on the same team. Our objective is the same. We come at it from a diversity of experience and background and culture, and yet our objective is the same: to return to our heavenly home.”

The late President Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles once compared Relief Society to “a fabric of lace spread across the continents.” 

“I think sometimes we think, ‘Well, I’m just a single thread.’ Or ‘I’m just a scrawny pencil,’” President Johnson said, referencing her October 2021 general conference talk. “But the Lord will work with us. He will magnify that simple strand of thread and put it to work to tighten the fabric that will bless and protect the lives of others. And then the lace is magnificent — but it takes all those individual threads working together. It’s that vision that we have to have of our divine purpose. …

“I hope that as sisters in Relief Society, we will buoy one another up, that we will draw upon one another’s strengths, and see every sister as that vital thread that’s going to hold the lace together and make it beautiful in design.”

Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed