PROVO, Utah — To illustrate the importance of full-time missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints striving to become lifelong disciples of Jesus Christ and to help those they teach learn what it means to be a covenant keeper, Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon turned to two examples involving the Savior and His ancient apostles.
Speaking Saturday, June 24, at the 2023 Seminar for New Mission Leaders held at the Provo Missionary Training Center, she pointed to Peter, who at Caesarea Philippi declared to Jesus with boldness: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:16).
Later, at the Last Supper, Jesus warned Peter that Satan desired to have him and sift him as wheat. “But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:32).
Said Sister Cordon: “The Savior knew that even with that strong conviction, Peter was still on a journey of discipleship. A lifelong discipleship takes a lifetime.”
She then recounted visiting several years ago the studio of artist Joseph Brickey, who was commissioned by the Church to paint a large mural to serve as backdrop for the statues of the Christus and the Twelve Apostles at the Rome Italy Temple Visitors’ Center.
As a time-lapse video was played, President Cordon noted how Brickey began with an outline in just one section, setting a pattern before adding shading, texture and detail, then repeating the process as he moved from section to section.
“A lifelong discipleship takes a lifetime.” - Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon
“I imagine our journey of lifelong discipleship in Jesus Christ to be a grand spiritual masterpiece for each of us,” President Cordon said. “And like this mural, this is an ongoing process where we continually apply the same principles in every season of our life, each beginning with an outline, a pattern upon which to build.”
The pattern of a disciple is an eternal pattern — applied again and again — of living according to the doctrine of Christ, she explained. It begins with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and His Atonement, which leads to repentance and making covenants with God, first the covenant of baptism and then temple covenants. The gift of the Holy Ghost serves as a sustaining and stabilizing influence as one pursues an enduring determination to move forward in Christ.
The desire for missionaries is to live this pattern while serving, have it deep in their hearts and apply it throughout their lives, she said. “Imagine the impact. This is the mindset of a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
The same is desired for new converts from the moment they are baptized, that they will lean into lifelong discipleship, trust their foundation in Christ and act on the pattern of the doctrine of Christ, she added.
“Baptism is the first saving ordinance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we receive this joyous ordinance of hope, we make our first covenant with God,” said President Cordon, who then listed Lesson 4’s summary of the covenants made when one is baptized and confirmed.
- “Our Covenant to Be Willing to Take upon Us the Name of Jesus Christ.
- “Our Covenant to Keep the Commandments of God.
- “Our Covenant to Serve God and Others.
- “Our Covenant to Endure to the End.”
She added: “Making a covenant with God through the ordinance of baptism is a singular event, but remember, keeping a covenant with God is much more than a singular action.”
In nurturing enduring faith in Christ, the faithful actions of a disciple are not just what one does, but who they become, said President Cordon, using the analogy that the goal is not to simply run a marathon or read a book but to become a runner or a reader.
“The goal is not just to be baptized or just to serve a mission,” she said. “The goal is to become a lifelong disciple of Jesus Christ and build an eternal covenant relationship with our Father in Heaven and His Son, our Savior.”
In conclusion, President Cordon returned to the Rome visitors’ center mural, noting that it came with an outline and was built layer by layer into a final masterpiece.
“Your lifelong discipleship — your spiritual masterpiece of covenant living — is already filled with rich experiences, built layer by layer through the doctrine of Christ and your commitment to your covenant responsibilities. You are converted and are now called to strengthen your missionaries, who in turn will strengthen the friends they teach.”