BYU Education Week: How to find purpose and focus as a covenant woman

PROVO, Utah — Being focused means being more effective, author Connie E. Sokol said during BYU Education Week on Wednesday, Aug. 18, in a class series “Covenant Women: Fearless, Faithful and Fulfilling Our Destiny.”

Sokol echoed the words of Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon, who said during her April 2020 general conference address: “The Lord’s invitation to let our light so shine is not just about randomly waving a beam of light and making the world generally brighter. It is about focusing our light so others may see the way to Christ.” 

Just as different forms of light — flashlights or lamps, for example — serve different purposes, women can have a variety of purposes or focuses. Sokol suggested turning to the Lord to determine one’s unique purpose: “Ask God: Where do you want me? Where can I do the most good?”

It’s important to be attentive and intentional while reflecting on purpose and focus, and to also recognize that purpose can go beyond things like writing or speaking, which is sometimes what comes to mind when discussing purpose. 

Sokol quoted Sister Wendy W. Nelson, who offered other potential suggestions for women in her 2007 Women’s Conference address “For Such A Time As This”: “Have you been asked to shepherd strong-willed spirits and build them into talented, faithful men and women? … Have you been asked to learn to distinguish good from evil and to bravely speak up against practices which support the adversary’s agenda?” Some may have been sent to a difficult family situation to potentially help a family progress.

If it’s hard to narrow in on a purpose or a focus, move forward anyway.

“If you can get moving, you’ll get it in the doing,” Sokol said. “So don’t wait until it comes to you.”

Connie Sokol
Connie Sokol

She also advised focusing on the Lord when experiencing a lack of clarity about the right focus.

Former Primary General President President Joy D. Jones taught a similar principle when she told women in the October 2018 general conference that ”we can make each item on our to-do list become a way to glorify Him. We can see each task as a privilege and opportunity to serve Him, even when we are in the midst of deadlines, duties or dirty diapers.”

Another tool to determine one’s focus is to reflect on individual spiritual gifts. Sokol explained spiritual gifts by quoting emeritus General Authority Seventy and former Sunday School General President Tad R. Callister: “For every weakness, there is a countermanding spiritual gift that helps us to become like God.”

Comparison is a common obstacle to being “fearless” in your focus.

Sokol shared a story from the life of Sister Sheri Dew, executive vice president of the Deseret Management Corp. and a former member of the Relief Society general presidency, who grew up playing basketball and wanted to try out for the BYU women’s basketball team in 1971, but started to second-guess herself when she arrived at the tryouts and she saw the other girls playing. After walking around the building for three hours, she went home.

Many years later, Sister Dew shared this story with the female athletes at BYU. Elaine Michaelis, who coached the basketball team when Sister Dew was a student, told Sister Dew that she remembered her 1971 team well because she couldn’t fill the roster that year — the team was one player short. 

Like the different kinds of light, there are different ways to fulfill a purpose. Nephi, the brother of Jared, and Moses all had a large body of water to cross, and each did it in a different way.

“You don’t have to doubt because your way is different than someone else’s,” Sokol said. “They each received personalized direction tailored to them, and each trusted and acted. So trust, go back to the foundation of truth and follow what you know to be true.”

See more of the Church News’ coverage of BYU Education Week