5 Highlights for “Are You Still Willing?” by Kevin W. Pearson

by | Nov 10, 2022

man sitting on ground with book

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

This is a popular talk requested multiple times on the poll – which is unusual for someone who is not an apostle! Elder Pearson hits on some excellent gospel discussion points, and this CAN be a wonderful lesson.

Because the content is quite reflective – it’s essential not to deliver it in a didactic (preachy) way. For every quote and discussion – make sure your group knows they need to push other names and personalities out of their mind and only focus on how the quote applies to them.

You can find Elder Pearson’s full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by Kevin W. Pearson (unless otherwise noted).

Possible Quote Sequence

  • You may or may not have time to cover all of these quotes. I would do 1, 2, 4, 5, and 3 – in that order.

Quote #1 (willingness)

Remind your group once or twice through Elder Pearson’s lesson to focus on ourselves as we review these gospel teachings. Push away other names and personalities in your head and explore the questions with just yourself in mind. Here’s a scripture quote to help with that idea:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?
Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3-5)

Elder Pearson

Is our own spiritual foundation built solidly on Jesus Christ?

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 And if we embrace the narrative that the Church consists primarily of outdated or politically incorrect social policies, unrealistic personal restrictions, and time commitments, then our conclusions about willingness will be flawed.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.

Possible activity: Have your group pull out some of the non-spiritual ways we might allow to influence our commitment to our religion (accept all reasonable answers and don’t expect them to list all of them). Write them on the board, or even better, have someone else write them on the board. Once they are done listing – ask them for an example of each. I’ve included a possible sample answer in (parentheses).

  • Social cost vs. social benefit (i.e., is it the most satisfying social opportunity or is there a bigger, better deal somewhere else? Do I allow offenses and human frailties to guide my commitment to Christ, His Church, and the Sabbath day?)
  • personal inconvenience index (i.e., how much effort do I have to make – or what time do I have to get up?!)
  • old-fashioned (not in sync with pop culture and I don’t look cool to my friends)
  • not mainstream – politically or socially (I want to be comfortable around other people in the secular world and feel accepted by my peers)
  • personal restrictions (why can’t I go to the beach on Sunday and have it count as worship? obedience is not as fun or pleasure-giving as disobedience often is)
  • time commitments (it interrupts my entertainment and hobbies)

My husband Joel wrapped up all of these thoughts quite simply. “Is going to Church about what you stand to gain or what you are willing to give?

Possible discussion questions: What attitudes might need to change in order to have a solid foundation? What perspectives help us build a stronger connection to Jesus Christ? What does a solid spiritual foundation built on Jesus Christ look like to you? How does it feel? (peaceful, confident, well-being)

built solid: robust, rugged, strong, powerful, steadfast, vigorous, substantial

More possible questions: How do we get to a solid foundation? What are some things we could do daily?

Quote #2 (newsfeed)

The Church is a gathering place for imperfect individuals who love God and who are willing to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. That willingness is rooted in the reality that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. This divine truth can be known only by the power of the Holy Ghost. Therefore, our willingness is directly proportionate to the amount of time we commit to be in holy places where the influence of the Holy Ghost is present.

We would do well to spend more time in meaningful conversation discussing our concerns with a loving Father in Heaven and less time seeking the opinions of other voices. We could also choose to change our daily news feed to the words of Christ in the holy scriptures and to prophetic words of His living prophets.

Possible discussion questions: Can a large amount of screen time affect our spiritual life? Do you have holy places you regularly spend time at? How can we create sacred spaces at home? We sometimes fall out of the habit of scriptures and prayers. How does it feel to commit to these habits daily? How does a heartfelt conversation with Heavenly Father affect you? Do you need to study the scriptures and Conference talks more?

Quote #3 (foolish)

Surely the Lord was thinking of our day as He taught the parable of the ten virgins. Of the five who were wise, He said they “have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived,” while the lamps of the foolish “are gone out” for lack of oil. Perhaps the words of Nephi best describe these once-faithful members of the Church: “And others he will pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion.”

What about the foolish virgins? Why were they unwilling to carry a vessel of spiritual oil? Did they simply procrastinate? They were perhaps too casual because it was inconvenient or seemed unnecessary. Whatever the reason, they were deceived about the crucial role of Christ. This is Satan’s fundamental deception and why their lamps of testimony eventually went out for lack of spiritual oil. This parable is a metaphor for our time. Many leave the Savior and their covenants long before they leave His Church.

Possible Questions: Can we get lazy in the gospel? Elder Pearson said, “Many leave the Savior and their covenants long before they leave His Church.” What does he mean by that? Can you attend church regularly, go to the temple, and not live a life centered on Christ? What is carnal security? (when non-spiritual aspects of our lives go well, like comfort zones, wealth, status, position, materialism., beauty, popularity, leisure, entertainment, social circles, etc.)

Quote #4 (changes)

President Russell M. Nelson has warned that “in coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.” This is a clear and unmistakable warning to trim our lamps and increase our spiritual oil reserves. 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?

Possible discussion questions: First, let’s ask Elder Pearson’s questions: 1) Are we still willing to follow the living prophets? What does “follow the prophet” mean to you? (It means studying his words and applying them to my life.) 2) What is the level of spiritual oil in your lamp? (Could it be increased? How?) 3) What changes in your personal life would enable you to have the influence of the Holy Ghost more constantly? (Why is it essential to have the Holy Ghost more?)

Quote #5 (backbone)

This warning has been repeated throughout General Conference. We are scheduled for more challenging times, and unless we prepare, we will not make it spiritually, perhaps not in other ways.

Today, as in the times of Jesus, there will be those who will turn back, unwilling to accept the price of discipleship. As harsh and hateful criticism is increasingly leveled at the Savior’s Church and those who follow Him, our discipleship will require a greater willingness to straighten and strengthen our spiritual spines and heed them not.

If our spiritual foundation is built solidly on Jesus Christ, we will not fall and we need not fear.

“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.”

Besides being a name for a physical body part – the spine or backbone has more profound meanings.

spine: backbone, determination, courage, firmness, fortitude, grit, heart, resolve, stamina

Possible discussion questions: What does the phrase “spiritual spine” suggest to you? What are some ways to straighten (sit up taller) and strengthen your spiritual spine? As you listened to this quote – did anything come to your mind that you need to start doing? Is anyone willing to share? How can we feel brave as harder times increase? (increase our focus on Jesus Christ!) How does one build a solid foundation on Jesus Christ?

Summary

Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Pearson’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

This talk will generate a lot of internal thought, so responses might be slower than usual. Don’t let that spook you! Expect it and be ready to contribute your ideas if rephrasing the question with different words doesn’t get the hands going up. You can model healthy introspection, be candid and free others to speak up.

Put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you. If you would like tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.

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