5 Highlights for “In the Path of Their Duty” by Elder Bednar

by | Oct 14, 2023

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5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

Elder Bednar shares a strengthening message of encouragement and hope for each of us. Invariably, each of us finds life hard or our efforts thankless. He touches our hearts right down to “the last wagon.”

You can find his 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 with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by David A. Bednar (unless otherwise noted).

Lesson Prep

  • If I were teaching, I would leave at least 10 minutes at the end to cover quote #5. I would do quotes 2, 3,5, 4, and 1 in that order.


Quote #1 (last wagon)

Possible introduction strategy: Since this is more of an introduction story, I would either have someone quickly sum it up, or I would use the story as an introduction and move on to the following quote without much discussion, if any.

Elder Bednar shares a touching story from 1947 by J. Reuben Clark (an apostle) about the pioneers called “The Last Wagon.”

“He praised these anonymous and uncelebrated heroes who, day after day, week after week, and month after month, choked on the dust stirred up by all of the wagons rolling in front of them—and who overcame the relentless obstacles they encountered along the way.

President Clark declared, “They of the last wagon pressed forward, worn and tired, footsore, sometimes almost disheartened, borne up by their faith that God loved them, that the restored gospel was true, and that the Lord led and directed the Brethren out in front.”

He concluded his message with this stirring commendation: “To these humble souls, great in faith, great in work, great in righteous living, great in fashioning our priceless heritage, I humbly render my love, my respect, my reverent homage.”

Possible discussion questions: Why were the people in the last wagon important? Have you ever felt like you were in the last wagon?

Quote #2 (Moroni)

“It was said [about the young and valiant Captain Moroni]:

“‘If all men had been, and were, and ever would be, like unto Moroni, behold, the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever; yea, the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men’ (Alma 48:17).

“What a compliment to a famous and powerful man. … Two verses later is a statement about Helaman and his brethren, who played a less conspicuous role than Moroni, that reads:

“‘Now behold, Helaman and his brethren were no less serviceable unto the people than was Moroni’ (Alma 48:19).”

President Hunter continued, “In other words, even though Helaman was not as noticeable or conspicuous as Moroni, he was as serviceable; that is, he was as helpful or useful as Moroni.”

President Hunter then counseled all of us to be no less serviceable. He said: “If you feel that much of what you do this year or in the years to come does not make you very famous, take heart. Most of the best people who ever lived weren’t very famous either. Serve and grow, faithfully and quietly.”

Possible discussion questions: Does our culture sometimes equate fame or notoriety with value or worth, or the lack of fame/notoriety as the lack of value and worth? How can we change that cultural thinking among ourselves? Who does the Lord esteem the most? (Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Matthew 5:5). What does being meek mean, and why is it an essential quality? How are being serviceable and being meek strongly related? (they require a lot of the same qualities.)

Elder Soares: “Mormon taught that a man “cannot have faith and hope, save he shall be meek, and lowly of heart.” He added that without such attributes, “faith and hope is vain, for none is acceptable before God, save the meek and lowly in heart.”

“Meekness is vital for us to become more Christlike. Without it, we won’t be able to develop other important virtues. Being meek does not mean weakness but behaving with goodness and kindness, showing strength, serenity, healthy self-worth, and self-control.

“Meekness was one of the most abundant attributes in the Savior’s life. He Himself taught His disciples, “Learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart.” (October 2013)

Lesson Organization Notes

This next section is divided into three groups (A, B, and C). You can choose between traditional whole-group discussions, like you did for Quotes #1 and #2, or small-group discussions.

Well-structured small-group discussions are an excellent way to effectively cover a lot of material in a short amount of time. If you have 12 or more people, please consider them. Even introverts enjoy small-group experiences when well-structured (more tips at the end of quote #3).

Quote #3 (mini-quotes)

Instructions: If using whole-group discussion, read quotes A, B, and C aloud together and discuss the questions after each one is read.

If using small groups, divide the class into several groups of 3-5 people now. Let each group direct their own discussion. Tell them they can pick any or all of the three quotes together and discuss them as a group. Don’t worry about which ones they pick – what your class needs to talk about most will rise to the top. (More detailed instructions at the end of quote #3)

No matter which discussion style you choose, ensure everyone has a copy of the three quotes (and questions if using small groups). [Printable PDF download at the end of this article.]

Note: Elder Bednar gave eight examples of “in the path of their duty” examples. I’ve selected three, but the other five include recently returned members, translators/interpreters, nursery/Primary (who won’t hear this lesson), caring for elder/children family members, and marriages (included in quote #4).

Quote A

I believe the phrase “in the path of their duty” describes discerning brothers and sisters who look for and sit next to people who are alone in Church meetings and in a variety of other settings. They consistently strive to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort,” without expectations of acknowledgment or praise.

Question A: Have you ever had someone sit by you when you were alone or invite you to sit down next to them? How did it feel? How powerful are simple gestures of friendship? How does Christ feel about such acts of service?

Quote B

The phrase “in the path of their duty” describes spouses and children who support a companion, parent, or child who serves in a leadership position in the Lord’s restored Church. Their steady, quiet, and typically unrecognized sustaining influence makes possible the blessing of many individuals and families in ways that will be fully known only in eternity.

This is truly a case where many are called, but few are chosen. This is not for class discussion because it pushes back against profoundly ingrained church culture. This is just for you. How many spouses hold their companion back from truly excellent service due to a falsified version of ‘family first’ or ‘Sunday is a day of rest’? If my question puzzles you and you’re curious why I would say that, please see: “The Sneaky False God of Family First.”

Question B: Why is supporting family members in their church callings important? In what ways can we help others to magnify their callings? Can encouraging a spouse or family member sometimes require our sacrifice?

Quote C

The phrase “in the path of their duty” describes righteous individuals who yearn to become yoked to the Savior through the authorized covenants and ordinances of His gospel—but may be prohibited from doing so by factors beyond their control. I promise your personal anguish will be relieved and your obedience and faithfulness to patiently submit your will to God will be rewarded in “the own due time of the Lord.” “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.”

Question C: Why is it important to remember our sufferings are “but for a moment”? How does disappointment and heartache work for our good? What does this verse mean to you?

Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord. (Doctrine and Covenants 98:3)


Follow the outline above. Because there is so much material, I usually give everyone their own copy to read. You only need to include the actual quotes, not the questions. It helps to pass out quote assignments earlier in the week or before Sacrament meeting. This allows people to absorb them before reading them aloud and upgrades the quality of the discussion!


[See a PDF download at the end of this article.]

Do not read quotes A, B, or C as a class together. Let the individual groups handle that part. Have people split into smaller groups (3-5). Instruct them to skim the quotes independently, share their favorite parts, and discuss the questions together as a group. The questions and quotes can be addressed in any order and do not all have to be covered.

It takes about 5-10 minutes. You will likely have to stop the conversations, and that’s okay!

Essential preparation for introvert-friendly small groups: Give each person their own copy of the quotes and questions to look at. Also, walk around and listen to each group for a bit (30 secs to a minute) without directing their conversation. Validate and nod. Only jump in if they are highly challenged, and no one is talking.

At the close of the discussion time, have each group elect a spokesperson to summarize their group’s ideas. Allow others to add comments as you go along. Expect about 15-20 minutes total for Quote #3.

Quote #4 (marriages)

Many married couples also trust in God when the righteous desires of their hearts are not realized how or when they had hoped and dreamed. They “wait upon the Lord” and do not demand that He meet their mortal deadlines. “For since the beginning of the world have not men heard nor perceived by the ear, neither hath any eye seen, O God, besides thee, how great things thou hast prepared for [them] that waiteth for thee.”

Possible discussion questions: What kinds of righteous desires might not be filled in a marriage? (children, romance, happiness, health, growth and development, money, intimacy) Why is it essential to strengthen marriages despite our unmet expectations? (It’s a vow we make to the Lord, not to whether the marriage feels like a success.)

Quote #5 (excellent quote)

Possible Closing Statement: No matter where your discussion ends, save the last five minutes for this quote. If I were teaching, I’d be sure to work it in. It would even work as a great closing statement without discussion or the one quote you print and send home with your people.

Nevertheless, it’s great discussion material.

You love and serve, listen and learn, care and console, and teach and testify by the power of the Holy Ghost. You fast and pray often, wax stronger and stronger in humility, and grow firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, “unto the filling [your] souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of [your] hearts, which sanctification cometh because of … yielding [your] hearts unto God.”

They of the last wagon, all who are no less serviceable, and you who today are pressing forward in the path of your duty are the strength of the Savior’s restored Church. And as the Lord has promised, “all thrones and dominions, principalities and powers, shall be revealed and set forth upon all who have endured valiantly for the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Elder Bednar made a list of what serviceable people from the last wagon do. It’s become a goal list for me:

  • love and serve
  • listen and learn
  • care and console
  • teach and testify
  • fast and pray often
  • wax strong in humility
  • grow firm in faith
  • feel joy and consolation (rather than disgruntled)
  • yielding hearts unto God
  • press forward in duty
  • strength of the Savior’s Church
  • endure valiantly
  • receive thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers

Possible discussion questions: Which items on Elder Bednar’s list stand out today, and why does it especially touch you? How would you sum up Elder Bednar’s quote to a friend? Why does Elder Bednar match feeling words with action words? Love and serve, listen and learn, care and console, etc. (faith without works is dead!)

14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?
15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?
17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. (James 2:14-17)


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

Final Comment

This lesson has the potential to infuse much-needed courage and hope into your group of saints. We all need to be seen. Thank you for taking the time to search out additional resources for your teaching and understanding. You are so needed in the Kingdom, and you were called to give this lesson for a reason. If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.” Put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you.

PDFs for Download – click the blue links to view online.

Additional Thoughts

Homemade painting of Starry Night
When Family First is a False God.

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