5 Highlights for “Put On Thy Strength, O Zion” by David A. Bednar

by | Oct 11, 2022

headshot painting of man in suit

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

Elder Bednar delivered a profound and personal-to-you sermon. He uses a less-known parable and reveals its empowering message about our life journey.

You are one of the Lord’s chosen, eligible for the most exceptional spiritual experiences and gifts available — if you will. The Lord has no favorites; the path is the same for everyone. He intends to raise you to the highest levels attainable.

You can find Elder Bednar’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 David A. Bednar (unless otherwise noted).

Possible Quote Sequence

  • If I were teaching, I’d probably do Quote 3, #4, #5, #2, and #1 – in that order. I would budget the most time for quotes #4 and #5.

Quote #1 (parable)

It’s a simple definition, but not everyone is familiar with the purpose of a parable.

Defined, the Savior’s parables are stories used to compare spiritual truths with material things and mortal experiences…an individual must exercise moral agency and actively “ask, seek, and knock” to discover the truths embedded in a parable.

Possible quick question: Can you give a quick example of a parable Jesus Christ gave? (a grain of mustard seed, laborers in the vineyard, the ten virgins)

Quote #2 (king’s wedding feast)

Elder Bednar spent a lot of time on this parable in General Conference. I suggest you assign someone to quickly summarize the parable and its meanings in their own words. Or you could summarize it quickly – something like this (borrowed from the New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual – Lesson 24):

Jesus compared the blessings of the gospel to a wedding feast a king gave for his son. The people who were first invited to the feast (who represent many of the Jews, including the leaders) refused to come. Those who were invited next (who represent the Gentiles) chose to come and enjoy the feast.

The king had fulfilled an ancient custom by giving his guests clean and appropriate clothing to wear at the wedding. However, one man had chosen not to wear the clothing the king had provided. He was cast out.

(clean garments and robes often symbolize the righteousness and purity of those who have become clean through the Atonement of Jesus Christ)

Joseph Smith adds that not everyone at the feast will wear the wedding garment. In other words, not everyone who acknowledges the Savior – is called, and accepts the invitation to be part of the kingdom will be prepared and worthy to dwell eternally with Him and Heavenly Father. Some will have disqualified themselves from rich blessings because they are not clothed with the garment of righteousness.

“For many are called, but few are chosen; wherefore all do not have on the wedding garment.” (JST Matthew 22:14)

Quote #3 (chosen)

If you haven’t read or discussed it already – have someone read:

“For many are called, but few are chosen; wherefore all do not have on the wedding garment.” (JST Matthew 22:14)

The wedding garment refers to righteousness and purity that comes through seeking Jesus Christ and his atonement.

Possible invitation to engage: For this following quote, listen for Elder Bednar’s definition of the word “chosen.”

God does not have a list of favorites to which we must hope our names will someday be added. He does not limit “the chosen” to a restricted few. Instead, our hearts, our desires, our honoring of sacred gospel covenants and ordinances, our obedience to the commandments, and, most importantly, the Savior’s redeeming grace and mercy determine whether we are counted as one of God’s chosen.

Quick discussion question: Who is chosen and how? (anyone can be chosen – by choosing to make the Lord, the commandments, and the ordinances their proper priority)

I would only ask the one question above and move on to quote #4 or #5.

Nonetheless, here are a couple more discussion questions with references if you feel your group needs to deepen this discussion.

Deepen the discussion (optional): How do our hearts determine if we are chosen? (For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he… Proverbs 23:7) (“…for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7)

Why do our desires matter? (the natural man is an enemy to God Mosiah 3:19) (our desires steer our thoughts, our priorities at the moment, and our actions)

Quote #4 (those “p” words)

This is a short quote but has lots of meaningful discussion potential. If you have plenty of time for quotes #4 and #5 – let this discussion run longer if it wants to.

Optional invitation to engage: For the following quote, think of a standard, cultural habit that keeps us from being chosen and favored:

In the busyness of our daily lives and in the commotion of the contemporary world in which we live, we may be distracted from the eternal things that matter the most by making pleasure, prosperity, popularity, and prominence our primary priorities. Our short-term preoccupation with “the things of this world” and “the honors of men” may lead us to forfeit our spiritual birthright for far less than a mess of pottage.

prominence: fame, celebrity, greatness, position, rank, prestige, importance

Possible discussion questions: Elder Bednar describes the “honors of men” as worth less than a bowl of lentil stew. What does he mean by that? (pleasure, prosperity, popularity, and prominence) Can you give a real-life example of any one of the four? How does “(pick one or two of the examples they call out” stop us from being chosen by the Lord? What does prominence mean? Why do people seek these four things? (pleasure: because we are an entertainment culture and that’s the social norm all around us, prosperity: that temptation has been around from the beginning of time, popularity: also a social norm made even more prominent with social media, prominence is a direct manifestation of pride – see definition by Elder Uchtdorf below)

Even more possible questions: Elder Bednar gave us a list of worldly distractions: pleasure, prosperity, popularity, and prominence. Have you ever struggled with one of these? Who doesn’t mind sharing an example from their own life? What are some “things of this world” that might distract us from our true purpose? (i.e., status-seeking, addictive electronic games, wealth, ego, entertainment) We are an entertainment culture – can entertainment or pleasure-seeking become out-of-balance or overly distracting? Can anyone give an example of this? What does making eternal things your primary priority look like to you? What do you do to make it happen?

Deepen the discussion (optional)

Quick question: Do those “p” words sometimes show up at Church? (pleasure, prosperity, popularity, and prominence)

Elder Uchtdorf calls it out; see what you think?

(Pride) This sin has many faces. It leads some to revel in their own perceived self-worth, accomplishments, talents, wealth, or position. They count these blessings as evidence of being “chosen,” “superior,” or “more righteous” than others. This is the sin of “Thank God I am more special than you.” At its core is the desire to be admired or envied. It is the sin of self-glorification.

For others, pride turns to envy: they look bitterly at those who have better positions, more talents, or greater possessions than they do. They seek to hurt, diminish and tear down others in a misguided and unworthy attempt at self-elevation. When those they envy stumble or suffer, they secretly cheer.

The prophet Alma expresses it simply: “Yea, will ye persist in supposing that ye are better one than another…? (Alma 5:54)

I love that word “suppose” because it means your being better was never a true perspective, to begin with.

Mentally and emotionally engaging in the game of whether you are above or beneath others uses A LOT of energy, emotion, and thought space. Either to uphold the façade, you are better (or without flaws) or to disprove that you are lesser to those who would push your head down. Bow out, and don’t give it another thought. “All are alike unto God.” The sooner you realize this profound truth – the sooner you can quit those tiring people games. Use your energy and thought space for empowering and productive pursuits. When you stop jockeying for who is above or beneath – you will find a peaceful, confident state of equilibrium.

Quote #5 (formula to success)

Oh…this one will change your life.

Each of us should evaluate our temporal and spiritual priorities sincerely and prayerfully to identify the things in our lives that may impede the bounteous blessings that Heavenly Father and the Savior are willing to bestow upon us. And surely the Holy Ghost will help us to see ourselves as we really are.

That’s a wholehearted, profound question to pray about, isn’t it? To ask, “what in my life is keeping me from greater blessings”? Are you ready for an honest answer from the Holy Ghost? He is candid yet gentle and tells you just one doable thing at a time. Something that is within your reach. Not the whole complicated laundry list. Don’t hesitate! We can all handle one doable thing at a time.

Elder Bednar and President Nelson were the last two speakers on Sunday morning, and it was a one-two-punch knockout combination. Compare President Nelson’s quote to Elder Bednar’s above:

Let Him know through your prayers and your actions that you are serious about overcoming the world. Ask Him to enlighten your mind and send the help you need. Each day, record the thoughts that come to you as you pray; then follow through diligently. (Quote #5 – Overcome the World and Find Rest)

Possible activity: Bring the prayer journal you started and share your experience with it. What works for you, and how do you set it up? If you know of others doing this – invite 1 or 2 to show and tell and talk a bit about their experience.

two journals by a statue of Christ
Two Prayer Journals

Possible discussion questions: Are you ready to pray about what holds you back from more blessings? How does writing down your impressions help you succeed? Have you ever seen something you wrote earlier and realized it was inspired? What happens when we later review what we wrote in our prayer journals? Are prayer journals and written impressions a form of personal revelation? How can praying more intentionally help us as we move through troubled waters?

Summary

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

I hope your class has a beautiful time with Elder Bednar’s talk. Thank you for preparing yourself to teach and engage with this lesson. 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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2 Comments

  1. Lynn Cluff

    Thank you so much for what you do! You have really inspired me to become a much better teacher, which has been my goal for many years. I have incorporated these lessons and used your materials faithfully..I love them…they are so helpful…I am grateful!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Your words are gracious and welcome. Thank you so much for the encouragement. It would be so fun to be in your class while you teach! Love and blessing to you.

      Reply

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