5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Elder Christofferson takes the time to explain how the covenant path and the ordinances bring significant blessings to our lives. Do ordinances really make a difference? D. Todd Christofferson says they empower us in measurable ways.
His complete talk can be found 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 which resonate the most with you and which you feel will 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 quotes by D. Todd Christofferson and in blue (unless otherwise noted).
Quote #1 (path)
Elder Christofferson explains what the covenant path is:
What is the covenant path? It is the one path that leads to the celestial kingdom of God. We embark upon the path at the gate of baptism and then “press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men [the two great commandments] … to the end.” In the course of the covenant path (which, by the way, extends beyond mortality), we receive all the ordinances and covenants pertaining to salvation and exaltation.
Possible questions: The covenant path includes ordinances like baptism, the Sacrament, and temple ordinances. Which of the ordinances and covenants is one of your favorites and why? (I love how empowered the temple initiatory helps me to feel – the blessings are powerful. I especially love the Sacrament each week. It literally puts the Atonement in my lap.) Why are these outward actions important? Do you have any special memories attached to an ordinance? What it the power of making and keeping sacred covenants? (It pulls us along an upward path – to a better version of ourselves.) What does the term “covenant path” mean to you?
Quote #2 (tennis)
This is a stellar quote. If I could go back in time and internalize messages for life – this would be one of them! Too often I see people want to blame God for the consequence of their own “unforced errors.”
Following the principles and commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ day by day is the happiest and most satisfying course in life. For one thing, a person avoids a great many problems and regrets. Let me use a sports analogy. In tennis, there is something called unforced errors. These are things such as hitting a playable ball into the net or double-faulting when serving. Unforced errors are considered the result of a player’s blunder rather than being caused by the opponent’s skill.
Too often our problems or challenges are self-inflicted, the result of poor choices, or, we could say, the result of “unforced errors.” When we are diligently pursuing the covenant path, we quite naturally avoid many “unforced errors.” We sidestep the various forms of addiction. We do not fall into the ditch of dishonest conduct. We cross over the abyss of immorality and infidelity. We bypass the people and things that, even if popular, would jeopardize our physical and spiritual well-being. We avoid the choices that harm or disadvantage others and instead acquire the habits of self-discipline and service.
Elder J. Golden Kimball is purported to have said, “I may not have [always] walked the straight and narrow, but I [try] to cross it as often as I [can].” In a more serious moment, I am sure Brother Kimball would agree that staying on, not just crossing, the covenant path is our greatest hope for avoiding avoidable misery on the one hand and successfully dealing with the unavoidable woes of life on the other.
The last sentence is a great sum up of the gospel – “avoiding avoidable misery and overcoming unavoidable woes.” Basically, the gospel upgrades the level of life we experience.
Possible questions: By show of hands, have you ever experienced consequences you know could be avoided? Does anyone have an example they’d like to share? (chocolate = tight jeans) Is there something in your life that has been improved by gospel living? Who can give a personal example? (By taking the time to say quality prayers early in the day, I find my life flows better and I feel more confident and secure, despite the challenges that come up.)
Quote #3 (so close and personal)
Elder Christofferson teaches us an inspirational and powerful concept about how personal the attachment to God is. The truth and miracle of this quote makes me cry. Extend an invitation to be more engaged with this quote, “As you listen to this quote, see what stands out for you today, how do you feel about these words?”
A…unique aspect of the covenant path is our relationship with Deity. The covenants God offers to His children do more than guide us. They bind us to Him, and, bound to Him, we can overcome all things.
Wow…the visual of that just gives me pause.
I once read an article by a poorly informed newspaper reporter who explained that the way we perform baptisms for the dead is to immerse rolls of microfilm in water. Then all those whose names appear on the microfilm are considered baptized. That approach would be efficient, but it ignores the infinite worth of each soul and the critical importance of a personal covenant with God.
“[Jesus] said … : Enter ye in at the strait gate; for strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leads to life, and few there be that find it.” Figuratively speaking, this gate is so narrow that it allows only one to enter at a time. Each one makes an individual commitment to God and in return receives from Him a personal covenant, by name, that he or she can rely on implicitly in time and eternity. With the ordinances and covenants, “the power of godliness is manifest” in our lives.
Notice Elder Christofferson uses the phrase “personal covenant” twice.
personal: intimate, special, individualized
Possible questions: What stands out for you as you listened to this quote? What does Elder Christofferson mean when he says it is a personal covenant? How does it affect you when you realize the covenant is personal? How can we help the gospel feel more personal and intimate? When do you feel the closest connection to Heavenly Father or the Savior? (for me, quality, vocal prayers) What kinds of commitments can we make to God?
Quote #4 (divine help)
The covenant path brings us the Holy Ghost – which is a remarkable influence in our lives.
God provides an almost incomprehensible gift to help covenant-makers be covenant-keepers: the gift of the Holy Ghost. This gift is the right to the constant companionship, protection, and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Also known as the Comforter, the Holy Spirit “filleth with hope and perfect love.” He “knoweth all things, and beareth record of the Father and of the Son,” whose witnesses we commit to be.
On the covenant path we also find the essential blessings of forgiveness and cleansing from sin. This is help that can come only through divine grace, administered by the Holy Ghost. “Now this is the commandment,” says the Lord, “Repent, all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me and be baptized in my name, that ye may be sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, that ye may stand spotless before me at the last day [3 Nephi 27:20].”
Possible questions: How do you feel about the gift of the Holy Ghost? Have you felt his influence or whisperings? Where were you? Is there an occasion you would like to share? In what ways does the Holy Spirit work with us and influence us? The Holy Ghost and the covenant path are closely related and intertwined. How can we have more of the Spirit in our lives?
Quote #5 (gathering)
A repeating pattern that can be found throughout the scriptures is: covenant people gathering together.
“…those pursuing the covenant path also find singular blessings in various divinely appointed gatherings…The fulfillment of those prophecies and promises is now underway with the gathering of the covenant people into the Church, the kingdom of God on earth. President Nelson explains, “When we speak of the gathering, we are simply saying this fundamental truth: every one of our Heavenly Father’s children … deserves to hear the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The Lord commands members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to “arise and shine forth, that thy light may be a standard for the nations; … that the gathering together upon the land of Zion, and upon her stakes, may be for a defense, and for a refuge from the storm, and from wrath when it shall be poured out without mixture upon the whole earth.”
Possible close: Share your feelings about the covenant path and perhaps something you plan to pay more attention to in the future (like temple attendance). Invite others to live the covenant life and to increase the blessings in their life as they increase their faith and dedication. The covenant path includes us in the gathering.
Remember, the Lord called you to lead this lesson for a reason. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. Teach the quotes in any order and emphasize what you feel inspired to cover. Thank you for taking the time to prepare yourself! Encouraging others to renew and strengthen their covenant living blesses the Kingdom of God.