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Small and Simple Disciples

You would think that the scariest part of this for me would be having an Apostle of Jesus Christ sitting behind me, but he’s been listening to me give talks since I turned 12 years old. No, the scariest part of this is talking to you – my peers. While preparing for this, I thought, “What could I possibly say to people that are in the same stage of life that I am? What could I add when I myself am currently stressing about a midterm like most of them are?” So today, I thought I’d speak to you like I would speak to all of my friends back home. And I thought I would speak to what most of us feel, but not all of us express – myself included. Today I wanted to speak about the feeling of inadequacy, especially when it comes to discipleship.

Let me tell you about when I first got this calling. People often assume that I must have been in a stake Relief Society presidency. Nope, that was my roommate. I was, at the time, called as a family home evening committee member. People often assume that my grandpa, sitting behind me today, got me this calling. Nope, he had no idea. People often assume that I was somehow acquainted with President Emily Belle Freeman. Nope, I had only ever seen her on her Come, Follow Me podcast. But one random day in May of 2023, I got a call from a secretary of one of the members of the Seventy asking me to come to Salt Lake for a one-on-one meeting.

For four days, it was constantly on my mind. My roommates and I wrote down all the possibilities of what it might be with expo markers on a mirror in our house: a second mission? Maybe putting together a young adult focus group? One of my roommates even guessed that the church had taken it upon themselves to find me a husband. Whatever our guesses were, nothing prepared me for the calling I received.

When the Young Women Council had their first meeting over a month later with President Freeman, she asked us to consider two questions over the course of the next few months: “Why me? Why now?” So I did what she asked, and over the following months, I pondered deeply. I doubted deeply. Why me? I knew so many other, more qualified young adults. I felt like a nobody. Why now? I was still an undergraduate with a lot of plans for the future that included not staying in Utah. The only way I could describe it was that I felt major imposter syndrome, that they had made a mistake, and that I was inadequate for the task ahead of me. How could I ever measure up?

Well, those months passed by with a lot of pondering, searching, and studying. Now if you were to ask me “Why you? Why now?” I would respond by saying that I still have no idea and I am still searching for my answers. But I’ll tell you something I’ve learned along the way about how God works. It is something I’m sure many of us are familiar with, yet it now has become something I identify with. “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” [1] I don’t know about you, but many times throughout my life I have felt small and simple. So what are these great things? Sometimes we might feel that we are too young to make a difference. I know I’ve felt that way. I’m only 23. What could I possibly do that is so great in the eyes of the Lord? So I say let’s look at the scriptures to learn about other small, simple, and young disciples of Jesus Christ who achieved greatness.

Mary was probably around the age of 15 when she gave birth to the Savior of the world. A young woman who was “highly favored” and blessed among women. [2]

Captain Moroni was 25 when he became chief captain over all the Nephite armies, and whose faith was so great that if all men had faith like his, “the very powers of hell would have been shaken forever” and “the devil would never have power over the hearts of the children of men.” [3]

Joseph Smith was 14 years old when he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. And he was 23 years old when he began the translation of the Book of Mormon. Joseph, with only three years of formal education, who “has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.” [4]

President Monson was 22 when he became bishop, 31 when he became a Mission President, and 36 when he became an Apostle. He was known for his goodness and kindness, and touched hundreds of thousands of souls.

These incredible scriptural and modern-day heroes, and so many more, came from small and simple beginnings and through God, were able to achieve greatness. How many others can you think of? Joseph of Egypt? Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego? David? Nephi? Mormon? There is a pattern here. One that I hope we will begin to see in each of our own lives. That we don’t need to have great social standing in the eyes of the world in order to achieve greatness in the eyes of the Lord.

I often think of Enoch’s words when I ponder my own call to serve: “Why is it that I have found favor in thy sight, and am but a lad, and all the people hate me; for I am slow of speech; wherefore am I thy servant?” [5] It is easy to be overwhelmed with what you are asked to do in your life – be it with school, family, friends, dating, a calling, or challenges in any form. I feel that kind of overwhelm all the time. But let me tell you something, we are in good company. The man sitting behind me, Elder Rasband, said himself in his first general conference talk as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve that he was “overwhelmed and shaken to [his] very core.” [6]

While in these feelings of overwhelm, I would encourage you to ponder the promises made and the promises delivered to Enoch from the Lord: “Go forth and do as I have commanded thee, and no man shall pierce thee. Open thy mouth, and it shall be filled, and I will give thee utterance, for all flesh is in my hands, and I will do as seemeth me good … Behold my Spirit is upon you, wherefore all thy words will I justify; and the mountains shall flee before you, and the rivers shall turn from their course; and thou shalt abide in me, and I in you; therefore walk with me.” [7]

Only one chapter later does it say this: “And so great was the faith of Enoch that he led the people of God, and their enemies came to battle against them; and he spake the word of the Lord, and the earth trembled, and the mountains fled, even according to his command; and the rivers of water were turned out of their course; and the roar of the lions was heard out of the wilderness; and all nations feared greatly, so powerful was the word of Enoch, and so great was the power of the language which God had given him.” [8]

So, friends, this is His invitation for each of us: To walk with Him.

A little over a year ago I had the chance to spend an incredible semester at the BYU Jerusalem Center. While there we had the opportunity to spend a few days in Galilee. We got to visit Nazareth, where Jesus grew up. We got to visit the Mount of Beatitudes, where Jesus gave one of the greatest sermons ever recorded. We got to visit Capernaum, home to many of Jesus’s apostles and home to many of Jesus’s miracles. We got to stand in the water which Jesus stood upon. It was a breathtaking and powerful experience. I will never forget those moments. But what’s more, is that I will never forget the lesson I learned while in the Holy Land: we do not need to walk where He walked to walk as He walked, and we do not need to see Him physically to walk with Him spiritually. This is by far one of the most important lessons I learned, and one I am still learning today.

So what does it look like to walk with Him as small, simple, and young disciples of Jesus Christ?

I want to tell you about an experience I had where someone chose to be an everyday disciple and it had a great and lasting impact on me. It was my freshman year in college, here at BYU–Hawaii. It was the start of Winter semester and I was really struggling to find friends. I would try to talk to different people, but nothing ever really clicked for me. That was until one girl saw me working out and asked if she could join me sometime. I said sure, thinking it was a little strange, but oh well. I thought it was just a passing comment, not an actual request she was going to follow up on. But, little did I know, she started to work out with me. We had a class together so we began to talk outside of our workouts. Then I discovered that she was in my ward, so we started sitting together. At the moment, it was simple and sweet and I appreciated it a lot. What a blessing it was to have a friend. 5 years later I want to tell you about the impact that that girl had on me. She became my best friend. We went on missions at the same time. Came back at the same time. Made a very sad transfer to BYU in Provo at the same time. We became roommates. And to this day we have remained extremely close.

I cannot tell you all the impact you will have as you choose to go about doing good. You will bless many lives in ways that you cannot see. As we choose to walk with him as small and simple disciples in our everyday lives, we might not change the world, but we can change someone’s world. The Lord’s invitation to walk with Him is one that will last a lifetime. He might invite us into the trenches, into the persecution, into the storms, but He has never asked us to do so alone and He never will.

“Wherefore, be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great.” [9]

Brothers and sisters, I have come to know Jesus over the last few months and I have come to know that He is good. I know that He is real, He lives, and He loves us. He gave His life for each of us. I know that His love is never-ending. I testify that Jesus Christ is willing to walk with us, and as we choose to walk with Him in small and simple ways each and every day, greatness will occur.

I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

[1] Alma 37:6
[2] Luke 1:28
[3] Alma 48:17
[4] D&C 135:3
[5] Moses 6:31
[6] Ronald A. Rasband, “I Stand All Amazed,” Ensign or Liahona, October 2015, 89
[7] Moses 6:32-34
[8] Moses 7:13
[9] D&C 64:33