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I was asked to give a Relief Society lesson on Elder Bednar’s talk “In the Path of Their Duty” from October 2023 General Conference. Ok, that might not be entirely accurate… I was asked to give a lesson on a different talk and I coerced our Relief Society President into swapping teaching month’s with me so that I could teach this talk. It was my absolute favorite talk from this last conference, and will probably be one of my all time favorite talks so I’ve been looking forward to sharing this with the sisters in our ward for months. So long as I had put all the preparation into my lesson notes and making fun graphics with ChatGPT I figured I ought to share it here as well. I would love to hear your thoughts too! I’ll leave my discussion questions along the way and I’d love for you to leave a comment letting me know what you thought too!

About the time that this talk was given my mom, sister and I were discussing a relatively famous member of the church was in the news for living a life that was incongruous with the way they had presented themselves. It’s not important who it was but we will just say that it was someone who everyone thought was SO great and doing amazing charitable things… only it came out that actually… they weren’t. As we discussed this we noted that this wasn’t the only person we had seen who had gone through this pattern of fame gained for virtuous and righteous actions then seeming to go off the deep end. Somewhat reminiscent of what we learn in D&C 121:39

“We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.”

My sister made the comment that she just wanted to get a C average in life. She didn’t want to do anything flashy she just wanted to get through this life with a passing grade. Which reminded me of the mantra that I would sometimes have in college at the end of the semester. I’m sure no one else said this because you were all much better students than I was but I would sometimes remind myself that “C’s get degrees!” Meaning that sometimes it is time to stop striving for perfection and let good enough be good enough. I could keep working and trying for extra credit and try to eke out an A+, but if I spent all the time to get an A+ in my Physical Science class and failed my American Heritage final that wasn’t really the best outcome. When applied to how we serve in the kingdom however I’ve modified that slightly to…

C’s get degrees… of glory! I think a lot of times we can get caught up in trying to find the BIG things to do that are in keeping with the gospel. Planning the big service project, serving missions, spending all of our time at the temple etc. But the reality is that’s not always what the Lord has called us to do. Most of the time the service that we give is much smaller and less noticeable, but no less valuable in the Kingdom. I felt like this was sort of the main message of the talk was that we don’t have to do anything that’s so visible and grand. The service we give in our homes and at church are what the Lord asks us to do and if we’re doing that – that’s enough! The Lord doesn’t expect us to be always going above and beyond, He just asks us to do the things that we’ve been asked to do. In 1 Samuel 15:22 we’re taught, “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice.” We’re even taught in Jacob 4:14 that the Jews fell because they were “looking beyond the mark”.

I’m by no means advocating that we don’t try to magnify our callings or do the best that we can. However, I think it is important for us to learn that the best that we are called to do doesn’t mean above and beyond, it just means fulfilling our responsibilities well. Elder Bednar included this quote from President Hunter –

“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.”
Howard W. Hunter, “No Less Serviceable,”

It can be frustrating to not see yourself in a lot of the stories that you hear in the scriptures or in conference, but the truth is that most of the most important stories are the ones that are never told. I would love to hear your thoughts on how can we find joy and fulfillment in fulfilling our responsibilities, even when they seem mundane or unnoticed by others?

When I read this I was reminded of a quote from a blog post that I read years ago. The sister who wrote the article had requested to work as a temple worker but was rejected because she had young children at home back when they had a policy that women with children at home couldn’t be temple workers. The blog seems to have been discontinued but I was able to find the full article on and I would definitely recommend the article to anyone who is struggling with feeling like they might not be used to their full potential. Here’s an excerpt of some of the parts that struck me most –

“The fact was, the Lord didn’t want me, not to do anything eternally important, anyway.  […] The Lord felt that all I was useful for was to wipe noses and bottoms and endlessly feed people. I could do so much more than that, but he didn’t want it – not from me.

[…  In the years since] I’ve come to appreciate with a soulful assurance that God cares most about the details surrounding his children, and that what truly heals, what truly makes a difference, is profoundly personal. It’s a bitter pill to swallow that wiping noses and bottoms and endlessly feeding people is what he really wants from us, if we would rather do something else. Something more romantic, something more visible, something with a tangible feel of obvious service seems infinitely more appealing. But the fact is, to the person with a runny nose or a messy bum or a hungry stomach, nobody else matters.

In his own life [Jesus] repeatedly taught that the most important service was between individuals, and that if we would lead we must learn to minister as a servant: to those with metaphorical runny noses and messy bums. I’ve taught that principle for nearly three decades, but I still need to be reminded occasionally that it’s better to save one person than to impress a multitude.

[…] For a Father who loves his children, the most meaningful gift he could give them is someone who will descend below all to serve them. If that is the work to which you are called, whether it includes runny noses or quiet corners of the kingdom, whether it is in Paris or Nepal or a small house in a subdivision, know that your call perfectly illustrates just how much God needs you. […] The real power is personal, and all of us are equal to that opportunity.“

“Does God Need Me”, by Bonnie Atkinson from via

As a mom this story just hits me in the gut every time. I often feel like the skills I have are not being used to their full potential at home. Moreover, the skills that are really needed to be a successful homemaker are NOT even the ones that I have. I’m no great chef, my cleaning abilities are atrocious, and I’m certainly no hand at decorating. But this thought hit me so strongly – even if the service I’m giving isn’t glamorous, even if I can’t do it Pinterest perfect it’s also not something anyone else can truly do for my family. The line “to the person with a runny nose or a messy bum or a hungry stomach, nobody else matters” hits me so strong every time. Yes, there might be other things I could be doing that are bigger in the world, but I mean the most to my family who I spend my time caring for.

When was a time when someone did service for you that wasn’t glamorous, but it meant the world to you?

When I was pregnant with my 4th I was diagnosed with Gestational Diabetes – which may not be major but I have serious issues with needles and so personally it was devastating. I didn’t know what I could eat and I had 3 kids at home that weren’t going to go for any modified diet. My ministering sister took the time to research what foods I could eat without messing up my blood sugar and made me some soups that I could heat up just for me while I fed the kids chicken nuggets or whatever they wanted to eat. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me at the time, just to know that I had something I could eat without having to guess if it would hurt my baby or not. Just to know that someone had seen me and cared about what I was going through. It wasn’t newsworthy, but to me it was everything. I hope as we go about serving in less noticeable ways we remember just how much the small things we do can mean to those we serve.

As part of his talk Elder Bednar spoke about some of the unsung heroes in our past. He quoted from a talk that President J Reuben Clark gave at the centennial celebration of the pioneers arriving in Salt Lake. He noted that while we know and often honor those who led the pioneers out west we generally don’t even know the names of those who were in the last wagons of the expedition. These men and women made the same journey, although with the added discomfort of having the dust of the previous wagons in the air as they walked along. Plus, although it’s not mentioned in Elder Bednar’s talk, I would imagine that most of those who were in the last wagons were at the end of the train because they had other difficulties that made the travel extra difficult – an injury, young children, missing father etc. These people likely not only had a journey that was AS difficult, but likely even more so.

I appreciated President Clark taking the time to remember those who history might not have remembered. I would love for you to consider who has impacted your life – either in your history or personally – by their example of faithful living through difficult trials without the recognition of the world?

When I heard that it reminded me of a story that my dad told. I made him write it out for me so that I could share it more or less in his words, although I re-wrote it slightly to be in the third person so that it felt authentic to me as I read it to the class. I’m formatting it as a quote, even if it’s not his words exactly (although it almost is) –

In 1997 the Church celebrated the sesquicentennial (150 year anniversary) of the first pioneers entering the Salt Lake Valley. As part of the celebration members had the opportunity to research and document any direct ancestors that had arrived in Utah before the completion of the transcontinental railroad on May 10th 1869. Those who wanted could complete a “Faith in Every Footstep” form listing all their names and the evidence that they had ‘walked’ to the Salt Lake Valley to receive some sort of certificate.

One day in High Priest group meeting the guy giving the lesson mentioned this initiative and stated that he had ’22’ such ancestors (the number might have been more or less than 22, but the exact number isn’t necessarily relevant. We’re going to pretend that it was 22 for the rest of the story). He then stated that he was fairly certain that no one else in the group had more.

You may not know this but Andersons are competitive, and all of our competitiveness we get from our dad. Since he was about 40 years younger than this guy he figured that he had at least one generation on the teacher so about twice as many potential ancestors who could fit the bill.

The next Sunday the teacher asked if anyone had taken his challenge and done their own research. My dad raised my hand and told the teacher that he had ’24’ and had stopped looking once he had more than the previously proclaimed ’22’. He then threw out a caveat that actually his 4th great-grandfather, David Reeder, had died on October 1, 1856 on the plains of Wyoming somewhere west of Fort Laramie as part of the Willie Handcart Company. The brother very boldly stated “Well then, he doesn’t count.”

My dad was taken aback and said ‘What do you mean that he doesn’t count?’ David, a widower, had left his home in England with his three living children, one of which, Eliza was married and had three children of her own. When he left his home he was 4846 miles away from the Salt Lake. He ‘walked’ 4496 of those miles and my dad was definitely going to count him. In any event, that still left him with 23 ancestors which was one more than the teacher had! Which in my dad’s opinion was the most important part of the exercise 😉

Because of David Reeder’s sacrifice his daughter Eliza was able to bring her 2 year old daughter Sarah to Utah. Sarah’s son Henry was the father of my great grandmother Bonnie who I remember well – she passed away a little over a week after I had Sam. His willingness to not only cross the plains but sacrifice his life allowed me to be brought up in a family that had the gospel. He might not “count” as having made it to the Salt Lake Valley, but in my book, he counts twice. I am eternally grateful for David Reeder’s trek across the plains regardless of what anyone else thinks.

The title of Elder Bednar’s talk came from Samuel the Lamanite while talking about the righteous among his people.

5 And I would that ye should behold that the more part of them are in the path of their duty, and they do walk circumspectly before God, and they do observe to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments according to the law of Moses.
6 Yea, I say unto you, that the more part of them are doing this, and they are striving with unwearied diligence that they may bring the remainder of their brethren to the knowledge of the truth; therefore there are many who do add to their numbers daily.
Helaman 15:5-6

I find it interesting that Samuel didn’t mention the big things that the righteous were doing – it wasn’t big projects or grand gestures, but simply the things that they were doing “in the path of their duty”. The every day things that kept their community running. What does it mean to you to be “in the path of [your] duty?”

Elder Bednar went on to discuss examples of what that might look like today. I really wanted to pull out quotes from that section of his talk, but it was nearly 10 minutes of his talk that he spent praising the often overlooked ways that many serve in the church. If you haven’t listened to the talk yet I would strongly encourage you to take the time to listen to all of the ways Elder Bednar honored the often unsung heroes of the church. I went through and with ChatGPT’s help made a condensed list of the ways that he mentioned that we can be serviceable “in the path of [our] duty”

  • Offering comfort and support to those in need
  • Supporting family members in their callings
  • Repenting and returning to the covenant path
  • Waiting on the Lord for blessings and answers
  • Helping others receive the gospel in their own language
  • Multiplying and replenishing the earth, despite challenges or unfulfilled desires.
  • Teaching in nursery & primary
  • Caring for aged parents.
  • Comforting and protecting your children.
  • Setting up and taking down chairs, and performing other tasks to support meetings and activities.
  • Inviting others to come and see, come and help, and come and stay in the Church.
  • Fasting, praying, listening, learning, caring, consoling, teaching, and testifying by the power of the Holy Ghost.
  • Enduring trials and challenges for the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I’m sure everyone can find yourself somewhere on that list, and probably in different places on that list in different stages of life. I loved what Elder Bednar had to say about all of these different types of service.

“I have described only a few selected examples of covenant-keeping and devoted disciples of Jesus Christ like you who are pressing forward “in the path of [your] duty.” Millions of additional examples of Latter-day Saints who offer their “whole souls” unto God are found in Christ-centered homes and in Church units around the world. […]

I am grateful for millions of Church members who today are coming unto the Savior and pressing forward on the covenant path in the last wagons of our contemporary wagon trains—and who truly are no less serviceable. Your strong faith in Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ and your unpretentious, consecrated lives inspire me to be a better man and disciple.

I love you. I admire you. I thank you. And I commend you.”

I appreciated Elder Bednar’s words. Especially where he said that those who are serving in less visible roles inspire him to be a better disciple. He’s an apostle of the Lord, and he has lots of visibility into the BIG things that the church is doing. Humanitarian efforts, building temples, aiding refugees, scholarly efforts, large scale devotionals, the legion of full time missionaries currently serving. If he wanted to talk about the big things that are being accomplished by church members he could certainly have done it. Instead he spoke about nursery leaders, parents, and people repenting and doing their best in their own small ways.

If Elder Bednar can show that kind of appreciation to regular church members in their regular callings I would love for you to think -What are some ways we can show appreciation for those who serve in less visible roles in the Church? What are some ways we can support and sustain those who serve in different callings in the Church?

At the leadership session of our most recent stake conference one of the brothers who spoke shared some thoughts about the parable of the Vineyard as found in Matthew 20:1-16 and how we might apply it to how we serve in the church. Brief recap if you don’t remember that parable, the owner of a vineyard hires people to work for him at several different times during the day and pays them all the same amount for their service at the end of the day. The speaker mentioned those who came in the later part of the day and posited that perhaps they were called later because they couldn’t have withstood the heat of the day. He talked about the Prado principle which is that generally 80% of the work in an organization is done by 20% of the people (and annoyingly 80% of the work on a project takes 20% of the time and the other 80% is spent on a mere 20% of the work). Often in the church this holds true as well and you will see that about 20% of the membership of the church is doing 80% of the work.

Sometimes if you are part of that 20% you may be tempted to say, “hey! I’m holding up my part, why can’t other people pitch in and serve like I’m doing?” This speaker said that we should consider that others might not have the ability to serve in the same way we do. Maybe they have physical limitations that we don’t know about, or their capacity might be limited in other ways. Maybe they simply haven’t had the experiences of being blessed by service and haven’t received a testimony of how important the work can be. Perhaps they haven’t had the same opportunities to serve and don’t understand how they might be blessed for their service. Rather than begrudging others we should be grateful that we have the abilities to serve. We should be grateful that even those who cannot serve through the heat of the day receive the full reward. Sometimes we might be the person who can’t make it through the heat of the day and how grateful we are then that the Lord does not begrudge us our lack of abilities. Every person is facing different challenges and it isn’t helpful to compare one person’s abilities to another person’s.

I would love for you to consider – When have you felt grateful for the opportunity to serve or felt grateful for someone else being able to serve where you could not?

Probably the part of the talk that most spoke to me while Elder Bednar was talking about the ways that people serve “in the path of their duty” was where he spoke about the work that parents do.

“The phrase “in the path of their duty” describes faithful married men and women who honor their covenant responsibility to multiply and replenish the earth and who are blessed with the strength and stamina to wrestle with their children in sacrament meetings. In an increasingly confused world beset with calamities and misplaced priorities, these courageous souls heed not the secular voices extolling self-centeredness; they reverence the sanctity and importance of life in Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness for His children.
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.”

Having children is not for the faint of heart and it can be frightening to consider raising them in this world. I currently have 5 children and it takes so much of my time and energy to facilitate their growth and development. I was so touched to have my experiences of wrestling kids in sacrament meetings (which definitely happens weekly) recognized. Something Dr. Shon Hopkin mentioned in the Follow Him podcast last week really struck me as well –

“[Many] are afraid to have families and children under the difficulties of our day and those who trust in the Lord say, "I will move forward in faith and we will have families, we will support families. If I'm an aunt or an uncle, I'm going to support my brothers and sister's family. I'm going to be a primary teacher and support families. We will not be afraid, but we will move forward.”
And I would submit every time a child is born and the spirit that comes with that childbirth is a witness of Emmanuel. God is with us. He's still sending His children to this earth.”
Dr Shon Hopkin, Follow Him Podcast, Book of Mormon Episode 9

I loved how he categorized having children as an act of faith and a way to show the Lord that we trust Him even as He trusts us with the care of His children. I also loved the idea that every new baby born is a sign that God is with us. I thought that was a beautiful way to honor those new babies. It may be more tender to me currently as I have my own small baby in the home (although he’s getting big much faster than I authorized him to!) but as the world often considers the addition of more children as an act of insanity it is encouraging to have it honored instead as an act of faith. I would love for us to consider how can we have faith to have families despite the difficulties of the world around us? How can we support the families around us to grow in faith?

I want to share my testimony that the greatest works that we can do in this life are often those that are most likely to be overlooked. But that nothing that we do is overlooked by the Lord. You matter. All that you are doing in your calling, for your family, in your personal relationship with the Lord – it matters. I hope that we will all find ways to recognize all of the different ways that those around us are living the gospel “in the path of their duty” and that we will strive to find the ways that we can best serve, even when it’s not glamorous. I know that our Heavenly Parents love us and I’m so grateful that because of Jesus Christ all of our small and seemingly insignificant works can help us to live with Them again.