Editor's note: Our weekly Friday column, “Found in the Footnotes,” explores some of the footnotes from remarks given by General Authorities and General Officers of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
In his first address as prophet originating from the Salt Lake Temple, President Russell M. Nelson promised to serve for the rest of his life: "I declare my devotion to God our Eternal Father, and to his Son, Jesus Christ. I know them, love them, and pledge to serve them—and you—with every remaining breath of my life."
So for me, when I heard President Nelson’s talk, “We Can Do Better and Be Better,” I felt that this counsel came from someone who was sincere, someone who he himself was trying to do better and be better each day.
“We know what will give us greater access to the powers of heaven,” President Nelson said in his remarks. “We also know what will hinder our progress—what we need to stop doing to increase our access to the powers of heaven. . . . All of us can do better and be better than ever before.”
In a footnote to this talk, President Nelson writes, “The words the Lord has inspired in the revelations and in present-day teachings—higher, holier, accelerate, increase, strengthen, greater, transform, remodel, improve, enhance, change, deepen, stretch—are words of spiritual growth.”
As a writer, I love words and I found these words so powerful. Let’s take a look at how President Nelson has used each of these words since his call as prophet.
- “In addition to their answering those [temple recommend] questions honestly, it is understood that each adult temple patron will wear the sacred garment of the priesthood under their regular clothing. This is symbolic of an inner commitment to strive each day to become more like the Lord. It also reminds us to remain faithful each day to covenants made and to walk on the covenant path each day in a higher and holier way” (From October 2019, “Closing Remarks”).
- “We have made the decision to retire home teaching and visiting teaching as we have known them. Instead, we will implement a newer, holier approach to caring for and ministering to others. We will refer to these efforts simply as ‘ministering’” (From April 2018, “Ministering”).
- “Things are going to move forward at an accelerated pace. The Church is going to have an unprecedented future, unparalleled. We’re just building up to what’s ahead now” (From March 2019, “President Nelson Calls Rome Temple Dedication a ‘Hinge Point’ in Church History”).
- “I entreat you to study prayerfully all the truths you can find about priesthood power. . . . As your understanding increases and as you exercise faith in the Lord and His priesthood power, your ability to draw upon this spiritual treasure that the Lord has made available will increase. As you do so, you will find yourselves better able to help create eternal families that are united, sealed in the temple of the Lord, and full of love for our Heavenly Father and for Jesus Christ” (From October 2019, “Spiritual Treasures”).
- “The First Presidency and the Twelve are united in endorsing these efforts to strengthen our youth. Oh, how we love them and pray for them! They are the ‘hope of Israel, Zion’s army, children of the promised day.’ We express our complete confidence in our youth and our gratitude for them” (From October 2019, “Witnesses, Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, and Young Women Classes”).
- “Gratefully, the priesthood we hold is far stronger than are the wiles of the adversary. I plead with you to be the men and young men the Lord needs you to be. Make your focus on daily repentance so integral to your life that you can exercise the priesthood with greater power than ever before. This is the only way you will keep yourself and your family spiritually safe in the challenging days ahead” (From April 2019, “We Can Do Better and Be Better”).
- “When we choose to repent, we choose to change! We allow the Savior to transform us into the best version of ourselves. We choose to grow spiritually and receive joy—the joy of redemption in Him. When we choose to repent, we choose to become more like Jesus Christ!” (From April 2019, “We Can Do Better and Be Better”).
- “The new home-centered, Church-supported integrated curriculum has the potential to unleash the power of families, as each family follows through conscientiously and carefully to transform their home into a sanctuary of faith. I promise that as you diligently work to remodel your home into a center of gospel learning, over time your Sabbath days will truly be a delight. Your children will be excited to learn and to live the Savior’s teachings, and the influence of the adversary in your life and in your home will decrease. Changes in your family will be dramatic and sustaining” (From October 2018, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints”).
- “There are specific ways in which we can likely improve. One is in the way we treat our bodies. I stand in awe of the miracle of the human body. It is a magnificent creation, essential to our gradual ascent toward our ultimate divine potential. We cannot progress without it. In giving us the gift of a body, God has allowed us to take a vital step toward becoming more like Him” (From April 2019, “We Can Do Better and Be Better”).
- “These [witness] policy adjustments are procedural. The underlying doctrine and covenants are unchanged. They are equally efficacious in all ordinances. These changes should greatly enhance family participation in these ordinances” (From October 2019, “Witnesses, Aaronic Priesthood Quorums, and Young Women Classes”).
- “The heavens are just as open to women who are endowed with God’s power flowing from their priesthood covenants as they are to men who bear the priesthood. I pray that truth will register upon each of your hearts because I believe it will change your life. Sisters, you have the right to draw liberally upon the Savior’s power to help your family and others you love” (From October 2019, “Spiritual Treasures”).
- “The Book of Mormon will help you deepen your conversion to Christ and to fulfill your covenants” (From February 2020 Broadcast to Venezuelan Saints).
- “I urge you to stretch beyond your current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation, for the Lord has promised that ‘if thou shalt [seek], thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal (Doctrine and Covenants 42:61)’” (From April 2018, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives”).
President Nelson says that all of us can do better and be better. So as I read these quotes, I think what can I do to continue my spiritual growth? What are the things that I can do to be higher, holier, and greater? How can I accelerate, increase, strengthen, transform, remodel, improve, enhance, change, deepen, and stretch myself?
As President Nelson said in his address, "It is time to put on the full armor of God so we can engage in the most important work on earth. It is time to 'thrust in [our] sickles, and reap with all [our] might, mind, and strength' (Doctrine and Covenants 33:7). The forces of evil have never raged more forcefully than they do today. As servants of the Lord, we cannot be asleep while this battle rages."
Truly, we can all do better and be better.
Lead image by Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
Learn more about President Nelson in Insights from a Prophet's Life. More than a biography, this landmark volume invites readers to experience President Nelson's life through dozens of brief vignettes and hundreds of photographs. Each episode highlights an important lesson; taken together, they weave a captivating story of a man prepared in a unique way to lead the Church in our day. Available now at Deseret Book stores and at deseretbook.com.