When you hear the phrase, “I am a disciple of Christ,” what do you think of?
At the Worldwide Discussion Event for Youth yesterday, comments from Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Young Women General President Emily Belle Freeman, and Young Men General President Steven J. Lund made me rethink my definition of discipleship and what it means to become a disciple of Christ.
Before, when I thought of being a “disciple of Christ” or “discipleship,” I was instantly taken to a mindset of missionary work—much like the metaphors shown in the beautiful music video shared at the beginning of the broadcast.
This event was held to introduce the youth theme for the year—“I am a Disciple of Christ.” But before the three Church leaders dove into their discussion with youth from around the world about what it means to be a disciple of Christ, they emphasized the process of becoming a disciple of Christ.
And the setting for their introduction could not have been more perfect.
Elder Stevenson, President Freeman, and President Lund stood together—in the rain—in front of the Salt Lake Temple renovation site. President Freeman joked about the chaotic setting: the umbrellas, the mud on their boots, and the messy scaffolding behind them. But she also pointed out the beautiful symbolism in where they were standing.
“Sometimes, this is what building looks like,” she said. “And maybe that’s true in your own life. Maybe you are aspiring to become something but you feel like you are right in the process of building.”
Throughout their introductory remarks, all three leaders used phrases like “rebuild,” “refine,” ”I need a renovation,” and “rebuilding as a process of discipleship.”
“I’ve noticed that spiritual progress—refining and building and shaping—often occurs simultaneously. It helps us also remember that discipleship is a work in progress, just like this beautiful temple behind us,” Elder Stevenson said.
And my mind was blown. Instead of discipleship as a focus on others, their words helped me realize that sometimes, discipleship can mean a focus on ourselves.
It’s improving, rebuilding, and renovating our own lives. It’s taking inventory of the things that are serving us and those that aren’t, tearing down walls of pride, and digging deeply to establish a stronger personal foundation of faith.
And thankfully, it doesn’t need to happen overnight. It’s a “work in progress,” as Elder Stevenson says.
You can watch the full 40-minute discussion with Elder Stevenson, President Freeman, and President Lund in the player below and read more about their remarks on Church Newsroom here.