Goals, Growth, and Progress—Recent Messages from Prophets and Apostles
January 2023

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Goals, Growth, and Progress—Recent Messages from Prophets and Apostles

See what living prophets have taught recently on social media about setting and working on goals to help us become more like Jesus Christ.

blocks building upward

At the beginning of each year, we often consider what goals or resolutions we can make to improve ourselves. But with so many options of what to learn or do, where do we start?

In Luke 2:52, we find a pattern from the Savior’s life: “Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.” This verse is also a foundation for the Children and Youth program, which invites us (regardless of age) to similarly become more like Jesus Christ by growing spiritually, socially, physically, and intellectually.

As we prayerfully select and work on goals in all aspects of our life, we often face decisions about desires, priorities, failures, setbacks, resilience, support, and relationships. Members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have provided hope and insights to help us in our growth through their addresses in general conference talks on goals and in these teachings from their social media accounts.

Consider These Three Resolutions

“I’m sure many of you are setting aside time today to write down your resolutions for the coming year. May I make a few suggestions?

“First, resolve to strengthen your spiritual foundation. This may involve setting a specific time and place to study the scriptures, praying more often, making temple worship a bigger priority, and letting God prevail in all aspects of your life.

“Second, resolve to be kind to others. When the Savior Jesus Christ visited the Americas, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, one of the first things He taught was the need to eliminate contention in our lives. So, please be compassionate, be understanding, be slow to judge, and be quick to forgive.

“Third, resolve to be resolute. The Lord loves effort. The Lord loves consistency. The Lord loves steadfastness. While we surely will come up short from time to time, our persistent efforts to hear Him and follow the inspiration He gives us will help us to ‘wax strong in the Spirit’ (Mosiah 18:26).

“May God bless you, my dear friends, and may this be a wonderful year of purpose and possibilities for all of us.”

President Russell M. Nelson, Facebook, Jan. 1, 2022, facebook.com/russell.m.nelson.

Opportunities Can Come from Starting and Finishing Something Difficult

“To all my young friends, I hope you understand the value of working toward and receiving a higher education, and I hope you will learn from a regret of mine.

“When I was taking business courses from professors at the university, I realized that I was making more money than the teachers were making. I was, I guess, a fairly good salesman. I remember thinking: ‘If I quit school and put full-time effort into sales, I could really be financially secure.’

“It seemed like a reasonable thought at the time. And so I didn’t finish my last year of college. I’ve regretted that decision my whole life.

“Who knows what other opportunities may have befallen me if I had finished that final year of school. You are constantly faced with important decisions regarding relationships, work, and school, and you may not know the exact steps you’ll take in the future. Completing your education can ensure those steps will lead you in a good direction.

“If you are able, I encourage you to make a degree an integral element of your life plan. God blesses us for starting and finishing something that challenges us.”

President M. Russell Ballard, Facebook, Feb. 23, 2022, facebook.com/mrussell.ballard.

Keep Your Eyes on Your Dreams

“As a new year begins, we should try to benefit from a view of what has gone before. I plead with you to remember that the past is to be learned from, but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences, but not the ashes.

“And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we should look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.

“Some of you may wonder—particularly as we live through the daily tumult in the world around us today—‘Is there any future for me?’ What does a new year hold for me? Will I be safe? Will life be sound? Can I trust in the Lord and in the future?

“Please remember this: faith trusts that God has great things in store for each of us and that Christ truly is the ‘high priest of good things to come’ [Hebrews 9:11].

“Keep your eyes on your dreams, however distant and far away. Live to see the miracles of repentance and forgiveness, of trust and divine love that will transform your life today, tomorrow, and forever. That is a New Year’s resolution I ask you to keep.”

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Facebook, Jan. 9, 2022, facebook.com/jeffreyr.holland.

Christ teaching His disciples

Every Day, Every Hour, Can Be a Fresh Start

“I learned early in life, there is no need to wait for a new year to have a fresh start in my personal life. With every new day, a new dawn comes—not only for the earth but also for you and me. And with every new day comes a new start—a chance to begin again and avoid the danger of procrastination.

“There were times in my life when I have spent sleepless nights grappling with issues, worries, or personal sorrows. But no matter how dark the night, I was always encouraged by the thought ‘In the morning the sun will rise again’ (see Psalm 30:5).

“The scriptures promise, ‘The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning’ (Lamentations 3:22–23, English Standard Version). And the Lord invites us to ‘let your light shine … so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16, English Standard Version).

“In these coming days, weeks, and months, as stretching as they may be, God’s love and the fruit of the Spirit will enable us to reach out to those around us (family, friends, everyone) and help them to better cope with their challenging circumstances. ‘The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law’ (Galatians 5:22–23, New International Version).”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Facebook, Jan. 5, 2021, facebook.com/dieterf.uchtdorf.

“Despite past heartache, each of us can begin again. … We can start over because our Heavenly Father is the God of new beginnings.

“Every day, every hour, can be a fresh start—an opportunity to renew ourselves in the Holy Spirit. God’s mercy is sufficient to heal our wounds, inspire us to move forward, cleanse us of sin, strengthen us for trials to come, and bless us with hope and His peace. This is a message all of God’s children need to hear.”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Facebook, Aug. 11, 2021, facebook.com/dieterf.uchtdorf.

Not Perfect? You May Be Just the Person God Is Looking for

“Fred Astaire was an iconic actor, dancer, and singer of American cinema. He starred in dozens of Broadway and Hollywood shows. One of his early auditions was evaluated with these words: ‘Can’t act. Slightly bald. Can dance a little.’

“Hardly a glowing report!

“Through persistence and hard work, he developed his abilities until he became one of the greatest performers of all time—known for his ‘elegance, grace, originality, and precision.’

“He wasn’t the only one who struggled with self-doubt or endured criticism.

“Walt Disney was fired from a newspaper because he ‘lacked imagination and had no good ideas.’

“Vincent Van Gogh sold only a very few paintings during his lifetime—many of them to family and close friends.

“Ernest Hemingway once received a rejection notice from an editor who found his writing ‘both tedious and offensive,’ claiming, ‘My young son could do better!’

“Perhaps we all see ourselves as a little less than we are. Unworthy. Untalented. Nothing special. Lacking the heart, mind, resources, charisma, or stature to be of much use to God.

“You say you’re not perfect? You’re not good enough? Welcome to the club!

“You may be just the person God is looking for.

“God doesn’t need you to be exceptional, let alone perfect.

“He will take your talents and abilities and multiply them—even though they may seem as scarce as a few loaves and fishes. If you trust Him and are faithful, He will magnify your words and actions and use them to bless and minister to multitudes!”

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Facebook, Oct. 15, 2021, facebook.com/dieterf.uchtdorf.

Don’t Try to Do Everything at the Same Time

“Sometimes we reflect on all of our responsibilities at home, school, work, and church and wonder how we can achieve a balance among the many competing demands on our time. Instead of driving ourselves crazy trying to do everything at the same time, we should identify the few fundamental things that are our highest priorities. We then can strive to give each of them the attention they need—one at a time.

“When you are at home, choose to make home the priority. When you are at school, choose to make school the priority. When you are at work, choose to make work the priority. When you are worshipping at home or at church, choose to make worship the priority.

“It may sound simplistic, but we should not get frustrated and waste effort and time trying to achieve a perfect equilibrium among all of the important things we need to do. As we pray sincerely for God’s help to identify what matters most, He will guide and assist us to focus our efforts day by day.”

Elder David A. Bednar, Facebook, Apr. 19, 2021, facebook.com/davida.bednar.

Learn from Failure, and Remember the Goodness of God

“I have observed in my life and in the lives of other people many recurring cycles of events—failure and success, sadness and happiness, destruction and reconstruction, tragedy and triumph, conflict and harmony, frustration and fulfillment, and countless others.

“But if today, with God’s help, we learn from failure, then we can achieve greater success as we press forward.

“If today, with God’s help, we overcome sadness, then we can experience deeper happiness as we continue to serve and honor Him.

“And if today, with God’s help, we cope appropriately with the frustration of the moment, then we can be blessed to receive enduring fulfillment.

“The key is remembering always the greatness and goodness of God—and acknowledging our dependence upon Him for direction and strength in our individual lives.

“My invitation to all of you—young and old—is to love God and your neighbors, care for those in need, and always maintain an eternal perspective about God’s plan of happiness—a perspective that reaches far beyond the temporary trials and turmoil of mortal life.”

Elder David A. Bednar, Facebook, Jun. 13, 2021, facebook.com/davida.bednar.

Keep the Two Great Commandments, and in the Priority Order Given

“The drive to succeed can lead to important accomplishments. Certainly, it can be empowering and produce wonderful rewards and contributions to the happiness of those you love and even society at large. At the extreme, however, overburdened with your own expectations or the perceived expectations of others, it can lead to anxiety, perfectionism, or depression and could overwhelm marriage, family, service to others, and even Christian discipleship. How can you be sure to reap the positive outcomes and avoid the negative in your life?

“From my own experience, I would say it is quite clear: keep the two great commandments, and in the priority order given—‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’ Loving and following Jesus Christ will give purpose, equilibrium, and meaning to your life. It will center your life in service.”

Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Facebook, Sept. 3, 2021, facebook.com/dtodd.christofferson.

Set Meaningful Personal Spiritual Goals

doll with partially painted face

“The Daruma doll is a cherished symbol in Japanese culture of good luck and perseverance. It is used to set goals and celebrate achievement and success. When someone commits to a goal, they color in an eye and ask for divine assistance to achieve it. After the goal is achieved, they color in the other as a sign of gratitude.

“While our new year goals may include ways to improve physically or temporally, I encourage you to counsel with your Father in Heaven and also set meaningful personal spiritual goals. Goals that will fortify your foundation and faith in Jesus Christ. Please remember to thank Him, He is the giver of all good gifts.”

Elder Gary E. Stevenson, Facebook, Jan. 1, 2022, facebook.com/stevenson.gary.e.

Be Patient and Understanding with Yourself

“You may feel overwhelmed by everything you want to improve as this new year begins. Please be patient and understanding with yourself.

“Too often we are too hard on ourselves. The Lord invites us to come as we are, to do all things ‘in wisdom and order’ [Mosiah 4:27]. He does not expect us to run faster than we have strength, even as we are diligent and valiant.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong, Facebook, Jan. 10, 2021, facebook.com/gerritw.gong.

Seek the Lord’s Help to Improve Line upon Line, Never All at Once

“On one occasion, the Savior Himself said, ‘Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am’ [3 Nephi 27:27]. This perfection certainly will not come until we reach the other side of the veil. Through His prophets, the Lord invites us to seek for ways to improve ourselves, never all at once, but line upon line.

“The help we can receive from the Lord in our goals and righteous pursuits is unlimited, and He supports us in any good and righteous endeavor. My lifetime call as one of His special witnesses has added even more strength to my determination to continue to make improvements in various areas of my life in order to become more Christlike. Every effort to be more like Him increases our spiritual capacity to serve Him. We can always be grateful to the Lord for the help He gives us in making personal improvements. In my case, I still have a long way to go. But I’m making progress, little by little, with joy and gratitude!

“I invite you to consider ways to pursue righteous endeavors in your own life, no matter your circumstances. I assure you that the Lord loves each one of us and He is always there to help us, regardless of the situation we are facing.”

Elder Ulisses Soares, Facebook, Feb. 26, 2021, facebook.com/soares.u.