My life was at a pivotal point as general conference was approaching last October. I had been trying to improve in my work, in my Church service, and in my family, but sometimes I felt like I was spinning my wheels and going nowhere. So heading into general conference, I didn’t even know what guidance or answers I was looking for—I just wanted to be uplifted.
Although I had clear goals for my improvement, I was frustrated since I wasn’t making the progress I wanted to. But in his talk, Elder Michael A. Dunn of the Seventy answered some questions I didn’t know I had. He referenced the principle found in 2 Nephi 28:30, which says that Heavenly Father teaches us “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little.” When I heard Elder Dunn’s counsel to aim to do “one percent better,”1 my eyes were opened. It was as if a warm sunrise was climbing over the horizon and light suddenly became visible to me; I could now see what was ahead of me and what I needed to do.
Suddenly the challenges I was facing in my job and calling started to make sense. It wasn’t my goals that needed to change or my desire to fulfill them. Instead, I needed to be patient and willing to grow at a gradual pace.
In the past, I had found it all too easy to give large amounts of effort for a while, followed by nothing once I became exhausted. This type of living sometimes gave me a thrill because I could accomplish so many things in a short period of time, but it was also depressing when I swung back to making little or no progress.
As I listened further to conference, I made another connection to my circumstances. It’s important not only to learn and progress step by step but to take the steps in order. The Savior is well aware of these steps and has provided a beautiful framework in the covenants and ordinances of His gospel that we can follow.
A story shared by Elder Alvin F. Meredith III of the Seventy about learning to drive as a teenager illustrated this in my mind. He explained how he kept swerving the car because he was only looking at what was directly in front of him. His father said: “Look down the road. That will help you drive straight.”2 Similarly, as we look forward, with our eyes on the Savior, we can see what is ahead of us and know how to get home to Him.
As I pondered the significance of consistent, small steps of progress, I realized how I could overcome my challenges at work, improve in my calling, and manage everything else going on in my life.
The Savior invites us to act upon His words and make His teachings a part of our lives. But we don’t have to do it all at once. Maybe that’s why general conference is only twice a year—so we can focus on studying and implementing one insight at a time in the months between conferences.
As President Russell M. Nelson has reminded us, “The Lord loves effort.”3 He doesn’t expect instant change but steady, consistent effort. Rather than trying to cram all our spiritual learning and growth into one day or even into one weekend, we can be patient with ourselves and keep improving one step at a time as we move forward on the covenant path.