November 11, 2015
History and pop culture are full of great mentors — athletes, artists, generals, craftsmen, leaders, and teachers — all of whom have passed their skills to students and followers, known as apprentices. This master-apprentice relationship is a special one — a partnership through which the apprentice, over time, learns to become a master.
Consider the following master-apprentice relationships:
- Socrates & Plato
- Alma & Amulek
- Mr. Miagi & The Karate Kid
- Yoda & Luke Skywalker
- Waldemar de Brito & Pelé
- Professor Albus Dumbledore & Harry Potter
- Moroni & Joseph Smith
These examples evoke scenes of great mentors guiding, coaching, and crafting opportunities for apprentices who have equally great desires to learn the skills of the master.
A Relationship for Personal Growth
I remember learning at university about the guild system of medieval Europe. Masters of a particular craft, which might include woodwork, metalwork, weaving, business, or making shoes, would agree to train a student of that trade. A contract bound them together for a period of time. The master provided hands-on training, tools, and a workshop. The apprentice carefully observed and then imitated what the master did. After many years of observation and practice, the apprentice progressed along the path to becoming a master. Through the master-apprentice relationship, a path to self-reliance and prosperity opened up to the apprentice.
Throughout human history, God’s children have learned by watching and imitating those with developed abilities. Success in perfecting practical skills relies on the relationship nurtured between master and apprentice. A relationship based on trust, patient coaching, mutual respect, gentle correction, and enabling empowerment forms the foundation for true and sustainable personal development.
Perfecting practical skills relies on the relationship nurtured between master and apprentice.
Many will enjoy the privilege of similar relationships throughout this life with individuals who take a special interest in us at key moments. Yet all can enjoy another relationship, more enduring and more empowering, that lies at the very heart of the PathwayConnect experience. In fact, it is the most important pathway we will ever walk — the path of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Like the apprentices of old, we bind ourselves to our Master by contract — sacred covenants and ordinances required for salvation. We then watch, study, learn, and imitate our Master until we resemble Him. This deeply personal, one-on-one relationship is built on trust, patient mentoring, love, gentle correction, and the enabling power of His grace.
The Disciple’s Path
In October 2006, President James E. Faust taught, “The word for disciple and the word for discipline both come from the same Latin root — discipulus, which means pupil. It emphasizes practice or exercise. Self-discipline and self-control are consistent and permanent characteristics of the followers of Jesus…”1 Our common bond as God’s children is that we are all learners, walking together down the pathway of discipleship. As we unite our efforts through inspired gathering opportunities, like those PathwayConnect offers, we draw strength and friendship from each other.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland declared in April 2014 that, “A long history of inspired voices … point you toward the path of Christian discipleship. It is a strait path, and it is a narrow path without a great deal of latitude at some points, but it can be thrillingly and successfully traveled. …In courageously pursuing such a course, you will forge unshakeable faith, you will find safety against ill winds that blow, even shafts in the whirlwind, and you will feel the rock-like strength of our Redeemer, upon whom if you build your unflagging discipleship, you cannot fall.”2
For Such a Time as This
My experience as a student at Ricks College, now known as BYU-Idaho, was a catalyst in my personal pathway of discipleship — it sparked in me the desire to become more like my Savior. I was raised on the Oregon coast in the western United States by a single mother who encouraged me to attend university. I wasn’t prepared for higher learning, but I sure wanted to make her proud of me. I wasn’t gifted with intellect, but I knew the Lord had a plan for me and that it involved improving my mind and deepening my faith. What a blessing it was to learn from professors who inspired me and to associate with so many wonderful friends. Now, all these years later, it is an absolute dream come true to be part of a team devoted to putting within reach of every one of God’s children an experience like the one I enjoyed over 20 years ago at Ricks College.
PathwayConnect has been brought forth for such a time as this,3 when men and women seek for divine knowledge and intelligence only found on the disciple’s path. I invite each of us to embrace this great opportunity to place at the center of our lives that one relationship, which empowers us to become what the Lord already sees in us. I know He is close to us. You can be closer to Him in this season of life than ever before. I pray that at the heart of your PathwayConnect experience, you will feel and respond to his gentle invitation of “come, follow me.”4