GCBC Week 3: Our Path of Duty

General Conference Book Club Week 3:


This week we’ll study Bishop McMullin’s counsel about duty.  He stated:

Duty does not require perfection, but it does require diligence. It is not simply what is legal; it is what is virtuous.

I’m fascinated with the relationship between duty and integrity.  I’ve been thinking also about how when it comes to our reasons for doing what is right, duty is not necessarily a replacement for love, but a companion for it.  Our adherence to duty can be seen as evidence of both our love and our integrity.  But enough of my own “talk,” study Bishop McMullin’s — it’s much better.  Please share your thoughts and insights in the comments.  We learn as we discuss together and see new ways to apply the principles in our lives.

Go here to find the media versions of the talk (audio, video, mp3, etc.).  If this is your first visit to the General Conference Book Club,  click here to learn how it works, and please join us!

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14 thoughts on “GCBC Week 3: Our Path of Duty

  1. I liked the story he began with where, when asked to forgive the unforgivable the woman prayed, “I can lift my hand. I can do that much. You supply the feeling.” Like so many other talks this conference, an example of how action is often preludes the blessings.

    I also wrote down that same quote you mentioned. Getting hung up on perfection can make us reluctant to act.

    The last thing I wrote down when I listened was when he said, “It is as important to be guided by the Holy Spirit while praying as it is to be enlightened by that same Spirit while receiving an answer to prayer.” This is a difficult thing for me to do and something I need to work on more diligently 🙂

    • That is such a good point, Charlotte. I remember reading in the Bible Dictionary section on “Prayer” about how we need to ask Heavenly Father for the things that the Savior would ask for us, and that is the key to having our prayers answered. Bishop McMullin reminded me of that…and at how often I forget to do it.

      Thanks for sharing!

  2. Okay.
    First.

    I neglected to do GCBC weekly this past six months and I cannot tell you how much I missed it. It has been such a blessing to me, so I am even more determined to join in for this “session” of General Conference Book Club. Thank.you, Steph, for this *fabulous* place.

    Now. Bishop McMullin’s talk. I was very struck by the retelling of Corrie Tenboom’s experience with the guard. I’ve heard that experience many times, but it really struck me this time. Even then–it took me a couple seconds to see what in the world this powerful story of forgiveness had to do with the very mundane topic of duty.

    Which, I guess, is the point. Duty isn’t mundane. Duty can be a valiant, gut wrenching thing, as evidenced by that story. Could doing my duty to God mean reading my scriptures before I check my e-mail in the morning? What about doing my duty to God by going visiting teaching at the beginning of the month, and really putting effort into it? Those are things that this talk got me thinking about: how can I do my duty to God, to the Savior, and to my family BEFORE I do my easier duties as a housewife, graphic designer, beekeeper, etc. (Okay, I’ll admit it: the stuff I *want* to do.)

    Still got me thinking.

  3. I felt like I got two weeks in a row of telling me to seek personal revelation. It is our duty to pray.
    As I read several scriptures that were referenced I also got the encouragement to just take one step at a time. They talk about walking in the path of our duty. (A little random I know, but personal revelation can be a little random–I also knew I needed to be better at actually walking. Exercise!)
    Thanks for this site! I needed the encouragement to take this one little step of studying the conference talks so I could receive more personal revelation.

  4. The first time that I read through this talk, for whatever reason, it didn’t really strike a chord with me. I though “Oh, well that’s nice, that was a good story.” I didn’t plan on commenting, but throughout this week, I have been thinking about it and I just reread it tonight, and I was amazed at the difference in the talk. I never really thought about my “duty as a manifestation of my faith.” What a huge responsibility to take on.

    Thanks so much for doing this

  5. This talk was a tough one for me, mostly due to my own personal reaction to the word duty. When I think of that word, I think of requirements, expectations, obligations, etc. imposed on me by outside forces, and I’m at a point in my life where I am trying to choose good things, not be forced to do them. I really had to let go of that in order to find what I needed to hear in this talk. My favorite part is this:
    Said President Joseph F. Smith: “All that we have comes from [God]. … In and of ourselves we are but a lifeless lump of clay. Life, intelligence, wisdom, judgment, power to reason, all are the gifts of God to the children of men. He gives us our physical strength as well as our mental powers. … We should honor God with our intelligence, with our strength, with our understanding, with our wisdom, and with all the power that we possess. We should seek to do good in the world. This is our duty.”15

    I especially like the idea that doing good in the world is our duty. That is something that I choose to do because I know it is right. Perhaps I need to find the “rightness” of all of these duties first, and then maybe I won’t see them as things imposed upon me, but things that I choose to make a personal commitment to.

    • I can understand what you’re saying because I think that as human beings we don’t like to feel obligated to do things. However, if I look closely at all the good I might do in my life, it really is out of a sense of duty to something I hold dear. And the more and more I think about it, I think we are indebted more that we like to admit and truly do have many “obligations”. The concept of duty becomes so much more softened as I think about it in the context of faith and love– the reasons behind doing what I know is right.

  6. First of all, I just finished reading The Hiding Place which is where the WWII story he tells came from, and it’s a really good book.

    Here are some of the notes I took from this talk:
    Disasters can *keep us in the path* of our duty. It makes me think of peoples in the Book of Mormon and how suffering made some more obedient and some less obedient. I hope I’m turning to duty and staying in my path when life gets hard.

    Our path of duty is keeping our covenants. It’s easy to feel bound to things we’ve already PROMISED. I love how he explained that our duty binds us to God, to the Savior and to one another.

    His counsel to pray in order to better understand our duty, especially in crisis, reminds me of Sister Beck’s talk and the importance of praying to know our priorities. Another reminder of the necessary power of prayer and personal revelation.

    My favorite point, and one I’m learning to do better at: “Duty does not require perfection, but it does require diligence.”

  7. During FHE after conference we asked our kids what stories they remembered and this one about Corrie ten Boom is what a couple of my younger ones recalled.

    I like how Bishop McMullin points out that when we do our duty to God first it naturally progresses to wanting to do our duty to others, our family, church, communities, etc. Just a reminder to me that when I’m feeling like it’s a chore to do my duty as a wife and mother it’s usually because I’ve failed to do my duty to God. My days run so much better when I start them with sincere prayer and gospel study. The nature of the day doesn’t change but how I react to it does.

  8. I read this talk today. When I listened (I read and listen at the same time – it helps me concentrate) I was wowed by the Corrie ten Boom story even though I’m sure I’ve heard it before.

    The part that struck me the most was the quote by Joseph F. Smith – about how we should honor God and see to do good.

    It made me think of how I am honoring God in my home and with my children. It made me wonder how I am doing good at home, and where I can improve.

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