Begin with the Resurrection in Mind

Christus Statue

While President Russell M. Nelson was recently in Auckland, New Zealand during the 2019 Pacific Ministry Tour, Soraya Wirepa, 16, asked him for advice on gaining her own testimony. The Prophet replied, “Begin with the end in mind,” Then, he added, “What would you like said about you at your funeral. … I can’t imagine better motivation than to know you are making progress every day” (Sarah Jane Weaver, “President Nelson Announces Site for Auckland Temple and Meets with Missionaries, Members in the Pacific,” Church News, May 21, 2019).

This advice is a longstanding way of approaching life for President Nelson. While speaking at a 1984 Brigham Young University (BYU) devotional, he suggested three sentences that he hopes are stated at his own funeral:

  • “I was able to render service of worth to my fellowmen.”

  • “I had a fine family.”

  • “I evidenced unshakable faith in God and lived accordingly.”

For him these are not compartmentalized interests or goals. He explains, “It is not possible to influence one facet of our life without affecting other aspects as well. …[Our] goals and priorities all are indelibly intertwined(“Begin with the End in Mind,” BYU Speeches, Sept. 30, 1984).

As Jesus taught in the Sermon on the Mount, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).

The Blessings of Death and Christ’s Resurrection

Just as runners do not begin a track race without knowing the location of the finish line, so each one of us should understand that physical death is not the end of life. The Apostle Paul clearly taught, “But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. …For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:20,22). The Resurrection applies to everyone who has and all who will yet live upon the earth. It is one of the most important events in the history and the future of humankind.

Jesus appears to Mary

Understanding the doctrine of a universal Resurrection should help us have a clearer perspective for how we should live our lives. Alma the Younger asked, “Do you look forward with an eye of faith, and view this mortal body raised in immortality, and this corruption raised in incorruption, to stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body?” (Alma 5:15). Latter-day Apostles have testified, “Each of us will stand to be judged of Him according to our works and the desires of our hearts” (“The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles,” Ensign, Apr. 2000)


Speaking at the funeral of his daughter Wendy, President Nelson quoted President Joseph F. Smith, “‘Children should be taught early in life that death is really a necessity as well as a blessing, and that we would not and could not be satisfied and supremely happy without it.’” President Nelson explained, “Our precious Wendy had to pass through that gateway we call death in order to experience a fullness of joy” (Sarah Jane Weaver, “President Nelson Speaks at His ‘Righteous and Joyful’ Daughter’s Funeral,” Church News, Jan. 22, 2019).

Four Steps in the Learning Process

Below are four steps with related scriptures that can inspire and facilitate the process of righteous learning for individual and families:

  • Desire: “If ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words” (Alma 32:27).

  • Inquire: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7).

  • Apply: “If any man will do his will, he shall know … whether it be of God” (John 7:17).

  • Pray: “And I, Nephi, did go into the mount oft, and I did pray oft unto the Lord; wherefore the Lord showed unto me great things” (1 Nephi 18:3)


Follow Christ’s Way

Christ’s “way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come” (“The Living Christ, Apr. 2000). Let us continually strive to gain and strengthen our testimonies by following the example of Jesus, believing in a Resurrection of all humankind, and trusting in the infinite virtue of Christ’s great atoning sacrifice.

resurrected Jesus

As we follow Jesus in this life and prepare ourselves for the life to come, President Nelson concluded his 1984 BYU devotional with following admonition: “Search the scriptures. Liken them unto you. Learn the law in the kingdom of your own activity. Use the standard works as literal standards of eternal excellence against which you measure every thought and deed. Begin with the end in mind. Shape your own destiny. Remember that the development of your career, your family, and your faith in God is your individual responsibility—for which you alone will be held accountable” (“Begin with the End in Mind,” BYU Speeches, Sept. 30, 1984).