He wishes to honor our desires

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Saturday Afternoon Session of the October 1988 Conference.
I found this little section of Elder Maxwell's talk intriguing:
What desirest thou of me? the resurrected Jesus inquired one by one of the Nephite Twelve. He knows our individual bearing capacities. He will lead us along, not herd us. Foremost, the gospel can even educate our desires; then these desires can work affirmatively in us and for us. 
Are we really ready, however, for the responsibility and the high adventure of being tutored by Him who genuinely wishes to honor our individual desires, if we do not desire amiss?
I've written about desire lots of times, but in this context I was thinking about how, when Jesus asks this question of his disciples, most of them say they want to finish their work on earth and then speedily go to Jesus in his kingdom. But the three Nephites want something else; they want to stay on earth until Christ's Second Coming. I always wonder—what made them want that? Was it some innate gift—they were really good at missionary work? They were extroverts or talented teachers or good public speakers or they especially loved being around people? Or was it the opposite; they felt inadequate at missionary work and wanted to leave their comfort zones to prove their love and devotion to Jesus Christ? How did they become the kind of people who had that desire?

And it's not like Jesus tries to get the rest of the disciples to have that same desire. He doesn't seem to favor one group over the other (well—maybe. He does say "more blessed are ye"—but I don't know quite what He means by that). He seems to truly just want all the disciples to have what they actually desire. Elder Maxwell talks about the gospel "educat[ing] our desires," but these men seem to all have been good, faithful men. They just had different desires, perhaps based on their different strengths or life experiences.

I know in many ways the gospel makes us more unified, with each other and with God. And I have also heard many times that it doesn't take away our individuality. But I'm just so interested in this idea that God will tutor us even as He "genuinely honors our individual desires." Which of my desires need to be educated out of me, and which will God work through as they stay in me? Which desires are innate or left over from my premortal life, and which are things I've learned from my culture? How will my desires shape the way God sends experiences and people into my life? How can I make my desires more like what Jesus Christ would desire for me? If He asked me "what desirest thou"—what would my spirit say?

Other posts in this series:

A brief history of Relief Society Meetings—by Jan Tolman
True Orthodoxy—by Nathaniel Givens


  1. Yes! I wonder and wonder so much about this! Was it something to do with their nature? Was it part of their mission premortally and their spirits retained that desire to fulfill it? And in my own life what things are ... His will asking me to submit vs Him trying to show me things I wanted and have forgotten. And which of my desires are things he is happy to grant me and have me pursue. I know only the Spirit can educate us about it, but so much to ponder.


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