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Faith, Fire, and Focus

Strategies for becoming a successful student

As members of the Church, we are each on a path leading us to Christ, a path of discipleship.

On the path of discipleship there are many principles and themes which can be evaluated in your life to better understand the Lord’s plan for you. Three of these themes are faith, fire, and focus.


Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us to “look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.” 1
1. Jeffrey R. Holland, “The Best is Yet to Be,” Ensign, Jan. 2010, 23
Faith carries us to our goals and provides the motivation needed to make those goals a reality. The story of a young man from Uganda illustrates this theme of looking to the future in faith.
Ayella Denis
Ayella Denis overcame his trials by giving back to his community.

At the young age of nine, Ayella Denis was forced to become a child soldier after his family was killed. During his years as a soldier, the civil war would take place and northern Uganda would be devastated. Through many years of being in a seemingly endless cycle of escaping and again being taken as a soldier, Ayella eventually found himself on the streets alone, without money or food. After many years of building his life, Ayella now runs his own orphanage for young children who are also escaping the military.

Ayella’s story is a great story of faith. He knew he would one day be free from the military and that he could be successful. What started as a dream became a reality through his faith. Some PathwayConnect students have fought through trials, financial difficulties, and other challenges in order to make it to PathwayConnect. Whether a small step or a leap of faith, PathwayConnect students start out with faith in Christ and in themselves, which carries them to their goals.

What can I do to help increase faith in myself and in God?


In the Book of Mormon, Alma 2
teaches how we can feel a “fire” within us as we learn truths. “…when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves – It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul… enlighten my understanding… be delicious to me.”

In this scripture we find the acronym for the word “seed” (swelling, enlarge, enlighten, and delicious). We can liken a seed to our faith, and as our faith grows and blossoms, we feel the fire of our testimony grow within us. This leads to another story which illustrates the concept of fire.

Statue of Terry Fox in Canada

Terry Fox 3
3. “The Marathon of Hope,” The Terry Fox Foundation.
, a young Canadian runner, was a cancer survivor who had lost his leg due to the disease. When he was again able to run on his prosthetic leg, he bravely began a run across Canada to raise money for cancer patients like himself. Terry pushed through with a fiery strength to finish this never-before-accomplished task. One day while running, Terry suddenly collapsed and was rushed to the hospital. Once again Terry fought, but he eventually lost his battle with cancer.

Like Terry, each of us has a legacy to leave. While it will probably not include an excruciating run across Canada, your fire and legacy is meant to be shared with those around you.

PathwayConnect can be the beginning spark to your future. Whether a future degree or a closer relationship with Christ, PathwayConnect can ignite within you a legacy of love and education to those who come after.

What can I do to fuel my fire?


Elder Christofferson illustrated the theme of focus in a conference talk 4
4. D. Todd Christofferson, “As Many as I Love, I Rebuke and Chasten,” Ensign, May 2011, 97.
in 2011. In this story , Elder Hugh B. Brown sees that his current bush is overgrown and not bearing any fruit. Elder Brown proceeds to cut down the bush, and thought he saw the currant bush cry and heard it say, “How could you do this to me? I was making such wonderful growth and now you’ve cut me down. Every plant of the garden will look down on me. How could you do this to me? I thought you were the gardener here.”
BYU-Pathway and BYU-Idaho Online Advising Manager Steve Thomas

Elder Brown answered, “Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I don’t intend for you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree, I want you to be a currant bush. And someday, little currant bush, when you’re laden with fruit, you’re going to say, ‘Thank you, Mister gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”

Likening ourselves to this currant bush, we are often cut down when we think we are finally making some progress. This can be a frustrating and often intimidating time in our lives. But as you come across these times when you are cut down, remember that God is your gardener. He knows what you are meant to become, and He knows how to get you there.

As you keep this eternal focus, you will be blessed for having the humility to be cut down and grow into God’s potential for you.

What can I do to keep my focus on my path and potential?

An Invitation

BYU-Pathway Area Manager Mike Cordon

As you work to become a faithful follower of Christ, continue to ask yourself these questions: What can I do to increase faith in myself and in God? What can I do to fuel my fire? And what can I do to keep my focus on my path and potential?

These three themes, if identified and faithfully lived, can be a key to becoming the disciple and student you wish to become, and you can then come to discover your path.

BYU-Pathway Area Manager Mike Cordon and BYU-Pathway Online Advising Manager Steve Thomas presented this topic at the BYU-Pathway Missionary Conference at the BYU-Idaho campus in 2016.