General Conference—No Ordinary Blessing09689_000_003
A fine member of the Church was talking with a neighbor who was not of our faith. When the topic of discussion turned to general conference, the neighbor asked, “You say you have prophets and apostles? And twice a year in a worldwide conference they reveal the word of God?”
“Absolutely,” the member replied with confidence.
The neighbor thought about that for a moment. He seemed genuinely interested and then asked, “What did they say in the last general conference?”
At this point the good member of the Church went from feeling excited about sharing the gospel to feeling embarrassed. Try as he might, he couldn’t think of the details of a single talk.
His friend found this troubling and said, “You mean to tell me that God speaks to man in our day and you can’t remember what He said?”
The brother felt humbled by this exchange. He vowed that he would do better to remember the words spoken by the Lord’s servants in general conference.
We all know how hard it is to remember every message of general conference, and I’m confident that we need not be embarrassed if we don’t remember everything. Nevertheless, there are messages in each general conference given as a gift and a blessing from heaven specifically for our personal life situations.
In preparation for general conference, let me suggest three basic concepts that may help us to better receive, remember, and apply the words spoken by the Lord’s servants.
1. Members of the Church are entitled to personal revelation as they listen to and study the inspired words spoken at general conference.
As you prepare for general conference, I invite you to ponder questions you need to have answered. For example, you might yearn for direction and guidance by the Lord regarding challenges you are facing.
Answers to your specific prayers may come directly from a particular talk or from a specific phrase. At other times answers may come in a seemingly unrelated word, phrase, or song. A heart filled with gratitude for the blessings of life and an earnest desire to hear and follow the words of counsel will prepare the way for personal revelation.
2. Don’t discount a message merely because it sounds familiar.
Prophets have always taught by repetition; it is a law of learning. You will hear repetition in themes and doctrines in general conference. Let me reassure you: this is not due to a lack of creativity or imagination. We continue to hear messages on similar issues because the Lord is teaching and impressing upon our minds and hearts certain foundational principles of great eternal importance that must be understood and acted upon before we can move on to other things. A wise builder first lays the foundation before erecting the walls and the roof.
3. The words spoken at general conference should be a compass that points the way for us during the coming months.
If we listen to and follow the promptings of the Spirit, they will serve as a Liahona, guiding us through the unknown, challenging valleys and mountains that are ahead (see 1 Nephi 16).
Since the world began, God has raised up prophets who speak the will of heaven to the people of their times. It is our responsibility to listen and then apply the messages the Lord provides for us.
Our merciful and loving Heavenly Father has not forsaken and will not forsake His children. Today, as well as in times past, He has appointed apostles and prophets. He continues to reveal His word to them.
What a marvelous privilege it is to hear God’s messages for each of us during general conference! Let us prepare well for this great blessing of divine guidance delivered by His chosen servants.
For this is no ordinary blessing.
Teaching from This Message
Read the article together. Encourage the family to identify things to listen for during general conference.
To help young children apply the counsel given by President Uchtdorf, show them a General Authority chart (found in the conference issue of the Liahona and Ensign). Let them know that the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be speaking in general conference. Encourage children to listen to conference and draw a picture to help them remember what they learned. Parents can visit conferencegames.lds.org for more conference activities for children.
Good, Better, Best
In his October 2007 general conference talk, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles talked about activities that are “good, better, and best.” When he got to the part about “the overscheduling of children,” I squirmed guiltily in my seat.
I knew I was doing too much. I was in school plays, taking challenging classes in school, and was involved in several other activities. I hadn’t been attending Young Women activities faithfully, and my Sundays were filled with the stress of trying to complete last-minute homework. Practicing music and editing the school newspaper had lost their element of fun and had become work.
Elder Oaks’s talk made me take a good look at my schedule. My activities were good, but there were too many of them. I had to choose the best ones. As I tried to decide which activities to forsake, I realized that the gospel of Jesus Christ was the best priority anyone can have. I put prayer and scripture study at the top of my list, and since then, my life has run more smoothly.
Elder Oaks taught me that when we do what the Lord wants us to do first, everything else will fall neatly into place. If I study my scriptures before I play games or even before I do my homework, everything important will get done. When I base my life around the Lord, instead of adding Him in as an afterthought, my life has an added measure of peace and success.
Now I’m very careful to listen to the counsel given at general conference!
Illustration by Paul Mann
I Can Find Answers through General Conference
President Uchtdorf teaches that if you think of some questions before general conference, the Lord can speak to you through His prophets and apostles during conference.
As a family or class, discuss what you need to learn, either individually or together. (For example: How do I strengthen my testimony? How should I deal with a problem at school?) On a piece of paper or in your journal, write down your questions.
In the weeks leading up to conference, you could think and pray about these questions.
Listen carefully during conference (it may help to take notes). Then write how the Lord—through Church leaders—answered your questions.
On another piece of paper, you could draw a picture of yourself doing what you learned.
Right: photograph by Les Nilsson