General Conference October 2014, for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has come and gone, but we, as members, were left with an invitation to “ponder the truths we have heard, and may they help us to become even more valiant disciples” (President Thomas S. Monson, 111).
As usual, his words resonate the messages of General Conference this past fall. In reading through the talks, I feel that the majority of the messages shared were meant to motivate us to be spiritually strong; to be those valiant disciples the Lord needs these latter days.
As I read through each talk I took markers and highlighted what I felt were 1) Pink—Promises, 2) Green—Challenges, 3) Blue—Doctrine, and 4) Orange—Warnings. This allowed me to visually see what the talks were telling me. Some were full of doctrine, some full of promises. The warnings are the brightest on the page, but the green lines draw my attention to what I might do to be a better follower of Christ. Elder Boyd K. Packer told us, in his calm but ever firm way,
“The true success of the gospel of Jesus Christ will be measured by the spiritual strength of its individual members. We need the strength of conviction that is found in the heart of every loyal disciple of Christ…We need everyone’s wisdom and insight and spiritual strength.” (Packer 8)
We are each critical to the Church as examples, stewards, and hopefuls to the success of Heavenly Father’s Plan of Salvation.
I’m pretty sure the favorite talk of the conference was Elder Jorg Klebingat. He gave us six practical suggestions to approach the throne of God with confidence. Two of his suggestions were to 1) “Become really, really good at repenting thoroughly and quickly” and 2) “Become really, really good at forgiving” (Klebingat 36).
Where life is hard for everyone, these two requirements for salvation are probably the hardest of all (which accounts for the double vision). I gained courage to continue onward with confidence with these words: “Yours is the privilege, if you want it, to come to know for yourself, today or soon, that you are pleasing God in spite of your shortcomings” (37). And don’t let Satan tell you differently.
President Henry B. Eyring gave a talk in the Priesthood session that I felt was spiritually strengthening. Although his talk was geared toward the Aaronic priesthood specifically, I felt his examples were of moments that can affect us all. He shared how a wise bishop took him, as his first assistant, to visit members in the ward. One was a poor widow living alone. The bishop taught and showed him “why he had treated that widow as if she had the power not only to care for herself but would, at some time in the future, be able to help others” (Eyring 60).
The second story was visiting a home where two little girls were being raised by two alcoholic parents. The visit appeared inconsequential, however the bishop assured him, “those little girls will never forget that we came” (61). This is a powerful lesson on how we must all be strong enough to reach out and strengthen others so they too can be strong. This is very scary to do, but when done, fills us with incredible spiritual power. I know this to be true.
Another beloved conference address was Elder M. Russell Ballard’s Stay in the Boat! talk. His rules really resonated. Rule 1) stay in the boat! Rule 2) always wear a life jacket! Rule 3) always hold on with both hands! Rule 4) remember rule 1: stay in the boat! He talked about Satan’s attractive ploy of tempting us to “become distracted from the simple and clear message of the restored gospel” (Ballard 91). He concluded with this beautiful promise: “And if any one of you have fallen out of the boat, we will seek you, find you, minister to you, and pull you safely back onto the Old Ship Zion” (92). We are all in the same boat together trying to stay spiritually strong and keeping one another spiritually strong as well.
I felt Sister Linda K. Burton’s talk fell into this category of gaining spiritual strength. She talked about the ten virgins. We must strive to be one of the five wise virgins. It takes consistency and diligence and a long time to prepare well. We also must prepare “in a manner which never had been known” (Burton 112) because Satan’s traps are endless and he preys upon our weaknesses. We must always stay two or three steps ahead to make it through.
In conference we were reminded of so many worthy subjects that deserve careful study and practice. We received testimony of our living prophet, who takes orders from no one but the Savior Himself. It is by our own choosing that we must live the commandments with an obedient and determined heart. We will all see what we need to as we read through the talks. They can speak to us individually in a way that can truly change our hearts and give us motivation to go and do. What I learned will surely be different from your thoughts, but ultimately all thoughts and actions can bring us closer to our Heavenly Father.
All references can be found in the November 2014 Ensign.