In 1988 President Harold B Lee said that General Conference should ‘be the guide to [our] walk and talk during the next six months. These are the important matters the Lord sees fit to reveal to this people in this day.’”
I wondered what were the key instructions that the Lord has revealed for us to work on for the next six months. I went through each of the talks given by the First Presidency at this last General Conference and picked out all of the instructions that they gave. I don’t mean to devalue the rest of the content of their talks; of course, the stories, the testimonies and the encouragement are all important and uplifting and strengthen our testimonies – but I wanted to be clearer about what it was that the First Presidency were telling us that we had to DO. The relevant extracts are below. In summary:
- Live worthily
- Be obedient
- Be examples
- Be morally clean
- Care for each other
- Remember the elderly and those who are housebound
- Share the gospel
- Acknowledge our shortcomings
- Love God and our fellowmen
Do you think there is enough there for us to work on for the next six months? (Or a lifetime?). If it is not enough of a challenge for you them maybe you could make your own list from all of the other speakers at General Conference!
If it seems that there is nothing particularly new here, remember the words of President Spencer w Kimball:
‘Some may wonder why General Authorities speak of the same things from conference to conference. As I study the utterances of the prophets through the centuries, their pattern is very clear…Prophets say the same things because we face basically the same problems. Brothers and sisters, the solutions to these problems have not changed.’
INSTRUCTIONS FROM THE FIRST PRESIDENCY:
PRESIDENT THOMAS S MONSON
We reaffirm that missionary work is a priesthood duty, and we encourage all worthy and able young men to serve. We are very grateful for the young women who also serve.
Please, before you put yourself and your priesthood in jeopardy by venturing into places or participating in activities which are not worthy of you or of that priesthood, pause to consider the consequences.
It will not always be easy, but let our watchword be the heritage bequeathed us by Samuel: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.”
Other instructions given to us by the Savior are at our fingertips, found in the holy scriptures. In His Sermon on the Mount, He tells us to be merciful, to be humble, to be righteous, to be pure in heart, to be peacemakers. He instructs us to stand up bravely for our beliefs, even when we are ridiculed and persecuted. He asks us to let our lights shine so that others may see them and may desire to glorify our Father in Heaven. He teaches us to be morally clean in both our thoughts and our actions. He tells us it is far more important to lay up treasures in heaven than on earth.
There are those who struggle every day with challenges. Let us extend to them our concern, as well as a helping hand. As we care for each other, we will be blessed.
May we remember the elderly and those who are homebound. As we take time to visit them, they will know that they are loved and valued. May we follow the mandate to “succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees.”
May we be people of honesty and integrity, trying to do the right thing at all times and in all circumstances. May we be faithful followers of Christ, examples of righteousness, thus becoming “lights in the world.”
PRESIDENT HENRY B EYRING
All of us in the priesthood have an obligation to help the Lord prepare others. There are some things we can do that could matter most. Even more powerful than using words in our teaching the doctrine will be our examples of living the doctrine.
Paramount in our priesthood service is inviting people to come unto Christ by faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost.
PRESIDENT DIETER F UCHTDORF
In this age of self-justification and narcissism, it is easy to become quite creative at coming up with excuses for not regularly approaching God in prayer, procrastinating the study of the scriptures, avoiding Church meetings and family home evenings, or not paying an honest tithe and offerings.
My dear brethren, will you please look inside your hearts and ask the simple question: “Lord, is it I?”
As you hear or read the words of the ancient and modern prophets, refrain from thinking about how the words apply to someone else and ask the simple question: “Lord, is it I?”
Brethren, we must put aside our pride, see beyond our vanity, and in humility ask, “Lord, is it I?”
And if the Lord’s answer happens to be “Yes, my son, there are things you must improve, things I can help you to overcome,” I pray that we will accept this answer, humbly acknowledge our sins and shortcomings, and then change our ways by becoming better husbands, better fathers, better sons.
We need to accept that the commandments of God aren’t just a long list of good ideas. They aren’t “life hacks” from an Internet blog or motivational quotes from a Pinterest board. They are divine counsel, based on eternal truths, given to bring “peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come.”
Yes, visiting teachers need to be faithful in making their monthly visits, all without missing the most important why behind this commandment: to love God and fellowmen.