General Conference Prep, Day 5: Buoyed Up, Not Beaten Down

If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.
— Jeffrey R. Holland, An Ensign to the Nations, April 2011
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Today’s thought is an addendum to Day 3: Intend to Act. I’ve noticed in my interactions over the years that there are many people who are too easy on themselves, and many who are too hard on themselves, but very few who strike the perfect balance of consistently pushing themselves to improve without slipping into self-loathing or despair. This is a reminder for those who tend to always focus on the empty half of their spiritual cup:

Make sure General Conference buoys you up rather than beats you down.

Over the course of the weekend, we will hear literally hundreds of ways to be better. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even helpless, but I’m confident the Lord intends neither of these. In 1996, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught:

Christ and His angels and His prophets forever labor to buoy up our spirits, steady our nerves, calm our hearts, send us forth with renewed strength and resolute hope. They wish all to know that “if God be for us, who can be against us?” In the world we shall have tribulation, but we are to be of good cheer. Christ has overcome the world. Through His suffering and His obedience He has earned and rightly bears the crown of “Prince of Peace.”

A couple things that help in this effort:

1. Don’t try to improve too much, too quickly.

In a 1998 talk to Church Education employees, then Elder Henry B. Eyring emphasized this truth: "My experience has taught me this about how people and organizations improve: the best place to look is for small changes we could make in things we do often.” Looking for small changes we can make in things we do often. That is a great way approach to General Conference.

Spencer W. Kimball’s once said, “I have made up my mind that when I go home from this [general] conference … there are many, many areas in my life that I can perfect. I have made a mental list of them, and I expect to go to work as soon as we get through.” ("Spoken from Their Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1975.) I love the idea of “going to work” on that mental list. It demonstrates a consistent commitment to improve, but an understanding that it will take time and effort.

2. Give yourself credit for your strengths.

We’re not interested in gratifying our pride. But it’s not a sin to recognize what we are doing well. The few times Heavenly Father has spoken on earth, he introduced his Son, in whom he is always "well pleased.” I’d like to think He is well pleased with his other children now and then. Along with the many things we can do better, we will also hear things we are already doing. Instead of complaining that the talk doesn’t apply, we can be humbly grateful that we’ve avoided or conquered that particular problem or weakness.

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On an unrelated note, my wife said I should mention something about conference and kids. There are million ideas out there about how to involve children in General Conference. Whatever we use, we should be guided by this truth: 

Children and youth love to be included. We make a serious mistake if we assume that the conference is above their intellect and spiritual sensitivity. To the young members of the Church, I promise that if you will listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you. The Lord will tell you what He wants you to do with your life.
— Elder Robert D. Hales, October 2013

Enjoy General Conference!