General Conference Highlights

The Mondays after General Conference are two of my favorite days of every school year. Traditionally we’ve taken those days in seminary to share our thoughts and impressions with each other about Conference. I love to hear the talks, stories, and statements that impacted the youth. So many of the young people are devoted to the prophets and so careful to listen to their council. I’m always impressed and blessed by their insight. This year I'm teaching at a school with a fall break that extends well past General Conference, so I wasn't able to have that experience with my students so I’ve decided to share my conference highlights here, not because my highlights will mean anything to you, but perhaps a few of you would be willing to share yours in return. Aside from acting on the impressions we had, reviewing and processing what we heard in General Conference is the most important thing we can do now. I’ve narrowed my highlights down to my top six:

President Thomas S. Monson with daughter, Ann Dibb, shares a smile with the congregation in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City after the afternoon session, Saturday, October 3, 2015. © 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

President Thomas S. Monson with daughter, Ann Dibb, shares a smile with the congregation in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City after the afternoon session, Saturday, October 3, 2015. © 2015 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.

1. Elder Lawrence’s invitation to ask, "what lack I yet?”

I’ve long known that the Spirit really will tell us what we need to change if we will ask, but the way he explained it and the examples he gave drove it home with so much power for me. You could say that learning to heed the Spirit’s invitations to change is the key to obtaining Eternal Life.

2. Sister Marriott’s statement that, "The sacrament is the heart of the Sabbath.”

It’s so obvious and yet I’ve never thought of it that way. I’m going to hang onto this for the rest of my life. Bonus points for an accent we don’t often hear in G.C.

3. Elder Holland's and Elder Nelson’s “One-two punch” for womanhood.

Honestly, I'd expect these talks to be given in the General Women’s meeting, but I’m glad they weren’t. They brought voice to something I’ve long noticed: The crucial role of women in the kingdom of God in the Latter-Days. I first noticed this in my mission where far more women than men accepted the Gospel. I continue to see it today, when in so many ways the sisters are the bedrock of our ward; demonstrating the lion’s share of the commitment, and doing so much of the heavy lifting. (Young women also consistently make up the best of the best Seminary students.)  As a man, I’m ashamed that this is true, but not surprised or jealous or bitter.

4. The testimonies of the new Apostles.

I was especially touched by Elder Renlund’s account of the time he was comforted by the parents of the young man who had died under his care as a heart surgeon.

5. Elder Andersen’s testimony of Joseph Smith in Priesthood session.

First was this simple piece of advice regarding the Prophet Joseph: "Give him a break.”   That request resonated with me, given the current trend of picking through every detail of his life with a fine tooth comb. The simple testimony that followed, while nothing extraordinary on the surface, resulted in one of the strongest spiritual witnesses I’ve received in years; and the second strongest witness I’ve ever received regarding the prophet Joseph. I have had a firm testimony of the Prophet for many years, but it turned out I needed that experience. I’d dare say all my General Conference preparation may have been just so I could be ready to receive the Spirit at that moment during the Priesthood session.

6. President Monson’s "shrinking" at the pulpit Sunday morning.

I don’t mean to say that seeing President Monson’s frailness was a highlight, in fact it was quite sad. But a scripture immediately came to mind:

12 For there are many yet on the earth among all sects, parties, and denominations, who are blinded by the subtle craftiness of men, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, and who are only kept from the truth because they know not where to find it—
13 Therefore, that we should waste and wear out our lives in bringing to light all the hidden things of darkness, wherein we know them; and they are truly manifest from heaven—

There was President Monson, demonstrating how he is perhaps the greatest living example of  “wasting" and "wearing out” your life in service. Such an inspiring example. When I ponder what he has done as a bishop, mission president, and apostle (for 52 years!) I scarce can take it in. Those who raised their hands in opposition during the sustaining? I wish they could see and feel what I saw and felt.

...

It will be a few days before the text of General Conference is up on LDS.org. For now, the talks are available in video and audio here, and there are some nice talk summaries available here.  I trust there are many more highlights I missed during the times I was distracted by toddlers, food, or my phone (I confess), so I have some reviewing to do. Meanwhile, I testify that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is in fact God’s church on earth, and it is in fact led by Prophets and Apostles, chosen vessels called of him to share the word and will of God with the world. I hope I will listen and obey.