Welcome to Come, Follow Me Akton Doctrine. I’m Stephanie Sorensen, and I’m Marijana Richardson, and we wanted to take just a little bit of time today to share some of our thoughts and testimony about the importance of our upcoming general conference with the study of the doctrine and covenants, we have learned the importance of continuing revelation, and this is one of the important tenets of our faith and our doctrine. And general conference is a celebration of the fact that that revelation continues to come to the earth.
So we’re just going to share a few thoughts with you today about the ways that we prepare ourselves and our families to make general conference be a revelatory experience where we feel the spirit of God and we are able to set goals to move forward with the council that we are given. I wanted to start out with a quote from elder Jeffrey R. Holland, where he said specifically that there are three things that he suggests that these twice yearly gatherings do and should declare to the world.
The first thing he said is that they declare legally and unequivocally that there is, again, a living prophet on the earth speaking in the name of the Lord.
And we see that and hear the testimonies of the apostles about the prophet. They they testify over and over again. We enjoy it right. That we hear that reassurance that there is a prophet speaking for God today. Secondly, he says each of these conferences marks a call to action not only in our own lives, but also on behalf of others around us, those who are of our own family and faith and those who are not. I love this idea of a call to action.
Why do you think it’s so important that general conference is a call to action? Well, when we talk about harkening it’s not just hearing, but it’s doing. And so as we participate and that’s truly what we should be doing, we’re participating in general conference. We’re not just sitting dumbly, just listening. Instead, we are writing down and thinking about things that we must do because of the words that we’re hearing.
Right. And President Hinckley taught that, you know, if we have not become a little bit better or done things a little bit better because of what we’ve learned in general conference, then it’s it’s been a waste. There’s no there’s no point in sharing those messages if they don’t change who we are. Right. The third thing that Elder Hollon says, that’s the reason for having conference. And this goes right along with our study of the restoration and why it’s so important.
He says general conference is a declaration to all the world that Jesus is the Christ that he and his father, the God and father of us all appeared to the boy prophet Joseph Smith in fulfillment of that ancient promise that the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth would again restore his church on the earth and return again. So I think it’s really beautiful to think that there are these things that are going to be declared every time a general conference. And so I like to listen for them specifically and get that reiterated testimony that Jesus is the Christ his church has been restored.
Joseph Smith was the prophet of the restoration and the Christ is going to return again. And we definitely hear those taught and repeated often.
What I love the fact that those are the same things that we teach as missionaries, that we need to testify of those things just like they testified to us.
And Elder Holland pointed out here in this quote that this is a testimony not just to the church, but to the whole world. And that’s why these things are being declared boldly from a pulpit of by the prophet of the Lord. And so then as I think about those things and we know that they’re repeated, that idea of repetition is incredibly important for for me personally. As I participate in general, Conference President Iren gave a talk called Safety and Counsel, where he taught that when things when the words of profits are repeated, it should rivet our attention.
And so I like to look for those patterns of repetition and that can come within an entire general conference block. It can come within one session where like we can see, wow, they’ve talked about that topic three or four times in a row. Now, that’s not an accident. That repetition is something that we should pay attention to. It’s also something we can see as we go back and study past conferences, past talks, and then we hear new talks and we recognize the Lord is still teaching us this principal.
It must be important. President Nelson, before he was a prophet, he gave a talk about sustaining the prophets and he said that part of the definition of sustaining is being willing to uphold their prophetic priorities. And that repetition helps us to identify what those priorities are. So we know what to focus on. And what’s the most important. As I prepare personally for general conference, there are just a few things that I do that kind of help me get the most out of conference.
And this has been a process that I have worked on for years. It’s not perfected and I will continue to learn. But as I’m preparing for conference, in addition to reviewing past talks, I also begin to think about personal questions that I have that I want to ask the Lord. They can be spiritual, temporal, they can be doctrinal. They can be any. Thing about things that are happening in my life, about principles that I might be struggling with and I start to write those questions down and I actually look at that list of questions, as I say, my prayers leading up to general conference and I ask Heavenly Father these questions over and over again.
And I promise him that I will listen to his servants in general conference, that if they will help teach me that, I know I can get those answers. And I really have a testimony of that. Not only do we pray for them as we prepare for conference, those that are those that are speaking, but we pray for our hearts to be prepared for the questions we need to have answered. And Elder and testified on another occasion that we can receive a personal sermon just for us as we listen to general conference, if we will listen with the spirit.
And I and I know that that is true. And then as I listen to the talks for general conference, I hear sometimes it’s what Elder Scott called packets of light. Maybe it’s not a whole answer, but I get these ideas and these inklings and I actually keep Post-it notes or index cards with each of my questions. And every time I hear something that might be part of an answer, I’ll quickly write down the speaker so that I know to go back and study that.
And I think that that’s a really important part of our conference commitment, is being willing to study what’s been said because we can’t catch it all in the moment. What’s important for us to catch is our spiritual promptings, because we can read the words, but the promptings come and go. Those impressions come and go. And Elder Scott testified that writing them down and recording them invites more revelation of death. So do you have anything that you do in particular to help prepare you for that conference as well?
Well, I do. And a matter of fact, so many of the things that you talked about, I do as well. And I’m sure that many of you also do. Those in my office, just like you were talking about, I usually write down and I keep it right next to me so that between conferences I can look at it. But I write down points of light, just like you were talking about. But I have them right there next to me so that I constantly review.
And so it is not a moment in time for me, but instead it is a constant reviewing, thinking, pondering about what the Lord has. It’s a process of revelation. Exactly. And it’s not just right there that time, but it’s during the whole six months. Well, along with that, I also like to think about establishing righteous traditions with our family. A matter of fact, this is from elder Donald Hellstrom. He said, A tradition of righteousness sets a pattern for living, which draws children closer to parents and both closer to God and elevates obedience from a burden to a blessing.
So why do you think sometimes, though, the thought of sitting down and watching general conference with children can sometimes seem like a burden? Well, because sometimes doing anything with children and you can feel like a burden when it’s something that’s this large and magnitude of time and importance, we put extra pressure on ourselves to make it make it all right. But I think it is important that we consider what the needs of our family are and take those into account and prepare the best according to what our circumstances are.
We’re not going to have the same experience with general conference with two toddlers as we will later with four teens or later as empty nesters or things like that. And so we have to prepare. We actually have we actually have to seek inspiration in the preparation process to know what’s going to work best.
And I also believe ages and stages. So there’s going to be different traditions that we’re going to establish in our family, depending on where our family is. And I would like to just have us think about for questions that we can ask ourselves about the righteous traditions that we’re setting up for general conference. The first question is actually coming from Sister Cheryl C. Lant, who asked in general conference, are the traditions that we are creating in our families going to make it easier for our children to follow the living prophets now as we think and contemplate our traditions and whatever we’re going to do to set up for our families as we prepare for general conference, we need to also think, are they creating easier times for our children or are we pressuring them for general conference?
We want them to feel joy in general conference. Absolutely. The second thing is, do our traditions elevate our general conference watching from a burden to a blessing that goes back to what Elder Halstrom was saying. And I think for this question, too, I would ask that for the moms, you know, all too often the preparation of some of these traditions. I’d be a burden for mothers and then you can’t stay awake and watch Glee, and that’s not the purpose of moms to enjoy it, too.
And then number three question is, do our traditions encourage a spirit of reverence in our home? We’re not just trying to keep the children quiet, but we want them to feel reverence. And for this, I just love the primary song references love, OK? Reverence is more than just quietly sitting. It’s thinking of father above a feeling I get when I think of his blessings. I’m reverent for reverence is love what I’m reverent. It shows in my words and my deeds.
The pathway to follow is clear. And when I am reverent, I know in my heart Heavenly Father and Jesus are near. So when we’re dealing with our children and thinking about having a spirit of reverence, we want our children to feel the love of our Heavenly Father. So have you thought of any ways that we might be able to bring reverence into our homes? One thing that I did starting when my children were small is that in the weeks leading up to conference, I expressed my excitement about conference over and over again how blessed we were going to be to hear from the prophet.
I’m so excited that we get to hear these words and I told them how important it was to me. So then during conference, if, you know, reverence doesn’t necessarily mean silence, folded arms. And we can’t expect that of some changes. Definitely. Yeah, we can’t do that. But we can focus on the blessings, like you said, and we can ask them to help us. And so there were lots of times where I would say, you know, I would say to a child, I’m trying to listen to the prophet.
This is so important to me. And they knew it was important to me because I had expressed over and over again and it would end. So even though they might play or do an activity or whatever they knew, mom really wants to hear what the prophet has to say. And I and I believe that just even that anticipation of it makes them in their own way, recognize for you and for them the importance of listening.
Well, and I think that’s powerful when we think about reverence, being love, if they know how much we love general conference and how much we’re looking forward to general conference. And as a family, we love conference and we’re trying to prepare, then the spirit of reverence can truly come into our home. The fourth question that I would want us to ask ourselves is, will our children want to hold on to these traditions when they have children? And I think that’s a kind of a good litmus test to see.
Is this a tradition that people are going to really want to hold fast? To a matter of fact, we have Paul admonishing the Thessalonians, therefore, stand fast and hold the traditions which you have been taught. So we have to ask, well, will our children want to hold fast to these same traditions? And I think that’s powerful as an opportunity for us to think about, OK, are these traditions that are a burden or a blessing going back to what Elder Halstrom said and what are the fruits?
Because if there are good fruits, they’re going to want to hang on to them, like what comes out of it? Oh, definitely. Now, I also want to say that these righteous traditions that we’re setting up in our family, my righteous traditions, might be very different than yours. And so because of that, our family’s personalities, what’s important to our families, what’s going to work with the different members of our family, are all going to be different.
And so we can’t compare the experiences that our family has with general conference to another family. I do have a slide that just gives you some fun ideas. And these are just ideas. That is exactly just suggestions. And you don’t need to feel like you have to do any of them, actually, but you also might be able to take one and tailor it to your family to make it something different. One in particular that was really fun that my mother started was that we had in between conference sessions apostle’s sandwiches, and she did some research trying to find.
Conference talks where apostles had mentioned food like, for instance, the pickle principle that elder Bednar gave so we would have a pickle sandwich named after Elder Bednar, or she would also see if there was a special food that an apostle loved and have that. And so that was just a fun tradition. Very memorable, very memorable. It also helped us think about our apostles and prophets in a more personal way than maybe we had during conference. Well, I also want us to think from the Handbook for Families.
It talks a lot about traditions worth keeping. And it says, as important as the establishing of any tradition, no matter how creative or enlightening the event itself is supposed to be, parents must never lose sight of the spirit in which the activity is conducted, how easily we overshadow the beauty of any special occasion. And I feel general conference is a special occasion when we allow force, anger or impatience to intrude. If the children are not perfect, remember how much more important it is that you are all together sharing this sweet tradition.
And for me, general conference is a sweet tradition, an opportunity to join together as families and to establish righteous traditions. There’s a fabulous quote by President Howard W. Hunter, and this brings together the thoughts that we’ve had about conference, but also bring it to our Come, Follow Me of doctrine and covenants. And he says much inspired counsel by prophets, Sears regulators and other general authorities of the church is given during general conference. Our modern day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our church magazines and important and regular part of our personal study.
Thus, general conference becomes in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the doctrine and covenants. What are your thoughts on that quote?
I just love that so much because the Lord has the Lord has taught that when he speaks through his prophets, it is scripture. And if we treat the receiving of general conference and the studying of general conference as the scripture that he intends it to be, then. Just like the restoration, we are becoming players in the continuing revelations that come and that there have been many and are many and will be many more, and I’m just incredibly grateful that the Lord speaks to us today and that we have the opportunity to study the words of his living prophets.
I am so excited about general conference and I hope and pray that in your own families you have that same excitement and righteous traditions so that your children also are excited for this wonderful event at the end of every episode of Acting Doctor.
And we try to give some kind of a challenge. And I think in this case, our challenge is just very broad. Hopefully, as we’ve discussed these principles today, you may have felt one or two things that you might incorporate into your own personal preparation and your family traditions. And we invite you to take that and apply it. And we hope that you and we have a beautiful general conference experience, have a happy general conference.