Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has suggested three strategies to “help us …receive, remember, and apply the words spoken by the Lord’s servants” (“General Conference-No Ordinary Blessing,” Ensign, September 2011). His three recommended approaches are the headings quoted below:
1. “Members of the Church are entitled to personal revelation as they listen to and study the inspired words spoken at general conference.”
Elder Alan Hernandez (serving in the Canada Calgary Mission) describes how he received personal revelation watching general conference:
“I was born in Mexico City but moved to Ontario, Canada as a young child. Growing up, I always wanted to serve a mission. I had frequently heard that revelation could happen when you listen to the words of the prophets, but I never really took general conference seriously until a couple months before I was to begin my mission. Initially, I was called to serve in the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission. I was fluent in Spanish and excited to serve in a warm climate mission, but I was unable to obtain a visa and had to be reassigned. While waiting for a new call, I asked myself questions, such as: ‘Had the Lord called me there for a reason?’ ‘Were people being prepared there for me to teach and baptize?’ And most importantly, ‘Why was I unable to serve in the place to which I had been first assigned?’
“As general conference was approaching, an idea kept entering my mind that by listening carefully, I would receive answers to my questions. It wasn’t until the priesthood session that I received my personal revelation. During Elder Bednar’s talk “Called to the Work” (Ensign, May 2017), he explained: ‘one of the lessons the Savior is teaching us in this revelation (Doctrine and Covenants 80:1-5) is that an assignment to labor in a specific place is essential and important but secondary to a call to the work.’ Furthermore, he gave an example of a brother who had a very similar experience as I did. I felt almost as if Elder Bednar was speaking to me in my living room. All my questions were answered, and my testimony had deepened in the apostles of the Lord. Elder Bednar added, ‘When a missionary is reassigned to a different field of labor, the process is precisely the same as for the initial assignment. Members of the Quorum of the Twelve seek inspiration and guidance in making all such reassignments.’ As I heard those words, the spirit overwhelmed me and brought so much peace and happiness to my soul. After the talk was given I found myself saying the same words as the man in his talk: ‘Now I know I was called to the work and not to a place.’ I have a testimony that what the prophets and apostles say at general conference is from our Father in Heaven. As we seek guidance, may we always turn to the Lord and the counsel of His servants.”
2. “Don’t discount a message merely because it sounds familiar.”
One of the early lessons that Joseph Smith learned during the restoration of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the importance of repeating divine messages. On the evening of 21 September 1823, Joseph Smith prayed to be forgiven and to obtain “a divine manifestation” (Joseph Smith-History 1:29). In response a heavenly messenger named Moroni appeared and gave detailed scriptural instructions about the work Joseph was to undertake in translating the Book of Mormon and restoring the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ (Joseph Smith-History 1:30-42).
Throughout the rest of the night, Moroni appeared twice more in order to “repeat over again to me the same things as before” accompanied with additional personal cautions (Joseph Smith-History 1:46). Later the next morning, Moroni appeared and “again related unto me all that he had related to me the previous night” (Joseph Smith-History 1:49). Later that day when Joseph first beheld the sacred plates and artifacts, Moroni told Joseph that “I should come to that place precisely in one year from that time, and that he would there meet with me, and that I should continue to do so until the time should come for obtaining the plates” (Joseph Smith-History 1:53).
During one of those yearly visits, Joseph was told that he could take the plates and “go straight to the house without delay and lock them up”; Joseph, however, took his eyes off the plates; as a result, Moroni told Joseph, “that he had failed to follow directions again. …As willing as the young seer was to do the Lord’s work, he was not yet able to protect the ancient record” (“Plates of Gold,” Saints, Chapter 3, volume 1, pages 29-30). Joseph needed to hear Moroni’s repeated instructions for four years and learn to follow them precisely. Joseph’s example should teach all of us to be open to hearing and applying repeated inspired teachings.
3. “The words spoken at conference should be a compass that points the way for us during the coming months.”
When Lehi was commanded to resume “his journey into the wilderness,” the Lord gave him “a round ball of curious workmanship; …And within the ball were two spindles; and the one pointed the way whither they should go” (1 Nephi 16:9-10). For a while Lehi’s family thought this was simply a mechanical device to guide them. After suffering some afflictions, they learned that the pointers “did work according to the faith and diligence and heed which we did give unto them” (1 Nephi 16:28). At this time, they also discovered that “there was also written upon them a new writing, which was plain to be read, which did give us understanding concerning the ways of the Lord; and it was written and changed from time to time, according to the faith and diligence which we gave unto it” (1 Nephi 16:29). This family-centered Lord-directed compass—referred to as “Liahona” (Alma 37:38)—guided Lehi and his family to a promised land.
After listening to the 2018 October General Conference, one senior couple commented, “Never in our lifetimes have we witnessed such emphasis on home-centered and Church-supported gospel instruction. The new 2019 Come, Follow Me Resources will greatly assist us personally and be a blessing to our extended family members. We look forward to this new gospel curriculum with great optimism and hope. We feel as if the Lord has given us our own Liahona.”
The challenge is for us to look to the counsel and resources made available by modern-day prophets, seers, and revelators. There is no need to fear. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland recently counseled: “Have I frightened you parents? I hope not. This emphasis on teaching, learning, and living at home is not meant to be an added burden for individuals and families. Quite the opposite, actually—we hope that by acknowledging and supporting your efforts at home, we can in some way lighten the burden you carry there. Or, better yet, perhaps we can strengthen you to “bear [it] with ease” (“Home-centered, Church-supported Gospel Learning,” Facebook, 26 November 2018)
Activities: Find ways to hear, study, reflect on, and apply the inspired counsel given at general conference on April 6-7, 2019. Seek personal revelation as you listen to and study their words. Even if messages sound familiar, strive to follow their directions with increased precision. Make general conference messages part of your personal and family spiritual Liahona for the next six months. Heed and apply the inspired messages of the Lord’s servants and then look forward with faith.