- We testify to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people that God not only lives but also that He speaks, that for our time and in our day the counsel you have heard is, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, “the will of the Lord, … the word of the Lord, … the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”
He speaks of the way that talks are prepared, how study and prayer are used to make sure the topics chosen are the ones the Lord wants that speaker to share, and the personal effort it takes to make sure the message shared is the one that needs to be given at this time.
- Perhaps you already know (but if you don’t you should) that with rare exception, no man or woman who speaks here is assigned a topic. Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences. Every man and woman you have heard during the past 10 hours of general conference has tried to be true to that prompting. Each has wept, worried, and earnestly sought the Lord’s direction to guide his or her thoughts and expression. And just as Brigham Young saw an angel standing over this place, so do I see angels standing in it. My brethren and sisters among the general officers of the Church will be uneasy with that description, but that is how I see them—mortal messengers with angelic messages, men and women who have all the physical and financial and family difficulties you and I have but who with faith have consecrated their lives to the callings that have come to them and the duty to preach God’s word, not their own.
He shares that there is a message for everyone in the messages of conference. We need to search for the message that personal and that we need in our lives.
- Whatever form they take, these conference messages “proclaim liberty to the captives” and declare “the unsearchable riches of Christ.” In the wide variety of sermons given is the assumption that there will be something for everyone. In this regard, I guess President Harold B. Lee put it best years ago when he said that the gospel is “to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the [comfortable].”
Elder Holland talks about our path of discipleship. He speaks of the strain that will increase on each of us as we progress closer and closer to being the type of person that the Lord expects us to be.
- As the path of discipleship ascends, that trail gets ever more narrow until we come to that knee-buckling pinnacle “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” What was gentle in the lowlands of initial loyalty becomes deeply strenuous and very demanding at the summit of true discipleship. Clearly anyone who thinks Jesus taught no-fault theology did not read the fine print in the contract! No, in matters of discipleship the Church is not a fast-food outlet; we can’t always have it “our way.” Some day every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ and that salvation can only come His way.
He shares that not everyone is committing terrible sins, or making huge mistakes in the their lives. But the speakers at General Conference have an obligation to speak on those topics even though they don't apply to everyone. But he tells us to find a talk to two that does apply to us and study and learn from it.
- You keep trying to hold family home evening in spite of the bedlam that sometimes reigns in a houseful of little bedlamites—then give yourself high marks and, when we come to that subject, listen for another which addresses a topic where you may be lacking. 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.
I love that Elder Holland gives us insight into how conference talks are prepared, that topics are not assigned, and that there is a message for everyone somewhere in the Conference. We are encouraged to bring personal questions to General Conference and I can say that every time I have done some personal preparation, I have been rewarded with those answers to my questions from one or two conference talks. How grateful I am for the spirit to speak to me personally and to give me the comfort that I am looking for at Conference time.