General Conference. What a weekend! Here are 3 things that I try to keep in mind as I prepare for conference, and as I ponder it later. Maybe some of these will be helpful to you.
1. Don’t dismiss a message because of tone
Prophets can present a message with softness or sternness in order to reach us. The prophet Mormon explained to his son Moroni how he was struggling to reach the rebellious Nephites: “Behold, I am laboring with them continually; and when I speak the word of God with sharpness they tremble and anger against me; and when I use no sharpness they harden their hearts against it; wherefore, I fear lest the Spirit of the Lord hath ceased striving with them.” (Moroni 9:4)
Prophets today use different ways of presenting the same message so that God might reach everyone. The wise person will listen to all of our leaders knowing this. It is a proud person who discounts a message just because it’s not presented or explained exactly the way they like. It’s a rebellious person who finds a reason to reject every message because of the tone it was delivered in. You may have a favorite apostle or two because they present things just the way you like it. Just remember that they are all prophets of God, and give heed to all of their counsel.
2. Pretend it’s opposite day
Prophetic counsel at general conference often is an urging to restore balance in our lives. Sometimes when our lives are out of balance, it’s tempting to only hear the messages that confirm the way we’re living. The workaholic hears “lengthen your stride” and vows to put even more effort into their Church calling and job, when they really need to slow down and spend some relaxing time with family and friends. The student who spends hours playing video games or surfing the Internet, and hence is barely passing their classes, hears “slow down, rest up” from Elder Holland, and feels justified in continuing their pattern of living.
For counsel that involves restoring or creating balance to our lives, pretend it’s opposite day just for a minute. Consider whether you actually need to move in the opposite direction as your first reaction to counsel. After pondering which direction you think you need to move in order to have a healthy balance in your life, open your heart to the Lord so that He can correct you if needs be. His correction is far kinder than running headfirst into the brick-wall of the world. It’s better to be corrected by the Lord than for the workaholic to lose their family, or the slothful student to flunk out of school.
A great example of the call for balance when considering counsel can be found on the Church’s brand new site encouraging us to love and help refugees. Within the same paragraph, we are both urged to reach out more, and reminded that “we are not asked to ‘run faster than [we have] strength’” (Mosiah 4:27). We really need to have an open mind and humble heart when creating the balance of “do more if you can, but don’t try to do too much.”
3. Doth this offend you? Take a minute. Especially if you’re conservative.
I tend to get my mind set on how I think things should be, and I’m a little weirded-out when the Spirit corrects me. I can picture being on the other side someday, and the Lord tries to teach me something I’m not expecting. The Lord might well ask me, as He did His disciples of old, “Doth this offend you?” (John 6:61) To His question, I might answer, “No, I’m not offended, I’m just a little weirded-out because I wasn’t expecting this. You know me. I tend to have a closed mind and a stubborn heart. Just give me a minute to ponder this. Let me take a minute to remember that I’ve loved and trusted you forever; give me a minute to reconcile my preconceived notions to your wisdom. I know that your wisdom is greater than mine.” That’s my plan for when I’m on the other side, and that’s my plan for general conference.
The advice to take a minute is especially important lately for politically or socially conservative members of the Church. In a general sense, it seems like the politically/socially liberal, faithful members of our Church are more experienced with working hard to reconcile prophetic counsel with their preconceived ideas. They have struggled with issues like gay marriage and why women aren’t ordained to the priesthood. Their passionate, righteous desire to be inclusive has had to be reined in to the bounds the Lord has set. They know how it’s done.
In a general sense, those with more conservative political and social views are accustomed to Church doctrine and policy being aligned with their stance. When the counsel coming from Church leaders clashes with their views, it’s like a huge bucket of ice water. When prophets offer counsel on immigration or aiding refugees, some conservative individuals need to take a minute to remember who is running this Church. It is Jesus Christ. He is above party politics. Are you a super-conservative and super-faithful Mormon who is struggling with the recent counsel on aiding refugees? Find a super-faithful, super-liberal Mormon and take them out to lunch. You might learn a lot.
Thanks for visiting my blog! I hope you found something useful or uplifting here today