General Conference Summaries

Summaries from the Saturday afternoon session of the April 2012 General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

President Dieter F. Uchtdorf: Sustaining of Church Leaders

Find information on newly called Church leaders, including a new Presiding Bishopric and Relief Society general presidency, on Newsroom.

Brook P. Hales: Statistical Report

Read the Church's annual statistical report on Newsroom.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland: The Labourers in the Vineyard

To teach and demonstrate God’s capacity for mercy and forgiveness, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles began his Saturday afternoon conference address by recounting the Savior’s parable of the labourers.

Found in Matthew 20:1–15, the parable tells of a householder who employed groups of workers at various times throughout the day to meet the evolving urgency of the harvest. At the end of the work day, all the workers gathered to receive their day’s wages. Surprisingly, all received the same wage in spite of their different hours of labor. Those who had been hired first in the early morning were angry because those who had labored but an hour received an equal share.

Some who read the parable, said Elder Holland, may agree with the first wave of workers that an injustice had occurred. “It is important to note that no one has been treated unfairly here. The first workers agreed to the full wage of the day and received it.”

The first wave also would have been grateful for the day-long work knowing it would help feed their families. Meanwhile, the final wave of workers would have painfully passed the day watching others being chosen to work.

And, as the householder explained, he was free to do what he liked with his own money. Why should any be jealous because he chose to be kind?

“Brothers and sisters, there are going to be times in our lives when someone else gets an unexpected blessing or receives some special recognition,” he said. “May I plead with us not to be hurt—and certainly not to feel envious—when good fortune comes to another. We are not diminished when someone else is added upon. We are not in a race against each other to see who is the wealthiest or the most talented or the most beautiful or even the most blessed.

“The race we are really in is the race against sin, and surely envy is one of the most universal of those.”

The parable also teaches of the sorrowful mistake some could make if they were to forego the receipt of their wages at the end of the day because they were preoccupied with perceived problems earlier in the day.

“The formula of faith is to hold on, work on, see it through, and let the distress of the earlier hours—real or imagined—fall away in the abundance of the final reward,” said Elder Holland. “Don’t dwell on old issues or grievances—not toward yourself nor your neighbor nor even, I might add, toward this true and living Church.”

Ultimately, the parable of the labourers is about God’s goodness, His patience and forgiveness and the Atonement of Christ.

“However late you think you are, however many chances you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have made, or talents you think you don’t have, or distance from home and family and God you feel you have traveled, I testify that you have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love.”

Elder Robert D. Hales: Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service

Latter-day Saints become converted and spiritually self-reliant as they prayerfully live their covenants through worthily partaking of the sacrament, being worthy of a temple recommend, and sacrificing to serve others, said Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

“Throughout our lives, whether in times of darkness, challenge, sorrow, or sin we may feel the Holy Ghost reminding us that we are truly sons and daughters of a caring Heavenly Father Who loves us and hunger for the sacred blessings that only He can provide,” said Elder Hales. “At these times we should strive to come to ourselves and come back into the light of our Savior’s love.”

Speaking Saturday afternoon, Elder Hales said to worthily partake of the sacrament, Church members should remember that they are renewing the covenant they made at baptism. “For the sacrament to be a spiritually cleansing experience each week, we need to prepare ourselves before coming to sacrament meeting,” he said. “We do this by deliberately leaving behind our daily work and recreation, and letting go of worldly thoughts and concerns. As we do we make room in our minds and hearts for the Holy Ghost.

“Then we are prepared to ponder on the Atonement. More than just thinking about the facts of the Savior’s suffering and death, our pondering helps us recognize that through the Savior’s sacrifice, we have the hope, opportunity and strength to make real, heartfelt changes in our lives.”

Elder Hales said parents and leaders can help youth experience the incomparable blessings of the sacrament by providing special opportunities for them to learn about, discuss, and discover the relevance of the Atonement. “Let them search the scriptures for themselves and teach one another from their own experiences.”

In addition to the sacrament, Elder Hales said Latter-day Saints’ desire to return to Heavenly Father increases as they become worthy to obtain a temple recommend. “We become worthy by steadily obeying the commandments,” he added.

Worthiness to hold a temple recommend gives Church members the strength to keep their temple covenants, he explained. “How do we personally gain that strength? We strive to obtain a testimony of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the reality of the Atonement, and the truthfulness of the Prophet Joseph Smith and the Restoration. We sustain our leaders, treat our families with kindness, stand as a witness of the Lord’s true Church, attend our Church meetings, honor our covenants, fulfill parental obligations, and live a virtuous life. You may say, that sounds like just being a faithful Latter-day Saint. You are right. The standard for temple recommend holders is not too high for us to achieve.”

As endowed temple recommend holders, Church members establish patterns of Christlike living, he said. “These include obedience, making sacrifices to keep the commandments, loving one another, being chaste in thought and action, and giving of ourselves to build the kingdom of God.”

Further, he said, “As our desires to learn and live the gospel increase, we naturally seek to serve one another, Elder Hales said.

“Whether we are young or old, what we do today determines the service we will be able to render and enjoy tomorrow,” he said. “Let us not live our lives in regret of what we did or did not do.”  

Elder David S. Baxter: Faith, Fortitude, Fulfillment: A Message to Single Parents

Elder David S. Baxter of the Seventy directed his remarks Saturday afternoon to the single parents in the Church.

“Although you may at times have asked, ‘Why me?’ it is through the hardships of life that we grow towards godhood as our character is shaped in the crucible of affliction; as the events of life take place while God respects the agency of man.”

He acknowledged the many struggles single parents face. “You have to be father as well as mother. You run your household, watch over your family, sometimes struggle to make ends meet, and miraculously, you even find the wherewithal to serve in the Church in significant ways.”

Elder Baxter spoke of his mother, who raised her children on her own in poor circumstances. Despite her struggles, she was “a tremendous source of determination and sheer Scottish grit.”

“There are many of you good women in the Church across the world who face similar circumstances,” he said, “and who demonstrate the same resilience year after year.”

Although life may not be what single parents hoped or expected, Elder Baxter said they need not fear for the future. “With God’s help … your children will grow up and call you blessed, and every single one of their many achievements will stand as a tribute to you.”

He continued, “Please never feel that you are in some kind of second-tier, sub-category of Church membership, somehow less entitled to the Lord’s blessings than others. In the kingdom of God there are no second-class citizens.”

As single parents move forward in patience and faith, Heavenly Father will bless them, he said.

“Many of you have already discovered the great, transforming truth that when you live to lift the burdens of others, your own burden becomes lighter. … You are able to face your own trials with greater acceptance, a more understanding heart, and a deeper gratitude for what you have, rather than pining for what you yet lack.”

Elder Baxter then challenged members and leaders to ask what more they could do to support single-parent families.

He concluded, “Single parents, I testify that as you do your very best in the most difficult of human challenges, Heaven will smile upon you. Truly you are not alone. Let the redemptive, loving power of Jesus Christ brighten your life now, and fill you with the hope of eternal promise. Take courage. Have faith and hope. Consider the present with fortitude and look to the future with confidence.”

Elder Ulisses Soares: Abide in the Lord's Territory!

“ ‘You can’t be right by doing wrong; you can’t be wrong by doing right,’ ” Elder Ulisses Soares of the Seventy said as he drew upon the words of President Thomas S. Monson.

Elder Soares, speaking in the Saturday afternoon session of conference, said, “If we exercise faith and are diligent in obeying in the Lord’s commandments, we will easily find the correct direction to follow, especially when we face our day-to-day choices.”

He spoke of the importance of sowing in the spirit and not sowing in the flesh, as taught by the Apostle Paul.

“To sow in the spirit means that all our thoughts, words, and actions must elevate us to the level of the divinity of our Heavenly Parents,” he said. “However, the scriptures refer to the flesh as the physical or carnal nature of the natural man, which allows people to be influenced by passion, desires, appetites, and drives of the flesh, instead of looking for inspiration from the Holy Ghost. If we are not careful, those influences together with the pressure of the evil in the world, may conduct us to adopt vulgar and reckless behavior, which may become part of our character.”

In order to avoid those bad influences, individuals must follow what the Lord instructed about continuously sowing in the spirit, he said.

“As we study the scriptures, we learn that the promises made by the Lord to us are conditional upon our obedience, and encourage righteous living,” he said. “Those promises must nourish our soul bringing us hope, by encouraging us to not give up, even in face of our daily challenges, living in a world whose ethical and moral values are becoming extinct, thus motivating people to ‘sow in the flesh’ even more.”

It is through asking daily, “Do my actions place me in the Lord’s or in the enemy’s territory?” that individuals are able to gauge where they may need to improve.

“The light of Christ, together with the companionship of the Holy Ghost, must help us determine if our manner of living is placing us in the Lord’s territory or not,” Elder Soares said. “If our attitudes are good, they are inspired of God, for every good thing comes from God. However, if our attitudes are bad, we are being influenced by the enemy, because he persuades men to do evil.”

It is through following the example of the Savior that individuals are able to prepare to live in God’s presence as exalted beings, he said.

“Jesus Christ established the perfect behavior pattern by which we can build upon our attitudes, to be able to fulfill these sacred covenants. The Savior banished from His life any influence that might take His focus away from His divine mission, especially when He was tempted by the enemy or by His followers, while He ministered here on earth.”

Elder Quentin L. Cook: In Tune to the Music of Faith

Wherever they are on the path of discipleship in Lehi’s vision, Church members should “resolve to awaken within them and their families a greater desire to claim the Savior’s incomprehensible gift of eternal life,” said Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve.

“I pray that we will stay in tune to the music of faith,” he said.

Speaking Saturday afternoon, Elder Cook said he and other General Authorities have witnessed how Latter-day Saints all over the world are a force for good. Church leaders also recognize that many individuals “are not in tune to sacred things.”

Elder Cook said Lehi’s prophetic dream of the tree of life (1 Nephi 8) “starkly describes the challenges to faith that exist in our day and the great divide between those who love, worship, and feel accountable to God and those who do not.”

He then directed his remarks to members who love the Lord and His gospel and continuously try to live and share His messages, especially with their families. “You are in harmony with the promptings of the Spirit, awaken to the power of God’s word, have religious observance in your homes, and diligently try to live Christlike lives as His disciples.”

However, he added, there are many members who are less interested and less faithful to some of the Savior’s teachings. “Our desire is for these members to awaken fully to faith and increase their activity and commitment. God loves all His children. ... He desires everyone to be in tune with the sacred music of faith.”

Elder Cook said while Lehi’s vision includes all people, the culminating doctrinal concept is the eternal significance of the family.

“Our great desire is to raise our children in truth and righteousness.”

Religious observance in the home blesses families, he explained. “Example is particularly important. What we are speaks so loudly that our children may not hear what we say.”

The message, ministry, and Atonement of Jesus Christ is essential family curriculum, he said.

One of the underlying premises of Lehi’s vision is that faithful Church members must hold fast to the rod of iron to keep them on the strait and narrow path leading to the tree of life, he said. “It is essential for members to read, ponder, and study the scriptures. The Book of Mormon is of seminal importance.”

Elder Cook said a testimony of the restored gospel must be based on faith rather than external or scientific proof. “In addition, when we inculcate into our lives scriptural imperatives and live the gospel, we are blessed by the Spirit and taste of His goodness with feelings of joy, happiness, and especially peace.”

He said a dividing line between those “who hear the music of faith and those who are tone deaf or off key” is the active study of the scriptures. “We know that family scripture study and family home evenings are not always perfect. Regardless of the challenges you face, do not become discouraged.”

Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and keeping His commandments is and always will be the defining test of mortality, Elder Cook said.

“Our doctrine is clear; we are to be positive and of good cheer. We emphasize our faith, not our fears. We rejoice in the Lord’s assurance that He will stand by us and give us guidance and direction.”

Elder Richard G. Scott: How to Obtain Revelation and Inspiration for Your Personal Life

“Communication with our Father in Heaven is not a trivial matter. It is a sacred privilege,” Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve said during the Saturday afternoon session of general conference.

“The Holy Ghost communicates important information that we need to guide us in our mortal journey,” he said. “When it is crisp and clear and essential, it warrants the title of revelation. When it is a series of promptings we often have to guide us step by step to a worthy objective, for the purpose of this message, it is inspiration.”

Sharing principles that lead to personal revelation and inspiration, Elder Scott said that one of the great lessons everyone needs to learn is to ask, “Why does the Lord want us to pray to Him?” He answered saying, “Because that is how revelation is received.”

“When I am faced with a very difficult matter, this is how I try to understand what to do,” he said. “I fast. I pray to find and understand scriptures that will be helpful. That process is cyclical. I start reading a passage of scripture, I ponder what the verse means, and I pray for inspiration. I then ponder and pray to know if I have captured all the Lord wants me to do. Often more impressions come with increased understanding of doctrine. I have found that pattern to be a good way to learn from the scriptures.”

Elder Scott said that yielding to emotions such as anger, hurt, or defensiveness will drive away the Holy Ghost, and the chance for revelation is slight. He also told the congregation to be cautious with humor.

“Loud inappropriate laughter will offend the Spirit,” he said. “A good sense of humor helps revelation; loud laughter does not. A sense of humor is an escape valve for the pressures of life.

“Another enemy to revelation comes from exaggeration or loudness in what is stated. Careful, quiet speech will favor the receipt of revelation.”

He said communication can be enhanced by good health practices. “Exercise, reasonable amounts of sleep, and good eating habits increase our capacity to receive and understand revelation. We will live for our appointed life span. However, we can improve both the quality of our service and our well-being by making careful, appropriate choices.”

Another avenue for revelation is dreams, he said.

“When it is for the Lord’s purposes He can bring anything to our remembrance. That should not weaken our determination to record impressions of the Spirit. Inspiration carefully recorded shows God that His communications are sacred to us. Recording will also enhance your ability to recall revelation. Such recording of direction of the Spirit should be protected from loss or intrusion by others.”

Looking to the scriptures, being humble, being mentally and physically clean, and seeking revelation with the purpose of helping others are additional ways individuals are able to receive divine direction, Elder Scott noted.

“Our Heavenly Father did not put us on earth to fail, but to succeed gloriously," he said. Further, he said, “As you continue to live righteously you will always be prompted to know what to do. Sometimes the discovery of what action to take may require significant effort and trust on your part. Yet you will be prompted to know what to do as you meet the conditions for such divine guidance in your life, namely: obedience to the commandments of the Lord, trust in His divine plan of happiness, and the avoidance of anything that is contrary to it.”