“No one can do what a righteous woman can do.”
President Russell M. Nelson shared this powerful statement during the historic general women’s session, held for the first time on the Saturday evening of general conference, in place of general priesthood session. During this worldwide meeting of women and girls ages eight and up, President Nelson, his counselors in the First Presidency, and female auxiliary leaders spoke of the important influence of women, their spiritual gifts, and their essential role in the work of the Lord.
“My dear sisters, we need you! We ‘need your strength, your conversion, your conviction, your ability to lead, your wisdom, and your voices,’” said President Nelson. “We simply cannot gather Israel without you.”
Building on his invitation to youth to participate in “the greatest work on earth today” to “help gather Israel on both sides of the veil” the prophet called on the women of the Church to join the cause.
“Women shape the future,” he said. He invited them to help shape the gathering of Israel by doing four things:
- Participate in a 10-day fast from social media and from any other negative or impure media. President Nelson encouraged women to notice how the fast affects their priorities and then to record and act on spiritual impressions they receive.
- Read the Book of Mormon between now and the end of the year. President Nelson suggested that as they read, they mark each verse that refers to the Savior and talk about Him with friends and family.
- Establish a pattern of regular temple attendance. Time in the temple can lead to greater understanding about how to draw upon God’s priesthood power, President Nelson said.
- Participate fully in Relief Society. He added that studying the Relief Society purpose statement and the Relief Society declaration can help women understand who they are and who the Lord needs them to be.
Of the important work of women, President Nelson said: “My dear sisters, you have spiritual gifts and propensities. … I urge you, with all the hope of my heart, to pray to understand your spiritual gifts—to cultivate, use, and expand them, even more than you ever have. You will change the world as you do.”
Read or Watch President Nelson’s full message.
A Gift to Nurture
Referring to Saturday morning’s announcement about achieving a better balance between gospel instruction at home and at Church, President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, said the focus on gospel instruction at home and in the family is evidence of Heavenly Father’s love for and trust in women.
“While I do not know all the Lord’s reasons for giving primary responsibility for nurturing in the family to faithful sisters, I believe it has to do with your capacity to love,” President Eyring said. “It takes great love to feel the needs of someone else more than your own. That is the pure love of Christ for the person you nurture.”
President Eyring noted that women, no matter their circumstance, are a key part of the family of God. “Your trust from God is to nurture as many of His and your family members as you can with your love and your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Focus First on God
Sister Joy D. Jones, Primary General President, urged women to focus more seriously on the “why” of all the service they do for family, friends, community, and the Church.
“When we focus on all that God has done for us, our service flows from a heart of gratitude,” she taught. “As we become less concerned about our service magnifying us, we realize instead that the focus of our service will be on putting God first.”
She went on to say:
“We can make each item on our to-do list become a way to glorify Him. Can we see each task as a privilege and opportunity to serve Him, even when we are in the midst of deadlines, duties, or dirty diapers? …
When serving our God becomes our main priority in life, we lose ourselves, and in due course, we find ourselves.”
Joy in Unselfish Service
Sister Cristina B. Franco, Second Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, also spoke of service and asked women to consider the following questions:
“Are we giving our all to the Lord without reservation? Are we sacrificing of our time and talents so the rising generation can learn to love the Lord and keep His commandments? Are we ministering both to those around us and to those we are assigned with care and with diligence—sacrificing time and energy that could be used in other ways? Are we living the two great commandments—to love God and to love His children?”
Sister Franco told of a Primary teacher from her childhood who made a chocolate cake for the children. Years later, Sister Franco discovered that the teacher had used her bus fare to buy ingredients for the cake, choosing to walk to church instead of taking the bus. This sacrifice was the “secret ingredient” that made the cake so delicious. “It was not about the cake,” Sister Franco observed. “It was about the love behind the action. … Love is made sacred through sacrifice.”
Dealing with Divine Discontent
Sister Michelle D. Craig, First Counselor in the Young Women General Presidency, spoke of feelings of inadequacy and discontent women often grapple with as they recognize the gap between who they are and who they want to become.
“We can choose to walk the higher path that leads us to seek for God and His peace and grace, or we can listen to Satan, who bombards us with messages that we will never be enough: rich enough, smart enough, beautiful enough, anything enough,” Sister Craig cautioned. “Our discontent can become divine—or destructive.”
One key to discerning between the two is following the promptings of the Spirit.
“Sisters, you and I can plead for the Holy Ghost to show us ‘all things what [we] should do,’ even when our to-do list already looks full,” Sister Craig said. “… Peace comes in knowing that being more does not necessarily equate to doing more. Responding to discontent by resolving to follow promptings changes the way I think about ‘my time,’ and I see people not as interruptions but as the purpose of my life.”
Counsel for Young Women
During his remarks, President Dallin H. Oaks, First Counselor in the First Presidency, gave specific counsel to young women on two subjects. First, he cautioned them—and adult women—to limit their use of and dependency on cell phones.
His second counsel? Be kind to others.
“Persistent unkindness is known by many names, such as bullying, ganging up on someone, or joining together to reject others,” President Oaks said. “These examples deliberately inflict pain on classmates or friends. My young sisters, it is not pleasing to the Lord if we are cruel or mean to others.”
President Oaks reiterated President Nelson’s challenge to young women to “stand out; be different from the world” as they join the Lord’s battalion to gather Israel.
“Our world needs your goodness and love,” President Oaks said. “Be kind to one another. Jesus taught us to love one another and to treat others as we want to be treated. As we strive to be kind, we draw closer to Him and His loving influence.”
President Nelson closed the session with this message to the women of the Church:
“I love you and thank you and now bless you with the ability to leave the world behind as you assist in this crucial and urgent work. Together we can do all that our Heavenly Father needs us to do to prepare the world for the Second coming of His beloved Son.”
To watch the full general women’s session of the October 2018 general conference, click here.