Chapter 6: General Conference

“Chapter 6: General Conference,” Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual (2016)

“Chapter 6,” Teachings of the Living Prophets Student Manual

Chapter 6

General Conference


The Lord instructed the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44) that “the several elders composing this church of Christ are to meet in conference … from time to time” for the purpose of conducting “whatever church business is necessary to be done at the time” (D&C 20:61–62). About two months after the organization of the Church, the first conference was held on June 9, 1830. The Prophet Joseph Smith recorded the following concerning this first conference: “Our numbers were about thirty, besides whom many assembled with us, who were either believers or anxious to learn. Having opened by singing and prayer, we partook together of the emblems of the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. We then proceeded to confirm several who had lately been baptized, after which we called out and ordained several to the various offices of the Priesthood. Much exhortation and instruction was given, and the Holy Ghost was poured out upon us in a miraculous manner—many of our number prophesied, whilst others had the heavens opened to their view” (in History of the Church, 1:84–85).

Just as in 1830, general conferences continue to provide “much exhortation and instruction,” and “the Holy Ghost [is] poured out” in these sacred gatherings. This chapter emphasizes the purposes of general conferences of the Church and underscores our role in accepting the counsel and warnings of the Lord’s servants. As you study this chapter, evaluate your current attitudes toward general conference and consider what you might do to receive greater spiritual renewal and personal instructions from the messages of Church leaders.



The Purposes of General Conferences

the Conference Center

The Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah

President David O. McKay (1873–1970) summarized the purposes of general conferences:

“(1) To inform the membership of general conditions—whether the Church is progressing or retrogressing, economically, ecclesiastically, or spiritually. (2) To commend true merit. (3) To express gratitude for divine guidance. (4) To give instruction ‘in principles, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel.’ (5) To proclaim the restoration, with divine authority to administer in all the ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and to declare, quoting the Apostle Peter, that ‘there is none other name under heaven given among men’ than Jesus Christ ‘whereby we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12.) (6) To admonish and inspire to continue in greater activity” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1954, 7).


General Conference Provides Opportunities for Spiritual Renewal

President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) taught that general conference is a time to strengthen our testimony and resolve to improve our lives:

Conference time is a season of spiritual revival when knowledge and testimony are increased and solidified that God lives and blesses those who are faithful. It is a time when an understanding that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God, is burned into the hearts of those who have the determination to serve him and keep his commandments. Conference is the time when our leaders give us inspired direction in the conduct of our lives—a time when souls are stirred and resolutions are made to be better husbands and wives, fathers and mothers, more obedient sons and daughters, better friends and neighbors” (“Conference Time,” Ensign, Nov. 1981, 12; emphasis added).

the iron rod

The iron rod—the word of God—brings us safely through the mists of darkness.

During the concluding session of the October 2006 general conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that hearing God’s voice through His servants is vital to spiritual survival in our day of dangers and difficulties:

“Our times are turbulent and difficult. We see wars internationally and distress domestically. Neighbors all around us face personal heartaches and family sorrows. Legions know fear and troubles of a hundred kinds. This reminds us that when those mists of darkness enveloped the travelers in Lehi’s vision of the tree of life, it enveloped all of the participants—the righteous as well as the unrighteous, the young along with the elderly, the new convert and seasoned member alike. In that allegory all face opposition and travail, and only the rod of iron—the declared word of God—can bring them safely through. We all need that rod. We all need that word. No one is safe without it, for in its absence any can ‘[fall] away into forbidden paths and [be] lost,’ as the record says [1 Nephi 8:28; see also vv. 23–24]. How grateful we are to have heard God’s voice and felt the strength of that iron rod in this conference these past two days” (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 105; emphasis added).


The Words of the Prophets Delivered through the Spirit during General Conference Are Latter-day Scripture

President Monson speaking

President Thomas S. Monson speaking in general conference

Scripture is the mind and will of God revealed through His servants (see D&C 68:4). The Apostle Peter declared, “Prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:21). Such scripture has been written and preserved in the standard works as priceless gems of eternal truth. However, the standard works are not the only source of scripture. Elder James E. Talmage (1862–1933) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles identified the connection between the standard works and the words of living prophets:

“The Standard Works of the Church constitute the written authority of the Church in doctrine. Nevertheless, the Church holds itself in readiness to receive additional light and knowledge ‘pertaining to the Kingdom of God’ through divine revelation. We believe that God is as willing today as He ever has been to reveal His mind and will to man, and that He does so through His appointed servants—prophets, seers, and revelators—invested through ordination with the authority of the Holy Priesthood. We rely therefore on the teachings of the living oracles of God as of equal validity with the doctrines of the written word” (Articles of Faith [1968], 7; emphasis added).

President Joseph Fielding Smith (1876–1972) taught about latter-day scripture:

“When one of the brethren stands before a congregation of the people today, and the inspiration of the Lord is upon him, he speaks that which the Lord would have him speak. It is just as much scripture as anything you will find written in any of these records, and yet we call these the standard works of the Church. We depend, of course, upon the guidance of the brethren who are entitled to inspiration.

“There is only one man in the Church at a time who has the right to give revelation for the Church, and that is the President of the Church. But that does not bar any other member in this Church from speaking the word of the Lord, as indicated here in this revelation, section 68 [see D&C 68:2–6], but a revelation that is to be given as these revelations are given in this book, to the Church, will come through the presiding officer of the Church; yet, the word of the Lord, as spoken by other servants at the general conferences and stake conferences, or wherever they may be when they speak that which the Lord has put into their mouths, is just as much the word of the Lord as the writings and the words of other prophets in other dispensations” (Doctrines of Salvation, comp. Bruce R. McConkie [1954], 1:186).

President J. Reuben Clark Jr. (1871–1961) explained that we must be worthy and receive inspiration from the Holy Ghost in order to know when the Brethren speak by the power of the Holy Ghost:

“The question is, how shall we know when the things they have spoken were said as they were ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’? [D&C 68:3].

“I have given some thought to this question, and the answer thereto so far as I can determine, is: We can tell when the speakers are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost’ only when we, ourselves, are ‘moved upon by the Holy Ghost.’

“In a way, this completely shifts the responsibility from them to us to determine when they so speak” (“When Are Church Leaders’ Words Entitled to Claim of Scripture?” Church News, July 31, 1954, 9; emphasis added; see also 2 Peter 1:20–21).

President Howard W. Hunter (1907–95) spoke about general conference addresses in relation to latter-day scripture:

“Much inspired counsel by prophets, seers, revelators, and other General Authorities of the Church is given during general conference. Our modern-day prophets have encouraged us to make the reading of the conference editions of our Church magazines an important and regular part of our personal study. Thus, general conference becomes, in a sense, a supplement to or an extension of the Doctrine and Covenants. In addition to the conference issues of the Church magazines, the First Presidency writes monthly articles that contain inspired counsel for our welfare” (The Teachings of Howard W. Hunter, ed. Clyde J. Williams [1997], 212; emphasis added; see also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Howard W. Hunter [2015], 119).


The Benefit and Value of Latter-day Revelation

President Harold B. Lee (1899–1973) observed the importance of accepting and heeding revelation:

“Some of the most profound thinkers in our generation, other than Church members, have realized the need for revelations from the Lord in order to give vitality to the teachings of a church. It was Ralph Waldo Emerson who said:

“‘The Hebrew and Greek scriptures contain immortal sentences that have been the bread of life to millions, but they do not have epical integrity, are fragmentary and are not shown in their order to the intellect. … Nor can the Bible be closed until the last great man is born. … Men have come to speak of revelation as somewhat long ago given and done, as if God were dead. That injury to faith throttles the preachers and the goodliest of institutions become an uncertain and inarticulate voice. The need was never greater for revelation than it is today.’ [This contains statements from an address at the Harvard Divinity School, July 15, 1838, and Representative Men, “Uses of Great Men.”]

“… There have been in this day, our day, men commissioned of the Lord with power and authority, and he has given them the inspiration to teach and proclaim these things to the world for the purpose the Lord has set forth … that the important things might be counseled by the elders of the Church to this people according to the inspiration and revelation they receive from time to time. As the Latter-day Saints go home from this conference, it would be well if they consider seriously the importance … of this conference and let it be the guide to their walk and talk during the next six months. These are the important matters the Lord sees fit to reveal to this people in this day” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1946, 67–68).

President Thomas S. Monson encouraged us to study the conference addresses found in the Church magazines:

“We remind you that the messages we have heard during this conference will be printed in the … Ensign and Liahona magazines. As we read and study them, we will be additionally taught and inspired. May we incorporate into our daily lives the truths found therein” (“Closing Remarks,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2009, 109; emphasis added).

the Liahona

General conference is like a modern Liahona and is deserving of our faith, heed, and diligence (see 1 Nephi 16:28).

Elder Lowell M. Snow of the Seventy compared general conference to the Liahona, which the Lord provided to guide Lehi and his family (see 1 Nephi 16:10, 16, 29):

“The Lord provides guidance and direction to individuals and families today, just as He did with Lehi. This very general conference is a modern Liahona, a time and place to receive inspired guidance and direction that prospers us and helps us follow God’s path through the more fertile parts of mortality. Consider that we are gathered to hear counsel from prophets and apostles who have prayed mightily and prepared carefully to know what the Lord would have them say. We have prayed for them and for ourselves that the Comforter would teach us the mind and will of God. Surely there is no better time or place for the Lord to direct His people than in this conference.

The teachings of this conference are the compass of the Lord. In the coming days you may, as Lehi did, walk out your front door and find a Liahona, Ensign, or other Church publication in your mailbox, and it will contain the proceedings of this conference. As with the Liahona of old, this new writing will be plain and easy to read and will give you and your family understanding concerning the ways and paths of the Lord” (“Compass of the Lord,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 97; emphasis added).


We Commit to Heed and Support Those We Sustain in General Conference

Sustaining Church officers has always been a part of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The scriptures teach that “no person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church” (D&C 20:65). In the very first meeting of the Church, on April 6, 1830, “Joseph [Smith] asked those present if they were willing to accept him and Oliver [Cowdery] as their teachers and spiritual advisers. Everyone raised their hands in the affirmative” (Church History in the Fulness of Times, 2nd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 67–68; see also History of the Church, 1:77). The Lord later affirmed that “all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith” (D&C 26:2; emphasis added). We have the opportunity in general conference to sustain the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, members of the Quorums of Seventy, and other General Officers of the Church by common consent.

When President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) was sustained as the President of the Church, he explained the commitment we make when we sustain our Church leaders:

“This morning we all participated in a solemn assembly. That is just what the name indicates. It is a gathering of the membership where every individual stands equal with every other in exercising with soberness and in solemnity his or her right to sustain or not to sustain those who, under the procedures that arise out of the revelations, have been chosen to lead.

“The procedure of sustaining is much more than a ritualistic raising of the hand. It is a commitment to uphold, to support, to assist those who have been selected. …

“Your uplifted hands in the solemn assembly this morning became an expression of your willingness and desire to uphold us, your brethren and your servants, with your confidence, faith, and prayer” (“This Work Is Concerned with People,” Ensign, May 1995, 51; emphasis added).

sustaining at general conference

The opportunity to sustain our Church leaders is accompanied by solemn obligations.

Elder David B. Haight (1906–2004) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke of the covenant we make with God when we sustain our Church leaders:

“When we sustain the President of the Church by our uplifted hand, it not only signifies that we acknowledge before God that he is the rightful possessor of all the priesthood keys; it also means that we covenant with God that we will abide by the direction and the counsel that come through His prophet. It is a solemn covenant” (“Solemn Assemblies,” Ensign, Nov. 1994, 14–15).

Doctrine and Covenants 107:22 states that the members of the First Presidency are “upheld by the confidence, faith, and prayer of the church.” On the day Thomas S. Monson, Henry B. Eyring, and Dieter F. Uchtdorf were sustained in a solemn assembly as the First Presidency, President Eyring taught the following about what it means to sustain our leaders:

“For us to sustain those who have been called today, we must examine our lives, repent as necessary, pledge to keep the Lord’s commandments, and follow His servants. The Lord warns us that if we do not do those things, the Holy Ghost will be withdrawn, we will lose the light which we have received, and we will not be able to keep the pledge we have made today to sustain the Lord’s servants in His true Church. …

“On this day especially it would be wise to determine to sustain with our faith and our prayers all those who serve us in the kingdom. I am personally aware of the power of the faith of members of the Church to sustain those who have been called. In the last few weeks I have felt in powerful ways the prayers and the faith of people whom I do not know and who know me only as someone called to serve through the keys of the priesthood. President Thomas S. Monson will be blessed by your sustaining faith. His family will likewise have blessings poured out upon them because of your faith and your prayers. All those who were sustained by you today will be sustained by God because of their faith and yours” (“The True and Living Church,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 21; emphasis added).

The following statement illustrates the commitment that President Joseph F. Smith (1838–1918) had to sustain those he recognized as the Lord’s servants:

“I was called on a mission after I had served four years on a homestead and it was only necessary for me to remain one year more to prove up and get my title to the land; but President Young said he wanted me to go to Europe on a mission, to take charge of the mission there. I did not say to him, ‘Brother Brigham, I cannot go; I have got a homestead on my hands, and if I go I will forfeit it.’ I said to Brother Brigham, ‘All right, President Young; whenever you want me to go I will go; I am on hand to obey the call of my file leader.’ And I went. I lost the homestead, and yet I never complained about it; I never charged Brother Brigham with having robbed me because of this. I felt that I was engaged in a bigger work than securing 160 acres of land. I was sent to declare the message of salvation to the nations of the earth. I was called by the authority of God on the earth, and I did not stop to consider myself and my little personal rights and privileges; I went as I was called, and God sustained and blessed me in it” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith [1998], 210; emphasis added).


Our Preparation Affects What We Gain from General Conference

woman studying

Set aside time to study conference addresses.

Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy described how he learned to make general conference a priority in his life:

“My mother loved general conference. She always tuned in the radio and TV and turned the volume loud enough that it was difficult to find a place in the house where conference couldn’t be heard. She wanted her children to listen to the talks and would ask us from time to time what we remembered. Once in a while I went outside with one of my brothers to play ball during a Saturday conference session. We would take a radio with us because we knew our mother might quiz us later. We would play ball and occasionally take a break to listen carefully so we could report to Mom. I doubt my mother was fooled when we both happened to remember the same thing from an entire session.

That is no way to listen to conference. I have since repented. I have grown to love general conference, I’m sure partly because of my mother’s love for the words of the living prophets. I remember listening to the sessions of a particular conference all alone in an apartment while I was in college. The Holy Ghost witnessed to my soul that Harold B. Lee, the President of the Church at that time, was truly a prophet of God. This happened before I went into the mission field, and I was excited to testify of a living prophet because I had come to know for myself. I have had that same witness about each of the prophets since that time.

“When I was in the mission field, the Church didn’t have the satellite system, and the country where I served did not have broadcasts of general conference. My mother sent me audiotapes of the sessions, and I listened to them over and over again. I grew to love the voices and the words of the prophets and apostles. …

“Decide now to make general conference a priority in your life. Decide to listen carefully and follow the teachings that are given. Listen to or read the talks more than once to better understand and follow the counsel. As you do these things, the gates of hell will not prevail against you, the powers of darkness will be dispersed from before you, and the heavens will shake for your good” (“The Blessings of General Conference,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 51–52; emphasis added).

reading Church magazine

We can receive personal revelation as we study conference addresses. The Holy Ghost will help us make personal application of the messages.

President Boyd K. Packer (1924–2015) of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles emphasized the importance of our preparation for general conference:

“In a few days there opens another general conference of the Church. The servants of the Lord will counsel us. You may listen with anxious ears and hearts, or you may turn that counsel aside. … What you shall gain will depend not so much upon their preparation of the messages as upon your preparation for them” (Follow the Brethren, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Mar. 23, 1965], 10; emphasis added).

Consider the following ideas in your preparation:

  1. Plan and set aside personal time to listen to and study the conference addresses. This may require that you remove yourself from distractions or interruptions. Make the environment in which you view, listen to, or study the conference addresses acceptable to the Holy Ghost.

  2. Pray in faith that you will receive messages of significance in your own life. Pray for the Church leaders as they prepare and deliver their addresses.

  3. Before listening to or studying the conference addresses, list personal questions or concerns for which you are seeking answers. By taking a spiritual inventory you may notice aspects of your life where you want to improve. In a journal or notebook, record the answers and impressions you receive during the conference.

  4. After listening to or studying the conference addresses, recommit to improve your life in those areas that impressed you.

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) extended the following invitation at the beginning of a general conference:

“You have gathered to be encouraged, to be inspired, to be lifted and directed as members of the Church. … You have gathered to be helped with your temporal concerns, your failures, and your victories. You have come to hear the word of the Lord taught by those who, not of their own choosing, have been called as teachers in this great work.

“You have prayed that you might hear things that will help you with your problems and add strength to your faith. …

“I invite you to listen, listen if you will by the power of the Spirit, to the speakers who will address you today and tomorrow as well as this evening. If you will do so, I do not hesitate to promise that you will be uplifted, your resolution to do what is right will be stronger, you will find solutions to your problems and your needs, and you will be led to thank the Lord for what you have heard” (“Listen by the Power of the Spirit,” Ensign, Nov. 1996, 4–5).

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) encouraged us to write down, remember, and act on the thoughts we receive as we listen to the messages given during general conference:

“We hope that the leaders and the members of the Church who have attended and listened to the conference have been inspired and uplifted. We hope you have made copious notes of the thoughts that have come to your mind as the Brethren have addressed you. Many suggestions have been given that will help you as leaders in the perfection of your work. Many helpful thoughts have been given for the perfection of our own lives, and that, of course, is the basic reason for our coming.

“While sitting here, I have made up my mind that when I go home from this conference this night there are many, many areas in my life that I can perfect. I have made a mental list of them, and I expect to go to work as soon as we get through with conference” (“Spoken from Their Hearts,” Ensign, Nov. 1975, 111; emphasis added).


General Conference Is a Call to Action

During a general conference in 1856, President Brigham Young called on the Saints to go and rescue stranded handcart companies. Using this as an analogy, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that the spiritual renewal we gain from conference should engage us in service to others:

Each of these conferences marks a call to action not only in our own lives but also on behalf of others around us, those who are of our own family and faith and those who are not. …

“As surely as the rescue of those in need [the stranded handcart companies coming west] was the general conference theme of October 1856, so too is it the theme of this conference and last conference and the one to come next spring. It may not be blizzards and frozen-earth burials that we face this conference, but the needy are still out there—the poor and the weary, the discouraged and downhearted, those ‘[falling] away into [the] forbidden paths’ [1 Nephi 8:28] we mentioned earlier, and multitudes who are ‘kept from the truth because they know not where to find it’ [D&C 123:12]. They are all out there with feeble knees, hands that hang down [see D&C 81:5], and bad weather setting in. They can be rescued only by those who have more and know more and can help more. And don’t worry about asking, ‘Where are they?’ They are everywhere, on our right hand and on our left, in our neighborhoods and in the workplace, in every community and county and nation of this world. Take your team and wagon; load it with your love, your testimony, and a spiritual sack of flour; then drive in any direction. The Lord will lead you to those in need if you will but embrace the gospel of Jesus Christ that has been taught in this conference. Open your heart and your hand to those trapped in the 21st century’s equivalent of Martin’s Cove and Devil’s Gate. In doing so we honor the Master’s repeated plea on behalf of lost sheep and lost coins and lost souls [see Luke 15]” (“Prophets in the Land Again,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2006, 106; emphasis added).


Applying the Teachings of General Conference Will Improve Our Lives

President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) taught the following about the importance of applying what we learn in general conference:

“Sunday night, April 7, the great Tabernacle was closed, the lights turned out, the record[ing] machines stopped, the doors locked, and another historic conference became history. It will have been lost motion—a waste of time, energy, and money—if its messages are not heeded. In the [several] two-hour sessions … , truths were taught, doctrines expounded, exhortations given, enough to save the whole world from all its ills—and I mean from ALL its ills. A rather complete education in eternal verities was given to millions with a great hope that there were ‘ears a’hearing and eyes a’seeing and hearts a’throbbing,’ convinced of truth. …

“Let no arrogant, self-assured, self-styled intellectual discard the truths there taught and the testimonies there borne, nor argue with the messages and instructions there given. …

“I hope you young people all heard the messages of the ages delivered [during general conference]. There will be other conferences every six months. I hope you will get your copy of the [Ensign or Liahona] and underline the pertinent thoughts and keep it with you for continual reference. No text or volume outside the standard works of the Church should have such a prominent place on your personal library shelves—not for their rhetorical excellence or eloquence of delivery, but for the concepts which point the way to eternal life” (In the World but Not of It, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [May 14, 1968], 2–3).

inside Tabernacle

General conference is a time of spiritual renewal.

President Ezra Taft Benson (1899–1994) described how we could benefit more from general conference:

“My humble prayer is that all of us will follow the counsel and instruction we have received.

“As we have felt the Spirit and made new and sacred resolves, may we now have the courage and fortitude to carry out those resolves.

“For the next six months, your conference edition of the Ensign should stand next to your standard works and be referred to frequently. As my dear friend and brother [President] Harold B. Lee said, we should let these conference addresses ‘be the guide to [our] walk and talk during the next six months. These are the important matters the Lord sees fit to reveal to this people in this day’ (in Conference Report, Apr. 1946, p. 68).

“May we all go to our homes rededicated to the sacred mission of the Church as so beautifully set forth in these conference sessions—to ‘invite all to come unto Christ’ (D&C 20:59), ‘yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him’ (Moroni 10:32)” (“Come unto Christ, and Be Perfected in Him,” Ensign, May 1988, 84).

President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) expressed a desire that each Church member would become a better person by applying the teachings given at general conference:

“I hope that we shall ponder with subdued feelings the talks to which we have listened. I hope that we will quietly reflect on the wonderful things we have heard. I hope that we will feel a little more contrite and humble.

“All of us have been edified. The test will come in the application of the teachings given. If, hereafter, we are a little more kind, if we are a little more neighborly, if we have drawn nearer to the Savior, with a more firm resolution to follow His teachings and His example, then this conference will have been a wonderful success. If, on the other hand, there is no improvement in our lives, then those who have spoken will have in large measure failed.

“Those changes may not be measurable in a day or a week or a month. Resolutions are quickly made and quickly forgotten. But, in a year from now, if we are doing better than we have done in the past, then the efforts of these days will not have been in vain.

“We will not remember all that has been said, but there will arise from all of this a spiritual uplift. It may be undefinable, but it will be real. As the Lord said to Nicodemus, ‘The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit’ (John 3:8).

family studying general conference message

We are encouraged to discuss general conference talks during family home evening lessons.

“So it will be with the experience we have enjoyed. And perhaps out of all we have heard, there may be a phrase or a paragraph that will stand out and possess our attention. If this occurs, I hope we will write it down and reflect on it until we savor the depth of its meaning and have made it a part of our own lives.

“In our family home evenings I hope we will discuss with our children these things and let them taste the sweetness of the truths we have enjoyed. And when the Ensign magazine comes out … with all of the conference messages, please don’t just throw it aside with the comment that you have heard it all, but read and ponder the various messages. You will find many things that you missed when you listened to the speakers. …

“Tomorrow morning we will be back at our jobs, back to our studies, back to whatever constitutes the busy regimen of our lives. But we can have the memories of this great occasion to sustain us” (“An Humble and a Contrite Heart,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 88–89; emphasis added).

Elder Paul V. Johnson of the Seventy explained that we need to put into action the messages of general conference:

“In order for the messages of general conference to change our lives, we need to be willing to follow the counsel we hear. The Lord explained in a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith ‘that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know … how to act upon the points of my law and commandments’ [D&C 43:8]. But knowing ‘how to act’ isn’t enough. The Lord in the next verse said, ‘Ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me’ [D&C 43:9]. This willingness to take action on what we have learned opens the doors for marvelous blessings. …

Every time we are obedient to the words of the prophets and apostles we reap great blessings. We receive more blessings than we can understand at the time, and we continue to receive blessings long after our initial decision to be obedient” (“The Blessings of General Conference,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2005, 52; emphasis added).

At the closing of the April 1978 general conference, President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) said:

“Now as we conclude this general conference, let us all give heed to what was said to us. Let us assume the counsel given applies to us, to me. Let us hearken to those we sustain as prophets and seers, as well as the other brethren, as if our eternal life depended upon it, because it does!” (“Listen to the Prophets,” Ensign, May 1978, 77; emphasis added).

President Marion G. Romney (1897–1988) of the First Presidency emphasized how much truth is taught during general conferences:

“We have heard enough truth and direction in this conference to bring us into the presence of God if we would follow it. We have been taken on to the spiritual mountain and shown visions of great glory” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1954, 132–33).

studying scriptures

Ponder how the counsel applies to you personally.

As you commit to apply the teachings of general conference in your life, consider the following suggestions:

  1. Discuss general conference with family and friends. Share what you learned, and learn from what they tell you as well.

  2. While you are listening to general conference, when you feel the promptings of the Spirit to do something, write it down, and then do it.

  3. Set goals that specify how and when you will apply the counsel you receive during general conference. Write down your goals and refer to them often.

  4. Study the talks when they come out in the Church magazines or on the internet so you can gain new insights and renew the spiritual feelings you had. (General conference talks are available to read or listen to on; word and topic searches may also be done within the Ensign magazines online.)

  5. Prepare family home evening lessons around conference talks.

  6. Purchase the DVDs or CDs of general conference, and watch or listen to them often, possibly while you commute or travel to help you use your time more wisely.

  7. Copy brief quotations from conference talks and place them somewhere in your home or apartment where you will see them regularly. Try to memorize them.

Points to Ponder

  • Do you take notes as you listen to general conference? Are they a general summary of the speakers’ comments, or do you record just the things that impress you? Do your notes include impressions from the Spirit that came to you while listening to the speaker? Do they include plans and goals you would like to make that will help you change your life? What instructions given in Doctrine and Covenants 43:8–10 could help you improve your note taking during general conference?

  • Consider how you regard the messages of general conference and other talks and writings by General Authorities. How have you applied the exhortation and instruction of the speakers in the past? How will you apply them in the future?

  • What blessings are promised to those who follow the prophets of God?

  • How will you improve your preparation for the next general conference?

  • How can your study of the conference addresses influence your study of the scriptures?

Suggested Assignments

  • Using what you learned in this chapter, list specifically what you can do to prepare to receive and apply the Lord’s word in general conference. Make a second list of the blessings you can expect to receive as you accomplish what you have written.

  • Read Mosiah 5:1–7, and list the effects King Benjamin’s address had on his people. What can you do to experience similar effects from general conference?

  • Read Ephesians 4:11–14, and list the reasons the Apostle Paul gave for the Lord establishing His Church with prophets and apostles. How does Paul’s teaching relate to general conference?

  • As you study the conference issues of the Ensign or Liahona and other talks by the Brethren, highlight specific promises made by those who spoke. Also note what the speakers said we must do to receive promised blessings. Record what you will now do to obtain these blessings.