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Are You Heeding the Lord—or the World?
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Are You Heeding the Lord—or the World?

The inspired teachings shared in general conference can be a shield against the doubt and criticism that surrounds us.

South Africa: Couples

For the past few years, I’ve felt bombarded with messages of doubt. Both in personal conversations and on social media, I see the gospel being questioned and criticized.

And as general conference approached this year, the bombardment of questioning voices was still going strong. It seemed like many social media influencers who are Church members were telling their audiences to replace doctrinal truth with “personal truths,” which often involved them adjusting gospel principles to meet their desired lifestyle and habits. Others said to listen selectively to general conference and only take away principles that make you “feel good.” These “feel-good principles” didn’t seem to leave room for the inspired invitations to make Christlike changes and the calls to repentance that our Church leaders give as Lord’s mouthpieces.

I noticed that people who were vocal about their testimony of gospel principles and support of prophets and apostles were also criticized. Sometimes I felt like if I stood up for my beliefs in a straightforward way, I’d be attacked with anger and cancel culture. I’d be labeled as close-minded, harsh, misinformed, and naïve. These responses never shook my faith. If anything, they made it stronger. They drove me to trust in the doctrine found in the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. But I was worried that my loved ones would take these twisted opinions as actual truth.

One night, I was studying Helaman 13:26–27 when I saw a parallel between the Nephites that Samuel the Lamanite was preaching to and people in our day. He taught: “If a prophet come among you and declareth unto you the word of the Lord, which testifieth of your sins and iniquities, ye are angry with him, and cast him out and seek all manner of ways to destroy him; yea, you will say that he is a false prophet. …

“But behold, if a man shall come among you and shall say: Do this, and there is no iniquity; do that and ye shall not suffer; … and do whatsoever your heart desireth …, ye will receive him, and say that he is a prophet.”

I was stunned. The same criticism that I heard all around me was mirrored in the Book of Mormon. The fact that a Book of Mormon prophet was warning against these same patterns validated my concerns.

I kept these concerns in mind as I listened to general conference, and I was touched by the words of Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He spoke about handling the criticism and incorrect teachings of others by quoting these lyrics from the hymn “Let Us All Press On”: “We will heed not what the wicked may say, but the Lord alone we will obey.”1 Here are four points from his message that help me now to “heed not” and “hear Him” instead.

  1. Living the gospel increases our ability to “’heed not’ the many distractions, taunts, and diversions” of today and blesses us “with the spiritual capacity” to continue on.

  2. Having personal relationships with Heavenly Father and the Savior brings us assurance, peace, joy, and … spiritual strength.” I realized that as I focus on my love for the Savior, the critical voices of the world are easily tuned out, and I can replace my fear with faith.

  3. The “covenant connection” that we have with the Savior is the “channel through which we can receive the capacity and strength to ‘heed not.’” Keeping our covenants allows us to “take ‘courage’ … and pay no attention to evil influences and secular scoffing.”

  4. If we hold to the iron rod, we’ll have “the ability to resist the temptations and the fiery darts of the adversary.” We can hold fast to the iron rod by “prayerfully, earnestly, and consistently using the holy scriptures and the teachings of living prophets and apostles as sure sources of revealed truth.”2

After hearing this talk, my heart was filled with peace. I might not be able to stop those around me from criticizing what I believe, but I can choose to heed them not and trust in the Lord. I can trust in the clarity of the gospel and avoid the confusion that others share. I can continue to believe in the truths that have always brought me happiness.

As I prioritize my “covenant connection” with the Lord by studying the scriptures, visiting the temple, and learning about the covenants I’ve made, I’ll be strengthened to “heed not.” I know that when I focus on the joys of living the gospel, I’ll receive continuous peace and spiritual strength.

Jessica Brousseau loves reading and writing fantasy novels, spending too much time at the craft store, and going on long walks and fun adventures with her husband, Zach. She also loves speaking Spanish with her family, having lived in Argentina and Uruguay. She knows that Heavenly Father is a God of miracles and believes that anyone can see miracles in their lives when they act in faith.