Follow the prophet

A song sung by Primary children of the Church contains this wise counsel:

Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,Follow the prophet; don't go astray.

Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,

Follow the prophet; he knows the way.

Children's Songbook, pp. 110-111.

What better advice could we have than that found in these simple words, and the instruction that they are to be sung "with energy."

And we do have a living prophet to follow, even President Howard W. Hunter, whose imprint on the general conference just concluded was truly that of an inspired leader.

In the opening solemn assembly session in which he was sustained by hand and heart, President Hunter began his instructions to the Church which he continued in the general priesthood session and in the final Sunday session.

In some of the most forceful sermons he has given in his long ministry as a General Authority he made it abundantly clear what we must do. His counsel was given gently, as is his manner, but the instructions were powerful and very specific.

He acknowledged humbly the mantle of leadership that has fallen on him, but affirmed that the true head of the Church is Jesus Christ and that He should be the center of our worship and the key to our happiness. "Let us follow the Son of God in all ways and all walks of life. Let us make Him our exemplar and our guide," President Hunter declared. "We should at every opportunity ask ourselves, `What would Jesus do?' and then act more courageously upon the answer."

With the Spirit of Christ in our lives President Hunter urged that we be more courteous, kind, patient, and forgiving toward each other. He beckoned to those who have transgressed and fallen to come back to the fold of Christ and stand in unity with the Church.

With special emphasis he admonished Church members to be worthy to hold temple recommends and participate in temple worship regularly. He spoke of the sanctity and safety found within the hallowed walls of the House of the Lord, and promised that through temple attendance we can learn more richly and deeply the purpose of life. To young people contemplating marriage he said without equivocation: "It does matter where you marry and by what authority you are pronounced man and wife."

Noting with grave concern the disintegration of families in today's society, President Hunter taught that there can only be success and peace when the world once again defines the family as the Lord has revealed it to be.

To the brethren of the priesthood, President Hunter gave pointed and specific counsel about their duties as husbands and fathers. He declared marriage to be a sacred privilege and an obligation, without which exaltation is not possible.

He called upon husbands to show perfect moral fidelity to their wives and give them no reason to doubt their faithfulness. "The Lord forbids and His Church condemns any and every intimate relationship outside of marriage," he declared.

He was equally forceful as he decried spousal or child abuse, and the neglect to support one's children, warning that such conduct has long been a cause for discipline within the Church.

He reaffirmed the special role of motherhood and insisted that priesthood holders show reverence for mothers and support their wives in the sacred, creative role they play. "Mothers perform a labor the priesthood cannot do. For this gift of life the priesthood should have love unbounded for the mothers of their children."

He also told husbands to make their marriages full partnerships, to build family unity, to teach their children, to keep work and social activities in proper perspective, and wherever possible to work hard to provide for their families so their wives can remain in the home and devote their efforts to mothering their children.

There was much more counsel given by this venerable prophet of God. Church members need to pay close attention to the many teachings given in these first three sermons of his presidency. His directions were specific, his counsel loving, and his witness and testimony powerful.

He is the Lord's prophet now, and the Church will move forward vigorously under his leadership. Those who spoke during the conference affirmed the unity that exists among the leadership of the Church. Each bore witness that the Church is being led properly by apostles and prophets who are humble followers of Christ.

It is for us now to have ears to hear, hearts to feel, and the courage to follow the prophet!

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