Righteous women essential to God’s work

Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU
Credit: Mark A. Philbrick, BYU


“Righteous and faithful women have always played an essential role in saving souls and in defending the kingdom of God,” Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles told thousands of women gathered in the Marriott Center for BYU Women’s Conference.

“No one can do what you sisters can do to help move the gospel kingdom forward and make the world a better place,” he said.

The annual conference — cosponsored by the Relief Society and BYU — brought women from most states and many countries around the world to the university’s campus. Presentations held over two days were centered on this year’s theme: “My soul delighteth in the covenants of the Lord.”

Recognizing that women have been “divinely endowed with a unique kind of discernment and strength” different than those qualities given to men, Elder Ballard told some 15,000 people in the audience that those differences are intentional and eternal.

“They don’t make you better than a man, nor do they make you inferior to him,” he said. “They just make you different — wonderfully, deliberately, everlastingly so.”

Praising the contributions — small and large — of women throughout his life, Elder Ballard spoke of the powerful influence women have in homes, communities, schools, at church and in professional settings. Not only do women influence society today, they have always been an essential part of history.

“I know some women wish they could find more stories of women in the scriptures and in our history,” he said. “We need to develop the skill to find their influence, like one young sister observed. She said, ‘Mormon must have had an amazing wife to have raised a remarkable son like Moroni.”

Elder Ballard encouraged listeners to look carefully — and with the right spirit — to find similar manifestations of effective nurturing throughout the scriptures.

“As we look for and find women in our scriptures and in our history, we will see far better the power and influence women have on family, community, the Church and the world,” he said.

Opportunities and advancements for women have developed in recent years in unprecedented ways, he said. Although the world teaches women they can “have it all” in education, careers, church service, marriage and family, Elder Ballard said, “like many men, most women discover that this is not always true.”

“Balancing everything among all of the available options can be a challenge,” he said. “In the end, most of us have to choose among competing options to determine what is best for us.”

Those decisions will have to be made individually, with the help of the Lord.

“Each of you must come to know what the Lord wants for you individually, given the choices before you,” he said.

While one sister may be inspired to continue her education, another sister may receive the inspiration to begin a family.

“That’s why it is so important that we should not question each other’s choices or the inspiration behind them,” he said. “And we should refrain from asking hurtful and unsupportive questions. … We can all be kinder and more thoughtful of the situations in which our sisters throughout the world find themselves as they seek to follow the will of our Heavenly Father in their lives.”

At times it may be difficult to refrain, especially if others make choices that seem to be wrong.

“As members of the Church, we should not be critical of those who have sincere, heartfelt questions or concerns about their faith,” he said. “Remember, the Restoration, in all of its glory and wonder, was launched in response to the spiritual questions of a 14-year-old young man. Such questions can be a catalyst to real conversion if they prompt us to seek truth in the light of faith.”

The example of Joseph Smith as a “seeker for truth” provides a good example of how to find answers to concerns, questions and even doubts. The prophet found inspiration through reading the words of the scriptures, and through sincere prayer.

“Today, we live in a world in which people don’t ask of God — they seem to want to ask Google,” he said. “Even when it comes to questions of faith, there are many who trust the Internet to prove accurate, fair and balanced answers to their questions more than they trust the ultimate source of truth, our Heavenly Father.”

Although the Internet can be a helpful source, Elder Ballard taught that individuals must be prudent and careful about seeking answers to spiritually important questions online.

“Today, the Internet is full of those lying in wait to deceive the uninformed and inexperienced,” he said. “In our search for gospel truth, we not only need to find reliable sources but we also need to give the Lord equal time in our daily pursuits to study the scriptures and the words of the Lord’s servants.”

Every person is important — individually and collectively — in the unified “body of Christ” and bring unique strengths, insights and experiences.

“I invite you devoted sisters today to make sure that no schism or division exists within your families or your Church congregations, even with regards to such potentially divisive subjects as the current conversation regarding women and the priesthood,” he said. “Church leaders have clarified this doctrine, so let us deal patiently with one another and treat each other with Christian kindness and respect despite strong feelings and deep differences that may exist.”

Elder Ballard spoke of the importance of eternal families and choosing to become a disciple of a loving Heavenly Father.

“Today, more than ever, we need faithful, dedicated sister-saints who … have hearts that are fixed, who trust in the Lord and who … are willing to save souls and build the kingdom of God.” @marianne_holman

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