There was a story recounted in a talk several years ago about a sister who was explaining some of our Church’s basic beliefs to a nonmember neighbor. She told her friend that we believe the Church is led today by a living prophet. The neighbor became very interested and asked her what the prophet had said lately.
This sister was embarrassed to admit that she had not read the latest issue of the Church’s magazine with the First Presidency message. Her neighbor concluded the conversation by saying, “You mean you have a living prophet and you don’t know what he said?”
This story was a wake-up call for me because I realized that I was often guilty of the same kind of neglect. I realized I took for granted that each month in the Ensign and Liahona we receive a message from the First Presidency and that twice a year, in general conference, we are taught by our Church leaders.
Just recently, we had the opportunity to listen to the inspired words of our sustained prophets, seers and revelators, along with other chosen leaders in the Church. These marvelous words of inspiration are already available online and will appear shortly in our Church magazines.
The question we all need to answer is, “What will I do now with these wonderful inspired messages from our leaders?” Hopefully we are all taking advantage of the opportunity to re-read and study the talks from conference for our own personal understanding and guidance. What a privilege it is to live in a day when we have these messages literally at our fingertips within a week of them being given. In addition, we as parents and youth leaders may want to consider the many ways we can use the conference messages to bless our children and youth, both at home and in classes at church.
One family I know makes sure that each member of the family has their own copy of the conference issue of the Church’s magazine. They encourage their children to read, study and mark the talks on their own and record any thoughts and promptings they have in their journals. The family home evenings which follow conference weekend can be devoted to family members sharing the talks which touched them personally and parents teaching their children what messages from conference they feel could help their family better live the gospel. Even young children could get involved by sharing the stories they liked best from the talks given in conference.
Showing our children that we value the words of our living prophets by studying and teaching one another from them will help them treasure these messages as they grow in the gospel.
Youth leaders don’t have to wait until a conference talk becomes listed as a possible resource for lessons in the Come, Follow Me curriculum in order to use it for discussions in their Sunday lessons. Listening to conference, noting which talk would fit into the gospel topics studied in the youth curriculum, and then using recent talks to stimulate discussions, teaches the youth to not only value the words of the leaders of the Church, but that they are relevant to their current lives and situations.
In one ward, I heard of a class where the Young Women leaders asked the young women a week in advance of conference to watch each session, choose a favorite talk, and then the Sunday after conference be prepared to share why it touched or inspired them. It encouraged the young women to listen differently and more carefully. Many of the young women came into class carrying copies of the talks and all were eager to share their feelings. It was reported that this after-conference class was among the most personal, spiritual and meaningful lessons they had all year.
Consider how what you learn in conference can be incorporated into Mutual activities. One of the activities featured on the Youth Activity Website right now at www.lds.org/youth/activities suggests that each youth make a jar filled with quotes from general conference which they could use for daily inspiration for the next six months. They pull one quote out each day, ponder its meaning, and write what they have learned in their journal.
There are several other conference-related activities and ideas for Mutual or your youth can brainstorm and come up with some new ideas. Suggestions for ways to fulfill Personal Progress experiences by studying and using the messages from conference are also linked on this website.
We are blessed to live in a time when there are living prophets, seers and revelators on the earth who give us inspired messages every six months. Those messages are readily available for all of us to study and ponder on our computers, in our Church magazines, and even on our hand-held devices so we can take them with us wherever we go.
As we take advantage of these marvelous resources and take the time to discuss and review them with our children, grandchildren and youth, they will always have an answer to the question, “What has the living prophet said lately?” They will also look forward each six months to receiving and treasuring the words of living prophets and see how those teachings can help strengthen and bless them in their daily lives.