Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland on the "personal prophetic epistles" of general conference

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland (born December 3, 1940) served as Church Commissioner of Education from 1976-1980, as the president of BYU from 1980-1989, as a Seventy from 1989-1994, and as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles since 1994.
"Perhaps you already know (but if you don’t you should) that with rare exception, no man or woman who speaks here [in general conference] is assigned a topic. Each is to fast and pray, study and seek, start and stop and start again until he or she is confident that for this conference, at this time, his or hers is the topic the Lord wishes that speaker to present regardless of personal wishes or private preferences. Every man and woman you have heard during the past 10 hours of general conference has tried to be true to that prompting. Each has wept, worried, and earnestly sought the Lord’s direction to guide his or her thoughts and expression. And just as Brigham Young saw an angel standing over this place, so do I see angels standing in it. My brethren and sisters among the general officers of the Church will be uneasy with that description, but that is how I see them—mortal messengers with angelic messages, men and women who have all the physical and financial and family difficulties you and I have but who with faith have consecrated their lives to the callings that have come to them and the duty to preach God’s word, not their own....
"In wanting to measure up to the stern as well as embrace the soothing in our general conference messages, please be reassured that when we speak on difficult subjects, we understand not everyone is viewing pornography or shirking marriage or having illicit sexual relationships. We know not everyone is violating the Sabbath or bearing false witness or abusing a spouse. We know that most in our audience are not guilty of such things, but we are under a solemn charge to issue warning calls to those who are—wherever they may be in the world. So if you are trying to do the best you can—if, for example, you keep trying to hold family home evening in spite of the bedlam that sometimes reigns in a houseful of little bedlamites—then give yourself high marks and, when we come to that subject, listen for another which addresses a topic where you may be lacking. If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.
"Brothers and sisters, in general conference we offer our testimonies in conjunction with other testimonies that will come, because one way or another God will have His voice heard. 'I sent you out to testify and warn the people,' the Lord has said to His prophets. (D&C 88:81)"
- Jeffrey R. Holland, "An Ensign to the Nations," General Conference April 2011
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

I appreciated Elder Holland's personal insights into the process of preparation for the speakers at general conference. I would assume the responsibility of delivering counsel to millions of listeners must weigh heavily on them, no matter how many times they have done it. But we are all grateful that divine help is always available! That must be a particular challenge when one of the speakers feels impressed to address one of those challenging issues that may confront only a small subset of the listening audience—but for that small group, the message is eternally critical.

This, however, is a great key:

The promise is that ultimately, there is something for each of us in the messages of conference. If we are open, humble, and seeking, we will find our own "personal prophetic epistle" and be truly blessed by heaven's inspiration.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

No comments:

Post a Comment

// Customization to close archive widget on first view - DK 3/15