Monday, March 28, 2022

Elder Boyd K. Packer on following inspired leaders and preparing for conference

President Boyd K. Packer (1924-2015) served as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve (a position that no longer exists) from 1961 to 1970, when he was called to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles.  He served as president of that Quorum from 1994 until his death on July 3, 2015 at age 90.
"In closing, I say again, FOLLOW THE BRETHREN. In a few days there opens another general conference of the Church. The servants of the Lord will counsel us. You may listen with anxious ears and hearts, or you may turn that counsel aside. As in these devotionals, what you shall gain will depend not so much upon their preparation of the messages as upon your preparation for them....
"On one occasion [Karl G. Maesar] was leading a party of young missionaries across the Alps. As they slowly ascended the steep slope, he looked back and saw a row of sticks thrust into the glacial snow to mark the one safe path across the otherwise treacherous mountains.
"Something about those sticks impressed him, and halting the company of missionaries he gestured toward them and said, 'Brethren, there stands the priesthood. They are just common sticks like the rest of us—some of them may even seem to be a little crooked, but the position they hold makes them what they are. If we step aside from the path they mark, we are lost.'
"I bear witness, my brethren and sisters, fellow students, that in this Church men are as they indeed must be—called of God by prophecy. May we learn in our youth this lesson; it will see us faithful through all of the challenges of our lives. May we learn to follow the brethren."
- Boyd K. Packer, "Follow the Brethren," BYU Devotional, March 23, 1965
Click here to listen to the full talk

This is one of the classic messages offered by President Packer, then a young apostle, during a BYU devotional. He points out how critical our personal attitude is, as we prepare for and listen to general conference addresses — generally we are listening either "with anxious ears and hearts" or casually ignoring the counsel. But how do we obtain the most benefit from the messages?

The example from Karl G. Maesar's story is another classic analogy President Packer used. Priesthood leaders may be "common sticks" but their position makes them a critical guide for our lives if we are willing to watch and heed. It's vital to learn that the Church leaders will help to "see us faithful through all the challenges of our lives."

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2022)
September 29, 2015

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