Getting excited for General Conference? Almost every conference I find a talk that sinks into my heart and never leaves. I usually connect best to the talks with good stories. Here are a few old favorites:
School Thy Feelings, O My Brother – President Thomas S. Monson
Story: In a disagreement with his wife, a young man throws a toy at her. The toy misses her and hits their son, who has to be taken to the hospital. The mistake giving him brain damage and a life-long handicap.
Quote: “My brethren, we are all susceptible to those feelings which, if left unchecked, can lead to anger. We experience displeasure or irritation or antagonism, and if we so choose, we lose our temper and become angry with others. Ironically, those others are often members of our own families—the people we really love the most.”
The Comforter – President Henry B. Eyring
Story: President Eyring shares the experiences surrounding the funeral of a five-year-old boy.
Quote: “I saw this miracle of comfort as I arrived outside the chapel where the funeral of the little boy was to be held. I was stopped by a lovely young woman I did not recognize. She said that she was coming to the funeral to mourn and to give comfort if she could.
She said that she had come to the funeral in part for comfort for herself. She told me that her first child had died recently. She was carrying in her arms a beautiful little girl. I leaned toward her to look into the little girl’s smiling face. I asked the baby’s mother, ‘What is her name?’ Her quick and cheerful answer was ‘Her name is Joy. Joy always comes after sorrow.'”
The Infinite Power of Hope – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Story: President Uchtdorf’s Mother searches for her children while fleeing Germany in 1944. They had all traveled together on a train, but the ride was so long that she was obliged to leave and find food when the train stopped to refuel. When she returned, the train had been moved. She ran from track to track and from train to train until she found her children again.
Quote: “She was weighed down with worry; desperate prayers filled her heart. She frantically searched the large and dark train station, urgently crisscrossing the numerous tracks while hoping against hope that the train had not already departed.
Perhaps I will never know all that went through my mother’s heart and mind on that black night as she searched through a grim railroad station for her lost children. That she was terrified, I have no doubt. I am certain it crossed her mind that if she did not find this train, she might never see her children again. I know with certainty: her faith overcame her fear, and her hope overcame her despair. She was not a woman who would sit and bemoan tragedy. She moved. She put her faith and hope into action.
And so she ran from track to track and from train to train until she finally found our train. It had been moved to a remote area of the station. There, at last, she found her children again.
I have often thought about that night and what my mother must have endured. If I could go back in time and sit by her side, I would ask her how she managed to go on in the face of her fears. I would ask about faith and hope and how she overcame despair.”
A Plea to My Sisters – President Russell M. Nelson
Story: President Nelson tells of the encouragement of his wife as he faced the death of a young patient in his care. He had been studying a certain defect of the heart, but faced much failure in rectifying the problem. After his patient’s death he was ready to quit, but his wife pointed out that if he didn’t keep going with his research some other doctor would have to make all the same mistakes to learn what he had learned so far.
Quote: “So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!”
The Keys and Authority of the Preisthood – Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Quote: “We are not accustomed to speaking of women having the authority of the priesthood in their Church callings, but what other authority can it be? When a woman—young or old—is set apart to preach the gospel as a full-time missionary, she is given priesthood authority to perform a priesthood function. The same is true when a woman is set apart to function as an officer or teacher in a Church organization under the direction of one who holds the keys of the priesthood. Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties.
Whoever exercises priesthood authority should forget about their rights and concentrate on their responsibilities. That is a principle needed in society at large. The famous Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn is quoted as saying, “It is time … to defend not so much human rights as human obligations.”10 Latter-day Saints surely recognize that qualifying for exaltation is not a matter of asserting rights but a matter of fulfilling responsibilities.”
Following Up – Elder M. Russell Ballard
Story: Elder Ballard tells about meeting his wife at a U of U dance. He emphasizes the important roll that his missionary-skill of following up played in his successful courtship. He met his wife soon after his mission during a “tag dance” when a man’s partner could be switched away from him mid-song. She was popular and therefore, this first dance was very brief. He got her phone number and asked her out the next day, but it took several attempts because she had a busy social calendar.
Quote: “If we follow up, the Lord will not let us down… It is my testimony that as we work together, seeking the one, inviting, and following up with trust and faith, the Lord will smile upon us and hundreds of thousands of God’s children will find purpose and peace in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. ”
Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually – Elder Robert D. Hales
Story: Elder Ballard tells several experiences when he and his wife had to seriously discuss the way they wished to use their money.
Quote: “When faced with the choice to buy, consume, or engage in worldly things and activities, we all need to learn to say to one another, ‘We can’t afford it, even though we want it!’ or ‘We can afford it, but we don’t need it—and we really don’t even want it!’… Whenever we want to experience or possess something that will impact us and our resources, we may want to ask ourselves, ‘Is the benefit temporary, or will it have eternal value and significance?’ Truthfully answering these questions may help us avoid excessive debt and other addictive behavior.
In seeking to overcome debt and addictive behaviors, we should remember that addiction is the craving of the natural man, and it can never be satisfied. It is an insatiable appetite. When we are addicted, we seek those worldly possessions or physical pleasures that seem to entice us. But as children of God, our deepest hunger and what we should be seeking is what the Lord alone can provide—His love, His sense of worth, His security, His confidence, His hope in the future, and assurance of His love, which brings us eternal joy.”
Safety for the Soul – Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
Story: Elder Holland recounts the last journey of Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum, pointing out that it would have been unreasonable for them to die for, and find comfort in the Book of Mormon during those last hours, had the book been of their own fabrication.
Quote: “Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs…I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days.”
Bear Up Their Burdens with Ease – David A. Bednar
Story: A young man drives into the mountains to cut wood, and finds himself stuck in the snow. Every time he attempts to pull onto the road, his tires spin. At first he waits for someone to come along that he could flag down for help, but the road is remote and it’s getting late. Finally he decides that he might as well load his bed with wood while he waits. When his truck bed is full he tries to pull out again, and finds that the weight of the load gives him the traction that he needs.
Quote: “Sometimes we mistakenly may believe that happiness is the absence of a load. But bearing a load is a necessary and essential part of the plan of happiness. Because our individual load needs to generate spiritual traction, we should be careful to not haul around in our lives so many nice but unnecessary things that we are distracted and diverted from the things that truly matter most.”
I Hope Ya Know, We Had a Hard Time – Quentin L. Cook
Story: Elder Cook tells a story about being caught in a snow storm up Donner Pass in the middle of June. His 3-year-old son was so frightened by the circumstances that when they finally were safe and called home he told his mother with a quavering voice, “I hope ya know, we had a hard time.”
Quote: “Think of the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane during the Atonement process, suffering agony so great that He bled from every pore. His cry to His Father included the word Abba. This might be interpreted as the cry of a son who is in distress to his father: “O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.” I testify that the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers all of the trials and hardships that any of us will encounter in this life. At times when we may feel to say, “Hope you know, I had a hard time,” we can be assured that He is there and we are safe in His loving arms.”
Free forever, to Act for Themselves – D. Todd Christofferson
Story: A group of people come together to help a starving man. They offer him corn and he turns it away because it hasn’t been shucked.
Quote: “It is God’s will that we be free men and women enabled to rise to our full potential both temporally and spiritually, that we be free from the humiliating limitations of poverty and the bondage of sin, that we enjoy self-respect and independence, that we be prepared in all things to join Him in His celestial kingdom.
I am under no illusion that this can be achieved by our own efforts alone without His very substantial and constant help. “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”24 And we do not need to achieve some minimum level of capacity or goodness before God will help—divine aid can be ours every hour of every day, no matter where we are in the path of obedience. But I know that beyond desiring His help, we must exert ourselves, repent, and choose God for Him to be able to act in our lives consistent with justice and moral agency. My plea is simply to take responsibility and go to work so that there is something for God to help us with.”
You Know Enough – Neil L. Andersen
Story: Elder Andersen tells about preparing for a mission, and feeling very inadequate. He said a prayer asking God how he could serve a mission when he knows so little, and the answer came as a feelinging: “You don’t know everything, but you know enough!”
Quote: “Our spiritual journey is the process of a lifetime. We do not know everything in the beginning or even along the way. Our conversion comes step-by-step, line upon line. We first build a foundation of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We treasure the principles and ordinances of repentance, baptism, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. We include a continuing commitment to prayer, a willingness to be obedient, and an ongoing witness of the Book of Mormon. (The Book of Mormon is powerful spiritual nourishment.)
We then remain steady and patient as we progress through mortality. At times, the Lord’s answer will be, ‘You don’t know everything, but you know enough’—enough to keep the commandments and to do what is right. Remember Nephi’s words: ‘I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things.'”
Look to the Book, Look to the Lord – Ronald A. Rasband
Story: Elder Rasband tells the story of Mary Elizabeth Rollins, a pioneer child who voraciously read the Book of Mormon and later rescued the manuscript of the Doctrine Covenants from an armed mob.
Quote: “Just as the words of this book inspired a 12-year-old girl to embrace the restored Church of Jesus Christ nearly two centuries ago, the truths you will find there will uplift and inspire you in a similar way. They will strengthen your faith, fill your soul with light, and prepare you for a future you scarcely have the ability to comprehend.
Within the book’s pages, you will discover the infinite love and incomprehensible grace of God. As you strive to follow the teachings you find there, your joy will expand, your understanding will increase, and the answers you seek to the many challenges mortality presents will be opened to you. As you look to the book, you look to the Lord.”
Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood? – Gary E. Stevenson
Story: Elder Stevenson describes an experience when he lost the keys to the family car on a ski slope.
Quote: “At the time, our primary focus was on how we were going to get into the car and get warm, but I couldn’t help but think—even then—there just might be a lesson here. Without keys, this wonderful miracle of engineering was little more than plastic and metal. Even though the car had great potential, without keys, it could not perform its intended function.
The more I reflect on this experience, the more profound this analogy has become to me. I marvel at Heavenly Father’s love for His children. I stand in wonder at the heavenly visitation and the grand visions of eternity God bestowed upon Joseph Smith. And in particular, my heart is filled with overwhelming gratitude for the restoration of priesthood authority and priesthood keys. Without this restoration, we would be locked out from the vehicle necessary to transport us on our journey home to loving heavenly parents…
Let’s now end where we began, stranded in the frigid parking lot asking, ‘Where are the keys?’ By the way, later that evening I did miraculously find the keys that had fallen out of my pocket on the mountain. The Lord has shown us that He will not leave us standing in the bitter cold without keys or authority to lead us safely home to Him.”
Repentance: A Joyful Choice – Dale G. Renlund
Story: Elder Renlund recalls feeling guilty after setting off a fire cracker in the chapel before church.
Quote: “After church, the branch president, Frank Lindberg, a distinguished older man with silver-gray hair, asked me to come to his office. After I sat down, he looked at me kindly and said he had noticed that I had not partaken of the sacrament. He asked why. I suspect he knew why. I was sure everyone knew what I had done. After I told him, he asked how I felt. Through tears, I haltingly told him I was sorry and that I knew I had let God down.
President Lindberg opened a well-worn copy of the Doctrine and Covenants and asked me to read some underlined verses. I read the following out loud:
“Behold, he who has repented of his sins, the same is forgiven, and I, the Lord, remember them no more.
“By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them.”3
I will never forget President Lindberg’s compassionate smile when I looked up after I had finished reading. With some emotion, he told me that he felt it would be fine for me to resume partaking of the sacrament. As I left his office, I felt indescribable joy.”
Do you have a favorite Conference talk?