GenConf: Priesthood Session Notes

President Uchtdorf conducted this opening session.

Choir: For the Strength of the Hills

Invocation: David L. Beck

Choir: On This Day of Joy and Gladness

President M. Russell Ballard: The Greatest Generation of Young Adults

  • I know I speak for my brethren when I tell you that we wish it was possible for us to know all of you personally, and to be able to tell you that we love you and we support you.
  • … what we need now is the greatest generation of young adults in the history of the Church. We need your whole heart and soul. We need vibrant, thinking, passionate young adults who know how to listen and respond to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit as you make your way through the daily trials and temptations of being a young contemporary Latter-day Saint.
  • … it’s time to raise the bar not only for missionaries, but also for returned missionaries and for your entire generation.
  • I remind you returned missionaries that your preparation for life and for a family should be continuous. “RM” doesn’t mean “Retired Mormon!”
  • As a returned missionary, you “should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of [your] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness.”
  • Please use the skills learned on your mission to bless the lives of people around you every day. Do not shift your focus from serving others to focusing exclusively on school, work, or social activities. Instead, balance your life with spiritual experiences that remind and prepare you for continued, daily ministering to others.
  • I would hope that all of our young adults, whether or not you served full-time missions, understand the importance of visiting with people who are lonely, sick, or discouraged — not only as an assignment, but because of the genuine love you have for Heavenly Father and His children.
  • Whether you attend a church school or not, whether you attend college or not, do not think you are too busy to study the gospel.
  • Don’t text her! Use your own voice to introduce yourself to the righteous daughters of God that are all around you. To actually hear a human voice will shock her into saying “yes.”

Elder Ulisses Soares: Yes, we can and will win!

  • Figuratively, all of us need to transform ourselves into modern Captain Moroni’s in order to win the wars against evil.
  • All of us can receive the strength to choose the right if we seek the Lord and place all our trust and faith in Him.
  • My dear brethren, because of the wave of confusion and doubts spreading throughout the world today, we must hold ever more tightly to our testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Then will our ability to defend truth and justice greatly increase.
  • Captain Moroni aligned his faith in God and his testimony of the truth, to the knowledge and wisdom found in the scriptures. In this way, he trusted that he would receive the blessings of the Lord and would obtain many victories, which is what, in fact, happened.

Brother Larry M. Gibson: Fatherhood—Our Eternal Destiny

  • Should we not, then, develop a clear vision of our eternal destiny, particularly the one Heavenly Father wants us to achieve—eternal fatherhood? Let our eternal destiny drive all of our decisions.
  • Quoting his son: “Dad, that was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life, and I will never, ever do it again. … Unless my son wants me to.”
  • I love being a husband and father—married to a chosen daughter of Heavenly Parents. It is one of the most fulfilling parts of my life. My hope that night was that my five sons and their sister would always see in me the joy that comes from eternal marriage, fatherhood, and family.
  • Fathers, I am sure you have heard the saying “Preach the gospel at all times, and when necessary use words” (attributed to Francis of Assisi). Every day you are teaching your children what it means to be a father. You are laying a foundation for the next generation.

Choir and Congregation: Hark All Ye Nations

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf: On Being Genuine

  • There is nothing wrong with shining our shoes, smelling our best, or even hiding the dirty dishes before the home teachers arrive. However, when taken to extremes, this desire to impress can shift from useful to deceitful.
  • In some cases, we may simply have lost our focus on the essence of the gospel, mistaking the “form of godliness” for the “power thereof.” This is especially dangerous when we direct our outward expressions of discipleship to impress others for personal gain or influence. It is then that we are at risk of entering into Pharisee territory…
  • This temptation to appear better than we are, is found not just in our personal lives but can be found in our Church assignments as well.
  • They set new goals, recognizing that success with these new goals could not always be measured, at least not by man—for how does one measure personal testimony, love of God, or compassion for others? But they also knew that “Many of the things you can count, do not count. Many of the things you cannot count, really do count.”
  • I wonder if our organizational and personal goals are sometimes the modern equivalent of a Potemkin village. Do they look impressive from a distance but fail to address the real needs of our beloved fellowmen?
  • I am here because I desire with all my heart to follow my Master, Jesus Christ. I yearn to do all that He asks of me in this great cause. I hunger to be edified by the Holy Spirit and hear the voice of God as He speaks through His ordained servants. I am here to become a better man, to be lifted by the inspiring examples of my brothers and sisters in Christ, and to learn how to more effectively minister to those in need.
  • With patience and persistence, even the smallest act of discipleship or the tiniest ember of belief can become a blazing bonfire of a consecrated life. In fact, that’s how most bonfires begin—as a simple spark.
  • But this cannot happen if we hide behind personal, dogmatic or organizational facades. Such artificial discipleship not only keeps us from seeing ourselves as who we really are, but it also prevents us from truly changing through the miracle of the Savior’s Atonement.
  • The Church is not an automobile showroom—a place to put ourselves on display so that others can admire our spirituality, capacity, or prosperity. It is more like a service center, where vehicles in need of repair come for maintenance and rehabilitation.
  • We come to church not to hide our problems but to heal them.
  • The greatest, most capable, most accomplished man who ever walked this earth was also the most humble. He performed some of His most impressive service in private moments, with only a few observers, whom He asked to “tell no man” what He had done.

Elder Henry B. Eyring: Priesthood and Personal Prayer

  • Think of the day when you must know what God would say and what He would do. It has already come for us all—wherever you are in your calling in the priesthood.
  • All of us must speak and act in the name of God in moments where our unaided judgment will not be enough without inspiration. Those moments can come upon us where there is not time to make preparation. That has happened to me, often.
  • As a deacon, I had not yet learned that the power to speak and act in God’s name requires revelation, and to have it when we need it requires praying and working in faith for the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
  • So you will pray for the way to know their hearts, to know what things are amiss in the lives and the hearts of people you don’t know well. You will need to know what God would have you do to help them, and to do it all as nearly as you can, feeling of God’s love for them.
  • Getting that guidance will take more than casual listening and reading. You will need to pray and work in faith to put the words of truth down into your heart. You must pray that God will bless you with His spirit, that He will lead you into all truth and show you the right way. That is how He will warn and guide you into the right path in your life and in your priesthood service.
  • It will not be the offices held or the time served that will be weighed in the balance with the Lord. We know this from the Lord’s parable of the laborers in the vineyard where the pay was the same regardless of how long they served or where. They will be rewarded for how they served.
  • With a prayer of faith, God can grant us power in the priesthood for whatever circumstance we may be in. It simply requires that we ask in humility for the Spirit to show us what God would have us say and do, do it, and continue to live worthy of that gift.

Choir: “Come Unto Jesus”

President Thomas S. Monson: The Priesthood—A Sacred Gift

  • I felt a great responsibility when I was called to be secretary of my deacon’s quorum. I prepared most conscientiously the records I kept, for I wanted to do the very best I knew how to do in that calling. I took great pride in my work. Doing all I can, to the very best of my ability, has been my goal in any position I have ever held.
  • The years have brought me more opportunities to provide blessings to those in need than I could possibly count. Each opportunity has found me deeply grateful that God has entrusted to me this sacred gift. I revere the priesthood. I have witnessed its power time and time again. I have seen its strength. I have marveled at the miracles it has wrought.
  • Brethren, each of us has been entrusted with one of the most precious gifts ever bestowed upon mankind. As we honor our priesthood and live our lives so that we are at all times worthy, the blessings of the priesthood will flow through us.

Choir: Master the Tempest is Raging

Benediction: Elder Robert C. Gay

9 comments for “GenConf: Priesthood Session Notes

  1. I hope he’ll forgive me for saying this, but I feel like Brother Russell Ballard is falling out of touch with people today, particularly the youth. To highlight this, it seems rather ironic that he would begin his talk by saying that he feels he knows prospective missionaries by just a picture and some third-party notes, but is so vehemently anti-written communication and insists it is no way for people to communicate.

    Is his message that if young people text with the Spirit it’s okay, because then they’ll understand one another?

    This talk seemed more appropriate for 13 years ago, when the raising of the bar was first given. Then it was exciting and inspiring. A decade and a quarter later, it seems to have fallen behind.

    I guess we officially know now which apostle is the one that pushed so hard for all the church universities to drop classes actually systematically studying the scriptures and replace them with generalized proof-text-approach-friendly courses.

    I feel like the coming young generation is the greatest generation our church has had so far, and poor Brother Russell is the one being left behind, trying to pull the youth back to the old way the world worked, where you could believe what you wanted to believe, and wouldn’t be exposed to truths or opinions that didn’t fit inside of that.

  2. I feel like you’re projecting an awful lot there, mirrorrorrim. He’s he first apostle to namedrop Snapchat and Tinder in conference. He is saying that tone is a vital element and often lost or misinterpreted in digital communication, something any millennial or contemporary internet user would agree with. Case in point!–I can’t tell with certainty if your referring to him as ‘Brother’ is demeaning or affectionate ‘brother Joseph’ era lingo, so I’m left to guess the former based on your content.

  3. I don’t know if Elder Ballard is more or less out of touch than compared to any other time, but he does seem to have this vision of lots of perfectly eligible single sisters being anxiously engaged, without a single ‘normal’ human being male in sight. It would probably shock him to learn that lots of girls spend potentially more time on hand held computers than many guys do. The talk he gave pretty much assumes that if a guy isn’t married within 24 hours of being released from a mission it must be because he’s socially awkward and afraid of people with long hair; it certainly couldn’t possibly any girls fault.

  4. “It would probably shock him to learn that lots of girls spend potentially more time on hand held computers than many guys do.”

    It might not, but there weren’t any YSA women in the intended audience.

  5. I really, really loved Brother Dieter Uchtdorf’s talk, about tearing down our Potemkin Villages and un-useful goals and statistics. My favorite quote from it was, “Many of the things you can count do not count, and many of the things you cannot count really do count.” The hardest part of his talk for me is the idea of treating church like a repair shop, not a dealership display case. I want to, but I feel that the first display of weakness so often leads others to condemn the weakened person. It may be a repair shop, but I feel like most Sundays people are looking to see who passes or fails their Safety and Emissions. I’m scared to be honest because I think surrounding voices of judgment will come down on me. I know not all wards are like that—I have been in some really good ones—but, from my limited experience, most are. Brother Dieter’s solution, to just not care about what those around us think, is, I feel, the right one, but is very, very hard, especially when we recently saw with Sister Kate Kelly that it can very realistically result in excommunication. In Jesus’s day, excommunication was a sign of one who would follow God and Jesus Christ. Maybe the same is still true today, or will be until wards have enough people express their honest feelings, weaknesses, and strengths, that it becomes normal and commonplace. But it seems a risky endeavor.

    Cameron, “Brother” is how I refer to all our leaders (except the women: I call them “Sister”). It’s a personal designation, not a derisive one. However, I have never understood using “Brother” or “Sister” and a last name, which is why after my first reference, where I use the full name, I usually just use the person’s personal name from there on out. In my own ward, I tend not to use Brother or Sister at all, and to call people, including leaders, by their first names.

  6. mirrorrorrim:

    Acknowledging weaknesses or requesting repairs from the experts (in keeping with the metaphor) did NOT get Kate Kelly excommunicated. Can you honestly recall any weaknesses which she admitted to possessing? She wanted all vehicles altered to her own specs.

  7. mirrorrorrim (5)

    i understand your comment, and I think I understand the tone. You strike me as someone sincere and thoughtful. Thanks for posting #5. I don’t have any real solutions, but I appreciated your comment.

  8. Old Man, I posted my comment without having read your comment. We were simultaneously posting. Zoinks. I have no comment on your comment. Just sayin’.

  9. Thank you for your kind words, Josh Smith. I know sometimes I can be too forceful when I express things, so thank you for looking past that. Reading over my comment about Brother Russell Ballard, I came down on him harder than I intended to.

    I know I treat the apostles and other leaders with more familiarity than a lot of people find appropriate. I apologize to anyone who has been offended by my doing that—that isn’t my intention. I see them as normal, real people, and treat them like that. That is a foundational part of my testimony, that God is so amazing that he can take ordinary people and have them lead His church, and that it survives all the bungled attempts to follow and to lead that go along with that. Most days, that’s what helps keep me in the church, too: understanding that none of us are perfect.

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