While I have enjoyed some of the brief recaps of talks that I have seen from Liveblogs, I haven’t yet seen a lot of blogs that engage in full analysis of a conference talk. I want to try to blog about the talks from this past General Conference. I am going to aim for at least one per week in an effort to cover all of the talks (or at least all my favorite ones) before the next conference.
I am going to begin with one of my favorite talks which is President Uchtdorf’s Priesthood Session talk entitled Four Titltes
President Uchtdorf begins by commending all those in attendance and especially the young men. He hopes that they will find belonging, support, and friendship among their fellow priesthood holders. I find that this is a really significant blessing of the Church of Jesus Christ. When I first came to church I was impressed with the level of support and friendship. Right away, and wherever I have traveled in the world I have felt like I belonged. I used to always tell those I taught when they were baptized that they were entering into a global family, and that is so true.
Elder Uchtdorf speaks about how we all identify ourselves with multiple worldy titles. While those titles are at times important, it seems to me that we can be a little too status or title obsessed in society. Whether I graduate Manga Cum Laude or just Cum Laude, for instance, is a title that will stick with me on my resume for the rest of my life. Yet, these titles are ultimately not of eternal significance. I doubt that when I stand before God he will ask me what my law school GPA was. President Uchtdorf’s talk was a great reminder that some times are divine, shared by all of us and simply matter more than our earthly titles do.
President Uchtdorf highlighted four titles that are common to all Priesthood holders:
1) Son of Heavenly Father- This knowledge has really blessed me so much since joining the church. I am grateful for the knowledge that God loves me like a father. This knowledge has, as President Uchtdorf suggested, changed the way that I look at myself and at life itself.
All of us do not live up to our divine title and potential. Satan wants us to feel ashamed and to define ourselves by our sins Yet, President Uchtdorf emphasizes that we have no reason to feel bad when we fall short. President Uchtdorf compared us to a small toddler trying to walk and yet falling. God like a parent does not criticize or scold us for our faliure but praises us for our efforts and small victories.
At times, I think this metaphor is especially apt for me. Despite my best efforts, I sometimes say unkind things or act without thinking. At other times, perhaps the metaphor of a rebellious teenager applies better as I do things preemptively thinking I know best. Either way, Heavenly father responds to us with tender mercy and ever loving kindness.
Like President Uchtdorf, “I do not believe in a God that sets up rules and commandments and waits for us to fail only so he could punish us” God in the end of the day will look for all opportunity to bless and serve us. President Uchtdorf emphasizes that God will be there supporting us and send help for us when we struggle. I have seen this reflected in my life as I have been blessed with wonderful friends and support. Whenever I stumble, God has sent someone to help me along the way. Right now, I am especially blessed with a fiance who is my best friend and source of great comfort in difficult moments.
2) Disciple- Even though we are imperfect, all those who are trying to serve Christ can be called disciples. President Uchtdorf suggests that being a disciple means that we do not allow our imperfections to cause us to delay repentance or to put off things needed for our growth. In the church, we will always be challenged to do things and always fall short. President Uchtdorf mentions that the church is not for perfect people, but for imperfect people just like us. Indeed, I have found that the church is structured in such a way that the Lord gives us a chance to lead however imperfectly The wonderful thing is that he takes even our seemingly inadequate efforts and magnifies them for his gain.
President Uchtdorf next explains that this works because of the Atonement. Indeed, without the atonement life would be a “dead end road without hope or future”. Thanks to the atonement life is “an ennobling and inspiring journey.” As I have reflected upon recently, I think this is something that members sometimes fail to grasp. Indeed, because of the atonement we should feel confident on our life’s journey. The atonement is like an insurance policy that we regularly use throughout our lives and which overall gives us peace of mind. Without life insurance we would go through life scared of being sick or injured, while with it we can live normal lives not paralyzed with fear. The same is true in my opinion about the atonement. Because of the atonement we can be unafraid to get out there and try to do good. We can serve knowing that while at times we will falter, the atonement will be there to magnify our steps and guide us along the way.
President Uchtdorf next makes a really unique point. He emphasizes that while the atonement is there to make us like Christ, it is not there to take away our identity or ‘make everyone of us out of of a single mold.” We are all unique individuals and President Uchtdorf strongly emphasized that should not judge those that are different or assume that they are more or less pleasing to God. I think that this is one thing that we really see modeled in the Quorum of the Twelve. They are all very spiritual, but have very different speaking styles, points of view and etc.. No one would say that Elder Holland and Elder Uchtdorf are alike, but neither is more pleasing in the eyes of God.
I love that President Uchtdorf explicitly emphasized diversity and especially of the political kind. The Church “thrives” on this kind of diversity. Here at BYU, I have seen a lot of people with more liberal views belittled and insulted, and President Uchtdorf makes it clear that is unacceptable. One is not more ‘righteous’ because he belongs to one party or another, or has one culture rather than another. As long as we are striving to keep God’s laws and to become more like Christ, we are all in it together.
President Utchdorf emphasized that on our personal road from “bethlehem to golgotha” there may be times when we want to give up. The path can be harder than we would wish for. We musth ave the courage to follow Christ even when the cross seems too difficult to bear. We will be reminded that we are not perfect yet, but let us be steadfast and constant disciples and never lose sight of Christ. We walk towards him one imperfect step at a time. This part of the talk really resonated with me. There have been moments of sorrow on the journey as a disciple which have been almost overwhelming. Times where I wanted to cry and wondered if it was truly worth it all. Yet, I witnesses as does President Uchtdorf that God will help us all along the way. In the darkest moments, he is always there for us.
3) Healer of Souls- Those ordained of God are called to practice the healer’s heart. In all that we do ( be it home teaching, or priesthood callings) we need to seek to be healer’s and bind up the wounds the exist in others. This really resonated with me as well, because it reminded me of a part of my patriarchal blessing which speaks about my ability to uplift, bring knowledge to, comfort and heal those with spiritual, physical or moral wounds. I am grateful that as a missionary I was able to serve people with all my heart. I saw hearts healed and spirits uplifted as I ministered. I am grateful that the Lord uses us even though we are such imperfect servant to bless his other beloved children.
“We carry in one hand a vial of consecrated oil to feed the sick..In the other a loave of bread to feed the sick and in our heart the word of God which heals the soul.” I love this imagery of the disciple carrying the things needed to comfort and heal. This image is a nice counter-point to the warrior metaphor which is very common (Indeed, it was the subject of Elder Hales wonderful priesthood talk). It seems important to remember that we are at war with sin and Satan but that we are doing so often like medics rather than as bombers. Our purpose should always be to rescue and inspire in all that we do.
4) Heirs to all that he has- This is a marvelous concept that the church really emphasizes in an inspiring way. President Uchdrof quoted from Romans 8 which is one of my favorite scriptures:
15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.
I love how as disciples of Christ, that means that we are eventually going to receive all that he has. Yet, the only way that it is possible to receive those incredible riches is built on a foundation of Christ. If we try to do so ourselves, we end up with nothing or at least nothing that has any lasting value. President Uchtdorf emphasized that it just doesn’t make sense that we waste so much of our time, talents and means to acquire wealth or the latest technology.
Serving God and our fellow man will challenge us and transform us, President Uchtdorf emphasized. I have found this to be true. When I have lost myself in service, the spirit has been able to touch and change me. The spirit that works through us also works within us and helps us become more Christlike.
No Priesthood holder should ever feel overlooked and unwanted. We are certainly not unwanted by our father in heaven. We are all needed by the church. Even though we are weak and foolish God has chosen us. When God works through us no one and nothing can stand against us. We all have something special to contribute and God can magnify that contribution. – How true it is that every single person can be used by God to further his work. I marveled on my mission and since that even those without formal education or rhetorical talents are able to give amazing talks that pierce the soul or serve in a way that changes lives.
President Uchtdorf also declared that we are all called to the work. We do not need to wait for a calling to act. Turn to God, study his word and get to work. I love this, I think sometimes we are too focused on what title we have in the church rather than our title as disciples of Christ. If we remember that title, we will have all the authority and motivation needed to get out and serve with all our heart.
We all have our own part of God’s symphony to perform. Even if we fail to perform our part the work will go on, but if we do God will pour out a blessings so large that we will not have room to receive it. If we rise up to our potential we can be a force of God for our family, community, nation and world. As we do so we will grow and develop until we reach the measure of the statute of the fullness of Christ and inherit all the father has.- How true this is…God’s work will go on with or without us, but we can make a noticeable difference in the lives of those around us. I don’t think we are fully aware of the difference our righteous examples can make. People really do notice us and our light. They notice as we strive to serve and to become more like the savior.
President Uchtdor blessed us that as we study the titles of the priesthood, we will discover a divine wind behind our backs carrying us to our heavenly destination. He also ended with his emphatic testimony that we mare important, loved and are needed. I also know that these things are true..I have felt his concern for me personally. The creator of the universe knows and cares about me. I am grateful to be a bearer of his priesthood and feel this power and authority working through me and lifting me upward.