President Thomas S. Monson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
President Thomas S. Monson welcomed all attendees to the October 2013 General Conference by discussing the positive effects of the missionary age change and encouraging members to continue their involvement.
He reported that not only has the missionary force increased from 58,500 to 80,333 since he announced the missionary age change last year, but that Church membership has surpassed 15 million. President Monson encouraged families to give as they are able to ward and general missionary funds to help further the work, with the goal of assisting those missionaries who desire to serve but cannot support themselves financially.
President Monson said there is no responsibility more special and important than the duty to share the gospel.
He extended this same call to all Church members by quoting former Church President David O. McKay’s famous mantra, “Every member a missionary.”
“Now is the time for members and missionaries to come together, to work together, to labor in the Lord’s vineyard to bring souls unto Him,” President Monson said. “He has prepared the means for us to share the gospel in a multitude of ways, and he will assist us in our labors if we will act in faith to fulfill His work.”
President Monson shared his desire for the Spirit to be present in Church missionary efforts, as well as in all the meetings of this session of conference.
“Now, brothers and sisters, we have come here to be instructed and inspired,” President Monson said. “Many messages, covering a variety of topics, will be given during the next two days. Those men and women who will speak to you have sought Heaven’s help concerning the messages they will give.”
Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder Robert D. Hales spoke about General Conference’s purpose in providing personal revelation in the lives of its listeners.
He reminded members that Jesus Christ is the head of this Church, and that during conference, each member would receive counsel pertaining to their unique personal situations.
“As speakers, we are not assigned specific topics. Over weeks and months, often though sleepless nights, we wait upon the Lord,” Elder Hales said. “Through fasting, prayer, study and pondering, we learn the message that he wants us to give.”
Hales explained the process by which members can receive revelation and added it is the same process for the Apostles of the Lord. He invited all members ponder questions while watching conference and promised that answers will be found.
“To the members of the Church, I promise that if you listen, you will feel the Spirit well up within you,” Elder Hales said. “The Lord will tell you what he wants you to do with your life.”
He encouraged members to listen to conference in a setting where the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost can be heard and felt.
“We may not know all the reasons why the prophets and the conference speakers address certain topics in conference, but the Lord does,” Elder Hales said. “And if we listen and obey the prophets now, including those who will speak at this very conference, we will be strengthened and protected.”
The greatest blessings of general conference, Hales said, come after conference by studying the talks further.
“We gather to hear the words of the Lord, and we return to our homes to live them,” Elder Hales said.
Elder Ulisses Soares, Presidency of the Seventy
Elder Ulisses Soares focused on the importance of striving for meekness.
He enumerated that meekness is found in people who are God-fearing, righteous, humble, teachable and patient under suffering, as well as the supreme example of Jesus Christ. Those who possess these attributes strive to follow Jesus Christ and his teachings.
“As we take Christ’s name upon us, it is expected that we strive to emulate his attributes and change our character to become more like him each day,” Elder Soares said.
Elder Soares described meekness as the root of becoming more Christlike, saying it will help members to develop other important values.
The first step to developing meekness, Elder Soares said, is to improve daily. He acknowledged that no one is perfect, adding that as members remain dedicated and persevering, the Lord will help them overcome imperfections and human weakness.
The second step Soares shared is the need to overcome the natural man and to learn to control temper, especially where family is concerned.
Soares quoted President Henry B. Eyring as saying, “When we, with faith, control our tempers and subdue our pride, the Holy Ghost gives his approval, and sacred promises and covenants become sure.”
“By controlling our reaction, being calm and temperate, and avoiding contention, we will begin to qualify for the gift of meekness,” Elder Soares said.
The third step Elder Soares gave to obtain meekness is to become humble. He said only the humble can truly understand the Lord’s answers to their prayers.
“I truly believe that we will avoid detours and sadness in our lives as long as we walk hand-in-hand with the Lord,” Elder Soares said.
Sister Carole M. Stephens, Relief Society General Presidency — First Counselor
Sister Carole M. Stephens explained the power of the priesthood and how it is essential for salvation.
In order to achieve the divine destiny stated in “The Family: A Proclamation to the World,” each son and daughter of God needs priesthood ordinances and covenants. These saving ordinances include baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, temple endowments and the sealing ordinance. These ordinances provide access to promised blessings and are made possible by the atonement.
“They arm sons and daughters of God with power, God’s power, and provide us with the opportunity to receive eternal life — to return to God’s presence and live with Him in His eternal family,” Sister Stephens said.
Sister Stephens detailed how the priesthood is necessary in accomplishing all these ordinances.
“Sisters who don’t have priesthood holders in their homes need never feel alone,” Sister Stephens said. “They are blessed and strengthened through the ordinances they have received and the covenants they keep. They should not hesitate to reach out when help is needed.”
Sister Stephens quoted Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve as saying, “Our Father in Heaven is generous with His power. All men and women have access to this power for our help in our own lives. All who have made sacred covenants with the Lord, and who honor those covenants, are eligible to receive personal revelation, to be blessed by the ministering of angels, and to commune with God.”
Elder Edward Dube, First Quorum of the Seventy
Elder Edward Dube spoke on the importance of looking ahead and believing in the Lord’s plan.
He told a story of working in a field with his mother and how she reminded him that no matter what he has accomplished, he must still look forward to what the Lord needs him to do.
“The Lord through his servants calls us to serve in various callings, which we accept with total commitment,” Elder Dube said. “When a release has been extended and a call in a different assignment has been issued, we joyfully accept it knowing as out forebears knew that it is not where you serve but how.”
Elder Dube explained in order to act in the Lord’s service, members must be anxiously engaged in a good cause.
Elder Dube quoted Elder Jeffery R. Holland as saying, “The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences, but not ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experiences, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointing towards the future.”
Dube applied this to the stories of the early saints who left their homes to trek into an unknown wilderness because they had faith in the Lord. The early saints knew how it was to look ahead and believe and be faithful in the face of tribulation.
Dube echoed President Monson’s invitation to participate in the work of salvation and suggested that this is best accomplished by yoking together with other members of the Church and looking ahead to accomplish the Lord’s work.
Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Elder David A. Bednar spoke about the lessons he has learned from tithing. He first taught the blessings that come from paying tithing, and also focused on the important role of tithing in building the Church worldwide.
He discussed the different types of blessings that come from paying tithing.
“Often as we teach about the law of tithing, we emphasize the immediate, dramatic and readily recognizable blessings that we receive,” Elder Bednar said. “And surely such blessings do occur. Yet some of the diverse blessings we obtain as we are obedient to this commandment are significant, but subtle. Such blessings can only be discerned if we are both spiritually attentive and observant.”
Elder Bednar said it requires eyes and ears of faith to realize all these blessings.
“Windows allow natural life to enter into a building,” Elder Bednar said, commenting on Malachi’s use of imagery. “In a like manner, spiritual illumination and perspective are poured out through the windows of heaven and into our lives as we honor the law of tithing.”
Elder Bednar also discussed gratitude as a potential blessing from tithing.
“Gratitude enables our appreciation for what we have to constrain desires for what we want,” Elder Bednar said. “A grateful person is rich in contentment. An ungrateful person suffers in the poverty of endless discontentment.”
Elder Bednar explained that sometimes members ask for one thing, but that the Lord in his infinite wisdom, and thus might grant members the blessings they truly need.
Elder Bednar said his experiences serving on the Council on the Disposition of the Tithes helped him develop a greater appreciation and reverence for the Lord’s funds and for His Church.
“These sacred funds are used in a rapidly growing Church to spiritually bless individuals and families by constructing and maintaining temples and houses of worship, supporting missionary work, translating and publishing scriptures, fostering Family History research, funding schools and religious education, and accomplishing other Church purposes as directed by the Lord’s ordained servants,” Elder Bednar said.
Elder Bednar compared members’ tithing with the widow’s mite and expressed his vigilant care in looking after each member’s mite.
“I remember and think of you each time I participate in the Council of the Disposition of Tithes, Elder Bednar said. “Thank you for your goodness and your faithfulness as you honor your covenants.”
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, First Presidency — Second Counselor
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf concluded the Saturday morning session of General Conference, inviting all to come unto Christ, and speaking of the many benefits of being a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
President Uchtdorf said the Church is indeed Christ’s church, and that as such, members have the authority to act in his name.
“Those who join this Church love the Savior Jesus Christ and they wish to follow him,” President Uchtdorf said. “They rejoice in the knowledge that God speaks to mankind again . . . and they can feel His power in their lives.”
President Uchtdorf said the Church provides its members opportunities for doing good. Through callings and assignments, members can serve and put their faith into practice on a daily basis.
“Our members perform the work of ministry themselves,” President Uchtdorf said. “They are called by inspiration.”
President Uchtdorf also said members of the Church are willing to walk the sometimes treacherous path of discipleship that leads to precious blessings. He said baptism is the starting point and from there, all people in a variety of circumstances will receive blessings.
“The poor in spirit and honest of heart find great treasures of knowledge here,” President Uchtdorf said. “Those who suffer or grieve find healing. Those burdened with sin find forgiveness, liberty, and rest.”
President Uchtdorf addressed some of the questions members of the Church face.
“Sometimes questions arise because we simply don’t have all the information and we just need a bit more patience,” President Uchtdorf said. “When the entire truth is eventually known, things that didn’t make sense to us before will be resolved to our satisfaction.”
President Uchtdorf encouraged members and investigators to never loose hope in this Church and what it offers.
“Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith,” he said.
President Uchtdorf ended his talk by declaring there is a place for all people in the Church.
“If you could see into our heart, you would probably find that you fit in better than you suppose,” said President Uchtdorf. “Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of person and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.”