A while back, I had an interesting discussion with friends about using stories to teach doctrine, and I wrote about that discussion here. Our Savior, Jesus Christ, taught in parables, or stories. Many of the General Authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints use stories to teach doctrine. As the 189th Semiannual General Conference of the Church is fast approaching, I have begun to rehash the discussion I had with my friends in my mind. One friend pointed out that when Christ taught in parables, He expected that some would just listen to the story, but that true disciples would look behind the story for the doctrine. I admit that I’m a sucker for a good story, so sometimes I don’t get beyond the story and look for the doctrine.
My Dad loved a good story, and he loved telling his children those stories. He would finish each story by saying, “And the moral of the story is __________.” He would then wait for his children to tell him the point of the story. I think that my friend was trying to tell me the same thing.
The reason for participating in general conference is to strengthen our faith in Jesus Christ. The point of the stories told in general conference is to help us do just that. We can listen to those stories with two different ears; to be entertained or to be enlightened. While being entertained is not a bad thing, there is so much more that can be had if we listen with an ear of enlightenment and understanding. It’s the whole good, better, best thing—amusement, fun, or “Aha, I get it!” I want to have many of those “Aha” moments in our upcoming general conference.
So, how do we go about receiving those precious moments of spiritual inspiration and enlightenment from general conference? First, we must come spiritually prepared. There are many ways to prepare to hear the prophets, apostles, and other leaders. Listening to conference talks from the last conference, truly feasting on the scriptures, fasting, temple attendance, prayer, a special family home evening learning about our prophets and apostles, and helping our children to understand the importance of general conference—all these things will help us prepare for hearing the doctrine behind the stories.
Searching for enlightenment and knowledge doesn’t stop at the conclusion of general conference—for general conference is never really concluded, only adjourned for six months. It is up to Heavenly Father’s children to spend the next six months listening, reading, highlighting, studying, pondering, and looking behind the stories for the doctrine. If we are true disciples of Jesus Christ, we will do just that.
Once we get a handle on a point of doctrine, we teach it to our families. We have many tools given to us to help in that process; family home evening, Come Follow Me for Individuals and Families, family dinners, commute time in the car with our families as a captive audience, family prayer, family scripture study, etc.
As the 189th Semiannual General Conference approaches, I invite you to prepare yourself and your family to be enlightened. You are entitled to personal revelation. You are entitled to have your faith strengthened by the words of prophets and apostles. Revelation, however, does not come without work. Joseph Smith didn’t receive the plates containing the Book of Mormon from the angel Moroni the first time he saw them. He had to spiritually prepare to receive them over a period of several years. He didn’t receive revelation for the restoration of the Church without preparing his mind spiritually. He strengthened his faith through study, prayer, and dealing with adversity. He went through hardships and trials. He went through the “refiner’s fire.” It was only after he had put in much work that he was able to receive and reveal the word of God to His children and restore the true Church of Jesus Christ on the earth. I’m grateful for the preparation of Joseph Smith. His whole life was dedicated to preparing to receive doctrine.
As you look forward to general conference, put in the work to be prepared. As you participate in conference, listen and watch with new ears and new eyes. Prepare your mind spiritually to have your faith strengthened. Prepare to be enlightened. Prepare to receive revelation for yourself and your family. Prepare to have new understanding of gospel principles. Pray to have the faith to put away preconceived notions, ego, and traditions and learn what Heavenly Father wants you to do.
Take the stories from General Conference and dissect them for truth. Be able to fill in the blank to “And the moral of the story is ____________.” Make sure that when all is said and done, you understand the doctrine behind each story told in general conference.
Tudie Rose is a mother of four and grandmother of ten in Sacramento, California. You can find her on Twitter as @TudieRose. She blogs as Tudie Rose at http://potrackrose.wordpress.com. She has written articles for Familius. You will find a Tudie Rose essay in Lessons from My Parents, Michele Robbins, Familius 2013, at http://www.familius.com/lessons-from-my-parents.