How to deal with the General Conference overload

General Conference is just over a week away!  I love the opportunity we have to listen to our Prophet and the apostles as they guide, teach, warn and uplift us.  It’s a wonderful weekend.

However 8 hours of instruction (10 for the men) over two days can feel completely overwhelming!  When Christ visits the Nephites after his resurrection in 3rd Nephi after a day of instruction He says this:

I perceive that ye are weak, that ye cannot understand all my words which I am commanded of the Father to speak to you at this time.
3 Nephi 17:2

Um, yes.  That is exactly how I feel after General Conference.  It is a lot to take in!  I love it all, and I recognize that it is all amazing and good, but there is so much information at one time.  My brain is full (although I can readily admit that doesn’t take much!).  Christ had a lot to get out in a short amount of time, as do the speakers in General Conference.  The challenge is for us to figure out how to get the most out of every moment.  Luckily, the next scripture instructs us on how to do that:

Therefore, go ye unto your homes, and ponder upon the things which I have said, and ask of the Father, in my name, that ye may understand, and prepare your minds for the morrow, and I come unto you again.
3 Nephi 17:3

Let’s break it down.  Things to do to digest General Conference:

  • Ponder  – “We are constantly reminded through the scriptures that we should give the things of God much more than usual superficial consideration. We must ponder them and reach into the very essence of what we are and what we may become.”  (Joseph P. Worthlin, Pondering Strengthens the Spiritual Life, Ensign April 1982)  To ponder means to think carefully, to reflect on, and to weigh it out in our minds.
  • Ask to Understand – We cannot come to true spiritual understanding without asking.  “Understanding as used in the scriptures does not refer solely or even primary to intellectual or cognitive comprehension.  Rather, when the Holy Ghost confirms in our hearts as true what we know in our minds, understanding occurs…Understanding, then, is a revealed conclusion and a spiritual gift.”  (David A. Bednar, Power to Become, p151)  After we ponder and come to conclusions about the things that were said in General Conference we are to then ask for confirmation and understanding about the impressions and inspirations we received.
  • Prepare your minds – It is easy to think that once we’ve pondered it and asked for understanding we are done.  But as the scripture points out we need to see understanding as a steppingstone to greater light and knowledge and not as the destination.  For many reasons the speakers at General Conference cannot reveal all the mysteries of God over the pulpit.  General Conference, Sacrament Meetings, etc. are there to call us to Come Unto Christ, the covenants we make through ordinances make it possible to come unto Christ, however, it is at home, in our study, on our knees, through our actions and in our hearts that we actually move closer to Him.  We should not confuse hearing the call to come unto Christ with obeying the call to Come unto Christ!  The actual work of coming to Christ happens as we individually learn from Him via personal revelation.  As we come to an understanding of what we were taught at General Conference we are preparing ourselves for that personal revelation.  The spirit wants teach us the mysteries of God “as fast as ye are able to receive them” (D&C 111:11) but we have to be willing and we have to be able.

Thankfully because of the availability of the talks we are all able to digest General Conference at our own pace.

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I am so excited for General Conference to come!  Everything that is presented at General Conference reflects years of learning, incredible amounts of prayer, and humility similar to that expressed by Ammon:

I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God.
Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.
(Alma 26:11-12)

I hope that I can be spiritually alert enough to hear my own personal calls to come unto Christ and righteous enough to obey them!

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