Conference talk – To Acquire Spiritual Guidance

So, I’m back in the saddle of reading conference talks. Today was my first one reading the new conference that just happened earlier this month. But since I missed Priesthood session, I have the whole list to do, which is 34 talks, so I will have to double up to get them done by April.

Starting off on my doubling, I did President Monson’s introduction as well as the first talk by Richard G. Scott (made submarines go).

I enjoyed it, and here are a few quotes and my comments.

Throughout the ages, many have obtained guidance helpful to resolve challenges in their lives by following the example of respected individuals who resolved similar problems. Today, world conditions change so rapidly that such a course of action is often not available to us.

Personally, I rejoice in that reality because it creates a condition where we, of necessity, are more dependent upon the Spirit to guide us through the vicissitudes of life. Therefore, we are led to seek personal inspiration in life’s important decisions.

Two things I found interesting there: one – the concept of using God as a “someone who has resolved similar problems” and two – as a parent thinking about the challenges my children will go through and that I may not have the experience to deal with them. Not that they’ll listen to me anyways because “Dad is so out of it – he’d never understand” :-)

The inspiring influence of the Holy Spirit can be overcome or masked by strong emotions, such as anger, hate, passion, fear, or pride. When such influences are present, it is like trying to savor the delicate flavor of a grape while eating a jalapeño pepper. Both flavors are present, but one completely overpowers the other. In like manner, strong emotions overcome the delicate promptings of the Holy Spirit.

An interesting simile there but the real thing that I thought while reading that was that this sure sounds like “the Force!” I can hear Yoda saying “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” It is true though that it’s pretty hard to be calm and relaxed when you have those kinds of feelings.

He then shared a story about 2 regular Sunday lesson teachers that he had sometime. One was a humble guy who “struggled to communicate the truths of the gospel in his lesson material”. Then there was a teacher who “had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to illustrate the principles of the lesson”, and who “was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge.”

In both cases, Elder Scott had prepared and received several promptings that helped him with the tasks that were important to him in his life. He also shared how when he wrote down the ones he had received, he then received even FURTHER promptings.

What I have described is not an isolated experience. It embodies several true principles regarding communication from the Lord to His children here on earth. I believe that you can leave the most precious, personal direction of the Spirit unheard because you do not respond to, record, and apply the first promptings that come to you.

I remember a guy that used to be in our ward. We were at a meeting (stake conference?) and afterward he talked about this same phenomenon having happened to him – that as the speaker was talking he (the guy) had just received all these revelations / thoughts about particular things that were important to him and going on his life and he was just gushing about it. I remember not having felt much personally, something which I attribute to poor preparation probably. Or kids! yeah kids! they’re the problem! :-D

What may appear initially to be a daunting task will be much easier to manage over time as you consistently strive to recognize and follow feelings prompted by the Spirit. Your confidence in the direction you receive from the Holy Ghost will also become stronger. I witness that as you gain experience and success in being guided by the Spirit, your confidence in the impressions you feel can become more certain than your dependence on what you see or hear.

Have patience as you are perfecting your ability to be led by the Spirit. By careful practice, through the application of correct principles, and by being sensitive to the feelings that come, you will gain spiritual guidance. I bear witness that the Lord, through the Holy Ghost, can speak to your mind and heart. Sometimes the impressions are just general feelings. Sometimes the direction comes so clearly and so unmistakably that it can be written down like spiritual dictation.

So something that I (and I’m sure most people) deal with is just recognizing what’s the Spirit and what’s just “me”. While I think that there can be some blending of that, the above quote from Elder Scott provides some insight that I found enjoyable and worthwhile.

So, to record the thoughts / revelation that I had while reading this talk, I am going to work with my children on Sundays – to try and spend one on one time with them on Sundays and when appropriate, give “father’s interviews”. It is scary how old they are getting!

father’s interviews / sunday time

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