One aspect of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) doctrine that I always found comforting was the belief that this church is led by a prophet of God. I never understood why the Lord would have prophets and apostles in the Old and New Testaments but would not want to converse with his disciples in these latter days.
Looking around at society and the direction things are heading it seems like now more than ever he would want to stay in touch and have His church provide guidance to us of how we can overcome the trials and tribulations we face in tumultuous times.
Being led by a prophet and apostles can have several meanings. Our expectation should be that those in authority have been duly called by proper authority and have the ability to receive direction and guidance for those in their stewardship. That last part is very important, “in their stewardship”.
I believe each of us have a context which the Lord expects us to manage. Individually we are responsible for our own agency and hopefully following the Lord’s example through scripture to do what is right and distance ourselves from sin.
As a husband my stewardship extends to not only my own care but also looking after and receiving guidance for my family so that I can create an environment for my wife and children that they too receive guidance through my obedience and personal revelation.
This type of stewardship extends further into the church where auxiliary leaders receive revelation and provide guidance whether it be a Sunday School class, a priesthood quorum, or the relief society. This extends further where bishops are responsible for presiding over a ward; a stake president presides over a stake which has multiple wards etc.
At the top would be general authorities who should be in tune with the desires of the Lord and provide guidance to the church as a whole. On paper this organization is logical, balanced, and gives order to the organization of the church.
But in an organization that has over 10 million members and is constantly growing there is a very real possibility that the message could get lost or filtered as it flows from the prophet to apostles to general authorities to area authorities to stakes to wards to families to individuals. There is a very real fear that this could be like that childhood game of telephone where one person whispers to the next person and by the time the final message is delivered it is nothing like what began.
As with everything, the Lord has provided a way for each of us to hear the words of the prophet and apostles directly. Twice a year – the first weekend in April and the first weekend in October the LDS church holds General Conference where general authorities will speak directly to the members of the church.
This weekend marks the fall conference which is held in Salt Lake City but is broadcast worldwide in a multitude of languages. What an exciting time where we have an opportunity to hear from disciples of God.
There are five sessions: three on Saturday and two on Sunday. The morning sessions begin at 10 AM Salt Lake time both Saturday and Sunday and two afternoon sessions that begin at 2 PM each day. There is also a Saturday evening session for priesthood holders.
These speakers are not given topics but seek guidance from the Lord to help them identify what our Heavenly Father feels His children need to hear.
Normally as a family we will gather around the television, radio, or now via the LDS web site to listen to these broadcasts. I am always amazed as there are many of these talks that seem to relate directly to challenges I have myself.
This year will be different. With Elder Summers in Georgia we will not all be together physically but spiritually we will all be listening. I know I have been fervently praying for guidance and understanding of the things I and my family are facing and I am looking forward to seeing a prophet of God teach me and all those around me.
Elder Summers will also be listening intently. Now his stewardship has grown beyond just himself, he is now representing the Lord to the people in Georgia and it will be fascinating to hear what he learns from conference how it will help him to fulfill his mission.
General conference can be such a wonderful thing even if you are not a member of the LDS church nor have interest in joining. As mortal beings placed on this earth we should all have the same goal of returning to our Heavenly Father and if you can get even a small bit of enlightenment towards that goal you should grasp it with both hands.
The challenges we face in our lives and the direction society is taking, any additional help or guidance we can get can only help in bringing calmness and peace to our troubled hearts.