Emissaries to the Church"
Quorum of the Twelve
Brethren, in the best of all worlds and in those circumstances where it can be done, a monthly visit in each home is still the ideal the Church would strive for. But realizing that in many locations around the world achieving such an ideal is not possible and that we cause those brethren to feel like failures when we ask them to do what cannot realistically be done, the First Presidency wrote to the priesthood leaders of the Church in December 2001, giving this inspired, very helpful counsel: “There are some locations in the Church,” they wrote, “where … home teaching to every home each month may not be possible because of insufficient numbers of active priesthood brethren and various other local challenges.” We’ve mentioned some of them. “When such circumstances prevail,” they go on, “leaders should do their best to use the resources they have available to watch over and strengthen each member.”...
Brethren, the appeal I am making tonight is for you to lift your vision of home teaching. Please, in newer, better ways see yourselves as emissaries of the Lord to His children. That means leaving behind the tradition of a frantic, law of Moses–like, end-of-the-month calendar in which you rush to give a scripted message from the Church magazines that the family has already read. We would hope, rather, that you will establish an era of genuine, gospel-oriented concern for the members, watching over and caring for each other, addressing spiritual and temporal needs in any way that helps.
Now, as for what “counts” as home teaching, every good thing you do “counts,” so report it all! Indeed, the report that matters most is how you have blessed and cared for those within your stewardship, which has virtually nothing to do with a specific calendar or a particular location.
There Is Power in the Book"
of the Seventy
Some people have such a powerful experience with the Book of Mormon the first time they open it, but for others the witness of the truthfulness comes more gradually as they read and pray about it. That was my case. I first read the Book of Mormon as a teenage seminary student. This is the copy of the Book of Mormon that I read. I cannot tell you the exact time or place that it happened, but somewhere during that reading, I started sensing something. There was a warmth and a spirit that came every time I opened the book. The feeling grew as I continued my reading. That feeling continues to this day. Every time I open the Book of Mormon, it is like turning on a switch—the Spirit flows into my heart and soul.
For yet others, a testimony of the Book of Mormon comes more slowly, after much study and prayer. I have a friend who read the Book of Mormon searching to know if it was true. He applied the invitation in Moroni to ask God with a sincere heart, with real intent and faith in Christ, if the Book of Mormon is true. But he did not immediately get the promised spiritual answer. However, one day as he was deep in thought, driving down the road, the Spirit testified to him of the truth of the Book of Mormon. So happy and overwhelmed was he that he rolled down the car window and yelled, to no one in particular and yet to all the world, “It’s true!”
Learn from Alma and Amulek"
2nd Counselor, First Presidency
Let me begin by asking all past, current, or future leaders in the Church of Jesus Christ, “What can you learn from Alma?”
Alma was an exceptionally gifted and capable man. It may have been easy to think that he did not need anyone’s help. Nevertheless, what did Alma do when he returned to Ammonihah?
Alma found Amulek and asked him for help.
And Alma received help.
For whatever reason, sometimes we as leaders are reluctant to find and ask our Amuleks. Perhaps we think that we can do the work better by ourselves, or we are reluctant to inconvenience others, or we assume that others would not want to participate. Too often we hesitate to invite people to use their God-given talents and engage in the great work of salvation.
Think of the Savior—did He begin to establish His Church all alone? No.
His message was not “Stand back. I’ll handle this.” Rather it was “Come, follow me.” He inspired, invited, instructed, and then trusted His followers “to do the things which ye have seen me do.” In this way, Jesus Christ built up not only His Church but also His servants.
In whatever position you currently serve—whether you are a deacons quorum president, a stake president, or an Area President—to be successful, you must find your Amuleks.
It may be someone who is unassuming or even invisible within your congregations. It may be someone who seems unwilling or unable to serve. Your Amuleks may be young or old, men or women, inexperienced, tired, or not active in the Church. But what may not be seen at first sight is that they are hoping to hear from you the words “The Lord needs you! I need you!”...
While some of us should be looking for an Amulek, for others the question might be “How am I like Amulek?”
Perhaps you have, over the years, become less committed in your discipleship. Perhaps the fire of your testimony has dimmed. Perhaps you have distanced yourself from the body of Christ. Perhaps you have become disillusioned or even angry. Like some of the ancient Church of Ephesus, you may have left your “first love”—the sublime, eternal truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Perhaps, like Amulek, you know in your heart that the Lord has “called [you] many times,” but you “would not hear.” Nevertheless, the Lord sees in you what He saw in Amulek—the potential of a valiant servant with an important work to do and with a testimony to share. There is service that no one else can give in quite the same way. The Lord has trusted you with His holy priesthood, which holds the divine potential to bless and lift others. Listen with your heart and follow the promptings of the Spirit.
That He May Become Strong Also"
1st Counselor, First Presidency
Wilford Woodruff, as President of the Church, described his experience in the offices of the priesthood:
“I heard the first sermon I ever heard in this Church. The next day I was baptized. … I was ordained a Teacher. My mission immediately commenced. … I went through that whole mission as a Teacher. … At the conference I was ordained a Priest. … After I was ordained a Priest I was sent … on a mission to the southern country. That was in the fall of 1834. I had a companion with me, and we started out without purse and scrip. I traveled alone a good many miles and preached the Gospel, and I baptized a number that I could not confirm in the Church, because I was only a Priest. … I traveled some time preaching the Gospel before I was ordained an Elder. …
“[Now] I have been some fifty-four years a member of the Twelve Apostles. I have traveled with that and other quorums now for sixty years; and I want to say to this assembly that I was just as much sustained by the power of God while holding the office of a Teacher, and especially while officiating in the vineyard as a Priest, as I ever was as an Apostle. There is no difference in this so long as we do our duty.”
That wonderful spiritual possibility of no difference is suggested in the Lord’s description of the Aaronic Priesthood as an “appendage” of the Melchizedek Priesthood. The word appendage means the two are connected. This connection is important to the priesthood becoming the force and the blessing it can be, in this world and forever, for it “is without beginning of days or end of years.”
The connection is a simple one. The Aaronic Priesthood prepares young men for an even more sacred trust.
Principles and Promises"
President of the Church
In 1833 the Lord revealed to the Prophet Joseph Smith a plan for healthy living. That plan is found in the 89th section of the Doctrine and Covenants and is known as the Word of Wisdom. It gives specific direction regarding the food we eat, and it prohibits the use of substances which are harmful to our bodies.
Those who are obedient to the Lord’s commandments and who faithfully observe the Word of Wisdom are promised particular blessings, among which are good health and added physical stamina...
Brethren, may we care for our bodies and our minds by observing the principles set forth in the Word of Wisdom, a divinely provided plan. With all my heart and soul, I testify of the glorious blessings which await us as we do.