Preparing for General Conference: Every Effort Counts
By Lauren Madsen
Picture this: a family wakes up on conference weekend, a bit later than usual. Dishes are piled high in the sink while books, toys and dirty socks cover the floor. Someone realizes there is no milk or bread and dashes off to the grocery store. The remote is nowhere to be found.
Now picture this: a family wakes up to a house they helped tidy together the night before. The grocery shopping has been done, the crayons and Bingo cards are set out, and family members gather round the TV to begin watching conference together.
Both of these scenes have played out in my home. Some conferences we have planned and prepared. Other conferences, the weekend really snuck up on us and we found ourselves scrambling at the last minute. Because our family has been both prepared and unprepared in the past, I can say from experience that we felt the difference.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf taught: “Long before a speaker in general conference makes that long walk to the podium, he or she has invested immense effort, prayer and study in response to the assignment to speak. Every conference message represents countless hours of preparation and heartfelt pleading to understand what the Lord wishes His saints to hear. What might happen if we as listeners matched the speakers’ preparation with our own?”
That preparation could look the same in some ways and very different in others, as each of us are unique individuals. It might consist of making ready our physical environment as well as our hearts.
CREATE THE ENVIRONMENT
Think about where you will be watching or listening to conference and who will be with you. It may be helpful to think about the following questions:
- Where will I be watching/listening? If I am unable to watch live, when do I plan to?
- Who will I be watching/listening with? What will they need?
- What food will we eat before and after each session (or maybe even during)?
- Will I be taking notes? Do I have what I need to do that?
Wherever you will be when you are watching general conference, whether it is with many people, a few people, or by yourself, contemplate how you can contribute to a positive environment where the Spirit can be felt.
PREPARE YOUR HEART
General conference is a unique opportunity we have to sustain our leaders, listen to counsel, receive inspiration, and hear special announcements. It makes a difference when we intentionally open our minds and hearts to hearing and feeling. Part of that opening involves resolving to be obedient to the messages we receive--both from the speakers and the Spirit. Elder Paul V. Johnson said, “In order for the messages of general conference to change our lives, we need to be willing to follow the counsel we hear.”
How can we do this? Pray for an open heart. Pray for the speakers as well. You may even consider fasting in one of the days leading up to conference. Write down the questions you are seeking answers to. You might ask those you are close to about their questions while also sharing yours, and then get ready to listen for those answers together.
ASK HIM HOW YOU CAN PREPARE
This idea is new to me and yet I feel it is perhaps the most powerful. With numerous ideas out there about how to prepare for general conference, praying to know how YOU--uniquely, specifically, individually--can prepare really should be at the top of the list! Let Heavenly Parents who know your desires, your needs, your circumstances and your heart lead you to the ways you can make yourself ready.
As you prepare yourself and those you love for general conference, remember what President Nelson has taught: “The Lord loves effort.” Do the best you can. He knows you. He sees you, and He magnifies even your smallest offerings.
Lauren Madsen is a photo-taking, scrapbook-making, kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom of four. She loves reading, writing, family history work, spending time outside with her kids, and Friday night dates with her husband. Lauren currently works as a member of the SALT Gathering team. You can connect with Lauren on Instagram @a.lingering.light