By Sheena Perron
Just a few short weeks ago we were spiritually uplifted as we listened to our beloved prophet, apostles, and leaders of the church as they shared inspiring messages and testimonies during General Conference.
President Monson encouraged each of us to “read the talks … and to ponder the messages contained therein. I have found in my own life that I gain even more from these inspired sermons when I study them in greater depth” (Thomas S. Monson, “God Be with You Till We Meet Again, Oct. 2012”).
Asking questions when studying can encourage us to ponder and apply the principles being taught, help us gain a better understanding of what is being taught, and can help us receive answers we may be searching for.
Asking effective questions is an important part of studying, and can help make studying more personal and meaningful, but it takes time and practice. Try to avoid “yes/no” questions or questions that are easily answered. You can find several sources on the church’s website to help you ask effective and inspired questions.
As you study, thoughts and impressions may come to your mind. Take time to slow down and record the thoughts and impressions you receive as you study. If possible, get an empty notebook that you use as you study General Conference talks. If you prefer digital notes, create a folder where you can easily access and save your notes.
Just like the scriptures, many General Conference talks include scripture references and end-notes. Have you ever clicked on a reference found in a General Conference talk? I have found wonderful talks this way that I may not have found otherwise. The references found in these talks can deepen our understanding of the topic discussed.
Have you ever looked for words, messages, or principles within a talk? This is a scripture tool that I learned in a previous religion class, but this amazing tool can also be used as we study talks from General Conference.
- Look for Jesus Christ: We can learn about Christ’s life, mission, teachings, and His Atonement as we seek out messages that focus on Him.
- Look for Principles: Sometimes principles are simply stated, while other times they may be shared in a sweet story or experience that is shared. This is another tool that I learned in my religion class. During this class we had to study and create “If...Then” statements from the chapters we studied. What principles can you find as you study the inspired messages from our leaders?
Look for invitations, warnings, and promises: Have you ever thought to look for and record invitations, warnings, and promises? Sometimes these important truths can go unnoticed and ultimately forgotten. As you study, look for what is being asked of us, things we should avoid, and promised blessings that can be ours as we strive to live righteously.
- Look for Ways to Teach/Share: After studying an inspiring message I usually want to share it with others. You can share these wonderful talks with family and friends by directing them to the church’s website, texting them the link, or sharing directly on social media, but what about younger children? How often do you share the messages with your children?
One tool that I like to use when sharing messages with my family is object lessons. These fund, simple, object lessons don’t have to be extravagant or time consuming. Simple object lessons can help your children understand more deeply and create lasting memories of the lesson/topic being taught.
If you find it difficult to create an object lesson, try studying the General Conference talks by topic. Having a topic can help you find or create your very own object lesson. When I do this, I determine what the topic is, then go to the internet to look for object lessons on the topic. You will be amazed at how many object lessons can be found.
This is also a great way to get your children involved. Have your family take turns being in charge of creating or finding an object lesson each week. Assign a talk to a family member each week. If necessary, take time to study with them and then have them create or find an object lesson to share with the rest of the family.
How blessed we are to have the opportunity to not only hear inspired messages, but to have them readily accessible for us to ponder and study them over the next six months. As we prayerfully do so, you will “hear your Heavenly Father’s voice in the messages of this conference, you will discover that He has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into His presence. (Robert D. Hales, “General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony, Oct. 2013”).
Sheena Perron is the founder of Little LDS Ideas and Seek Christ Daily. Her mission is to help others become seekers of Christ through uplifting online content and events. She has been featured in the Ensign, Deseret News, and KSL Radio. Follow Sheena Perron on Instagram and Facebook