On this week’s episode of All In, Robert Millet said that if there is a question he has been asked 1,000 times during his life, which includes nearly 40 years as a religious educator, it would be, “How do I distinguish between my own voice and my own thoughts and the voice of the Spirit?” But that makes sense because, as Millet said, “It’s a very good question.” But an experience hearing the counsel of then-Elder Boyd K. Packer years ago helped Millet recognize that the answer to this question is easier than we might make it out to be.
Read the experience below or listen to the entire episode here.
The following excerpt has been edited for clarity.
Morgan Jones: I think one of the most commonly asked questions when dealing with the Holy Ghost is how do I distinguish between my own voice and my own thoughts and the voice of the Spirit?
Robert Millet: I think if I've been asked a question 1000 times it's that one.
MJ: Yeah, I'm sure.
RM: Because it's a very good question. Years ago, I went to a priesthood leadership meeting and the visiting authorities were Elder Boyd K. Packer, Elder Russell M. Nelson, and Elder John H. Groberg of the Seventy—great three or four hours, magnificent teaching. In a Q&A time, one of the local bishops asked Elder Packer, he said, "I have a question for Elder Packer. Elder Packer, how do I come to know the difference between my thoughts and God's thoughts?” And Brother Packer gave an answer that at first shocked me a little bit. Elder Packer said, "That is so easy." And the guy said. "Easy? How is it easy?" Brother Packer said, "It's simple. You practice." And at that point, I have to be honest and say I thought, "That's a cop out." But the more I thought about it, the more I looked at my own life, I thought acquiring the Spirit, understanding and grasping the messages the Spirit is trying to convey to you, it does take practice. It takes working in such a way that you begin to recognize eventually a voice like you would recognize any other voice. . . . In my case, I made a decision a lot of years ago if I'm speaking or teaching the gospel and if an idea comes into my head, and if it's not something just absolutely bizarre, I'm going to talk about it. And I'd have to say, I've never had a disappointing experience with that. Do you know what I'm saying?
MJ: Yes, sir.
RM: So I've come to appreciate that it does, it does require practice. And I think that means one other thing. It means we need to begin responding to the small promptings, the light of Christ, responding to a conscience that's saying, "Help your wife with the dishes," or "Why don't you go out and work on the lawn?" or "Why don't you take the garbage out?" or whatever it is—something really small. I mean, I'll give it as an example, if I were prompted to go help my wife with the dishes and, you know, the feeling was, "You ought to go help your wife," and I argue with it and say, "No, I don't want to do that. She's doing fine. She's really good at it," then how ironic is it for me that evening to be kneeling beside my bed, pleading with the Lord to give me inspiration and revelation and understand a difficult situation in my life. I almost could picture the Lord saying, "Oh, really? Well, I tried working on you earlier today."
MJ: With an easy thing!
RM: With an easy thing! And I think the principle is the same one that the Lord gives in the parable of the talents. Remember how He rewards them? He says, "Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Thou hast been faithful over a few things. I will make thee ruler over many things." I think that's the principle. We respond. We begin responding more to our conscience and doing things the conscience tells us to do, and before long were able to recognize that the Holy Ghost is working with us.