Our Savior taught many of His most profound lessons through stories—stories that seemed simple at first, but contained layers and facets of meaning that brought listeners to a new level of understanding. He shared relatable moments from daily life mixed with unexpected lessons, insights, and tales.
Many of our modern day apostles have learned from Christ's example, developing quite the knack for storytelling. And, over the years, the pulpit in the conference center has been graced with many surprising, charming, touching, and humorous stories.
From funny and quirky to intensely emotional or frightening, there have been a lot of hidden gems in the stories shared at general conference, but here are some of the most unexpected.
Blind Date Fiasco
Joseph B. Wirthlin, "Come What May, and Love It," October 2008
Little mishaps and embarrassments are a part of life, but Elder Wirthlin was always good to remind us to laugh at these little moments, even in general conference.
I remember when one of our daughters went on a blind date. She was all dressed up and waiting for her date to arrive when the doorbell rang. In walked a man who seemed a little old, but she tried to be polite. She introduced him to me and my wife and the other children; then she put on her coat and went out the door. We watched as she got into the car, but the car didn’t move. Eventually our daughter got out of the car and, red-faced, ran back into the house. The man that she thought was her blind date had actually come to pick up another of our daughters who had agreed to be a babysitter for him and his wife.
We all had a good laugh over that. In fact, we couldn’t stop laughing. Later, when our daughter’s real blind date showed up, I couldn’t come out to meet him because I was still in the kitchen laughing. Now, I realize that our daughter could have felt humiliated and embarrassed. But she laughed with us, and as a result, we still laugh about it today.
The next time you’re tempted to groan, you might try to laugh instead. It will extend your life and make the lives of all those around you more enjoyable.
Thomas S. Monson, "Examples of Righteousness," April 2008
Who could forget when President Monson, in his first conference as the Prophet, demonstrated a skill hardly any Church members knew he possessed—the ability to wiggle his ears!
My brethren, I reiterate that, as holders of the priesthood of God, it is our duty to live our lives in such a way that we may be examples of righteousness for others to follow. As I have pondered how we might best provide such examples, I have thought of an experience I had some years ago while attending a stake conference. During the general session, I observed a young boy sitting with his family on the front row of the stake center. I was seated on the stand.
As the meeting progressed, I began to notice that if I crossed one leg over the other, the young boy would do the same thing. If I reversed the motion and crossed the other leg, he would follow suit. I would put my hands in my lap, and he would do the same. I rested my chin in my hand, and he also did so. Whatever I did, he would imitate my actions. This continued until the time approached for me to address the congregation.
I decided to put him to the test. I looked squarely at him, certain I had his attention, and then I wiggled my ears. He made a vain attempt to do the same, but I had him! He just couldn’t quite get his ears to wiggle. He turned to his father, who was sitting next to him, and whispered something to him. He pointed to his ears and then to me. As his father looked in my direction, obviously to see my ears wiggle, I sat solemnly with my arms folded, not moving a muscle. The father glanced back skeptically at his son, who looked slightly defeated. He finally gave me a sheepish grin and shrugged his shoulders.
I have thought about that experience over the years as I’ve contemplated how, particularly when we’re young, we tend to imitate the example of our parents, our leaders, our peers. The prophet Brigham Young said: “We should never permit ourselves to do anything that we are not willing to see our children do. We should set them an example that we wish them to imitate.”
To you who are fathers of boys or who are leaders of boys, I say, strive to be the kind of example the boys need.