Last Saturday, mid running errands and playing with my dog, I started thinking about the upcoming general conference. I thought of the female leaders who might be released and wondered if I had taken full advantage of everything they had to offer during their relatively brief calls. Since auxiliary leadership changes roughly every five years, I wanted more opportunities to hear from these wonderful women. I longed to know more about these chosen disciples of Christ.
The very next day, I attended my friend’s ward to listen to her speak. As Maggie testified of Jesus Christ and His atonement, I felt the Spirit stronger than I have in months. This experience taught me the value of feeling a personal connection to a speaker. My love and respect for Maggie drove me to listen closer and with a much more open mind than I typically have in sacrament.
After Maggie’s talk, I decided to prepare for general conference in a way I had previously never considered. I would focus a little bit of time and effort each day learning about our nine female leaders. I like to call them “leading ladies.” I wanted to be ready to learn from them just like I learn from the Brethren.
In the hopes that I could help more people feel the same respect and connection I shared my findings in brief bio form on my Instagram.
Over the last five days, I’ve felt a major increase in my love and respect for these women as I have studied their lives and histories. They are hardworking, educated, unique and inspired witnesses of Christ. They have diverse life experiences and so much wisdom to offer. I felt a huge increase in my excitement for general conference and many women who follow my account voice the same!
As I’ve looked forward to hearing from these leading ladies this weekend, my heart sunk a little when I thought of how many people may roll their eyes at any hint of “primary voice” or make negative comments about what they’re wearing. My thoughts reminded me of college friends who joked about how female speakers were for bathroom and snack breaks.
Now, I know the “primary voice” can be a little difficult for some to listen to, but the truth is, many of our leaders, male and female, have developed unique speech patterns, and that’s ok! Their words are full of lessons and value regardless of the delivery.
I also know colorful blazers aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. I can’t imagine how stressful it would be to try to pick an outfit that EVERY member finds general conference appropriate. I get stressed just try to pick an outfit when speaking in sacrament meeting!
These women are called of God and speak with power and authority. We, women and men, have so much to learn from them. As fellow followers of Christ, let’s commit to allow our leaders, male and female, to speak how they choose to speak and wear what they choose to wear. Let’s learn from them rather than discredit them. Let’s do our part to put an end to the bad habit of cutting them down or speaking negatively of them when they’re focused on serving us and the Lord. Let’s set the example for the next generation that we listen to our leaders with reverence and respect, regardless of gender.