Every six months, we have the opportunity to tune in to new sessions of general conference where we can receive powerful inspiration and counsel from our church leaders. As amazing as that opportunity is, we sometimes neglect to revisit conference talks after the weekend is over, never taking full advantage of all they have to offer. When we do this, we are missing out. Here are 25 suggestions for making the most of general conference, allowing it to power our lives every month, week, and even day, of the year:
1. Seek spiritual nourishment on the commute to work and/or school. Listening to one or two conference talks en route can make the commute more uplifting and less stressful, but also give a clearer sense of priorities and greater spiritual power as we navigate our days.
2. Create a spiritual road map while on a road trip. Before heading cross country, choose some conference talks to listen to on the drive. If you have kids, invite them to help choose which talks you listen to. Share the analogy that just as a road map or a GPS can help us get where we want to go, listening to the inspired words of our Church leaders can help us go where we want to go in this life and the next.
3. Get spiritually fit while getting physically fit. Whether walking, running, or lifting weights, tune in to a conference talk while you exercise. If you usually listen to music while working out, try a 10-minute conference talk before turning on the music. Even those few minutes can provide a beneficial spiritual booster shot.
4. Put your smartphone to work while getting ready for the day. Using the LDS Gospel Library phone app, turn up a conference talk while getting dressed, brushing your teeth, applying make-up, etc. Some mornings you may not be able to squeeze in an entire talk, but a portion of an inspiring talk is far better than no talk at all.
5. Copy your favorite conference talk quotes into a notebook or journal. And revisit them often for a quick, sure dose of inspiration.
6. Set a goal for the next six months based on one or more of the challenges issued by speakers in general conference. Keep a journal to track your progress. Recent conference talk challenges have included “come to sacrament meeting prepared to have a truly spiritual experience” (Cheryl Esplin, October 2014), “acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don’t become immobilized by them” (Elder Jorg Klebingat, October 2014), and “defend your beliefs with courtesy and compassion, but defend them” (Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, April 2014).
7. Using various conference talks, make a deep study of a specific gospel subject. Underline, highlight, or copy passages that inform and inspire you, praying and pondering as you study. If you’re interested in studying about gratitude, consider beginning with President Monson’s talk “The Divine Gift of Gratitude” from the October 2010 General Conference. Brainstorm a list of subjects for future focused study, perhaps including forgiveness, integrity, finding peace during difficult times, and the pure love of Christ.
8. Generate inspiring dinnertime conversations. Write thought-provoking conference talk quotes on 20-25 colorful slips of paper and put them into a glass jar. During dinner, have a family member pull one out, read it, and share their thoughts, inviting each family member to add their own.
9. Fill a binder with copies of your very favorite conference talks from over the years so you can easily revisit them. These talks can provide excellent resources for preparing your own sacrament meeting talks or Sunday lessons.
10. When visiting teaching or home teaching, share the monthly message, but also prayerfully choose a conference talk to print off and share. Include a personal note that might say something like, “I thought of you when I read this talk…” Those we visit will be touched by the extra effort we make to let them know we care.
11. Text inspiration. Invite a few friends or family members to join a texting group where you take turns sending out a favorite conference talk quote with a brief personal message. Maybe you text a message out on Mondays while another friend sends hers out on Tuesdays, and so on. Sending and receiving such texts can serve as a great antidote to our hurry-up world, inviting us to slow down and ponder a gospel gem.
12. Post a favorite conference talk quote on social media. Make sure you also share the title of the talk it’s from and the speaker. Include a link to the entire talk, and invite friends to share one of their favorite quotes from conference.
13. Memorize a passage from a conference talk that you find especially moving. Memorizing such a passage weaves its power into the fabric of your spirit, making it available to you whenever you need it, no matter your circumstances. Consider this great quote for memorization: “The more we devote ourselves to the pursuit of holiness and happiness, the less likely we will be on a path to regrets. The more we rely on the Savior’s grace, the more we will feel that we are on the track our Father in Heaven has intended for us.” - President Dieter F. Utchdorf, October 2012 General Conference.
14. Post a favorite conference talk quote where you and others in your household will see it often. Stick it on the bathroom mirror or the fridge, or maybe frame it and post it by the front door for all to see just before they make their way out into the world.
15. Make a focused study of one Church leader’s words by reading and listening to as many of his or her talks as you can. Seek as never before to learn from their inspired perspective, insights, testimony, and counsel. Then choose another general authority or sister and learn everything you can from his or her words.
16. Start a conference talk discussion group. Choose a talk you would love to discuss with others and invite them to read the talk then join you and others to talk about it on a given day or evening. To jumpstart the conversation, invite participants to share what passages or ideas stood out to them, what new insights they gained, and how we can apply this talk to our lives. This can be a great opportunity to learn and grow together, magnifying the power of just one talk.
17. Following general conference weekend, invite each family member to choose a favorite talk and share what they loved about it. This can be done for family home evening, at the dinner table, or during several family gospel study sessions. Such sharing gives us added insights into the gospel, but also into each member of our family.
18. Record some of your favorite quotes from conference in a note-taking app on your smart phone. Challenge yourself to look at these quotes more often than you check in on social media or surf the internet.
19. Purchase extra print copies of the general conference issue of the Ensign. Provide one for every family member, as well as a few additional copies to share with friends and family members not of our faith. As prompted, highlight one or two talks for them to read.
20. Search out wisdom while waiting or working. While standing in line at the grocery store or waiting in a doctor’s office, read through or study a conference talk. Buoy your spirits while doing the dishes, folding clothes, or mopping the floor by listening to a talk from the priesthood or women’s session of general conference.
21. Center a family home evening on a conference talk. This can be as simple as watching a video of the talk and discussing it afterwards, or as involved as creating visual-aids and object lessons and inviting family members to act out a story associated with the talk. Whatever the case may be, a family home evening focused on a conference talk, tailored to the needs of your family, is sure to provide a meaningful and memorable experience for all.
22. Use general conference talks to study the life and mission of the Savior Jesus Christ. Numerous conference talks are focused specifically on that subject. Elder Lawrence Corbridge’s October 2008 talk, “The Way,” is a great place to begin.
23. Host a story night with family or friends where you read aloud the stories shared in conference. To find those stories easily, consult the “Conference Story Index” (found in the online and print editions of the conference issue of the Ensign) which includes who shared the story and a brief description of the story. Consider including the story of how President Thomas S. Monson returned from Germany in his slippers after giving away his shoes and extra suit and shirts (October 2014), or the story of the horse named Snowman, as told by Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin in the April 2006 general conference. His story is sure to be a favorite with children.
24. Pray before you read or listen to a conference talk. Ask the Spirit to open your heart and mind to fully take in the messages and inspiration available through that particular message.
25. Allow yourself time to ponder after you read or listen to a conference talk. Perhaps write about it in your journal, then ask Heavenly Father in earnest what actions you should take based on the things you’ve learned. And take that action.
The above suggestions barely scratch the surface of the possibilities for powering our lives with general conference year-round. Figure out what works best for you and go for it. You and anyone you invite to partake of general conference on an ongoing basis will be blessed, not just during the fall and spring conference weekends but throughout the year.
Debra Woods is the author of Mothering with Spiritual Power: Book of Mormon Inspirations for Raising a Righteous Family. You can visit her at www.debrawoods.com and www.lushmango.com, her blog focused on eating and living to energize and thrive.