Tag Archives: Elder Oaks

Elder Oaks: Sharing the Restored Gospel

A quote from his recent conference talk:

We need the guidance of the Lord because at any particular time some are—and some are not—ready for the additional truths of the restored gospel. We should never set ourselves up as judges of who is ready and who is not. The Lord knows the hearts of all of His children, and if we pray for inspiration, He will help us find persons He knows to be “in a preparation to hear the word” (Alma 32:6).

I liked the point that it’s ok to realize that some are not ready. We shouldn’t pressure ourselves or those in our stewardship to go out and pick and neighbor or co-worker and do this or that assignment with them. This is a much more careful and organized process than that — because “we need [and can have] the guidance of the Lord.”

Here are his 7 points about missionary work:

  1. We need to remember “that people learn when they’re ready to learn, not when we’re ready to teach them.”5 What we are interested in, like the important additional doctrinal teachings in the restored Church, usually isn’t what others are interested in. Others typically want the results of the doctrine, not the doctrine. As they observe or experience the effects of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in our lives, they feel the Spirit and begin to be interested in the doctrine. They may also be interested when they are seeking more happiness, closeness to God, or a better understanding of the purpose of life.6 Therefore, we must carefully and prayerfully seek discernment on how to inquire about others’ interest to learn more. This will depend on various things, such as another person’s current circumstances and our relationship with him or her. This is a good subject to discuss in councils, quorums, and Relief Societies.

  2. As we speak to others, we need to remember that an invitation to learn more about Jesus Christ and His gospel is preferable to an invitation to learn more about our Church.7 We want people to be converted to the gospel. That is the great role of the Book of Mormon. Feelings about our Church follow conversion to Jesus Christ; they do not precede it. Many who are suspicious of churches nevertheless have a love for the Savior. Put first things first.

  3. When we seek to introduce people to the restored gospel, we should do this in ways that are authentic and in loving concern for the individual. This happens when we are trying to help others with problems they have identified or when we are working with them in community service activities, such as relieving suffering, caring for the poor and needy, or enhancing the quality of life of others.

  4. Our efforts to share the gospel should not be limited to our circle of friends and associates. During the Olympics we learned of an LDS taxi driver in Rio de Janeiro who carried copies of the Book of Mormon in seven different languages and gave one to whoever would receive them. He called himself the “cab driving missionary.” He said, “The streets of Rio de Janeiro … are [my] mission field.”8 Clayton M. Christensen, who has impressive experience as a member missionary, states that “over the past twenty years, we have observed no correlation between the depth of a relationship and the probability that a person will be interested in learning about the gospel.”9

  5. Ward bishoprics can plan a special sacrament meeting to which members are urged to bring interested persons. Ward members will be less hesitant to bring their acquaintances to such a meeting because they will be more assured that the content of the meeting will be well planned to enlist interest and represent the Church well.

  6. There are many other opportunities to share the gospel. For example, just this summer I received a happy letter from a new member who learned about the restored gospel when an old classmate phoned her to inquire about an illness she was experiencing. She wrote: “I was enlightened by the way he presented himself to me. After [a] few months of learning from the missionaries, I was baptized. My life has improved since then.”10 We all know many whose lives would be improved by the restored gospel. Are we reaching out to them?

  7. Our young members’ fascination and expertise with social media gives them unique opportunities to reach out to interest others in the gospel. Describing the Savior’s appearance to the Nephites, Mormon writes, “He did teach and minister unto the children … , and he did loose their tongues … that they could utter” (3 Nephi 26:14). Today I suppose we would say “loose their [thumbs] that they could utter.” Go to it, youth!

Talks by Elder Oaks on Priesthood (just collecting them in a list)

There’s more, certainly, but these are a few I want to refer to often:

2005: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/priesthood-authority-in-the-family-and-the-church?lang=eng

2010: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/two-lines-of-communication?lang=eng

2014: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2013/10/power-in-the-priesthood?lang=eng

I also found this 1992 talk on the Relief Society, quoting a lot from the early minutes. Here are a few passages which either highlight how I see it anticipates his later talk in 2014, or that I just find intriguing:

“To save souls opens the whole field of human activity and development,” Elder John A. Widtsoe later declared. “Relief of poverty, relief of illness; relief of doubt, relief of ignorance—relief of all that hinders the joy and progress of woman. What a magnificent commission!” (John A. Widtsoe, Evidences and Reconciliations, Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1987, p. 308.)

Here the Prophet declared that the Relief Society was to receive instruction and direction from the priesthood leaders who presided over their activities. Like the quorums of priesthood holders in the Church, the Relief Society was to be self-governing, but it was not to be an independent organization. It was an integral part of the Church, not a separate church for women.

President Joseph Fielding Smith explained: “While the sisters have not been given the Priesthood, … that does not mean that the Lord has not given unto them authority. Authority and Priesthood are two different things. A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church that are binding and absolutely necessary for our salvation, such as the work that our sisters do in the House of the Lord.” (Relief Society Magazine, Jan. 1959, p. 4.)

No priesthood keys were delivered to the Relief Society. Keys are conferred on individuals, not organizations. The same is true of priesthood authority and of the related authority exercised under priesthood direction. Organizations may channel the exercise of such authority, but they do not embody it. Thus, the priesthood keys were delivered to the members of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles, not to any organizations. (See Topical Guide, “Priesthood, keys of.”)

Under the priesthood authority of the bishop, the president of a ward Relief Society presides over and directs the activities of the Relief Society in the ward. A stake Relief Society president presides and exercises authority over the function to which she has been called. The same is true for the other auxiliaries. Similarly, women called as missionaries are set apart to go forth with authority to teach the everlasting gospel, and women called to work in a temple are given authority for the sacred functions to which they have been called. All function under the direction of the priesthood leader who has been given the priesthood keys to direct those who labor in his area of responsibility.

In considering the Prophet’s instructions to the first Relief Society, we should remember that in those earliest days in Church history more revelation was to come. Thus, when he spoke to the sisters about the appropriateness of their laying on hands to bless one another, the Prophet cautioned “that the time had not been before that these things could be in their proper order—that the Church is not now organized in its proper order, and cannot be until the Temple is completed.” (Minutes, 28 Apr. 1842, p. 36.) During the century that followed, as temples became accessible to most members, “proper order” required that these and other sacred practices be confined within those temples.

Some leaders at various levels of the Church have neglected to apply these basic principles. Some have failed to have the regular consultation with auxiliary leaders that is specified in our Church handbooks of instruction. President Spencer W. Kimball taught the governing principle to the priesthood leaders of the Church when he said: “Our sisters do not wish to be indulged or to be treated condescendingly; they desire to be respected and revered as our sisters and our equals. I mention all these things, my brethren, not because the doctrines or the teachings of the Church regarding women are in any doubt, but because in some situations our behavior is of doubtful quality.” (Ensign, Nov. 1979, p. 49.)

Hypothetical Situation: What if there were a book called something like “Recent Discourses on Priesthood”?

If a book were to be published containing discourses on priesthood from the past ten years of General Conference and BYU addresses, what would be included?

My first thought is that they would mostly be Sister Beck and Dallin H. Oaks! Here are the talks that come to mind:

Elder Oaks (2005): Priesthood Authority in the Family and the Church: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/priesthood-authority-in-the-family-and-the-church?lang=eng

Elder Oaks (2014): The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2014/04/the-keys-and-authority-of-the-priesthood?lang=eng

Elder Oaks (2010): Two Lines of Communication: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/two-lines-of-communication?lang=eng

Sister Beck (2012): Why We Are Organized into Quorums and Relief Societies: https://speeches.byu.edu/talks/julie-b-beck_why-we-are-organized-into-quorums-and-relief-societies/

Sister Beck (2012): Opening Session of BYU’s Women’s Conference: http://ce1.byu.edu/cw/womensconference/pdf/archive/2011/JulieB_openingS.pdf

Sister Beck (2010): Our Spiritual Gifts and Connection to the Priesthood – Episode 7: https://www.mormonchannel.org/listen/series/relief-society-audio/our-spiritual-gifts-and-connection-to-the-priesthood-episode-7

What else comes to your mind?

Priesthood session!

Elder Oaks! Elder Oaks! I was so grateful for Elder Oaks’ talk. It covered some of the very things I’ve been writing about and asking about. I kept thinking, “I knew it!” 🙂 I can’t wait to think more about it!

A grand question! (From Elder Oaks’s talk on Priesthood in the Home)

There’s a lot of  that talk that really interests me. Right now I’m struck by this part:

“No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge” (D&C 121:41–42).

When priesthood authority is exercised in that way in the patriarchal family, we achieve the “full partnership” President Kimball taught.

So what is it about exercising Priesthood in charity that then allows for a full partnership?

That, is a great question! I like it.

What is it about not having charity that disallows the possibility of a woman having a full partnership?

And again, how is it that when the Priesthood is exercised with charity it allows for that equality, even if the woman and man are not equal in a list of qualities or duties or whatever else? How does it bring her into partnership?

That is a grand question!