Mormons are big on councils. It’s inherent in our system of presidencies ( a president or bishop with two councilors), its part of our notion of marriage, and it has doctrinal aspects too as a tool for receiving revelation (wherever two or three are gathered in my name . . .).

We are also big on counsel from the prophets. But the counsel isn’t a council. General Conference is not two way. Nothing wrong with that.

So I was surprised to read a conference talk from Joseph Fielding Smith where he said differently.

He urged the Saints’ to listen to the prophets but then went on to say:

All of our Church conferences are occasions to teach one another the doctrines of the gospel; to testify of the truth and divinity of those things which have come to us by the opening of the heavens; and to counsel together, and with the Lord, as to the things we should all do to fill the full measure of our creation.

I’ve been thinking that over. General Conference is only a few weeks away. I want to approach it with the right mindset.

How to make counsel into council? I’ve had a few thoughts. Rather than listening passively, it seems to me, it helps if one comes with specific agenda items in mind. Which is more likely if one has an active prayer life. It may be peculiar, but I get more out of conference when I–for lack of a better phrase–talk back to the speakers. Brother So-and-so, isn’t that a little exaggerated? Brother XYZ, where are you going with this story? When I do, I often get more out of the later portions of the talks. Finally, I would suggest making the prophetic counsel an occasion for councilling with wife and children, or in church councils.

Your thoughts?

I should mention that President Smith goes on to say a great many unrelated things of value. There was some raw meat for Dr. Charlton–“And there is no cure for the ills of the world except the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ”–and some pretty strong promises about the blessings to come.

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