Thirty-three years ago, I entered the MTC and began formal preparation for my missionary service. Five weeks later I flew to Tallahassee, Florida and was greeted by President LeGrand R. Curtis and his two assistants. My first area was Atlantic Beach, Florida, where I had to adjust to watching the sun RISE out of the ocean after twenty-one years of watching it SET into the ocean off the coast of San Diego, California. But that is beside the point.
President Curtis taught us, among many other things, that the Prophet and Apostles rarely use the phrase "Thus saith the Lord" in General Conference to command us to do things or refrain from things. Rather, he taught, they use words like we suggest, we encourage, it would be wise to, etc. President Curtis would explain that those who have ears to hear would hear and obey, those who were spiritually immature wouldn't.
The March 2012 Ensign arrived yesterday in the mailbox and I was astonished, and excited, to read an article titled "Follow the Prophet" by Elder Randall K. Bennett, of the Seventy. He tells the story of his engagement and the ring, which he and his fiance sold back so they could be obedient to the prophet about getting started with food storage. It's a great story, but what impressed me the most was this paragraph:
"We also learned that living prophets typically invite us to do things; they don't often use words like command or exhort. Their way is kind and gentle, but that doesn't give us an excuse not to follow. When Shelley [his wife] and I have taken invitations as commandments, we have always been blessed.
"We have also learned to discern their direction by listening for such phrases as "I've been pondering . . ." or "Something that has been on my mind is . . ." or "I feel to tell you . . ." or "Let me offer some counsel about . . ." or "It would be my hope that . . ." These and similar phrases are clues to help us know what is on the minds and in the hearts of the Lord's anointed servants."
(Ensign, March 2012, page 21)
I feel joy and satisfaction when something I have known, believed and followed is taught again in a very public place. It is confirmation that I am on the right track.
As we prepare for General Conference in about six weeks, we can prepare our heart and minds to listen, accept and then act upon the gentle invitations of the Brethren.