18 September 2014

High Council Speakers

I wish I had a much larger audience because I'd like to invite all the members who complain about high council speakers to come spend a year in our little twig branch. I live for the coming of high council speakers: they are intelligent, articulate, doctrinally sound, engaging speakers; and usually the best we have all month.

The rest of the time we mostly listen to drivel, preceded by a lengthy explanation about how somebody in the branch presidency called them and what they asked them to speak about, and how they couldn't come up with anything to say (so sit down already!), and how last night they finally got some inspiration (are you sure it was from the right source?) and then they proceed to read a few quotes from a General Conference talk, interspersed with rambling personal commentary. Many times their reading is difficult to understand because of their illiteracy. One brother prefaced his talk saying "I don't know anything about the Atonement. Now if I'd been asked to speak about NASCAR or football I could talk for two or three hours." A sister, convert of just over a year, gave a talk lifted from some protestant preacher about the infallibility of the bible. I was speechless! And the one counselor in the branch presidency didn't correct her or offer any scriptures or instructions to counter her false teachings. One sister spoke for forty minutes and said absolutely NOTHING. She rambled on about her family, her journey to this branch, her gratitude for everything under the sun, her trials, etc. But there were no gospel teachings, no doctrine from the scriptures, no lessons learned, just disjointed ramblings.

So, I LOVE high council speakers and get really tired of others making fun of them. Come spend some time in "outer darkness" and I'm sure you'll come to love them too. It's said that hunger is the best sauce--I'm spiritually hungry every week and enjoy the delicious offerings of the HC speakers.


  1. Just as you are speaking in defense of high council speakers, I would like to lovingly speak in defense of the rest of the speakers. We all have different abilities, talents, and strengths. The thing we have in common is that we each have started along a covenant path to our Heavenly Father. We are not all gifted in speech--neither was Moses. Sometimes, we have to look beyond the words to let the spirit teach our hearts and minds. I hope that your spiritual hunger will be met, no matter who is speaking in church.

  2. As a high council speaker I always try to write my talks to be interesting (if maybe overly complex at times). I put a lot of effort into them and know that many of the other high councilors do as well. I always write mine as if it was going to be given in General Conference (although in that case I'd take more time to really polish them). This is in part to provide informative, doctrinally sound talks, but also, particularly in branches or weaker wards to provide an example of what Sacrament meeting talks can and should be like. Yes, everyone has different strengths (although speaking and writing were not mine until I really practiced at them), but many people do not put enough effort into preparation. This does not mean talks have to be eloquent or powerful, some of the best talks I've heard have been simple ones from people without a lot of education but with a lot of faith. This does not mean that our sacrament meeting talks couldn't be better - they could, but different people respond to different kinds of talks.

    I do agree with Kristi though. There is much to be learned from whomever is speaking. A lot of times, I will stop paying attention to what someone is saying and really pay attention to what the Spirit is saying to me. Sometimes eloquence gets in the way of those quiet promptings.

  3. Thanks for your comment, Kristi and Jared. I wrote this post in response to a "funny" meme about falling asleep during high councilmen's talks. I do listen to the spirit and have gained much from several members simple, heartfelt talks and testimonies. The examples I gave were the worst from my four years here. If you have never been in a mid-west ward/branch you will not have experienced what it is like. I've lived and visited all over the US and have never encountered anything like it.
    During our recent Stake Conference the first counselor in the presidency addressed us about improving our personal worthiness, saying that the church will not move forward in this area until we move forward individually. He showed a graph reflecting that for the past 15-16 quarters in all areas of reporting we are flat. He implored us to learn our duty and do it. It was a powerful talk! I've said all along that I believe the members here have never been trained and taught and therefore do things or don't do things out of simple ignorance. As a RS President I've done my best to teach and train the sisters in Visiting Teaching,and growing testimonies, which is what the spirit has directed me to do. Slowly, ever so slowly, attitudes and actions are changing.
    Jared, I'm sure I'd feel blessed to hear your talks! And you're correct that we can get better at whatever we practice.