from Elder Bednar’s October 2011 General Conference Talk

Sister Bednar and I are acquainted with a returned missionary who had dated a special young man for a period of time. She cared for him very much, and she was desirous of making their relationship more serious. She was considering and hoping for engagement and marriage. This relationship was developing during the time that the Church was observing the 75th anniversary of the Church Welfare Program, and the Prophet and Apostles had counseled the members of the Church to “renew and strengthen [their] commitment to act” on behalf of the poor in their communities and around the world.*

The young woman waited patiently over a period of time for the young man to start volunteering at a food bank or homeless shelter, but she noticed he did not even donate to relief efforts in Japan, Thailand, or Myanmar.  This was a valuable piece of information for this young woman, and she felt unsettled about his nonresponsiveness to an apostle’s pleading. For this and other reasons, she ultimately stopped dating the young man, because she was looking for an eternal companion who had the courage to promptly and quietly obey the counsel of the brethren in all things and at all times. The young woman was quick to observe that the young man was not quick to observe.

*Henry B. Eyring, “Opportunities to Do Good,” General Conference April 2011

35 thoughts on “from Elder Bednar’s October 2011 General Conference Talk

  1. 1

    Wonderful! I love this. It shows the contradiction in our approach between serious teachings of the Brethren and the frivolous superficial counsel. Good job.

  2. 2

    I am no prophet, but I fear this returned missionary will find no mate with standards like that.

  3. 3

    Question, did she actively try to get him to donate/serve/volunteer? Did she do these things herself and ask him to come along with her so they could do it together? If so and he refused and just sat back while she did all that herself I can see why she left that relationship. But for her to quietly sit back and wait to see what he does is a little hypocritical and unfair. More of the story would be more helpful.

  4. 4

    Nice satire of the “guy who dated the woman who didn’t remove her extra earings” story he used in an address at BYU.

    Perhaps he felt the original illustrated his point, but it also, both in his version and yours portrays the relationship as one devoid of serious communication.

    Waiting around to find out if someone puts 2 and 2 together the way you do rather than expressing your insights about 2 and 2 (and possibly enlightening him/her) is a sure fire way to poison a relationship.

    Which means that the main character in both stories has also failed to be quick to observe some important principles. So it ends up as story that is inherently flawed.

    Moral for me: analyze my stories carefully before I speak them over the pulpit.

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    Jessica seems to have missed the point, but if Elder Bednar were to actually give that talk, her comment would be spot on. The story would work better if a sexist angle were thrown in–like the Elder’s quorum held a service project (to which she was not invited) and he didn’t show up. (Note that such an angle is present in the talk being skewered.)

  7. 7

    Excellent work.

    When I first heard this, I wondered what the ‘other reasons’ were. Moreover, after Pres. Monson’s talk in Priesthood session (asking the the YM to marry) I wonder whether he would see this as a legitimate reason to postpone marriage.

  8. 8

    Given that women are much more spiritual and focus more firmly on the important things in life and relationships I believe this satire of the infamous “Quick to Observe” talk is dead on. We were reminded just this past weekend of women’s superior abilities to ascertain what is important in seeking a mate.

    Now compare that to the young man who focuses on the superficial appearance of earrings in deciding whether to continue the relationship with the young woman. He was naturally concerned that his future career potential would be stymied by a wife that would look out of place at corporate functions with numerous earrings that drew unnecessary attention. She could be totally clueless to the deeper doctrines of the Kingdom but as long as she looked the part on the outside she was Eternal Mate material.

  9. 9

    Aaron R.

    “after Pres. Monson’s talk in Priesthood session (asking the YM to marry) I wonder whether he would see this as a legitimate reason to postpone marriage.”

    I was in the same meeting and I don’t seem to remember him asking – it was more like commanding.

    If he doesn’t see it as a legitimate reason to postpone marriage wouldn’t he be refuting the counsel given in the “Quick to Observe” talk?

  10. 10

    Clever to use one of the main messages many of us picked up last weekend too.

  11. 11

    But for her to quietly sit back and wait to see what he does is a little hypocritical and unfair.

    I completely agree.

    The story would work better if a sexist angle were thrown in–like the Elder’s quorum held a service project (to which she was not invited) and he didn’t show up.


  12. 12

    Floyd Y., po-tay-to – po-ta-to. I doubt he was commanding people to get married. Firstly, they still have to find someone who will accept; not an easy task for some of the YM I know. Secondly, I think his command, if it was at all, was to be prepared and looking for marriage.

    I guess he might be refuting it; which is why I asked the question. If he is not refuting Bednar then his ‘command’ to get married is pretty hollow. It amounts to “get married now; but only if she responds to every word spoken by a GA. If not then hold out for the special someone”.

  13. 13

    I wonder if the General Authorities are subject to correlation to make sure all their messages are in sync.

  14. 14

    Michael, I don’t know if you remember E. Packer’s talk last conference. The transcript was changed after he delivered the talk because, apparently, others in the Church hierarchy were unhappy with what he said. There is correlation but I do not think it is a simple question and it does not appear that this is conducted formally before the conference.

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    Sister Bednar and I are acquainted with a returned missionary who had dated a special young man for a period of time.

    How awful is it that without the “sister” in-front of “missionary” it took me a moment to figure out that this wasn’t going to be a story about two men dating.

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  19. 19

    The only thing that would make this even better is if the talk were given by Julie B. Beck.

  20. 20

    My wife has like five earrings in one ear. After reading that talk, I’ve decided to divorce her. Thank heavens for divinely inspired counsel!

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    The young woman had always felt that loving your neighbor as yourself was the second greatest commandment. She had always felt that serving others including donating money and her time to the needy. When she heard the prophet and apostles ask church members to help the poor in the world and their own communities more she knew it was inspired counsel.
    She noticed that when the ward passed around a signup sheet for the food bank he didn’t even look at it to see if he could go. When people talked about Japan and the humanitarian fund, she noticed that he said “My tithing is enough” and didn’t seem interested when she was talking about how exciting the church humanitarian work was and how she knew her donations were being used wisely.
    After some time, for this and other reasons she noticed that he just didn’t seem to have the same priorities as her. Not only did he not care about those less fortunate, but she had always thought that being a church member meant give her extra time and talents to the Lord. When thinking about marrying this young man, she imagined that he would not be willing to listen to the Lord and give his money when asked.
    She eventually decided he wasn’t someone she truly respected and she did not continue to date him. She wasn’t in love with him and they’d been dating a while. It couldn’t be a good sign that she often felt bored, irritated or frustrated when they spent time together. It was definitely time to stop dating the guy.
    She was getting along really well with the cute guy in her social work class study group whose comments were always so insightful. He seemed to really have an unselfish love for others that she admired, and they enjoyed each other’s company. She hoped that she might find someone like him to share her life with.

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    You know what I love about this post (aside from the irony) and jks’s comment? It puts the woman in the subject position! How many stories have we read in the YW manual where the YW is preparing and waiting for an RM to snatch her up? I can relate to this kind of story much better! And I don’t feel insulted by it!

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    Mark N.,
    I think the ZD’s are hoping this talk will be picked up by the Powers that Be and be used in Oct. 2011 conference.

  27. 27

    This post is awesome. It acutely illustrates how impossible it is to do *everything* the brethren ask, and what would happen if a major life decision was held in the balance of a jot or tittle not being done.

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  29. 29

    Totally brilliant. If this were Facebook, I would like it a thousand times. If it were possible to do that on Facebook.

  30. 30

    Except this was the sort of thing I was looking for …

    It isn’t exactly the sort of thing you talk directly about either — you want to see what people are like, not how they act when they are trying to impress you.

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  32. 32

    Ever since Bednar gave that talk, I have such a strong association between his name and earrings, that I honestly cannot hear anything else he says. It’s terribly distracting.

  33. 33

    Rachel, are you sure it’s just not because you’re wearing so many earrings that they clang together and drown him out? (I often have that problem myself, when certain specific GAs take the stand.)

  34. 34

    Nope, just empty holes where the earrings used to be. I’m sure anyone looking at my wedding pictures will condemn me for violating the sanctity of the temple by wearing more than one earring in each ear. It doesn’t matter that that was before that counsel had been issued: standards are eternal and immutable, to be applied across time and culture.

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