Tuesday, November 18, 2014

10 Things I Loved about Elder Bednar's YSA Fireside

Here are the 10 things that stood out to me about Elder Bednar's 2-hour Q&A session with the Bay Area YSA. 
Discussion after the list.

The List

  1.  Most of us worry too much.
    1. Many of Elder Bednar's answers included the "don't worry about it" phrase.
  2. Elder Bednar made forts in the dirt of the Oakland Temple construction pits.
    1. He's a local to the bay area, and while his parents were setting up for weddings/activities at the large stake center now adjacent to the temple, young David could be found playing in the dirt.
  3. "There are no jammies".
    1.  Our culturally-induced perspective of eternal families is biased by mortality.  We see "eternal family" as a mom, dad, and a few little kids fresh out of the bath, in clean, good-smelling jammies.  We imagine each family in their own little hut. 
    2. The "welding link" spoken of in D&C refers to the entire family of Adam and Eve.  "There's only one hut."
  4. Deliberate scripture study will always yield meaningful answers.
    1. Twice Elder Bednar issued a "homework assignment" in response to a question.  The tasks were similar as they required reading one of the standard works beginning to end looking for a particular phrase along the way.  e.g. "Search for anything to do with 'waiting upon the Lord' as you read through the New Testament".
  5. Limitations can be a blessing of focus.
    1. Elder Hales told him, "David, when you can't do what you've always done, you get real clear about what matters most."
  6. Quality and motive behind asking.  Elder Bednar prefaced the Q&A section by giving guidelines.  "Nothing is as unimpressive as someone trying to impress everyone."
    1. I couldn't help but wonder what motivated the people in the holy land during the meridian of time to approach the Savior.  Which motives were most noble and pure?
  7. The Brethren are exquisitely aware of the spiritual keys they travel with.  They are led from place to place to use those keys - not to perform the tasks that caused them to travel.
    1. "When I go to the store to get nails for my roof: I'm there to get nails, but I'm not there to get nails." - concluding a story where a man approached him, and he was able to minister in the isles of a hardware store.
    2. "This happens for all 15, all the time, everywhere."
  8. The Brethren teach by the Spirit to the definition outlined in Section 121.
    1. Jet lag requires 1-2 days of recovery for every hour change.  Elder Perry is 92 - try to keep up with him.  "I associate with 14 Captain Moroni's.  These men, not just physically, but spiritually are warriors."
    2. "Imagine what it would be like being in a room with these men - you can say what needs to be said with no concern of how it will be interpreted."
    3.  "When we fail to give needed direction or counsel, it's because we're thinking of ourselves."
    4. "The hallmark of teaching by the Spirit?  You yearn for correction."
    5. "The Savior is both infinitely loving and spiritually demanding."
  9. Consider the beauty and poetry of the Book of Mormon compared to the misspelled, scratched out journal preface written by Joseph three years after completing the translation.
    1. Joseph's own ability to write was incompetent.  He "baught" the journal in his preface.
    2. "Don't be afraid of church history.  Get the context right."
  10. "Have fun.  It's called the Plan of Happiness - we ought to be having fun."
His Apostolic Blessing given during his closing testimony was given thus: "Press forward.  Yearn to be good.  Get a little better each day.  As you do, I invoke the blessing that the assurance from heaven - that your confidence will wax strong.  In a world that grows increasingly dark - you will have ample light.  You will have direction.  Assurance.  Light.  Direction."


Firstly, let me preclude this section by stating that the quotes above are according to my memory, and should not be used as exact quotes from Elder Bednar.  I should also mention that he used an example during the questioning to teach how his instruction changes from audience to audience.  Therefore, it may be implied that what he said to us local YSAs was not intended for the general audience of the church.  Extrapolation of the application of his principles would be the error of the interpreter.

With that disclaimer out of the way, I have to write about the feeling of the room.  There's something incredible about being in the same room as an Apostle.  Last year, Elder Oaks came to visit the YSAs in the Sacramento area.  It was the same feeling then. They're so loving.  So humble.  So sincere.  And they're real people.  That's why I loved the story about playing in the dirt.  Elder Bednar's motive in using a Q&A format was not to sound impressive - not at all.  He knew the source of his answers, and he didn't always answer either - multiple times he would turn to his wife or to the area president, Elder Packer, to answer rather than for he to do so.  He sustained their answers.  He didn't compete for attention.  It was just incredible to be there.  I'll never forget it.

All in all - 15 questions were asked.  After each question, he would follow-up with something like: "now, did my response address your question?  Do you have any further question to clarify?"  Some of the questions were very close to home - very sensitive.  He responded with even greater sensitivity.  You could tell that he was concerned for the soul of each questioner, and that he wanted to buoy them up.  Even when he admonished, he was kind.  That's why I referred to Section 121 for the eighth item above: "reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost, and then showing afterward an increase in love toward him [her] whom thou hast reproved." 

Elder Bednar's fireside made me feel like I was one of the doctors of law found giving audience to the 12-year-old Christ child,
Luke 2:46 (JST) "And it came to pass, after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, and they were hearing him and asking him questions."
As with the Q&A session so long ago, "all that heard" were "astonished at his understanding and answers".  The key to Elder Bednar emulating what the Savior would have done during the fireside was that in both Q&A sessions, the conductor of the meeting was "about [his] Father's business".  What a privilege it was to be there in attendance!

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