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Dallin H. Oaks
First Counselor in the First Presidency
First Counselor in the First Presidency


I’d like to offer some advice to you who are young. Don’t be part of the worldly attitude described in the characterization of your generation as the “me generation,” interested only in “what’s in it for me.” Always be willing to cooperate and even sacrifice in cooperative efforts for the benefit of the larger community.

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On Christmas morning, 23 of my family members then in Utah (plus six babies—great-grandchildren) provided a 90-minute Christmas program for 1,200 missionaries in the Provo Missionary Training Center. This was also broadcast to the other 14 MTCs worldwide. This was a joy for all of us.

Each day, we put on clean clothes. But by day’s end our clothes are soiled by mortal exertions. So it is true for each of us spiritually.

By Saturday, every one of us needs to be washed and cleaned. When we are soiled by sin, we cannot have the Spirit’s companionship. I don’t think that one unkind act drives the Spirit away all week, but it turns down the volume a little. By Saturday night we all need to be cleansed spiritually, and this happens on the Sabbath.

We confess our sins to the Lord and those we’ve wronged, and if serious, we speak with our priesthood leaders. When that is fulfilled, we partake of the sacrament and make a new commitment. Then we have the promise that we will always have His Spirit to be with us.

We all need the cleansing that comes from partaking of the sacrament on the Sabbath day.

As a servant of Jesus Christ, I testify that He knows you and loves you. He stands at the door and knocks. If we open the door, He will come in and dwell with us. The way to peace and happiness in this life and eternal life in the life to come is to stay on the path of growth that ultimately will return us to our eternal destiny.

At general conference, I shared and urged all to do the three things every member can do to help share the gospel, regardless of the circumstances in which they live and work.

First, we can all pray for desire to help with this vital part of the work of salvation. All efforts begin with desire.

Second, we can keep the commandments ourselves. Faithful, obedient members are the most persuasive witnesses of the truth and value of the restored gospel. Even more important, faithful members will always have His Spirit to be with them to guide them as they seek to participate in the great work of sharing the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

Third, we can pray for inspiration on what we can do in our individual circumstances to share the gospel with others. This is different than praying for the missionaries or praying for what others can do. We should pray for what we can do, personally.

Young people reading this message have a fascination and expertise with social media that gives you unique opportunities to reach out to interest others in the gospel.

Describing the Savior’s appearance to the Nephites, Mormon writes, “He did teach and minister unto the children … and he did loose their tongues … that they could utter” (3 Nephi 26:14).

Today I suppose we would say “loose their [text thumbs] that they could utter.” Go to it, youth!

As an Apostle of the Lord, I urge every member and family in the Church to pray for the Lord to help them find persons prepared to receive the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. #LDSconf

In my life, I’ve done a lot of reading—books, newspapers, professional magazines, and scriptures. For a long time, I read them all the same. But when I was about 50, I learned a lesson that has shaped my life.

My mother taught me not to eat without asking a blessing on my food. One day I said to myself, “I pray before physical nourishment. Shouldn’t I pray before taking the spiritual nourishment I seek when I read the scriptures?” Since then, I have learned to never read the scriptures without praying first.

I ask the Lord to illuminate my mind and my heart. I ask Him to teach me what He wants me to know to guide me. I believe there is great wisdom in the principle of reading the scriptures and seeking revelation.

I received a letter from a woman studying at Harvard University. I was impressed with its content.

She said, “I am only 26 and I have felt the trial of singleness overtake me.”

After sharing more in her letter, she concluded: “I was walking home from work one afternoon one year ago, pouring my heart out to God, telling Him my deepest desire was to be a wife and mother. I was stopped in my tracks as a powerful thought and feeling came into my heart and mind. The thought was that I was wrong. The deepest desire of my heart should be discipleship of Jesus Christ and then the second can be to be a wife and mother. My outlook on life has changed since then. I had them switched around. I know all the blessings promised will be mine, but this will happen in the Lord’s time and not mine.” What a powerful thought!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught, “Since faith in the timing of the Lord may be tried, let us learn to say not only, ‘Thy will be done,’ but patiently also, ‘Thy timing be done.’” We may say, “Thy will be done,” but when your heart is aching—perhaps you’re not yet married and you desire to be—it would be wise to also say, “Thy timing be done.” Ask the Lord for continued revelation to guide your life.

The Lord has His own timetable for His children. In life’s experiences, including marriage, parenthood, and many other things, each timetable will be different. We must have faith and trust in the Lord to know that He is there and that He loves us. All promised blessings will one day be yours.

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Religious freedom is a lifelong interest of mine. My first publication as a young law professor at the University of Chicago 53 years ago was an edited book on the relationship between church and state in the United States.

Today, much more than then, none of us can ignore the importance of religion globally—in politics, conflict resolution, economic development, humanitarian relief, and more. Eighty-four percent of the world’s population identifies with a particular religion, yet 77 percent of the world’s inhabitants live in countries with high or very high restrictions on religious freedom. Understanding religion and its relationship to global concerns and to governments is essential to seeking to improve the world in which we live.

This month, I met with members of the UK Parliament and advisers and also spoke on religious freedom at Oxford University. That audience included many who are not members of the Church. However, we agree that religious teachings and the religiously motivated actions of believers are essential to a free and prosperous society and continue to deserve special legal protections.

May we each do our part to understand and protect our right to religious freedom.
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In April I visited Mexico City and met with the Aragon and Vergel Stakes, the Mexico City East Mission, the Mexico City East YSAs, and the Mexico City Temple workers. I felt impressed that the Saints in Mexico are a chosen people and that the Lord loves them and expects great things of them.

One message I shared was that the level of our faith is not flat like the top of a table. It is like a wave—it has its ups and downs. When you’re in the downs, remember the ups and know that things will get better if you stay steady in your course.

Elder Jeffrey R. Holland taught: “In moments of fear or doubt or troubling times, hold the ground you have already won, even if that ground is limited. … Hold fast to what you already know and stand strong until additional knowledge comes.”
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I am thankful for the opportunity I had to speak in #LDSconf. As I mentioned in my address, all of us experience oppositions that test us. Some of these tests are temptations to sin. Some are mortal challenges apart from personal sin. Some are very great. Some are minor. Some are continuous, and some are mere episodes. None of us is exempt.

Opposition permits us to grow toward what our Heavenly Father would have us become. Through all mortal opposition we have God’s assurance that He will “consecrate [our] afflictions for [our] gain” (2 Nephi 2:2). We have also been taught to understand our mortal experiences and His commandments in the context of His great plan of salvation, which tells us the purpose of life and gives us the assurance of a Savior.

I testify our Savior is the Lord Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Eternal Father, whose atoning sacrifice—whose suffering—pays the price for our sins if we will repent of them.
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