Every chair in the Ogden Institute building was occupied Sunday evening as students, missionaries and faculty members listened to Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve and his wife, Sister Susan Bednar, speak at a fireside.
During his address, Elder Bednar conducted his remarks in a question-and-answer format, posing questions on topics he felt would most benefit students.
"I love you," he said. "You have been in my mind and heart for many days. Thank you for your preparation. ... If you will attend to the promptings that come from the Holy Ghost ... you will be richly blessed."
First, Elder Bednar posed the question "How do you obtain balance?"
"Somehow, someway, we find that there is this desire for optimum equilibrium where there is this perfect harmony and balance in life," he said. "I have figured out a few things. You can really only do one thing at a time. And, if you are only doing one thing everything else is being neglected. Therefore, can you at any moment ever be in perfect harmony? The answer is no."
Elder Bednar spoke of the importance of prioritizing, and giving one's attention to the things that truly matter most in life — family, occupation or education and Church.
He compared finding balance in life to the example of a Chinese acrobat spinning multiple plates on a stick simultaneously. Just as the acrobat is limited in the number of plates he is able to keep spinning, individuals are limited in what they can do, and need to learn to focus on the most important.
"As you study, as you examine your own life, as you seek inspiration, you will come to know. Many young people are diverted from what is essential because they say yes to so many things that are nice, but not necessary," Elder Bednar said. "When you say no to something that is nice but not necessary, ultimately you are saying yes to something that is essential."
Figuring out how many plates an individual can handle at once is personal, Elder Bednar said. He cautioned individuals about filling their lives with unnecessary things.
Elder Bednar told students to keep their activities appropriate to the stage of life they are in.
"Do your duty," he said. "One of your main duties now is to get into school, take advantage of this opportunity, do it well and get out and get going."
Second, Elder Bednar talked about dating.
"Get rid of the list," he said. "Some of you have kind of a list of characteristics that you are looking for in an eternal companion. … This list is for you and what you need to become. If you are looking for three or four or five things, you become those three or four or five things, and that will be attractive to somebody else that has those three or four or five things."
Elder Bednar said a strong dating relationship is built on the foundation of men honoring their priesthood and women reverencing their womanhood.
Third, Elder Bednar spoke about recognizing the voice of the Spirit and receiving revelation.
"We are not alone," he said. "Revelation is when our Heavenly Father conveys messages to His children here on earth. When God communicates with us as His children — that is revelation. Prayer is when we seek to communicate with Him."
Revelation comes in a variety of ways, Elder Bednar taught. He shared three patterns to revelation. To explain the first pattern, Elder Bednar compared revelation to someone turning on a light in a dark room.
"There are instances where there are sudden strokes of light," he said. "Something beyond yourself, a conclusion, understanding, insight, not a result of simply cognitive, rational processes alone. It is a power and strength beyond our own. Sometimes those come quickly and they bring a tremendous immediate illumination."
Some examples of this pattern include Joseph Smith's experience in the sacred grove and Alma the younger's experience in the Book of Mormon describing him seeing an angel.
"This pattern of revelation is more rare, than common," he said. "Let me say that again. That particular pattern of revelation is more rare than common."
The second pattern of revelation Elder Bednar shared was line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little there a little.
"This pattern or revelation occurs in our life all the time," he said. "Where line upon line, precept upon precept, we receive not immediate illumination, but gradual and subtle illumination by the power of the Holy Ghost."
Elder Bednar used the example of light shining as the sun rises in the morning.
"As we study, as we ponder, as we wrestle … into our mind and into our heart comes through the power of the Holy Ghost increased understanding. This particular pattern of revelation is much more common than rare."
As the sun rises, individuals are able to see the light approaching, and an identifiable moment occurs when the sun has risen. Although these patterns of revelation are powerful, Elder Bednar shared a caution.
"Because the first patterns are emphasized so frequently, I find that many members of the Church — especially young members of the Church — question their own testimony and their own spiritual capacity because they don't seem to be having these overwhelming spiritual experiences that everybody else seems to be talking about in the Church. If you find that you receive many of your answers in the second pattern … you are normal. That particular pattern is more common than rare. You should not question your testimony or your own spiritual capacity."
In the third pattern of revelation Elder Bednar spoke of, there is no specific moment that an individual recognizes revelation.
"It would be something like a cloudy overcast morning … but you none the less have sufficient light to know that it is daytime," he said.
It is through being obedient to the commandments and honoring covenants in daily life daily life that the Spirit can guide individuals.
"You are not a pawn on a chessboard," he said. "You are a son or daughter of God, with moral agency, which is the power and capacity to act and not be acted upon. As you strive to live righteously and exercise your agency in accordance with truth, God doesn't move you, but He will guide you."
There are many instances in life that individuals won't know it in the moment, but later will know that they have been guided to be in a place at a certain time.
The fourth point Elder Bednar taught was the importance of the atonement of Jesus Christ.
"We live in a world that is seemingly confused and chaotic and we have so many things that are pressing on us. How does one deal with all of this?" He asked. "It is the grace of Christ that enables us to do good things and become better than we ever could do or become in our own capacity and strength alone."
Through honoring covenants and keeping the commandments individuals are able to draw upon the blessings of the Atonement.
"Covenants are essential," he said. "They are not merely rituals. They are doorways to the blessings of the Savior's atonement. ... You are never alone. He will always provide that strength. You don't have to be an apostle to have the help of the Holy Ghost."