PROVO — Service can counteract today's amorality and corroding individualism, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints told thousands of women concluding their two-day Women's Conference Friday.
Service and instruction were the two highlights lauded by women gathered in the Marriott Center on the BYU campus for the concluding session. More than 14,000 women from many countries around the world attended the two-day conference.
"All the sessions I have attended have been really good and they all have said something I needed to hear," said Keri Carter, Lehi. "I loved all the service activities, too. I love the fact that I could do service as I listened to classes."
Thirty-four years after the first Women's Conference was held while he was president of BYU, Elder Oaks and his wife, Kristen, spoke.
Elder Oaks spoke of the importance of this year's conference theme, "Choose ye this day to serve the Lord."
"Service is the antidote for the amorality and individualism that corrodes our society," he said. "When we are centered on Christ and service to our fellowmen, we have a standard of right and wrong and we know what to do about it."
Service is an imperative for true followers of Jesus Christ, he said, and whether the service is to God or to one's fellowmen, it is the same.
"The highest and best reason for service is the love of God and the love of our fellowmen," he said. "Service motivated by love is unconcerned with self and heedless of personal advantage."
Elder Oaks spoke of the many reasons why people serve and the importance of forgetting oneself in the service of others.
"A baby or a little child is initially focused entirely on his or her own needs," he said. "This is not evil; it is just childish. As we grow older, if we develop the maturity that is expected in adults, we reach out with concern for others, and ultimately we serve others. This is the way we grow to become what our Heavenly Father desires us to become."
Without service to others, Elder Oaks said, one's spiritual growth will be stunted.
He spoke of the importance of service in church callings, families and other responsibilities that involve others. He said that it is most important to focus on the needs of others, rather than one's own inadequacies or weakness.
"Never forget — even for an instant, whom you serve, and who is in charge," he said. "Trust in the Lord. Trust in his gospel. Trust in his commandments. And trust in his promises."
Sister Oaks spoke of the importance of becoming "doers of the word," rather than just "hearers."
"Life is so much like a garden — we harvest the consequences of the small choices we make every day," she said. "In reality, there is no act separate. It is indelibly connected to other acts, and when we rise in the resurrection we will be a product of our choices."
Sister Oaks spoke of the need for an increase of the spirit to avoid distractions of the world.
"As women, we set very high expectations for ourselves," she said. "At times we may feel mired down by personal inadequacies, both real and imagined, sometimes counting calories more than counting blessings, worried more about self than service, often too overscheduled to really listen to those around us and caught in the thick of very thin things."
Distractions and afflictions come to all, she said, but one's happiness and salvation hinges on one's ability to choose to trust in the Lord.
"The time has come for us to embrace every facet of this gospel and the teachings of our Savior with all our heart, mind and might, and to experience the power of his love and implore him to work his purposes through us."
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