More than 250 military chaplains and their spouses who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints heard from general authorities at a multiday training that coincides with October general conference.
Elder D. Todd Christofferson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke about how godliness is both an attribute and a discipline.
“When we enter into a covenant with God, where we exercise our will and agency, then he is free to let flow into our lives a godly power we would not receive otherwise,” he said.
This means that when covenants are made, “general gospel principles become specifically applicable,” Elder Christofferson told the chaplains.
Brother Tad R. Callister, the Sunday School general president, discussed principles of teaching with the chaplains.
“To teach more like the Savior, we must live more like the Savior — so that we have power and authority from God,” Brother Callister said. He reminded the chaplains that inherent in every calling is the right to revelation and that “there are many revelations waiting for you.”
Elder Larry R. Lawrence, a general authority Seventy, spoke about the Prophet Joseph Smith and the pattern of being humble enough to ask sincere questions in prayer.
“Over and over, Joseph Smith asked questions of the Lord, and over and over the Lord answered them,” Elder Lawrence said.
Elder Christoffel Golden, a general authority Seventy, who completed nine months of military service in South Africa as a young man, shared from his own personal experiences.
“Combat can be corrosive to the soul, but it can also be an opportunity to draw closer to God,” Elder Golden said.
He also gave counsel about youths and families, encouraging chaplains serving in interfaith arenas to “be true to yourself and be true to your God” through scripture study, prayer, family home evening, temple attendance and partaking of the sacrament.
Elder Robert S. Wood, an emeritus Seventy and who has been dean of the Center for Naval Warfare Studies at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, spoke to the chaplains about identity and ministry in the modern age.
He taught that when society says, "Be true to yourself," it means, "Follow your passions and appetites," while the scriptures teach that bridling passions and impulses enables people to use their agency to follow the pattern set by the Savior.
“There is nothing in our personal lives that cannot be overcome because of our hope in Jesus Christ,” he said.
Additional training topics included chaplains serving as moral, ethical and spiritual advisors; maintaining theological roots in interfaith ministry; post-intervention tools to help families and friends of suicide victims; the journey of becoming Christlike; chaplains engaging religious leaders, and understanding Isaiah’s prophecies.
The LDS Church began providing centralized endorsement of all civilian chaplains in 2015; it has been endorsing military chaplains since the Spanish-American war. That war had one LDS chaplain, and there were three in World War I and more than 20 in World War II. There are now 94 chaplains serving in the military, as well as 111 who serve in other government and civilian institutions such as health care, public safety, border patrol and prisons.
Emily Christensen is a wife, adoptive mother of six, and LDS chaplain. Her doctorate is in marriage and family therapy. She is the author of "Keeping Kyrie: A True Story of Faith, Family and Foster Care." She blogs at housewifeclass.com.