“They will have All the Power they have Wisdom to Exercise”


Talk I gave in the Winstead Ward of Boise, Idaho on 30 July 2024

I want to direct my remarks today to the Young Women. This was a talk I wish someone would’ve sat down and had with me when I was figuring out what my place in the Church was when I was a 16-year-old new convert. And I want to start by telling a story of an experience I had as a BYU student when I was about 19 years old.

I was in my best friends’ apartment. It was the day of one of the Relief Society general meetings, and I came to ask if anyone wanted to walk with me to go see it at the Marriott Center. We had a couple of young men on our couch (I’m convinced they come standard with the couch) who were waiting for someone to come out for a date. My friend asked if I would turn their television to the Relief Society meeting so they could watch it from home before I left.

As I did so, one of the young men made an unkind and immature remark by saying “Relief Society… isn’t that the meeting where all the women get together and cry?” His friend on the couch thought that was funny. I did not, but recognizing the opportunity for a teaching moment, I did my best to be gentle.

“Those are my leaders you’re talking about. If you wouldn’t talk about the prophet that way, don’t say it about them.”

It was the first of several experiences I’ve had throughout my eighteen years in the Church where I’ve encountered people who think that women don’t play an important role in what we do here. What men do is the “real work” of bringing salvation to others because they have the priesthood and perform the ordinances, and women are just ornaments to that process. I’ve heard men say that the Church could operate without women, but the Church would cease to function without men, going so far as to say that the Church should baptize fewer women because “men who are priesthood holders are where real growth comes from.” That was language I heard on my mission.

Young Women: as you serve in your callings, go on missions, date, and interact with others both inside and outside of the Church, you may encounter people who say these kinds of things to you. This may be one of the challenges you have to overcome as you go forward into your futures, wherever they take you. I want to talk to you today about the power and authority you have to speak and act in God’s name. I want to make sure you understand it, so that if you ever end up in a situation like this, you know the truth of who you are. I want you to be able to walk into every room knowing that God sent you, and never once have to question it, no matter what anyone says.

1 Corinthians 12, Moroni 10, and Doctrine and Covenants 46 all teach about the spiritual gifts of the Holy Ghost that God gives to all people. I’ve created a list I want to review with you briefly, which I invite you to add to in your personal scripture study. Let’s review each of the spiritual gifts the scriptures mention and look for examples of women using them, as a demonstration that God doesn’t withhold divine power from you based on your gender.

  1. Teaching the Word of Wisdom: Emma Smith and her disgust with smoking and chewing tobacco and spitting on the floor in the Newel K. Whitney store during the meetings of the School of the Prophets. This led to D&C 89 and the Word of Wisdom being revealed.
  2. Teaching the Word of Knowledge: the mothers of the Stripling Warriors teaching their children that God would protect them in battle if they kept their faith. (Alma 56:47-48)
  3. Exceedingly great faith: the Lamanite Queen when Ammon calls her people to repentance. It was said of her that she had exceedingly great faith, more than any of the Nephites. (Alma 19:9-10)
  4. To know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the reality of his Atonement: The Samaritan Woman at the well. (John 4:28-29)
  5. To believe on the words of those who know: Sariah being comforted by Lehi. (1 Ne. 5:6)
  6. Healing and the faith to be healed: the woman with the issue of blood, who healed herself through her own faith in Jesus Christ. (Luke 8:48)
  7. Working mighty miracles: Esther when she saves her people from certain destruction.
  8. Prophecy: Deborah when she foretells and ensures the conditions of a military victory in Judges 4-5.
  9. Beholding angels and ministering spirits: Mary, the mother of Christ when she’s told she’s going to be the mother of the Son of God. (Luke 1:28-38)
  10. Tongues and the interpretation of tongues: The women at Pentecost in Acts 2:17-18.
  11. The Differences in Administration, which D&C 46 explains is the ability to know how to adapt in ways that please God, enact his mercy, and meet the needs of people in whatever their present conditions are: Mary and Martha of Bethany (Luke 10:39-42). Note: neither one of them were wrong in how they chose to adapt to the situation of having Jesus Christ stay with them. They each prioritized what was important to them. The only thing wrong was the judgment from Martha that Mary was doing something wrong.
  12. Diversity of operations, which D&C 46 defines as discernment, to recognize the hand of God, and helping others to recognize manifestations of the Spirit: Mary Magdelene being the first one the recognize Jesus Christ after he was risen (John 20:11-17). She and many of the other women told the apostles they had seen angels who told them that Jesus Christ was resurrected. In Luke 24:11, we read of the apostles’ response to them, which was that “their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not.” Note: this is not a new lesson we’re learning together. Just because the apostles rejected the women’s gift of recognizing  manifestations of the Spirit doesn’t mean the manifestation wasn’t real.

This is one of the most important lessons I feel I could teach you from my own experience: there will be times in your life when you will be given sacred information about yourselves, your families, your safety, and your relationships to other people that come directly from God. There will be times when those around you may not believe you in relation to what God says to you because they doubt the power by which you are led. Never let the doubts of others diminish what you know to be true about yourselves.

There will be times when you are in deep trouble and need rescuing from this world and its challenges, from other people, and from yourselves. Never go into those experiences believing you need someone else to save you, that you’ll be left alone and vulnerable if they don’t show up.

Because of the covenants you’ve made the commandments you’ve kept, even when the only commandment you can keep is to repent, you are entitled to powerful manifestations from God in your moments of greatest need. It is your birthright. Every time you call down the powers of heaven in the name of Jesus Christ for yourself or someone you love, you exercise priesthood power. You are authorized and able to bear the power of God in your own right. Your Heavenly Parents would NEVER leave you powerless, comfortless, or hopeless anywhere. No matter who does or doesn’t help you, who is or isn’t there for you, or how alone you think you are, they will always be there.

I testify with everything I have, with all that is in me, that Jesus is the Christ. I testify that the power by which he performed his miracles anciently, the authority to speak and act in the name of God the Father, has been restored again to the earth in our day. We have a church of prophets and apostles, who are fully authorized to act and speak in the name of God. This is what it means when we say the Church is true. I testify we also have a church full of powerful, holy sisters who are equally authorized to participate in the errand of angels with every gift and power God promised to us of old in the words of the prophet Joel:

“I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.” Joel 2:28-29.

I also want to repeat the words of Eliza R. Snow, one of the earliest presidents of the Relief Society when she taught this same lesson to the sisters in her day: “Tell the sisters to go forth and discharge their duties, in humility and faithfulness and the Spirit of God will rest upon them and they will be blest in their labors. Let them seek for wisdom instead of power and they will have all the power they have wisdom to exercise.”

Young Men, I have a challenge for each of you was well. As you study the rights and privileges that come with your priesthood offices, make sure you understand how those scriptures apply not just to you, but to the women in your lives. Make sure you can articulate the power women have to work beside you in the work of salvation. Make sure you are prepared to treat every girl, every young woman, and every Sister in this Church as a powerful, cherished daughter of God. Make sure you understand that women in this Church are every bit as capable of bearing divine power and sacred office as you are. You have much you can learn from them, and you will never be as effective in your priesthood service until you learn that lesson.

In closing, I want to teach you the priesthood language you Young Women need to know and recognize for what it is. It’s the most common phrase we say and hear in the Church—even more than “and then it came to pass.” It’s how we end every prayer, every lesson, every talk, and every testimony we give, and I hope you’ll feel the power in it every time you say it now. It’s the language that matters when it comes to speaking and acting with power and authority from God. It’s the phrase I’m going to use now, not just to end my talk, not because it’s the thing we’ve all been taught to say, but because I am calling down all the powers of heaven to give power and weight to my words. I am calling down the powers of heaven to bless each and every one of you with a deeper knowledge of the power and authority you possess as daughters of God. I leave these words and my testimony with you,

In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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