5 Highlights for “A Framework for Personal Revelation” by Elder Renlund
5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions
See also Teaching Helps
Elder Renlund humorously borrows Elder Uchtdorf’s analogy of an airplane and runways. I especially like how he used the runway to symbolize our arena of stewardship – and told us to stay off of other people’s runways. A couple of people came to mind when he said that – people who like to park on my runway – and maybe that happened to you too! Anyway, these are great principles to reinforce with everyone, especially ourselves.
You can find Elder Renlund’s full talk here. Unless you opt to spend a lot of time on a particular quote, try to pick around 2 questions per quote. Choose the questions that resonate the most with you and make a meaningful discussion for your group of personalities. These highlights and questions fit right in with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.
All blue quotes by Dale G. Renlund (unless otherwise noted).
Possible Quote Sequence
- You may or may not have time to cover all of these quotes. I would do 1, 2, 3, 5, and 4 – in that order.
Quote #1 (scriptures)
I LOVE scriptures. The most significant discovery in the scriptures is yourself. I’m convinced the scriptures are intentionally arranged to spiral each of us upwards on a progressive journey to a phenomenal, empowered version of ourselves.
“The scriptures form the first element of this framework for personal revelation. Feasting on the words of Christ, as found in the scriptures, stimulates personal revelation. Elder Robert D. Hales said: “When we want to speak to God, we pray. And when we want Him to speak to us, we search the scriptures.”
One thing I would like to stress here – you know all those people at Church through the years who teach you’re supposed to wait on your knees for the answer to your prayers? Nope…that’s a well-meaning cultural teaching (absolutely not doctrine) that convinces many people they are not good at getting personal revelation because the answer doesn’t come to them while on their knees.
It is a great service and kindness to straighten that one out! Personal revelation usually comes from service, other people, and the scriptures. But regardless of how it comes – it does come. Consider Elder Uchtdorf:
“We have our Heavenly Father’s assurance that He will hear and answer our prayers. The answer may come through the voice and wisdom of trusted friends and family, the scriptures, and the words of prophets.
“President Spencer W. Kimball taught this concept when he said: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.”
“Often, the answer to our prayer does not come while we’re on our knees but while we’re on our feet serving the Lord and serving those around us. Selfless acts of service and consecration refine our spirits, remove the scales from our spiritual eyes, and open the windows of heaven. By becoming the answer to someone’s prayer, we often find the answer to our own.” (Waiting on the Road to Damascus – April 2011)
Another great talk about personal revelation is Elder Bednar and The Spirit of Revelation – April 2011
Possible activity: Assign ahead of time, 2-3 people to share one of their favorite SHORT scripture references (a verse or two) and explain why it is their favorite. Allow others to raise their hands and contribute their own examples if they want to.
Possible discussion questions: Have you ever had a sudden piece of light and understanding come to you as you read the scriptures? What was it like? What is one of your favorite verses from the scriptures, and why? Have your prayers ever been unexpectedly answered by someone else? Prayer changes things – do you believe that?
Quote #2 (right runway)
So much I could say here – we’ve all had experiences with overbearing, well-meaning people who are simply out of their business and stewardship. I love the runway visual.
A second element of the framework is that we receive personal revelation only within our purview and not within the prerogative of others. In other words, we take off and land in our appointed runway.
Years ago, I received a phone call from an individual who had been arrested for trespassing. He told me it had been revealed to him that additional scripture was buried under the ground floor of a building he tried to enter. He claimed that once he obtained the additional scripture, he knew he would receive the gift of translation, bring forth new scripture, and shape the doctrine and direction of the Church. I told him that he was mistaken, and he implored me to pray about it. I told him I would not. He became verbally abusive and ended the phone call.
I did not need to pray about this request for one simple but profound reason: only the prophet receives revelation for the Church. It would be “contrary to the economy of God” for others to receive such revelation, which belongs on the prophet’s runway.
Revelation follows the lines of stewardship. Period.
Possible discussion questions: What are some different runways at Church? (prophet, stake president, bishop, Relief Society president, teacher, parent, ourselves, etc.) What can you say when someone claims inspiration or revelation that is not their “runway.” (God’s house is a house of order, revelation follows the lines of stewardship.) Why is it important to stay off of other people’s runways?
Quote #3 (harmony)
I love this example!
A third element of the framework is that personal revelation will be in harmony with the commandments of God and the covenants we have made with Him. Consider a prayer that goes something like this: “Heavenly Father, Church services are boring. May I worship Thee on the Sabbath in the mountains or on the beach? May I be excused from going to church and partaking of the sacrament but still have the promised blessings of keeping the Sabbath day holy?” In response to such a prayer, we can anticipate God’s response: “My child, I have already revealed my will regarding the Sabbath day.”
When we ask for revelation about something for which God has already given clear direction, we open ourselves up to misinterpreting our feelings and hearing what we want to hear.
That last sentence is an important warning and a repeating pattern we see around us.
Possible Questions: Why is it important to study the gospel, read the scriptures, attend General Conference, etc.? (So we understand what has already been revealed – so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel) Why is this an essential guide to receiving revelation? (It can help us avoid a painful learning curve about mistaken revelation.)
Quote #4 (beyond the mark)
We love the Jewish people. They played an essential part in our world’s spiritual development and history. They are prophesied to play important roles as the Savior comes again. However, as a general population, they couldn’t recognize or accept the Savior when he came to earth. They were so caught up in technical details and minutia that they completely missed the most enormous, relevant event right in front of them.
Perhaps, we do that sometimes too? We get so caught up in tedious details of imperfect humans and imperfect mortal life – that we miss the most significant point of our religion. Jesus Christ! Do you sometimes overlook Him as the Jews did?
“…the Book of Mormon prophet Jacob taught: “Seek not to counsel the Lord, but to take counsel from his hand. For … he counseleth in wisdom.” Jacob cautioned that unfortunate things happen when we ask for things we should not. He foretold that the people in Jerusalem would seek “for things that they could not understand,” look “beyond the mark,” and completely overlook the Savior of the world. They stumbled because they asked for things they would not and could not understand.”
Possible discussion questions: Do we always know which blessings and miracles are best for us? Have you ever had your prayers answered in a way you didn’t expect? Do we sometimes ask for things we might not be ready for? In what ways might we “look beyond the mark”? Talking just about ourselves, is it possible to come to Church and overlook the Savior? How does one overlook the Savior in everyday life?
Quote #5 (line upon line)
Hopefully, we are always open to greater knowledge and understanding. No one has reached their final destination in the Gospel; there is always another door to open and another horizon of spiritual experience to conquer.
Even as we trust God’s prior answers, we need to be open to further personal revelation. After all, few of life’s destinations are reached via a nonstop flight. We should recognize that personal revelation may be received “line upon line” and “precept upon precept,” that revealed direction can be and frequently is incremental.
Each person’s combination and sequencing of “line upon line” and “precept upon precept” is unique. Each of us understands a piece or two of the gospel better than just about anyone else. There are parts of the gospel, we have vibrant testimonies of. Yet, someone else struggles with those same precepts and vice versa. We need respect, patience, and kindness for the gospel learning curves of others. We’re all different and don’t learn things in the same order.
Possible discussion questions: How do we learn the gospel? (line upon line) What do line upon line and precept upon precept mean? How does your understanding of the gospel today compare to 10 years ago…5 years ago…or even a year ago? What is one of the most crucial gospel truths you’ve struggled to understand and eventually conquered? What does it feel like to learn something new in the gospel?
Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Renlund’s talk. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.
Well! I’m so glad you persevered until Elder Renlund’s Conference highlights were posted. It took me a while to work through his talk. Have faith in what you feel drawn to teach. You were assigned this lesson for a reason. Your unique insights and understanding are a strength to your group of Saints. Blessings to you as you teach.
Put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you. If you would like tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.“