5 Highlights for “A Framework for Personal Revelation” by Elder Renlund

by | Nov 8, 2022

small airplane on runway

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?

Summary

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.

Final Comment

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.

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12 Comments

  1. Shirlee Willis

    Thank you for your time spent in prayer and pondering. You inspire me to be a better teacher. Here are some lesson helps I’ve found that might be useful.
    https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/video/inspirational-messages/2012-01-011-patterns-of-light-discerning-light?lang=eng

    Personal revelation is the way we know for ourselves the most important truths of our existence: the living reality of God, our Eternal Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ; the truthfulness of the restored gospel; and God’s purpose and direction for us.
    Robert D Hale’s Oct 2007

    In the words of Alma, 5:46
    “Behold, I say unto you [these things] are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days. … And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me … ; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.”

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      These are excellent resources – thank you for sharing them! I especially liked Elder Hale’s quote – I really miss him.

      Reply
  2. Lau

    Thank you so much for Your insights that helped me so much to teach this lesson.. you have been an Inspirations that taught and strengthen me.. keep up the great work you’re doing..
    Bless day!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      I am terrifically glad the lesson notes are useful to you and that you bless me with your wonderful spirit. Take care.

      Reply
  3. Jill

    I appreciate the time you take to carefully go through these talks and formulate important quotes and insights! I usually study and prepare for awhile before I read through your material so I can be guided first by the spirit. But when I read what you have put together it helps give me the flow that I can’t quite pull off. Coming up with great questions is also difficult for me. This talk by Elder Renlund is so full of amazing insights but I have struggled more than usual to narrow it down into a meaningful discussion. When I read through your lesson helps today it came together so beautifully! Your questions are perfect and I had an overwhelming feeling of gratitude for the gift you share with us by preparing these lessons! Thank you!

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      What an amazing, beautiful comment. I was wrought upon by the Spirit repeatedly to create this blog and resource. I argued and resisted. I had no wish to be public or online – yet it has been one of the best journeys of my life! And feedback like yours makes it so worth it. Blessings to you as you teach and testify.

      Reply
  4. Jerie Holley

    Thanks for your willingness to share your insights. Over the course of this past year you have helped me to prepare meaningful discussions for the sisters in my ward. Thanks again.

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      I LOVE great discussions at Church. I am so happy you’re able to facilitate that. May you be strengthened and cheered as you teach.

      Reply
  5. Lisa Jones

    Perfect timing! Thank you for your insight and help with teaching this lesson. I am excited to teach and hope we have a wonderful discussion on personal revelation. Thank you 🙂

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      Lisa, you are so welcome. I hope you and your sisters have a delightful discussion. There is nothing better than an excited teacher – that’s divine.

      Reply
  6. Barbie

    You are a wonderful angel! I have to teach Elder Renlund’s talk Sunday & have been studying and hoping you would also have your thoughts available by then. I checked & there it was! Thank you so much for your inspiration & help in teaching. I appreciate you so much, Barbie

    Reply
    • Shawnie Cannon

      I’m so glad it made it up in time for your lesson. I’m am deeply humbled to be an answer to anyone’s prayers. Of course, you are the angel for seeking out better ways to prepare your lesson. Blessings to you!

      Reply

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