5 Highlights From 5 Conference Talks – In Memory of Elder Ballard

by | Nov 15, 2023

elderly gentleman in suit and tie

5 Quotes Plus Discussion-Promoting Questions

See also Teaching Helps

In memory of our dear Elder Ballard! Here are five wonderful quotes by Elder Ballard from his last five General Conference talks. This collection makes a great class discussion for your Relief Society and Elders Quorum.

Elder Ballard is precious to me because he is the one who started me on the journey that ended up with this blog and website. He’s the one! He was the first apostle to encourage us to speak out online and commissioned us as individual spokepersons for our faith. Before that, we were supposed to let the Church PR dept. handle online correspondence. The other Brethren followed suit, one by one.

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 with Lesson Template 1 or Template 2. You can also check out several other General Conference Talks with 5 Highlights.

All blue quotes by M. Russell Ballard (unless otherwise noted).

Lesson Prep

  • This lesson is unusual in that you can put the quotes in any order. Pick the ones that are most important to you, and do those first.
  • Please don’t worry if you only get through a couple of quotes. Spiritual discussion is golden; it resonates and teaches more than a lecture covering all points will.
  • If the discussion gets too secular, pull it back to the quotes and a spiritual tone…naturally and with tact.
  • Encourage discussion by accepting all reasonable answers. Validate people for participating and be thankful they spoke up. Engage with the answer in a conversational way whenever it feels natural. Never say, “We haven’t got to that part of the lesson yet.”
  • Roll with it. The Spirit intends for you to be successful.

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Quote #1 (a little)

October 2023

Possible engagement idea: Ask your class to listen for advice about our daily lives.

I marvel, and I’m sure that many of you do too, at how blessed we are to know what we know about our purpose in life, why we are here, what we should be trying to do and accomplish in our daily lives. We’re in the process of trying to prepare ourselves, a day at a time, to be a little better, be a little kinder, be a little more prepared for that day, which will surely come, when we shall pass back into the presence of our Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Possible discussion questions: Was there any helpful advice about our daily lives in this quote? How would you explain our purpose in life to a friend? “…what [should we] be trying to do and accomplish in our daily lives? Does our purpose in life influence you to make different choices or even your daily routines? Why is it important to progress and become better? (accept all reasonable answers – to prepare us for eternal life)

Quote #2 (i know)

April 2023

This is substantial guidance about testimonies.

I’ve seen people use testimonies for a blessing resume and a show of attention for those they “love.” I’ve had my husband tell everyone he loves me from the stand, and yes, that does feel sweet. Nonetheless, even when sincere and humble, our blessings and love relationships are not something everyone can experience or share. Whereas “I know” and “I believe” are relevant to everyone in the room. The purpose of a testimony is to testify and edify.

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. (1 Corinthians 14:26)

23 And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. (Doctrine and Covenants 50:21-23)

edify: enlighten, uplift, improve, teach, open up understanding, deepen concepts, ignite joy

Edify sometimes gets pushed off to the side during “I love” and “thankful for my personal status and good fortune blessings” narratives. Elder Ballard reteaches a long-established spiritual doctrine that helps uplift everyone – speaker and listener.

Possible discussion questions: Why would Elder Ballard prioritize “I know, and I believe” over “I love” and a recitation of blessings? Why is it important to include our experiences with Jesus Christ in our testimonies? Why does a peaceful follower of Christ have more influence than those who are not peaceful? Does our heart sometimes need changing? President Nelson shared who is a true follower of Christ during the same general conference – what were his main points? (accept all reasonable answers)

“The Savior’s message is clear: His true disciples build, lift, encourage, persuade, and inspire—no matter how difficult the situation. True disciples of Jesus Christ are peacemakers.” and “One of the easiest ways to identify a true follower of Jesus Christ is how compassionately that person treats other people.” Russell M. Nelson – April 2023

More possible questions: Do you believe it’s important to live up to your testimony? Why? (Accept all reasonable answers – True followers invoke the Spirit and create light others can see and recognize as goodness and truth. Hypocrisy discredits and repels seekers of truth.)

Quote #3 (pioneers)

October 2022

Brothers and sisters, I testify that as we follow Jesus Christ with footsteps of faith, there is hope. There is hope in the Lord Jesus Christ. There is hope for all in this life. There is hope to overcome our mistakes, our sorrows, our struggles, and our trials and our troubles. There is hope in repentance and being forgiven and in forgiving others. I testify that there is hope and peace in Christ. He can carry us today through difficult times. He did it for the early pioneers, and He will do it now for each one of us.

Possible discussion questions: Have you ever thought of yourself as a pioneer taking the footsteps of faith? How are we pioneers in our time? How would you define “a brightness of hope”?

brightness of hope: It means that hope can produce illuminated individuals who are able to “press forward” even when faced with dark clouds. Light often symbolizes hope because it’s associated with brightness, clarity, and positivity. Just as light can dispel darkness, hope can dispel despair.

More discussion questions: In what ways does hope help us? Has the kindness of others, like a listening ear or a hug, ever helped you feel more hope?

Quote #4 (returned)

April 2022

When you are released from your mission, remember that you are not released from activity in the Church. Build upon the good habits you learned on your mission, continue to strengthen your testimony, work hard, pray, and be obedient to the Lord. Honor the covenants you have made. Continue to bless and serve others.

Hopefully, the mission starts our church life, not the peak. What habits and dedication do we need to bring back?

Possible discussion questions: Do you still practice any habits from your mission? (like companionship prayer and scripture study) Are there any habits from your mission that you miss? What advice would you give someone just returning home from their mission? When can we stop strengthening our testimony? (never)

Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God. (Helaman 3:35)

Quote #5 (true)

October 2021

This quote thrills me. Elder Ballard describes how I understand the gospel – how much love and service we give is also loving God.

As a young adult, I was forever influenced by a statement by the apostle Marvin J. Ashton. He said, “Spirituality is not piety…it’s how many people are glad when you walk into a room.” He also said (and I’m paraphrasing from memory), “True spirituality comes from doing acts of kindness not everyone sees.”

Possible discussion questions: Jesus “went about doing good. (Acts 10:38)” What good things did Christ do? In what ways can we also “do good” like the Savior? Why did Elder Ballard emphasize family, friends, and neighbors and serving each other as a way to love Christ? If we focus on others in the same way as Christ – what does that look like to you?


Summarize class discussion highlights and/or share your testimony and feelings about Elder Ballard’s life and legacy. Thank your class for their excellent contributions and insights.

Final Comment

Thank you for sharing some of Elder Ballard’s legacy. We miss this great apostle. Remember, you were asked to teach and share for a reason. Emphasize what you feel inspired to teach. You have unique insights and a style that benefits members of your class. I’m so glad you took the time to prepare yourself. If you would like some tips on how to feel more confident while teaching – try “9 Tips for More Class Participation.Please put the quotes in any order that makes sense to you.

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  1. Patricia Denny

    Sister Cannon, You are amazing!
    Thank you so much for the help to lead R.S & E.Q lessons, through the incredible general conference talks. Is there a possibility that you could address next the “Hallmarks of Happiness” By Elder Gary B. Sabin on your next one? I would truly appreciate it!

    Thank you for your countless hours of service to help so many of us in our callings to lead discussions, through your gospel insights!


    • Shawnie Cannon

      Thank you! That should be finished by Saturday or Sunday.


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