The weekly speakers delivered another year’s worth of inspiring speeches in 2017. Devotional speakers shared near-death experiences and personal stories of loss, fear, and renewed faith. Hundreds of thousands read their words and resonated with their counsel. Below are excerpts from and links to the 10 most-viewed speeches given in 2017.
10) Douglas D. Holmes, “The Doctrine of Christ: Our Daily Walk,” January 17
“The Lord describes His course as “one eternal round,” but I don’t think He intends for us to just go around in circles. I have found it helpful to visualize this journey not as a linear path but as a continuing upward cycle—a spiral staircase, if you will. This image came to me most clearly when I first saw the spiral staircase in the Nauvoo Temple. This image gives me hope and perspective that I can make the journey to come unto Christ by diligently and repeatedly applying His doctrine in my life. Step by step and degree by degree I can continue in the course of the Lord—His eternal round—and His grace can carry me upward.”
9) Cassy Budd, “On Failing and Finishing,” February 14
“Artists who practice the Japanese art form kintsugi repair broken pottery by filling the cracks with a lacquer made from gold, silver, or platinum, restoring the damaged piece to something beautiful and whole. Kintsugi teaches that scars are not something to hide; rather, they are to be celebrated for the unique beauty they exhibit. The scars themselves are considered precious and therefore are mended with precious metals to honor their value. The finished piece is even more beautiful than the unbroken original.
“Similarly, we honor the scars of our Savior, for He has graven us on the palms of His hands (see Isaiah 49:16). He is not ashamed of His scars. On the contrary, He has given us this invitation:
“Arise and come forth . . . that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am . . . the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world. [3 Nephi 11:14]
“When we turn our broken pieces over to the Savior, our gaps are filled with Him—with His perfection—and we are made complete; we are finished by the Great Creator through the restorative power of ‘the author and finisher of our faith’ (Hebrews 12:2). We come to know the Savior not just by recognizing and reverencing His scars but by recognizing and reverencing our own. We are bound to the Savior through our mutual scars, ‘and with His stripes we are healed’ (Isaiah 53:5; see also verse 4).”
8) McKay Christensen, “‘Lay Hold upon the Word’: The Power of Wholehearted Living,” May 9
“I imagine some of you question whether you can endure at times. Can you recover from a spiritual injury or from sin? Can you persevere despite challenges? Maybe you have felt like giving up at times here at school. If so, please know you can lay hold upon words that will lift and save you. . . .
“I believe that Heavenly Father loves to bless us through His word. I suspect we only lay hold of a fraction of the word that He sends to bless our lives. I imagine He prepares the word like wrapped gifts for us, places them within our reach, and waits for us to lay hold upon them. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don’t. Perhaps this is why Moroni beckoned us to ‘come unto Christ, and lay hold upon every good gift’ (Moroni 10:30). And perhaps this is why Alma said the word of God is ‘liberal unto all’ (Alma 6:5).
“If Heavenly Father sends His word to us liberally, then why don’t we lay hold upon it more frequently?”
7) M. Russell Ballard, “Questions and Answers,” November 14
“Question: What message do you have for LGBT young single adults?
“I want anyone who is a member of the Church who is gay or lesbian to know I believe you have a place in the kingdom and I recognize that sometimes it may be difficult for you to see where you fit in the Lord’s Church, but you do.
“We need to listen to and understand what our LGBT brothers and sisters are feeling and experiencing. Certainly we must do better than we have done in the past so that all members feel they have a spiritual home where their brothers and sisters love them and where they have a place to worship and serve the Lord.”
6) Craig Manning, “The Power of Your Words,” January 31
“One such law is the law of occupied space. This law states that an object can only occupy one place at a time. As it applies to the mind, both faith and fear, self-belief and self-doubt, or simply positive and negative thoughts cannot occupy the mind at the same time. . . .
“I love this law and have received tremendous blessings from learning how to apply it. When I was a student at BYU, I realized that I needed to think more positively. I started working on this, and every time I caught myself thinking or talking to myself in negative, reactive ways, saying, ‘Your backhand stinks’ or ‘Don’t miss that backhand,’ I would stop that thought and immediately replace it with thoughts such as ‘I love my backhand’ or ‘I am going to rip it down the line.’ And instead of saying to myself, ‘School is tough; BYU is too hard for me,’ I started telling myself, ‘I’ve got this; I can get good grades.’ At some point I realized that I would always say to myself, ‘Don’t forget this’ or ‘You’d better not forget this for the exam,’ so one of my favorite phrases became ‘I will remember this.’
“It took some time, but everything started to change. I was playing amazing tennis (at least for me), and I was studying half the time and getting better grades—a lot better. More important, there was no more fear.”
5) Quentin L. Cook, “A Banquet of Consequences: The Cumulative Result of All Choices,” February 7
“I had a provocative meeting with an internationally recognized advertising expert a few months ago. He is an unusually gifted and creative thinker. We were discussing the influence of evil and the consequences of bad choices.
“He envisioned an interesting hypothetical account of the adversary (Lucifer) meeting with an advertising agency. The adversary described his dilemma: He and his followers had rebelled and rejected the Father’s plan and had come to understand they could not prevail against God. Lucifer understood that while the Father’s plan was about joy and happiness, his own plan was resulting in grief and misery. The problem, Lucifer explained to the ad executive, was how to attract followers.
“After contemplating this problem, it was determined that Lucifer’s only hope of success was to achieve a paradigm shift or values inversion—in other words, to characterize the Father’s plan as resulting in grief and misery and Lucifer’s plan as resulting in joy and happiness.
“While this contemplated meeting with an advertising agency is hypothetical, it serves a useful purpose. The truth is, not only do the enemies of Father’s plan attempt to undermine the doctrine and principles of the plan, but they also attempt to mischaracterize the blessings that flow from the plan. Their basic effort is to make that which is good, righteous, and joyful seem utterly miserable.”
4) Kevin J Worthen, “Fear Not,” September 12
“It is this false-evidence-appearing-real type of fear that Satan seeks to induce in us and that the Lord commands us to avoid. It is a kind of fear that is debilitating, sometimes paralyzing, and almost always soul- and energy-sapping.
“For some, this kind of fear takes the form of thoughts that you are not good enough to succeed here at BYU; for others, it takes the form of thoughts that you do not belong here because you are different from those around you. For some, it is a fear that you will never find an eternal companion; for others, it is a fear that the future appears so ominous and dangerous that marriage and a family seem too risky. And, for far too many, this fear comes in the form of the false belief that you are not acceptable to God, that you are so flawed because of past mistakes or current inadequacies that you are beyond the reach of the refining and redeeming power of Jesus Christ.
“When any of these false thoughts appears to be real to you, when such satanic lies cause you to lose hope in the future and maybe even in the present, please remember that God has repeatedly commanded us to ‘fear not.’ That commandment falls clearly within the ambit of Nephi’s well-known and eternally true observation that ‘the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them’ (1 Nephi 3:7).”
3) Erin Kramer Holmes, “Waiting upon the Lord: The Antidote to Uncertainty,” April 4
“About two and a half years ago, after many years of hoping another child would come to our family, my husband and I discovered we were pregnant. Even our children had been hoping we would have another baby. They had been praying in family prayer for a new brother or sister, and my son told me he had dreamt of a new baby coming to our family. Because of their prayers, we told our children about the pregnancy right away, thinking it would reaffirm their faith and shore up their testimonies.
“Unexpectedly, about ten weeks into the pregnancy, we lost that baby. The pregnancy had felt like such a miraculous gift after so many years of waiting; losing that baby felt like God was taking the gift away. . . .
“Sister Neill F. Marriott taught:
“Scripture says, ‘Search diligently, pray always, and be believing, and all things shall work together for your good’ [D&C 90:24]. This doesn’t mean all things are good, but for the meek and faithful, things—both positive and negative—work together for good, and the timing is the Lord’s. We wait on Him, sometimes like Job in his suffering, knowing that God ‘maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole’ [Job 5:18]. A meek heart accepts the trial and the waiting for that time of healing and wholeness to come.
“I am still waiting. In my waiting I have sought God and found Him. His plan for me is unfolding as I take His hand and accept the invitation to become a cocreator with Him. I am trying to choose hope and faith. Sometimes, when I am lost, He finds me.”
2) Eva Witesman, “Women and Education: ‘A Future Only God Could See for You,’” June 27
“If God has directed—even commanded—a woman to pursue her education, who are any of us to turn her away or to add to her burden as she makes her way to the summit God has bid her to climb? If God is preparing the women of His Church to fulfill prophecy—both ancient and modern—about the role of women of the Church in these latter days, we should be celebrating and supporting the women in our lives as they prayerfully seek inspiration and use their agency and intelligence to grow spiritually and serve mightily.
“Latter-day Saint women are courageous, particularly when they have been emboldened by the knowledge that Heavenly Father has a plan for each of us and that He will qualify us to do the work that lies before us. Once we know what God wants us to do, we are fully capable of following the counsel of President Hinckley to ‘sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to . . . train [our] minds and hands to become an influence for good as [we] go forward with [our] lives’ (Gordon B. Hinckley, “First Presidency Message: A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” Ensign, January 2001). We will seek every good gift in the service of our God. All we ask is that others not stand in our way as we pursue the Lord’s errand.”
1) Lynn G. Robbins, “Be 100 Percent Responsible,” August 22
“One of Satan’s most crafty strategies to gain control of our agency isn’t a frontal attack on our agency but a sneaky backdoor assault on responsibility. Without responsibility, every good gift from God could be misused for evil purposes. For example, freedom of speech without responsibility can be used to create and protect pornography. The rights of a woman can be twisted to justify an unnecessary abortion. When the world separates choice from accountability, it leads to anarchy and a war of wills or survival of the fittest. . . .
“. . . Being 100 percent responsible is accepting yourself as the person in control of your life. If others are at fault and need to change before further progress is made, then you are at their mercy and they are in control over the positive outcomes or desired results in your life. Agency and responsibility are inseparably connected. You cannot avoid responsibility without also diminishing agency. Mercy and justice are also inseparable. You cannot deny the Lord’s justice without also impeding His mercy. Oh, how Satan loves to divide complementary principles and laugh at the resulting devastation!”