As I reflect on the general conference talks I have listened to in my life, the list of which is getting pretty long because of my advancing age, there are several that seem to stand out because of the impact they had on me at the time I heard them. My list of such talks is probably different than yours. That is how the Holy Ghost works, calling to our attention those things that we personally need to understand and remember so that we can change our lives and receive additional blessings from our loving Heavenly Father.
The first such general conference talk is one in which it was both something the speaker did as well as something he said that caused me to never forget the talk. In April of 1980, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then the First Counselor in the First Presidency, stood at the pulpit and held up two cards, one in each hand. The first was a bank credit card and President Hinckley explained that its purpose was temporal, to open “the door to financial credit,” which can be useful although not essential in day to day life. The second card was different. It was his temple recommend. Unlike the first card, it was not temporal in nature. “This small document,” he said, “simple in its appearance, certifies that the bearer has met certain precise and demanding qualifications and is eligible to enter the House of the Lord and there participate in the most sacred ordinances administered anywhere on earth. . . What a unique and remarkable thing is a temple recommend.”
The second general conference talk that I will always remember was given by President Howard W. Hunter in October of 1994, the day he was sustained as the Prophet of the Church. I always pay extra attention to the general conference talk given by a newly sustained Prophet of the Lord. This talk also is unique because it was the only one that President Hunter gave while serving as the Prophet because he died prior to the next general conference of the Church. He bore a strong witness that the things he was saying were the product of “the impressions of the Spirit [that had] weighed heavily upon [him].” He then extended a wonderful invitation to each of us. “I invite the Latter-day Saints to look to the temple of the Lord as the great symbol of your membership. It is the deepest desire of my heart to have every member of the Church worthy to enter the temple. It would please the Lord if every adult member would be worthy of – and carry – a current temple recommend. The things we must do and not do to be worthy of a temple recommend are the very things that ensure we will be happy as individuals and as families.”
As an Area Presidency, we too have strong feelings about the importance of the temple and of the great privilege of becoming worthy to receive a temple recommend. One exciting change that has occurred since President Hunter gave his talk is that individual limited-use recommends can now be issued to all worthy new members of the Church and worthy youth over the age of twelve. As a result, it is the deepest desire of our heart that all members of the Church over the age of twelve qualify for and hold a current temple recommend.
What a blessing it is to sit with priesthood leaders and review the spiritual condition of our lives by answering honestly several simple questions that confirm our worthiness to enter the House of the Lord. There may be some of us who disqualify ourselves from obtaining a temple recommend because we feel unworthy. Quite frankly, that is not our judgment to make. The determination of worthiness is made by branch presidents, bishops, stake presidents, those who hold priesthood keys associated with access to the temple. Our responsibility is to desire to enter the temple, be honest in our interview with our priesthood leaders, and then with their help make any changes necessary to be worthy to enter the temple. Trust me. The Lord wants us in His temples. As Elder Quentin L. Cook recently taught at general conference in April of 2016, we should not “see the temple as some distant and perhaps unachievable goal. Working with their bishop, most members can achieve all righteous requirements in a relatively short period of time if they have a determination to qualify and fully repent of transgressions. This includes being willing to forgive ourselves and not focus on our imperfections or sins as disqualifying us from ever entering a sacred temple.”
Brothers and sisters, we need to be in the temple. And we need to be there often. We need to linger at the temple, not always rushing in and out as if we were punching a time clock as employees of a local factory. Important things have always happened in temples and always will. Making the personal changes and sacrifices necessary to obtain a temple recommend are worth it so that we might enter the place the Lord refers to as His house, a place that He has accepted, a place where He has placed His name, a place where He has promised to “manifest myself to my people in mercy.” D&C 110:3-8. What a blessing - a blessing a temple recommend allows us to claim. In addition, as more and more of us in the Philippines qualify to receive a temple recommend, certainly the Lord will bless us with that which we all greatly desire, even more temples where more of us can claim the greatest of His blessings.