In General Conference in 2015, President Russell M. Nelson stated, “We need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation.” The following year, President Neill F. Marriott of the Young Women General Presidency taught, “The Lord’s Church needs Spirit-directed women who use their unique gifts to nurture, to speak up, and to defend gospel truth.” Women who teach! Women who speak up! I believe that one way young women — like my daughter — learn to do this is by hearing women teach and hearing women speak up. I believe that hearing women teach and speak up is also essential for men to value the spiritual authority of women.
In talks and lessons, members often use quotes from leaders of the Church to illustrate a point or lend authority to a teaching. I’ve found that in my own talk and lesson preparation, it’s easier to come up with quotes by men. I’m teaching about envy and remember that great talk by Elder Holland, or I want to make a point about using time well and remember that great quote from President Oaks. I believe that one reason for my tendency to think of quotes by men first — albeit not the only reason — is just because men speak so much more in General Conference. (Lest it seem that I’m criticizing these talks by men; I’m not. They’re wonderful! I just finished going through all the talks from the last conference, and I felt inspired by President Nelson’s closing “blessing that each of you may become happier and holier with each passing day.”)
I thought that a topical database of quotes by Latter-day Saint women would make it easier to incorporate women’s teachings into talks and lessons, so I’ve spent the last 9 months going through every conference talk by a sister from the last 12 years and organizing them on a website, Spiritual Thoughts by Women. (I’m continuing to work my way back through time.) At this point, I’ve cataloged more than 500 quotes on 80 topics. So if you’re giving a talk on personal revelation, I have more than a dozen quotes you can draw from, like President Julie B. Beck’s “The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life.” Or if you’re teaching about service, I have nearly 50 quotes you can choose from, like President Bonnie L. Oscarson’s “Sometimes it’s easy to miss some of the greatest opportunities to serve others because we are distracted or because we are looking for ambitious ways to change the world and we don’t see that some of the most significant needs we can meet are within our own families, among our friends, in our wards, and in our communities.”
Of course, great talks are much greater than the sum of their quotable quotes. I thought of that today as I read President Julie B. Beck’s 2007 talk, “What Latter-day Saint Women Do Best: Stand Strong and Immovable,” which is excellent but not easy to excerpt. I encourage you to read the talks in their fullness. But sometimes what I need in the hour before I give my lesson is a great quote on prayer. Here are twelve.
Hopefully this database will make it a little bit easier to highlight the wisdom and authority of all the members of our faith community.