Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Elder Holland's 10 Best Talks of All Time



One of the first birthday cards I received from my wife following our wedding in 2003 contained a list she thoughtfully made of all my favorite things. It was no surprise to me that "Talks by Elder Holland" made the top of her list. Among modern apostles in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I know of none whose messages are more universally loved than Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's. Regardless of the meeting or setting, Elder Holland's sermons seem to reverberate throughout the worldwide Church audience, and his messages have always had particular meaning for me personally. For years, my daily commute to and from work has consisted of listening to one of Elder Holland's talks, from a compilation I update regularly when he gives new talks. 

Since the time Elder Holland began serving as dean of Religious Education at Brigham Young University in 1974, I am aware of approximately 100 talks he has given in public settings including General Conferences, BYU devotionals, and Church Educational System firesides. Selecting Elder Holland's 10 Best Talks of All Time proved to be even more challenging than I anticipated, but what follows is my personal list of the best talks he has ever given. In addition to a brief excerpt from each talk below, I include links to the full text and audio of each talk.

As you'll see below, I believe Elder Holland gave his best talk in October 2009, when he shared his powerful witness of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. That talk went through my heart like a javelin (borrowing one of his phrases). I will never forget the witness of the Holy Spirit I felt that day as Elder Holland shared his personal testimony of the divine origin of that book. As you read the excerpts from his talks, I am confident you will feel the power of this modern apostle's witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.


Please comment below and share your thoughts about Elder Holland or your favorite talk of his. Let us know if your favorite talk didn't make the list.

10. "The First Great Commandment" (2012) Listen here.

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I am not certain just what our experience will be on Judgment Day, but I will be very surprised if at some point in that conversation, God does not ask us exactly what Christ asked Peter: 'Did you love me?' I think He will want to know if in our very mortal, very inadequate, and sometimes childish grasp of things, did we at least understand one commandment, the first and greatest commandment of them all.’”

9. "Like a Broken Vessel" (2013) Listen here.

“I bear witness of that day when loved ones whom we knew to have disabilities in mortality will stand before us glorified and grand, breathtakingly perfect in body and mind. What a thrilling moment that will be! I do not know whether we will be happier for ourselves that we have witnessed such a miracle or happier for them that they are fully perfect and finally ‘free at last.’”

8. "The Ministry of Angels" (2008) Listen here.

“My beloved brothers and sisters, I testify of angels, both the heavenly and the mortal kind. In doing so I am testifying that God never leaves us alone, never leaves us unaided in the challenges that we face...On occasions, global or personal, we may feel we are distanced from God, shut out from heaven, lost, alone in dark and dreary places. Often enough that distress can be of our own making, but even then, the Father of us all is watching and assisting. And always there are those angels who come and go all around us, seen and unseen, known and unknown, mortal and immortal.”

7. "None Were With Him" (2009) Listen here.

“Brothers and sisters, one of the great consolations of this Easter season is that because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path…This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ ‘at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,’ for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone.”

“Every one of us has times when we need to know things will get better. Moroni spoke of it in the Book of Mormon as ‘hope for a better world.’ For emotional health and spiritual stamina, everyone needs to be able to look forward to some respite, to something pleasant and renewing and hopeful, whether that blessing be near at hand or still some distance ahead. It is enough just to know we can get there, that however measured or far away, there is the promise of ‘good things to come.’…To any who may be struggling to see that light and find that hope, I say: Hold on. Keep trying. God loves you. Things will improve. Christ comes to you in His ‘more excellent ministry’ with a future of ‘better promises.’ He is your ‘high priest of good things to come.’

5. "Remember Lot's Wife" (2009) Listen here.

“I plead with you not to dwell on days now gone, nor to yearn vainly for yesterdays, however good those yesterdays may have been. The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead, we remember that faith is always pointed toward the future. Faith always has to do with blessings and truths and events that will yet be efficacious in our lives.”

4. "Lord, I Believe" (2013) Listen here.

“What was once a tiny seed of belief for me has grown into the tree of life, so if your faith is a little tested in this or any season, I invite you to lean on mine. I know this work is God’s very truth, and I know that only at our peril would we allow doubt or devils to sway us from its path. Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe.”

Along with the illuminating revelation that points us toward a righteous purpose or duty, God will also provide the means and power to achieve that purpose. Trust in that eternal truth. If God has told you something is right, if something is indeed true for you, he will provide the way for you to accomplish it. That is true of joining the Church. It is true of getting an education, of going on a mission or of getting married or of any of a hundred worthy tasks in your young lives.”

“You must wait—you must wait until you can give everything, and you cannot give everything until you are at least legally and, for Latter-day Saint purposes, eternally pronounced as one. To give illicitly that which is not yours to give (remember—'you are not your own') and to give only part of that which cannot be followed with the gift of your whole heart and your whole life and your whole self is its own form of emotional Russian roulette. If you persist in sharing part without the whole, in pursuing satisfaction devoid of symbolism, in giving parts and pieces and inflamed fragments only, you run the terrible risk of such spiritual, psychic damage that you may undermine both your physical intimacy and your wholehearted devotion to a truer, later love.”

1. "Safety for the Soul" (2009) Listen here.

"Now, I did not sail with the brother of Jared in crossing an ocean, settling in a new world. I did not hear King Benjamin speak his angelically delivered sermon. I did not proselyte with Alma and Amulek nor witness the fiery death of innocent believers. I was not among the Nephite crowd who touched the wounds of the resurrected Lord, nor did I weep with Mormon and Moroni over the destruction of an entire civilization. But my testimony of this record and the peace it brings to the human heart is as binding and unequivocal as was theirs...I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days."



Nate Sharp is an associate professor in the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University and currently serves as bishop of the College Station 3rd ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He grew up in Holladay, Utah, served a full-time mission for the Church in the Korea Seoul West mission, and later graduated from Brigham Young University and the University of Texas at Austin. He married Holly Carroll in 2003, and they are the proud parents of five beautiful children.

36 comments:

  1. I love all his talks too. I would have to include at least one other talk in my top 10: "The Grandeur of God." http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2003/10/the-grandeur-of-god?lang=eng

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  2. Lessons from Liberty Jail is also one of my favorites!! https://www.lds.org/broadcasts/archive/ces-devotionals/2008/01?lang=eng

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  3. This is also one of my all-time favorites: The Hands of the Fathers (April 1999)

    I love this poem he shares:

    Only a dad with a tired face,
    Coming home from the daily race,
    Toiling and striving from day to day,
    Facing whatever may come his way,
    Glad in his heart that his own rejoice
    To see him come home and to hear his voice.

    Only a dad, but he gives his all,
    Smoothing the way for his children small,
    Doing with courage so stern and grim
    The deeds that his father did for him.
    These are the lines that for him I pen,
    Only a dad—but the best of men.

    https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1999/04/the-hands-of-the-fathers?lang=eng#watch=video

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  4. Tongues of Angles. Best of all time

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  5. It took me forever to find this, but I had to share it with all of you. This talk is absolutely amazing and shows so well Elder Holland's testimony and passion for the gospel, as well as his love for God's children. http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=731

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    1. I tried the link, but it didn't take me to the speech. Is there a title to help me in the search?

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    2. https://web.archive.org/web/20130509182121/http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=731

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  6. Thanks for this list! My all time classic is: The Inconvenient Messiah, February 15, 1982 http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=856.

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  7. I second Tongue of Angels!!!! This talk was life changing for me as a wife and mother. I listened to it every day for a month!!!!

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  8. It's nearly impossible to find, but he gave a talk in the MTC in Provo around 2002 titled "don't you dare ho home" its still available for any missionary to listen to or watch there but outside the mtc, I can't find it. It easily surpasses anything on this list because he testifies more boldly than I have ever seen him of the power of the atonement. It changed me after I heard it. It was absolutely incredible!

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    1. Carlie Sue~ They changed the title when they published Elder Holland's talk in the Ensign. You can find this talk here:
      https://www.lds.org/ensign/2001/03/missionary-work-and-the-atonement?lang=eng
      I hope you enjoy it at least one more time!

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  9. As a woman, "To Young Women" from Oct 2005, changed my life. A must-read for women, but he says in it that he hopes that it can apply to the men too. https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2005/10/to-young-women?lang=eng&query=jeffrey+r+holland#watch=video

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  10. Agreed! "Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments", changed my life 12 years ago! Love him!!!

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  11. You missed "Lessons from Liberty Jail" and "Come Unto Me". Elder Holland could read a cereal box and make it one of the 10 Best :)

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  12. I especially loved "Come Unto Me".

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  13. You are right on with your #1 Elder Holland talk!! It was the deciding factor for me, after 36 years of wishy-washiness in investigating the true Church!! The "javelin" hit my heart, too!! The Spirit didn't whisper, but penetrated and witnessed to my heart in that talk!
    I will listen to each of the other nine and draw inspiration from the words of a witness of Christ! :)

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  14. "However Long and Hard the Road," possibly the talk which had the greatest influence on my life so far.

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  15. I too had my life saved by Elder Holland. I appreciate that he shares all of his emotions and passions. I'm grateful that he has shared with us past depressions and past doubts. I find that his talks are important to me at different times in different places. I have been listening to one over and over again. It's called "in times of trouble". I will be taking the list you provided and make sure all are on my playlist!!

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  16. Three that make my top-10 list not on your list: O, Lord, Keep My Rudder True; Bitter Cup and Bloody Baptism; and the Inconvenient Messiah. Good list, thanks for sharing.

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  17. I must say your list is very good. My only argument for mine is the response I had when either hearing or reading the fi4st time. My list includes these:
    LESSONS LEARNED IN LIBERTY JAIL

    Cast Not Away Your Confidence

    Ministry of Angels

    For Times of Troble

    And many more after I finish my list. It seems to be almost limitless. Needless to say I feel the same way about him as you do. Thanks for the list.

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  18. One that I really love is called "Borne Upon Eagles' Wings": http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=866
    He starts out talking about a touching experience with working with inmates, and talks a lot about justice and escaping bondages of various kinds.

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  19. I refer to Elder Holland as the "church's heavy hitter." Bases are loaded with other speakers and along comes Elder Holland with his wonderful command of the English language and hits a home run. You can not get a sermon with any clearer language than Elder Holland. I have referred his talks to investigators and its always been a positive experience. I work as a jail guard and love his "Borne Upon Eagles Wings talk."

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  20. I pinned The Miracle of a Mission so I could reference it later from this site. Now I can't find it. I did print it out at the time, however, only 7 pages printed. Where can I find it to print the rest of the talk?

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    1. Try this link: https://annathemissionary.files.wordpress.com/2013/03/elder-holland-the-miracle-of-a-mission.pdf

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  21. "Because She Is A Mother" is one of my favorites and I draw strength from it often.

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  22. "Prayer for the Children" is another great one,, which was omitted from this article. I need to make sure to listen or read these, because I love all of his talks.

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  23. I absolutely loved Elder Holland's talk, "Do You Love Me" in conference>

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  24. Does nyone know where I can find these two talks by Jeffrey R. Holland? My daughter is on a mission, loved them in the MTC and desperately wants them!

    1) Open Your Mouth
    2) Missions are Forever

    I want to print them and give them to her for Christmas!! Thank you so much!

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  25. "Broken Things to Mend" changed my life forever.

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  26. O Lord, Keep my Rudder True. I was at that football game (although not in the booing section) and at that devotional. I've never forgotten that address. I even used it a few years ago to instruct a teenage child who had "booed the quarterback" with some immature, misguided social media posts.

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  27. In my book, today's talk can be added to this list.

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  28. Profound! I love Elder Holland's talks! Thanks for putting together 10 amazing ones!

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