Seventy-four years ago today, Jeffrey Roy Holland was born to Frank and Alice Holland in St. George, Utah. Since that time he has served as President of Brigham Young University and beloved member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Elder Holland’s passionate addresses and strong spirit have resonated with the saints and non-members alike; his talks have been turned into thousands of memes and word art on the internet.
To celebrate, I’ve collected five of my favorite talks from Elder Holland. Share yours in the comments below and tell us why!
When: October 2009 General Conference, Sunday Afternoon
Highlight: “I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world … that the Book of Mormon is true.”
Why I Love It: This is one of the first times I can remember being floored during a General Conference talk. Drowsy at first, I sat straight up in my chair and felt the power of Elder Holland’s testimony just glue me in place.
When: March 2001 Ensign
Highlight: “Anyone who does any kind of missionary work will have occasion to ask, Why is this so hard? Why doesn’t it go better? Why can’t our success be more rapid? Why aren’t there more people joining the Church? It is the truth. We believe in angels. We trust in miracles. Why don’t people just flock to the font? Why isn’t the only risk in missionary work that of pneumonia from being soaking wet all day and all night in the baptismal font?
You will have occasion to ask those questions. I have thought about this a great deal. I offer this as my personal feeling. I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience.Salvation never was easy. We are The Church of Jesus Christ, this is the truth, and He is our Great Eternal Head. How could we believe it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for Him? It seems to me that missionaries and mission leaders have to spend at least a few moments in Gethsemane. Missionaries and mission leaders have to take at least a step or two toward the summit of Calvary.”
Why I Love It: This talk was included in my missionary binder and was read throughout my mission. Whenever times got hard, this is what I turned to.
When: MTC Address on January 11, 2011/ October 2012 General Conference, Sunday Morning Session
Highlight: “You need to decide tonight whether you’re on a coarse that’s committed to the idea that you really do love God. You really do love the Savior. And if you do, and I know you do, and I pray you do, and we’ll all do this together, we’ll all march into the future together, but when you do, and when you say that, and when you believe that, then you’re call is to feed His sheep, forever.
Now, can you understand why you must never and may never and can never come back? It will never be the same again. Peter, you can’t go home. You can’t go back to fish. You can’t go back to Galilee. You can’t go back to boats. It’s over. It is a new life, a new day, a new time. This Mission marks that hour in your life. You cannot go back. And if you do, you will break my heart, and you will break the heart of God himself. If you turn your back on the gospel of Jesus Christ, which you have pledged your life, or at least these next two years or eighteen months, to teach. But my point is that it isn’t just eighteen months, and it isn’t just two years. And I stand here at 49 years and counting, and say, I pray that it’s never ever ever over for me. And I pray that it’s never ever over for you.”
“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—“Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind.” And if at such a moment we can stammer out, “Yea, Lord, thou knowest that I love thee,” then He may remind us that the crowning characteristic of love is always loyalty.”
Why I Love It: Elder Holland’s “The First Great Commandment” was extremely similar to a talk he gave to full-time missionaries in the MTC and the two are inseparable in my mind and compliment each other, as I heard both on my mission.
The Laborers in the Vineyard
When: April 2012 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session
Highlight: “My beloved brothers and sisters, to those of you who have been blessed by the gospel for many years because you were fortunate enough to find it early, to those of you who have come to the gospel by stages and phases later, and to those of you—members and not yet members—who may still be hanging back, to each of you, one and all, I testify of the renewing power of God’s love and the miracle of His grace. His concern is for the faith at which you finally arrive, not the hour of the day in which you got there.
So if you have made covenants, keep them. If you haven’t made them, make them. If you have made them and broken them, repent and repair them. It is never too late so long as the Master of the vineyard says there is time. Please listen to the prompting of the Holy Spirit telling you right now, this very moment, that you should accept the atoning gift of the Lord Jesus Christ and enjoy the fellowship of His labor. Don’t delay. It’s getting late.”
Why I Love It: The fire in my bones and strength it gives me to carry on.
When: October 2013 General Conference, Saturday Afternoon Session
Highlight: “So how do you best respond when mental or emotional challenges confront you or those you love? Above all, never lose faith in your Father in Heaven, who loves you more than you can comprehend. As President Monson said to the Relief Society sisters so movingly last Saturday evening: “That love never changes. … It is there for you when you are sad or happy, discouraged or hopeful. God’s love is there for you whether or not you feel you deserve [it]. It is simply always there.” Never, ever doubt that, and never harden your heart. Faithfully pursue the time-tested devotional practices that bring the Spirit of the Lord into your life. Seek the counsel of those who hold keys for your spiritual well-being. Ask for and cherish priesthood blessings. Take the sacrament every week, and hold fast to the perfecting promises of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Believe in miracles. I have seen so many of them come when every other indication would say that hope was lost. Hope is never lost. If those miracles do not come soon or fully or seemingly at all, remember the Savior’s own anguished example: if the bitter cup does not pass, drink it and be strong, trusting in happier days ahead.”
Why I Love It: As someone with a mental illness and who has many family and friends suffering from mental illnesses, this talk became lasting beacon of hope.
Did we miss your favorite talk? Let us know in the comments below.
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.