Robert D. Hales; Prophet Seer And Revelator



Elder Robert D. Hales was called to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 2, 1994. He was in business for his career. Learn more about Elder Robert D Hales.

Conference Talks

Becoming A Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ

What does it mean to be a disciple of our Lord Jesus Christ? A disciple is one who has been baptized and is willing to take upon him or her the name of the Savior and follow Him. A disciple strives to become as He is by keeping His commandments in mortality, much the same as an apprentice seeks to become like his or her master.


Many people hear the word disciple and think it means only “follower.” But genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry.


As you can see, weaving the spiritual tapestry of personal discipleship requires more than a single thread.

The attributes of the Savior, as we perceive them, are not a script to be followed or list to be checked off. They are interwoven characteristics, added one to another, which develop in us in interactive ways. In other words, we cannot obtain one Christlike characteristic without also obtaining and influencing others. As one characteristic becomes strong, so do many more.

And so, Peter explains, “add to your faith virtue.” This virtue is more than sexual purity. It is cleanliness and holiness in mind and body. Virtue is also power. As we faithfully live the gospel, we will have power to be virtuous in every thought, feeling, and action. Our minds become more receptive to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and the Light of Christ. We embody Christ not only in what we say and do but also in who we are.

By our virtuous living, we make the journey from “I believe” to the glorious destination of “I know.”

From temperance to patience and from patience to godliness, our natures change. We gain the brotherly kindness that is a hallmark of all true disciples. Like the Good Samaritan, we cross the road to minister to whoever is in need, even if they are not within the circle of our friends. We bless them that curse us. We do good to those who despitefully use us. Is any attribute more godly or Christlike?

Brothers and sisters, now more than ever, we cannot be a “part-time disciple”! We cannot be a disciple on just one point of doctrine or another. The constellation of characteristics that result from faith in Christ—including the ones we have talked about today—are all necessary to our standing strong in these last days.


Come Follow Me by Practicing Christian Love and Service

Today I ask a similar question of each of us: “If we love the Savior more, will we suffer less?

When the Savior called His disciples to follow Him, they were living the law of Moses, including seeking “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” but the Savior came to fulfill that law with His Atonement. He taught a new doctrine: “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”

As the Savior’s latter-day disciples, we come unto Him by loving and serving God’s children. As we do, we may not be able to avoid tribulation, affliction, and suffering in the flesh, but we will suffer less spiritually. Even in our trials we can experience joy and peace.

Our Christian love and service naturally begin in the home. Parents, you are called to be loving teachers and missionaries to your children and youth. They are your investigators. You bear the responsibility to help them become converted. In truth, all of us are seeking to be converted—which means being filled with our Savior’s love.

Teach[ing] one another the doctrine of the kingdom” is a way to love and serve each other. Parents and grandparents, we tend to bemoan the state of the world—that schools are not teaching moral character. But there is much we can do. We can take advantage of the teaching moments in our own families—that means now. Don’t let them slip by. When an opportunity comes to share your thoughts about the gospel and the lessons of life, stop everything, sit down, and talk with your children and grandchildren.

We should not worry that we are not professionally trained gospel teachers. No training class or manual is as helpful as personally studying our scriptures, praying, pondering, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit will lead you along. I promise you: the calling to be a parent includes the gift to teach in the ways that are right for you and for your children. Remember, God’s power to influence us righteously is His love. “We love him, because he first loved us.”

Some of our most impactful Christian service is given by holding family scripture study, family prayer, and family council meetings. For more than a hundred years, Church leaders have called us to set aside uninterrupted time each week. But many of us are still missing the blessings. Family home evening is not a lecture from Mom and Dad. It is our family time to share simple spiritual concepts and experiences, to help our children learn to care and share, have fun together, bear testimony together, and grow and progress together. As we hold family home evening every week, our love for one another will grow stronger and we will suffer less.

Let us remember, the most important work we do in our families is through the power of the Holy Ghost. Whenever we raise our voices in anger, the Spirit leaves our companionships and families. When we speak in love, the Spirit can be with us. Let us remember that our children and grandchildren measure our love by how much devoted time we give them. Above all, don’t lose patience and don’t give up!


There is another special way disciples show their love for the Savior. Today I pay tribute to all who serve the Lord as caregivers. How the Lord loves you! In your quiet, unheralded service, you are following Him who promised, “Thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.”

If you are suffering deeply, with others or alone, I urge you to let the Savior be your caregiver. Lean on His ample arm. Accept His assurance. “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you,” He promises.

Brothers and sisters, if we have not fully done so yet, let us turn more toward forgiveness, kindness, and love. Let us renounce the war that so often rages in the heart of the natural man and proclaim Christ’s caring, love, and peace.

We follow Him by loving and serving one another and keeping His commandments.

That we may love our Heavenly Father and His Son more, and suffer less, is my prayer.

The Holy Ghost: I express my love and gratitude to Heavenly Father for the gift of the Holy Ghost, through which He reveals His will and sustains us.

I begin by acknowledging the Light of Christ, which is given to “every man [and woman] that cometh into the world.” All of us benefit from this holy light. It is “in all and through all things,” and it allows us to distinguish right from wrong.


I remind all of us that the Holy Ghost is not given to control us. Some of us unwisely seek the Holy Ghost’s direction on every minor decision in our lives. This trivializes His sacred role. The Holy Ghost honors the principle of agency. He speaks to our minds and our hearts gently about many matters of consequence.


Sometimes the adversary tempts us with false ideas that we may confuse with the Holy Ghost. I testify that faithfulness in obeying the commandments and keeping our covenants will protect us from being deceived. Through the Holy Ghost, we will be able to discern those false prophets who teach for doctrine the commandments of men.


Meeting The Challenges of Today's World: The choices you make—mission, education, marriage, career, and service in the Church—will shape your eternal destiny.


Similarly, He will help us know whether to fight, flee, or go with the flow of our unfolding circumstances. He will speak to us through prayer, and when we pray, we will have the Holy Ghost, who will guide us.

The Lord will always keep His promise: “I will lead you along.” The only question is, will we let ourselves be led? Will we hear His voice and the voice of His servants?


Education prepares you for better employment opportunities. It puts you in a better position to serve and to bless those around you. It will set you on a path of lifelong learning. It will strengthen you to fight against ignorance and error. As Joseph Smith taught: “Knowledge does away with darkness, suspense and doubt; for these cannot exist where knowledge is. … In knowledge there is power.” “To be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.” Education will prepare you for what is ahead, including marriage.


Again, may I speak frankly? The track that leads to marriage passes through the terrain called dating! Dating is the opportunity for lengthy conversations. When you date, learn everything you can about each other. Get to know each other’s families when possible. Are your goals compatible? Do you share the same feelings about the commandments, the Savior, the priesthood, the temple, parenting, callings in the Church, and serving others? Have you observed one another under stress, responding to success and failure, resisting anger, and dealing with setbacks? Does the person you are dating tear others down or build them up? Is his or her attitude and language and conduct what you would like to live with every day?


That said, none of us marry perfection; we marry potential. The right marriage is not only about what I want; it’s also about what she—who’s going to be my companion—wants and needs me to be.


Begin exercising your faith in every area of your life. If you don’t, you will suffer what I would call “faith atrophy.” The very strength needed to exercise your faith will be diminished. So exercise your faith every day, and you will “wax stronger and stronger … and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ.”

I testify that as you come to yourself, your Heavenly Father will come to you.


Preserving Agency, Protecting Religious Freedom

As we walk the path of spiritual liberty in these last days, we must understand that the faithful use of our agency depends upon our having religious freedom. We already know that Satan does not want this freedom to be ours. He attempted to destroy moral agency in heaven, and now on earth he is fiercely undermining, opposing, and spreading confusion about religious freedom—what it is and why it is essential to our spiritual life and our very salvation.


There are four cornerstones of religious freedom that we as Latter-day Saints must rely upon and protect.
The first is freedom to believe.

The second cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to share our faith and our beliefs with others.

The third cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to form a religious organization, a church, to worship peacefully with others.

he fourth cornerstone of religious liberty is the freedom to live our faith—free exercise of faith not just in the home and chapel but also in public places.

Some are offended when we bring our religion into the public square, yet the same people who insist that their viewpoints and actions be tolerated in society are often very slow to give that same tolerance to religious believers who also wish their viewpoints and actions to be tolerated. The general lack of respect for religious viewpoints is quickly devolving into social and political intolerance for religious people and institutions.


As disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to work together with like-minded believers, to raise our voices for what is right. While members should never claim or even imply that they are speaking for the Church, we are all invited, in our capacity as citizens, to share our personal witness with conviction and love—“every man [and woman] according to his [or her own] mind.”


Eternal Life- to Know Our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ: God and Christ are literally a Father and a Son—separate, distinct, individual beings who are wholly unified in Their purpose.

As I have read these testimonies—and many others like them over the years—it has always touched my heart to sense how deeply Heavenly Father loves His eldest Son and how Jesus shows His love by His obedience to His Father’s will. I testify that when we do what is necessary to know Them and know Their love for one another, we will obtain “the greatest of all the gifts of God”—even eternal life. For “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”


How can this gift be ours? It comes through a matter of personal revelation, which has been spoken of and taught this morning.


Brothers and sisters, I testify that our Heavenly Father wants us to seek this knowledge now.

"If Ye Love Me, Keep My Commandments": Using our agency to obey means choosing to “do what is right [and letting] the consequence follow.”

Brothers and sisters, of all the lessons we learn from the life of the Savior, none is more clear and powerful than the lesson of obedience.


In the premortal Council in Heaven, Lucifer rebelled against Heavenly Father’s plan. Those who followed Lucifer ended their eternal progression—be careful who you follow!


Then Jesus expressed His commitment to obey, saying, “Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever.” Throughout His ministry, “he suffered temptations but gave [them] no heed.” Indeed, “he [learned] obedience by the things which he suffered.”


As we live the gospel, we progress in our understanding of obedience. At times we may be tempted to practice what I call “natural man’s obedience,” in which we disobediently reject God’s law in favor of our wisdom or our desires or even popularity. Because this is widely practiced by so many, this perversion of obedience diminishes God’s standards in our culture and in our laws.


At times members may participate in “selective obedience,” claiming to love God and honor God while picking and choosing which of His commandments and teachings—and the teachings and counsel of His prophets—they will fully follow.


As our understanding of obedience deepens, we recognize the essential role of agency.

Spiritually mature obedience is “the Savior’s obedience.” It is motivated by true love for Heavenly Father and His Son. When we willingly obey, as our Savior did, we cherish the words of our Heavenly Father: “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” And we look forward to hearing, upon entering our Heavenly Father’s presence, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: … enter … into the joy of thy lord.”


In choosing whether we will obey, it is always helpful to remember the consequences of our choices. Did Lucifer and his followers understand the consequences of choosing to reject Heavenly Father’s plan? If so, why did they make such a terrible choice? We might ask ourselves a similar question: why do any of us choose to be disobedient when we know the eternal consequences of sin? The scriptures provide an answer: the reason Cain and some of the children of Adam and Eve chose to disobey is because “they loved Satan more than God.


Our love of the Savior is the key to Savior-like obedience. As we strive to be obedient in today’s world, we declare our love and respect for all of Heavenly Father’s children. Yet it is impossible for this love for others to modify God’s commandments, which were given for our good! For example, the commandment “thou shalt not … kill, nor do anything like unto it” is founded upon spiritual law that protects all of God’s children, even the unborn. Long experience suggests that when we ignore this law, immeasurable sorrow results. Yet many believe it is acceptable to terminate the life of an unborn child for reasons of preference or convenience.


To rationalize disobedience does not change spiritual law or its consequences but leads to confusion, instability, wandering in strange paths, being lost, and grief. As disciples of Christ, we have a sacred obligation to uphold His laws and commandments and the covenants which we take upon ourselves.


Obedience brings blessings, “and when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.”


Obedience makes us progressively stronger, capable of faithfully enduring tests and trials in the future. Obedience in Gethsemane prepared the Savior to obey and endure to the end on Golgotha.

General Conference: Strengthening Faith and Testimony: Oh, how we need general conference! Through conferences our faith is fortified and our testimonies deepened. And when we are converted, we strengthen each other to stand strong amid the fiery darts of these last days.

This is possible because the Holy Ghost carries the word of the Lord unto our hearts in terms we can understand. When I take notes at conference, I do not always write down exactly what the speaker is saying; I note the personalized direction the Spirit is giving me.


What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel.  That is why we make an effort to experience conference in a setting where the still, small voice of the Spirit can be clearly heard, felt, and understood.

In recent decades the Church has largely been spared the terrible misunderstandings and persecutions experienced by the early Saints. It will not always be so. The world is moving away from the Lord faster and farther than ever before. The adversary has been loosed upon the earth. We watch, hear, read, study, and share the words of prophets to be forewarned and protected. For example, “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” was given long before we experienced the challenges now facing the family. “The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles” was prepared in advance of when we will need it most.


We may not know all the reasons why the prophets and conference speakers address us with certain topics in conference, but the Lord does. President Harold B. Lee taught: “The only safety we have as members of this church is to … give heed to the words and commandments that the Lord shall give through His prophet. There will be some things that take patience and faith. You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your [personal] views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that ‘the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; … and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory’ (D&C 21:6).”


The greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over. Remember the pattern recorded frequently in scripture: we gather to hear the words of the Lord, and we return to our homes to live them.


President Monson recently said: “I encourage you to read the talks … and to ponder the messages contained therein. I have found in my own life that I gain even more from these inspired sermons when I study them in greater depth.

My brothers and sisters, I bear my special witness that the Lord Jesus Christ lives and stands at the head of this Church. This is His general conference. I promise you in His name that if you pray with a sincere desire to hear your Heavenly Father’s voice in the messages of this conference, you will discover that He has spoken to you to help you, to strengthen you, and to lead you home into His presence. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Stand Strong in Holy Places: Standing obedient and strong on the doctrine of our God, we stand in holy places, for His doctrine is sacred and will not change.

Brethren, it is an honor to be with the holders of the royal priesthood of God. We are living in the last days, in “perilous times.” As bearers of the priesthood, we have the responsibility to stand strong with a shield of faith against the fiery darts of the adversary. We are role models to the world, protecting God-given, inalienable rights and freedoms. We stand in defense of our homes and our families.


Young men, your fathers and grandfathers never faced the temptations that you face on a regular basis. You are living in the last days. If your father wanted to get in trouble, he had to go searching for it. Not anymore! Today temptation finds you! Please remember that! Satan desires to have you, and “sin lieth at the door.” How will you resist his aggressive tactics? Put on the whole armor of God.


Staying on the gospel path of covenants, commandments, and ordinances protects us and prepares us to do God’s work in this world.

As we press forward along the strait and narrow path, we build progressive spiritual strength—strength in using our agency to act for ourselves.

Above all, have faith in the Savior! Fear not! As we diligently live the gospel, we become strong in the Lord. With His strength we are able to reject the anti-Christ who says, “Eat, drink, and be merry,” for God “will justify [you] in committing a little sin; … there is no harm in this … , for tomorrow we die.” In the strength of the Lord we are able to stand against any philosophy or creed that denies the Savior and contradicts the great, eternal plan of happiness for all of God’s children.


We are not authorized to negotiate the conditions of that eternal plan.

Sometimes we become the lightning rod, and we must “take the heat” for holding fast to God’s standards and doing His work. I testify that we need not be afraid if we are grounded in His doctrine. We may experience misunderstanding, criticism, and even false accusation, but we are never alone. Our Savior was “despised and rejected of men.” It is our sacred privilege to stand with Him!


These great servants and Saints of God {Nephi, Abinadi, the 2,000 Strippling Warriors, Moroni, Samuel, Joseph Smith, Mormon pioneers; i.e. those who faced severe persecution for their faith} were able to stand strong because they stood with the Savior. Consider how the Savior stood strong:


As a young man, Jesus faithfully went about His Father’s business, preaching the gospel to the learned men in the temple. Throughout His ministry, He accomplished the work of the priesthood—teaching, healing, serving, and blessing and lifting others. When appropriate, He boldly stood against evil, even cleansing the temple.  He also stood for truth—whether with words or with dignified silence. When the chief priests accused Him before Caiaphas, Jesus wisely and courageously refused to respond to untruth and held His peace.


In the Garden of Gethsemane, our Savior and Redeemer did not shrink from drinking the bitter cup of the Atonement. And on the cross He suffered again to do His Father’s will, until at last He could say, “It is finished.”  He had endured to the end. In response to the Savior’s perfect obedience in standing strong, our Heavenly Father declared, “Behold my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name.”


Standing obedient and strong on the doctrine of our God, we stand in holy places, for His doctrine is sacred and will not change in the social and political winds of our day.

Being a More Christian Christian: This is the call of Christ to every Christian today: “Feed my lambs. … Feed my sheep.”

What does it mean to be a Christian?


A Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, that He is the literal Son of God, sent by His Father to suffer for our sins in the supreme act of love we know as the Atonement.


A Christian believes that through the grace of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, we can repent, forgive others, keep the commandments, and inherit eternal life.


The word Christian denotes taking upon us the name of Christ. We do this by being baptized and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those holding His priesthood authority.


A Christian knows that throughout the ages, God’s prophets have always testified of Jesus Christ. This same Jesus, accompanied by Heavenly Father, appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith in the year 1820 and restored the gospel and the organization of His original Church.


As Christians today, we have the opportunity to act straightway, immediately, and decisively, just as Peter and Andrew did: “they forsook their nets, and followed him.” We too are called upon to leave our nets, to reject worldly habits, customs, and traditions. We are also called to forsake our sins. “When [Jesus] had called the people unto him … , he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” Denying ourselves of ungodly behavior is the beginning of repentance, which brings a mighty change of heart until “we have no more disposition to do evil."


This change, called conversion, is possible only through the Savior.


As we are made new in Christ, our very natures change and we no longer want to go back to our old ways.

Even so, faithful Christians will always be blessed to experience difficulties and disappointments. When these refining challenges come, we may be tempted to return to our old ways. After the Savior’s Crucifixion, He appeared to the women and told them that the brethren would find Him in Galilee. When Peter, the senior Apostle, returned to Galilee, he also went back to what he knew—to what he felt comfortable doing. “I go a fishing,” he explained, and took several disciples with him.


As we follow Him, He blesses us with gifts, talents, and the strength to do His will, allowing us to go beyond our comfort zones and do things we’ve never before thought possible.

Coming to Ourselves: The Sacrament, the Temple, and Sacrifice in Service: We become converted and spiritually self-reliant as we prayerfully live our covenants.

Throughout our lives, whether in times of darkness, challenge, sorrow, or sin, we may feel the Holy Ghost reminding us that we are truly sons and daughters of a caring Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we may hunger for the sacred blessings that only He can provide. At these times we should strive to come to ourselves and come back into the light of our Savior’s love.


These blessings rightfully belong to all of Heavenly Father’s children. Desiring these blessings, including a life of joy and happiness, is an essential part of Heavenly Father’s plan for each one of us.


As our spiritual desires increase, we become spiritually self-reliant.

For the sacrament to be a spiritually cleansing experience each week, we need to prepare ourselves before coming to sacrament meeting.

I testify that the sacrament gives us an opportunity to come to ourselves and experience “a mighty change” of heart—to remember who we are and what we most desire. As we renew the covenant to keep the commandments, we obtain the companionship of the Holy Ghost to lead us back into our Heavenly Father’s presence. No wonder we are commanded to “meet together oft to partake of [the] bread and [water]”  and to partake of the sacrament to our souls.


Through the Savior’s Atonement and by following these basic patterns of faithfulness, we receive “power from on high” to face the challenges of life. We need this divine power today more than ever. It is power we receive only through temple ordinances. I testify that the sacrifices we make to receive temple ordinances are worth every effort we can make.

Whether we are young or old, what we do today determines the service we will be able to render and enjoy tomorrow. As the poet reminds us, “Of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!’” Let us not live our lives in regret of what we did or did not do!


With His love and the love of His Son in my heart, I challenge each of us to follow our spiritual desires and come to ourselves. Let’s have a talk with ourselves in the mirror and ask, “Where do I stand on living my covenants?”

Waiting upon the Lord: Thy Will Be Done: "The purpose of our life on earth is to grow, develop, and be strengthened through our own experiences."

  • Does this mean we will always understand our challenges? Won’t all of us, sometime, have reason to ask, “O God, where art thou?” Yes!
  • As we follow the promptings of the Spirit, we discover that “tribulation worketh patience” and we learn to “continue in patience until [we] are perfected.”
  • In my life I have learned that sometimes I do not receive an answer to a prayer because the Lord knows I am not ready.
  • Every one of us is more beloved to the Lord than we can possibly understand or imagine. Let us therefore be kinder to one another and kinder toward ourselves.
  • What, then, does it mean to wait upon the Lord? In the scriptures, the word wait means to hope, to anticipate, and to trust. To hope and trust in the Lord requires faith, patience, humility, meekness, long-suffering, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end.
  • Tests and trials are given to all of us. These mortal challenges allow us and our Heavenly Father to see whether we will exercise our agency to follow His Son.

Agency: Essential to the Plan of Life : "Whenever we choose to come unto Christ, take His name upon us, and follow His servants, we progress along the path to eternal life."

Seeking to Know God, Our Heavenly Father, and His Son, Jesus Christ;"The light of belief is within you, waiting to be awakened and intensified by the Spirit of God." 

Becoming Provident Providers Temporally and Spiritually: "When we live providently, we can provide for ourselves and our families and also follow the Savior’s example to serve and bless others." 

Christian Courage: The Price of Discipleship; "Answering our accusers in the Savior’s way."