“In the Very Hour”

It is more important to be prepared than to have a plan.

Plans rely on assumptions about things we can’t control. The most brittle plans rely heavily on these assumptions, while more resilient plans allow for adaptation under changing circumstances. A good plan recognizes that the participants will be actors, not merely executors, and will have to make decisions along the way. It therefore doesn’t try to make all decisions in advance.

Jesus taught His disciples to be open to the promptings of the Spirit as they preached the gospel:

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:

For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

Luke 12:11-12

On the surface, this counsel appears to imply that no preparation is necessary. But in a modern revelation, the Savior clarified the role of advance preparation in this process:

Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.

Doctrine and Covenants 84:85

When Lehi and his family left Jerusalem, they had no way to plan every subsequent action they would take. They did choose wisely what to bring with them. They left behind gold, silver, and other “precious things” which would have been of no use to them in the wilderness, and they brought only provisions and tents (1 Nephi 2:4). Later, the Lord explained that they also needed to bring sacred records, which Lehi studied in order to internalize gospel principles and invite personal revelation (1 Nephi 3:2-5, 1 Nephi 5:10-19). Lehi’s son Nephi also studied those words and helped his family apply those principles to their unique circumstances. (See 1 Nephi 19:23.)

In October 1830, the Lord called two recent converts—Ezra Thayer and Northrop Sweet—to preach the gospel. Recognizing their inexperience, he encouraged them to overcome their fears and self-doubts and to simply begin doing the work:

Open your mouths and they shall be filled, and you shall become even as Nephi of old, who journeyed from Jerusalem in the wilderness.

Doctrine and Covenants 33:8

Today, I will prepare for the experiences of the day, and I will be ready to adapt my plans as circumstances change. As I communicate with others, I will strive to be well-informed, but I will recognize the importance of tailoring the message to the audience, and I will seek the guidance of the Spirit to understand what I should say.

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