What an appropriate background for a broadcast tailored to singles! Many singles believe they need a miracle to move the mountains in their lives. As I studied his address in preparation for the broadcast this weekend, I could see how very appropriate President Nelson’s remarks were for singles. Truly, faith can move mountains no matter the challenge.
Start where you are
Many singles wonder how the blessings they yearn to have can ever be theirs. I love how President Nelson’s response to that reality begins with basic principles: “Everything good in life—every potential blessing of eternal significance—begins with faith.” Deny not the power of God, and your faith unlocks God’s power in your life.
I then really love how he goes to Alma’s discourse on faith in the Book of Mormon. Alma doesn’t ask us to hit a home run our first time up to bat. He simply asks us to experiment. All he asks us to do is to try.
And you don’t need anything more than what you have right here right now. President Nelson quotes Alma’s encouragement to “exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe” (Alma 32:27). You don’t need the whole toolbox of perfection. Just step forward with the portion you already have, even if that portion is simply the desire to have a portion.
And here’s the beautiful part: You don’t need to be perfect to change your life. You have everything you need to take the next step right now towards the better life you want. It starts when you believe that truth. President Nelson began his remarks on faith with that very idea. As he taught,”
The place to start is wherever you are, and you can do that today.
Isn’t that’s exactly how many singles view the challenges before them, as the tallest mountain ever? Yet Christ can give anyone the power to scale that mountain.
That happens for you when you exercise faith in Him. Faith is a principle of action, and that means you must do the work to get the result you want. President Nelson acknowledged as much when he declared,
He then lists five steps to increase faith and the access it provides to God’s power.
Whatever mountain stands before you, don’t focus on the obstacle. Look instead for the opportunity. Stand tall seeking ways in which your growing faith — even if it’s no more than a desire to have a greater portion — can grow more. As the Savior taught, “Seek, and ye shall find” (Matthew 7:7).
Faith really can move mountains. Nothing is impossible for the Lord, and He will grant you access to His power when you have faith in Him. When you do, He’ll show you the changes you need to make to secure the righteous blessings you desire. He’ll support you as you progress towards those blessings. And one day you’ll have them every one. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
Create places of security
I particularly like how President Nelson tied his message of preparation to the principles of preparation Captain Moroni followed. And the first principle President Nelson examines is creating places of security.
President Nelson defines a place of security as “anywhere you can feel the presence of the Holy Ghost and be guided by Him.” Of the different places of security he describes — home, stakes, and temple — your home is the most important. Stakes and temples offer great spiritual security. But your home is a place of both temporal and spiritual security. It’s the place of security to which you repair most often and over which you have the most control.
So what control are you exercising over your home? Is it a place to which you can resort physically, financially, emotionally, and most importantly spiritually? If you find like me that you have more work to do, then get busy. Make your home a true place of security.
Prepare your mind
We’ve long talked on this program about how your focus determines your reality. How you think creates the life you live. So to prepare places of security in your life, you need to prepare your mind with the right thinking.
President Nelson extolled faith as the wellspring of the most effective thinking. He referenced the recent earthquake in Salt Lake to exemplify the need for a solid foundation that can withstand the spiritual shaking that comes to everyone. Faith in Jesus Christ is the ultimate spiritual foundation. As President Nelson declares, “we can stand ‘steadfast and immovable’ because of our faith.”
Staying on the covenant path always increases faith. Resisting the sway of enticements to step off the covenant path requires us to exercise faith. And exercising faith always increases faith. Additionally, President Nelson proclaims “regular immersion in the Book of Mormon” as “our latter-day survival guide.”
But President Nelson cited God as the ultimate source of security. Said he,
So how are you preparing your mind to create places of security? How are you exercising your faith? How often are you immersing yourself in the Book of Mormon? Are you seeking and receiving the personal revelation you need in your life?
Never stop preparing
These activities require constant and consistent dedication. We can’t, for example, have a single spiritual experience and expect a lifetime of spiritual security. Having places of security means always preparing them.
And as President Nelson points out, Satan is nothing if not persistent, and so we can never stop preparing. “The more self-reliant we are—temporally, emotionally, and spiritually—the more prepared we are to thwart Satan’s relentless assaults.” President Nelson never said it would be easy, but he did promise “the future will be glorious for those who are prepared and who continue to prepare to be instruments in the Lord’s hands.”
He then offered these words of encouragement:
Embrace the future with faith! Partner with the Lord as you prepare your own places of security in your life. Exercising more and more that faith will surround you with ever increasing levels of peace amid the turmoil to come. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
In his message to the world, President Nelson taught “Counting our blessings is far better than recounting our problems.” To help us integrate that teaching into our lives, President Nelson suggested two specific actions:
The social media gratitude journal
Social media has never resonated much with me. I recognize its benefits, like keeping up with family and friends as well as increased communication that otherwise would be difficult if not downright impossible. I’ve just never felt the need to integrate everything about my life with social media. I resonate much more with connections in the real world.
Yet I don’t feel that way about President Nelson’s invitation to use social media as a gratitude journal. Contrary to my usual response, President Nelson’s invitation resonates greatly with me. From the moment I first heard his 7-day challenge, I felt a desire to embrace it. And that desire felt completely natural.
I of course have no idea what will result from my participation in that challenge. Maybe something big will happen. Or maybe not much of anything will appear to happen at all. But that doesn’t matter. What matters is that good men and women stand up and push goodness into the world to fight back against the emboldened evil that President Nelson declared in the last General Conference abounds. That goodness begins with gratitude.
Prayers of gratitude
From my own experience, the best way to begin to embrace gratitude is through prayer. I’ve spoken before about my habit of devoting my morning prayers to gratitude, and that one simple change in my daily routine has greatly transformed my life for the better.
About two years ago I adopted a habit of including in my morning prayers only expressions of thanks. I intentionally do not ask for anything; I simply give thanks for what I’ve received. Over time, those prayers have grown to include thanks for blessings not yet received. At first, it was difficult; my mind wasn’t trained to think in strict terms of thanksgiving. But repeated attempts brought that training, and the effect has been life-changing.
Hearing others express gratitude in prayer can open us to a new level of gratitude. I was greatly touched by hearing the Prophet pray and express gratitude for the many blessings we all enjoy everywhere every day. The wonders of nature, the glorious workings of the human body, and the beauty of art, literature, and music all bring joy in life. Focusing on expressions of gratitude invites us to open ourselves more to that joy.
The next step
The Prophet has spoken, and now the next step for all of us is to follow the Prophet. Take his challenge to express gratitude in social media every day for seven days, and then see whether you feel happier. And begin to express more gratitude in your prayers to God.
When we were Primary children, many of us sang, “Follow the Prophet. He knows the way!” I know that President Nelson is the Prophet for us today, and in his recent message to the world, he has shown us the way. That way is gratitude.
Let us each claim the blessings of peace and healing that God wants to bestow upon us. When you let gratitude heal you, you can feel peace in a chaotic world. You can salve the wounds of hate. You can find victory in defeat and abundance in loss. Best of all, you can feel more of the love God has for you as His child. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
That perspective transforms everything about the Lord’s work into gathering Israel. It makes sense when you consider President Nelson’s observation that “one of the Hebraic meanings of the word Israel is ‘let God prevail.’ Thus the very name of Israel refers to a person who is willing to let God prevail in his or her life.” And indeed, LDS singles are abundantly blessed when they submit their will to God’s and let God prevail in their life.
The key portion
I love the story President Nelson shares about Jill. Struggling with her father’s approaching death and her own questions regarding testimony, Jill was at first startled to hear President Nelson describe her perspective as “myopic.” But further reflection on that word led her to embracing God’s will, adopting a more eternal perspective, and finding peace. These blessings came to her as she let God prevail in her life.
Of course, the key portion of President Nelson’s message applies to all, though I think it has particular application for LDS singles. After rightfully decrying the prejudice of racism, President Nelson declared,
With all the voices in our crazy modern world, are you willing to open your ears to God’s voice more than any other? Are you willing to put His work ahead of your own desires, even righteous desires like securing an eternal companion? Will you walk away from someone you love who wants to marry you if God says no? Will you submit your will to His even when it seems completely crazy and makes absolutely no sense to do so? Will you let God prevail in your life?
Guidance for dating
President Nelson then begins applying those key questions to different situations. And the first situation he tackles? Being single. He said, “If you are unmarried and seeking an eternal companion, your desire to be ‘of Israel’ will help you decide whom to date and how.”
When I first encountered those words, I wondered why President Nelson did not expound upon them. How exactly does my desire to be “of Israel” help me decide whom to date when choosing between two active Church members? And then there’s the bigger question: How does my desire to be “of Israel” help me decide how to proceed with dating?
In reflecting upon these questions, I realized President Nelson didn’t expound more upon them because he doesn’t need to. Do you remember when in 2018 he said this?
In that same address about revelation, President Nelson taught,
When you submit your will to God’s, you position yourself to understand better how you should navigate the seas of your singleness. That’s why, coming back to the present address, we find President Nelson teaching this:
Focus becomes reality
Most of the time, it really is a matter of perspective. Our focus does indeed become our reality. When we let God prevail in our lives, we focus upon His objectives. And because His work and glory is our salvation and exaltation (Moses 1:39), that focus brings us the most joyful reality.
Doing the work to let God prevail isn’t easy, of course. Surrendering one’s will to God never has been and never will be easy. President Nelson acknowledges this truth:
There’s so much more I want to get into here, but limitations force me to defer that discussion to later in the broadcast. Here’s the bottom line: When you let God prevail in your life, you’ll understand more clearly what really matters in God’s plan. You’ll see more clearly the path leading to your greatest happiness now and in eternity. And you’ll feel more of God’s love strengthening you to walk that path.
So let God prevail in your life. You’ll see the miracle your life can become when you do. And that will bring you more joy in your journey.
As is characteristic of the prophets we've seen thus far in the 21st century, President Nelson spoke multiple times this past Conference. But one address stood out to me as I considered the focus for the program today. President Nelson's address entitled "Hear Him" focused on the Savior in a way that addresses the craziness which now seems to engulf the world. And in light of recent reflections regarding the Savior and what makes the good we bring to the world truly matter, it is ever more vital that we do indeed hear Him.
That sounds a lot like what he said in his first Conference address as President of the Church.
So it shouldn't surprise us that President Nelson mentioned the Holy Ghost as a way to hear the Savior.
When I think of a place to receive revelation and feel the influence of the Spirit, the temple comes quickly to mind. Although the pandemic has restricted most of us from being in the house of the Lord, President Nelson looked ahead to when they will one day reopen.
"And, finally," President Nelson declared, "we hear Him as we heed the words of prophets, seers, and revelators." With that opportunity just a few days away, I'm glad it won't be long now to hear from our inspired leaders as they point the way to the Savior.
But notice that President Nelson didn't say we hear the Savior as we hear His servants. No, he said we hear the Savior when we heed His servants. To heed means more than just to hear.
President Nelson also used the word hearken. He observed that "the very first word in the Doctrine and Covenants is hearken" and then defined hearken to mean "to listen with the intent to obey" before declaring
I like that idea of being more intentional about hearing the Lord. Making conscious choices and acting with intention is key to unlocking much of the joy that surrounds us every day. Our best life comes to us not be accident but by design when act with the intention to have it.
Likewise, we hear the Lord more clearly when we act with the intention of hearing it. Listening with that desire to obey whatever we receive is key to having that right and proper intention.
Of course, listening with the desire to obey makes the next step obvious once we actually do hear. We must obey and heed what we have heard. We must apply our newly acquired knowledge. We must act and obtain the results possible only through action.
President Nelson was quite clear what some of those results would be.
I don't think I've ever been more eager for Conference to arrive than I am after experiencing what 2020 has offered. And a good portion of that eagerness comes from faith that hearing, hearkening to, and heeding the Lord's voice as spoken through His anointed servants will bring the blessings President Nelson has promised and so much more. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
As I read the specific aspects of the fast President Nelson proposed, I remembered my own participation in that worldwide fast. President Nelson said, “Good Friday would be the perfect day to have our Heavenly Father and His Son hear us!” But that raised this question: Did God hear us? How effective was the worldwide fast?
To answer that question, I searched for evidence regarding the specific points in President Nelson’s invitation. What I found gives me hope and a strengthened testimony in the power of fasting in opening the heavens for help.
Examining the trends
President Nelson declared the first purpose of the fast was “that the present pandemic may be controlled.” And so I searched Google this morning for “covid 19 deaths worldwide” and obtained an informative chart. It shows the general trend of COVID-19 related deaths rising around mid-March. But then after April 10, the general trend becomes more constant.
We see something even more hopeful for those living in the US. A similar search in Google for “covid 19 deaths us” produced another chart. Again, COVID-19 deaths rise after Spring Break. But after April 10, the general trend actually decreases!
Now, what drives that decrease is a separate question, one I’m not tackling here given my limitations of space and time. But did the fast lead to a control of the pandemic? As I’ve often told my statistics students, correlation is not causation. Just because two events happen at the same time doesn’t mean one causes the other. But is it a coincidence that the turning point for the trend in both of these curves is around April 10, the same day as the worldwide fast organized by God’s living prophet? I think not.
Hearing the stories
The second pleading President Nelson invited us to make in the worldwide fast was that “caregivers [be] protected.” What can we say about that?
We often think protection means physical safety, especially in a pandemic context. But protection could apply holistically to include other areas such as emotional and psychological health. In that light, I searched for stories relating what support health care workers have received. The American Hospital Association has a page on its website dedicated to stories about health care workers serving on the front lines of the pandemic. And these stories are amazing.
What I find especially encouraging is the HERO registry, an initiative launched by the Duke Clinical Research Institute in Durham, North Carolina. The registry collects stories from health care workers so that administrators and public health officials can better understand and work to solve the problems health care workers face both in real time and over time.
For me, the especially encouraging aspect of this effort is its launch date — April 13, just three days after the worldwide fast. Again, just because two events occur together doesn’t mean one causes the other. But again I ask, “Is this coincidence?” And again, I think not.
Looking forward in faith
President Nelson’s invitation for a worldwide fast ended with two final pleadings: one for “the economy [to be] strengthened, and [one for] life [to be] normalized.” So what about these aspects? Did God hear us in these?
Well, what measure should we use to assess economic strength? Whatever we choose isn’t going to tell us much; it’s only been about a month since the worldwide fast. In that time, we’ve seen the devastation of many economic sectors resulting in record unemployment numbers. And what exactly does “life normalized” mean? What standard do we use for “normal”? However we define our terms, many of the issues affecting the economy and daily living have yet to find resolution. And so we look to the future with hope that God will resolve these issues to the satisfaction of His purposes.
What we see so far after the worldwide fast gives us hope that all of God’s promises will be fulfilled. He will prepare the way for His promised blessings. Indeed, fasting can open the heavens for help. Looking for the ways in which God hears us gives us greater encouragement to look for ways in which we can hear Him. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Yet I decided to focus on the Prophet since we should all know what he said in the most recent General Conference. This did narrow the field considerably, yet it didn’t solve my dilemma; the Prophet spoke four times during Conference. Finally, I settled upon President Nelson’s remarks entitled “The Correct Name of the Church.”
Why this one? Certainly I see parallels between President Nelson’s remarks and the cultural changes I’ve repeatedly supported in the broader LDS culture. But something more here intrigues me. The Prophet spent a good 15 minutes in General Conference talking about something that superficially doesn’t seem wildly important.
“What’s in a name?” the Prophet asks. He then responds, “When it comes to the name of the Lord’s church, the answer is ‘Everything.’”
Leaning on revelation
I didn’t think I’d hear about this topic again when the style guide revisions President Nelson referenced originally appeared. But I’ve long considered them important.
I remember sharing the correct name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while attending my 10-year high school reunion. Living in the Bible Belt where my father was stationed when I was in high school provided me many opportunities to stand tall for my beliefs.
I found more at the reunion. The organizers asked everyone in advance to provide a few sentences to catch everyone else up on what had occurred since graduation. I of course included my full-time missionary service in my blurb.
Eventually conversation at the reunion turned towards my membership in the Church, and people began asking me questions. When one of them used the word Mormon in asking a question, I followed the answer with “But I don’t really use the term Mormon. I prefer to use Latter-day Saint.”
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” came the reply. “ I didn’t mean to offend.”
“I’m not offended,” I said. “I just have my preferences.” I then shared the same scripture President Nelson shared in his Conference address and explained I wanted to use the name the Savior provided through His Prophet.
Recognizing what’s “inconsequential”
That was my attitude back when President Hinckley was the Prophet. I can remember him speaking about the name Mormon in Conference, saying in effect the Latter-day Saints have taken a pejorative name and made it shine. Now it seems the current Prophet is leading the Church away from that name. Even what was the Mormon Tabernacle Choir recently expunged the word Mormon from its name.
This may be another sifter separating the wheat from the tares. Shortly after President Hinckley spoke in Conference about how ladies should wear only one pair of earrings, one of my Institute teachers criticized him for speaking about something so “inconsequential.”
My teacher’s criticism of the Prophet took him off the covenant path and on the road to apostasy. That “inconsequential” admonition from the Prophet sifted the less faithful out from among the more faithful. We might describe this latest “inconsequential” admonition from the current Prophet similarly.
Using the proper name of the Church requires many more words than some may care to employ. But the promise which President Nelson gave to those who’ll do their best to conform to the Lord’s desire is anything but inconsequential.
Imagine that — “the likes of which we have never seen”!
Centering on Christ through language
Of course, phrases like that carry significance because words mean things. Language matters. And that’s the essence of President Nelson’s argument to use the correct name of the Church.
And that excites me. We need to be more intentional in our language, particularly regarding names and labels. I’ve long advocated replacing family ward with general membership ward (or just general ward) to describe the majority of our congregations. Such a move helps everyone feel included, thus moving us closer to the Christ-centered culture we need.
Indeed, President Nelson encouraged using the correct name of the Church in order to emphasize the Savior. This is the Lord’s church. Including His name when we share the name of His church in any forum recognizes His proper role and centers us more fully on Him.
So what’s in a name? Shakespeare’s Romeo may declare “a rose by any other name would still smell as sweet,” but there’s nothing sweet about removing the Lord from His proper place in His Church or in our hearts. Using the correct name of the Church honors Him whose church this is and centers us more on Him. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
Because it’s always good to know what the living Prophet said in the last Conference, my selection wasn’t difficult to make. In “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” President Russell M. Nelson spoke of our increasing need to include personal revelation in our lives. And he did so by sharing experiences with revelation from his own life.
Later he revealed (pun intended) how we can best receive that revelation in our lives.
We all have questions that can be answered and challenges that can be solved with the divine inspiration that comes from revelation. But do we have the power-packed combination President Nelson offered?
Pure and obedient
Increased purity and exact obedience go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other. We increase our purity only by aligning ourselves more closely to standards of truth, and that means obeying the commandments with more exactness.
I remember on my mission we were constantly encouraged to be “Ammon missionaries.” Ammon performed every command given him (Alma 18:10) and as a result had wonderful missionary opportunities open to him. Years later, many of the sons of the converts Ammon taught went to battle under Helaman’s command. Mormon ascribes their miraculous preservation in battle to their faith, which they had because “they did obey and observe to perform every word of command with exactness” (Alma 57:21).
How exact are we in our obedience? Are we unable to receive the revelation we need to do wonderful things because our tolerance for impurity is too low? Are we kept from our best life solely by the essential bits of information we might have received had we been more committed?
Seeking and feasting
Just as purity and obedience go hand in hand, so too do earnest seeking and feasting daily from the Book of Mormon. Earnest seekers of answers to questions and solutions to challenges will look to hear God’s voice through many channels. And an obvious channel is the scriptures.
And in no book of scripture can we hear the voice of heaven more clearly than in the Book of Mormon. This book was prepared for us in our day. The ancient prophet Alma the Younger instructed his son Helaman that the Lord was preparing the plates from which the Book of Mormon was later translated “that he may show forth his power unto future generations” (Alma 37:14). I believe part of that “power” is an increased capacity to hear the voice of God provide answers to our questions and solutions to our challenges.
Of course, we don’t always get answers and solutions just for the asking. Some times we’re left to struggle with our questions and challenges because that struggle will help us to grow in a way we other wouldn’t if we received everything on demand. But, as President Nelson promises,
Certainly these blessings come after we do our part. So how are we doing? Are we earnestly seeking for answers while feasting every day in the Book of Mormon?
Committed to temple and family history work
The final part of President Nelson’s power-packed combination is like icing on a cake. Temples are natural places of revelation, and the family history work that supports temple work naturally invites revelation. Both provide ways for us to practice the increased receptivity to revelation gained from increased purity, exact obedience, earnest seeking, and daily feasting in the Book of Mormon.
I confess that lately I’ve been slacking here. There’s no reason why I can’t attend the temple weekly. In fact, I’ve never before had so little excuse not to attend weekly as I live conveniently to two temples. But like most things in life, if you don’t schedule the time to go and then commit to follow that schedule, life can easily crowd out family history and temple service.
That’s why I like President Nelson’s description: “regular time committed.” We need to establish a time when we will go to the temple and when we will participate in some aspect of family history work. And then we need to commit ourselves to follow through on our plans.
What questions do you need answered? What challenges do you need solved? Revelation can help. When we follow President Nelson’s counsel, that blessing can be ours. And that will bring us more joy in our journey.
President Nelson begins his remarks by sharing the story of a tribal king he met in Ghana. This tribal king asked President Nelson to teach him more about Jesus Christ. President Nelson shared the Savior’s visit anciently to America by reading with the king from 3 Nephi.
The king then received the copy of the Book of Mormon from which he and President Nelson had just read. Responding joyfully, the king declared the additional knowledge about Jesus Christ he’d received was more precious to him than diamonds or rubies.
President Nelson then turned the king’s response into a question for us all. How valuable is the Book of Mormon to us? He then extended that question by asking three related ones:
We should all consider these questions.
What would your life be like?
Without the Book of Mormon, I’m pretty certain my life would be very different. I’m not sure what church I would have joined or even if I would be a member of any church. Joseph Smith’s father stayed aloof from the churches of his time and place because they didn’t have the truth he sought. Perhaps I would’ve done likewise.
Either way, I imagine I’d still be searching for the truth. A sincere search for truth, after all, lead me to read the Book of Mormon and seriously apply Moroni’s promise. That experience led to my testimony of not only the Book of Mormon but of everything connected with it — the Restoration of the Lord’s gospel, His Church, and the prophetic mission of Joseph Smith.
Without that testimony, I never would’ve served a mission. And had I served anyway, I doubt I would have stayed in the field very long. Within a week of arriving in Guatemala I began a battle with sickness that lasted much of my mission. My testimony was a bulwark support through that adversity.
What would you not know?
Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t know or appreciate many simple truths restored through its pages, especially the Atonement. Where else do we find such clarity of exposition about the Savior’s ultimate sacrifice in both breadth and depth?
Certainly not in the Bible. The Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price speak clearly about the Atonement, but not with the same breadth or depth as the Book of Mormon.
Not understanding the Atonement, I’d probably be like one of my last mission companions before we met. He worried greatly his imperfections would lead others to reject the gospel and that both they and he would be damned for it. I used the Book of Mormon to help him to understand that the Atonement covers not only what we do wrong but also what we don’t do right. Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t have had the understanding to help myself let alone someone else.
What would you not have?
Without the Book of Mormon, I wouldn’t have anywhere near the confidence level I have today. That’s because I never would’ve served the full-time mission which gave birth to my confidence and self-assertion.
As a teenager, I was the introvert of introverts. You could’ve looked in the dictionary for introvert and found my picture. How did I come out of my shell? The Lord sent me where a 30-year civil war had made much of the people introverted. Helping these people come out of their shell so I could teach them the restored gospel helped me to see I could come out of my shell as well.
What opportunities would I have missed if I didn’t have the confidence to assert myself? What friends and other relationships would I never have experienced without that confidence?
President Nelson’s three questions about the Book of Mormon are worthy of our consideration. How would you answer them? I’ve found my own consideration of these questions spiritually satisfying and enlightening. If you will take the time to reflect on your own answers to President Nelson’s questions, I believe you’ll find the same spiritual satisfaction and enlightenment come to you. And that will bring more joy in your journey.
I wasn’t surprised to learn of President Thomas S. Monson’s passing. I was surprised he didn’t go sooner. He didn’t look that great when we last saw him in Conference. It amazes me he lasted as long as he did.
But the Lord governs the life span of His prophets just as He governs His Church. And President Monson’s time has come.
Thousands viewed his body in the Conference Center before his Church-broadcast funeral service, also held in the Conference Center. Generous and well-deserved praise reminded us who President Monson was. His body was then taken to the cemetery for a private service with family.
All of this is most appropriate. Somehow, though, I find myself more reflective now than when President Hinckley died. Then I was a little disappointed to see President Hinckley go. I wanted him to stay just a little longer.
Now with President Monson’s passing, I’m relieved his suffering has ended. But I find myself wondering about legacy.
Those who came before
Each modern-day prophet I can remember seems to have a legacy. The earliest prophet I remember is Spencer W. Kimball. He encouraged us to“lengthen our stride” and do more today to forward the Lord’s work.
Then came Ezra Taft Benson, best known for his classic discourses on the Book of Mormon and pride. Though with us briefly, Howard W. Hunter encouraged us to make our temple recommend the great seal of our Church membership.
Then Gordon B. Hinckley wore the mantle, and was he ever versatile! It’s partly why I like the man so much.
We saw accelerated growth in the numbers of full-time missionaries and temples. Particularly impressive to me was not only the reconstruction of the Nauvoo temple but also President Hinckley’s insistence that the dedication be shared with the entire Church. And then there’s the Conference Center and the Orchestra at Temple Square.
Plus, who can forget the 60 Minutes interview with Mike Wallace? And I rejoiced when President Hinckley announced the Perpetual Education Fund. Having served my mission in Guatemala, I knew first hand how desperately needed that program was.
President Hinckley tried to do more in every way he could. It was as though he was the culmination of the legacy of the prophets who came before him.
The man himself
And President Monson? When I think about his legacy, what comes to mind? Honestly, when I think about President Monson, I simply see a good man.
That may not seem like much, especially by comparison. But what made him a good man? Why do I have that image of him?
Perhaps it’s because he simply loved people and did what he could to serve them. If President Monson had any theme as the Prophet, it would have to be loving service.
The Mormon Channel has placed an excellent biography of President Monson’s life on YouTube. Although produced back in 2013 and very brief, the video does effectively convey the theme of loving service which President Monson exemplified in his life.
Towards the end of the video, we see President Monson reflecting on his own life. He said something that particularly struck me.
That’s a pretty good summary of his life. How many of us would meet that standard if we were called to be measured today? I’m not sure how well I would measure up.
Those who come after
I am sure, however, the Lord’s timing is spot on. As I watched the presentations of the new First Presidency during the gathering in the Salt Lake temple annex as well as the press conference, I felt the sweet, gentle confirmation of the Spirit that Russell M. Nelson, Dallin H. Oaks, and Henry B. Eyring are the men the Lord wants to fill these roles at this time.
I confess I was half expecting President Nelson to call the same counselors who served under President Monson. But surprised doesn’t mean disappointed. President Oakes and President Eyring are each well-seasoned servants who have more than adequate preparation for their new callings.
And I look forward to having a more energetic Prophet in President Nelson. Can you believe he’s 93 and still goes skiing? Whether or not you believe that, certainly President Nelson hasn’t sought his new role. While watching him speak both in the Salt Lake Temple annex and the press conference, President Nelson humbly repeated over and over that this is the Lord’s Church and He is at the head guiding and directing its affairs.
President Nelson also encouraged Church members to stay on the covenant path, which may turn out to be the theme for his tenure as the Prophet. Whether or not that holds true, we’ll always be blessed when we follow the Brethren. And that will bring more joy in our journey.
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