A Lifetime of Preparation
On January 16th, 2018, President Russell M. Nelson was introduced as the 17th president of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In the weeks that have passed since that announcement I have watched as social media have both praised and ridiculed the announcement. There are some who think that having a 93 year-old person at the head of the church is not only a mistake but foolish. Those who express these feelings do not understand that this is not a just a church of men, it is the Church of Jesus Christ and he is the head of the church and guides and directs the church through His Prophets.
When the President of The Church dies, there is no voting or campaigning for the next President. There are no smoke signals announcing the new President. The Lord chooses who that person is. While there is no mystery in who the next President will be (it is always the senior Apostle), it is still the Lord that chooses who that person is. During the next General Conference in April, two new Apostles will be sustained by the Church. The Lord through revelation to his Prophets and Apostles will reveal who those two brethren will be. It is then up to the Lord who will live and who will pass away as each Apostle moves from the junior Apostle to the Senior Apostle.
Elder John A Widtsoe (1872-1952) observed: “This is a wise procedure. It places at the head of the church the Apostle who has been longest in service. He is known well to the people and trusted by them. He himself knows the procedure of church affairs. He is no novice to be trained for the position.”
In his address to the members of the Church President Nelson spoke of how this process prepares one for the day when he is the Senior Apostle and President of the Lord’s Church. He said:
“Each day of an Apostle’s service is day of learning and preparing for more responsibility in the future. It takes decades of service for an Apostle to move from the junior chair to the senior chair in the circle. During that time he gains first-hand experience in each facet of the work of the church. He also becomes well acquainted with the peoples of the earth, including their histories, cultures, languages as his assignments take him repeatedly across the globe.
“This process of succession in the leadership of the church is unique. I know of nothing else like it. That should not surprise us because this is the Lord’s Church. He does not work after the manner of men. I have served in the Quorum of the Twelve under five previous presidents of the Church. I have watched each President receive revelation and respond to that revelation. The Lord always has and always will instruct and inspire his prophets. The Lord is at the helm. We who have been ordained to bear witness of His holy name throughout the world will continue to seek to know his will and follow it.” (See Mormon Newsroom)
Those who serve in the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles travel all over the earth and visit with members and non-members, they visit with leaders of nations, and heads of other Churches. They know more about the needs of Heavenly Father’s children than anyone and through revelation from the Lord they are directed in knowing what needs to be accomplished to bring the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world.
There are many in the social media that have stated that maybe now will be the time for the church to make changes that they would like to see. Again they are mistaken. It is not the President of the Church that decides if changes are to be made; it is the Lord Jesus Christ. While programs and policies can change, church doctrine does not and those who want to force change will be disappointed.
President Nelson express his love for the faithful members of the church and asked them to stay on the covenant path and close to the temple. To those that have strayed from the covenant path President Nelson invited them to come back. He said: “Whatever your concerns, whatever your challenges, there is a place for you in this the Lord’s Church. You and generations yet unborn will be bless as you return to the covenant path”.
President Nelson concluded is address to the church by saying “I declare my devotion to God our Eternal Father and His Son Jesus Christ. I know them and love them and pledge to serve them and you with every remaining breath of my life”.
I add my witness and testimony that President Russell M. Nelson is the Lord’s Prophet here on the earth today. He is not only the President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but he is the Lord’s Prophet to the world. As we listen and give heed to his teachings and counsel we will be blessed and prosper. This has always been the Lord’s way for Heavenly Father’s children and always will be.
Your questions and comments are welcome.