One of my absolute favorite parts about studying at Brigham Young University is that I have professors who rub shoulders with general authorities on a regular basis. It is so fun to hear them tell stories about apostles and other church leaders. It helps me remember that they're normal people too.
This semester, I am taking LDS Marriage & Family from Brother Matthew Richardson (2nd counselor in the general Sunday school presidency). He is an amazing teacher, and I always love his class. I especially love it when he shares stories with us about church leaders. Here are a few of my favorites:
When Elder Packer was 16, he wore a suit that was way too big to church. The kids at church laughed at him, so he left. He said he was never going back to church. I forget the whole story, but it comes down to this: even though he had been humiliated, he couldn't stay away from church. He knew it was true, so he went back.
The second story comes from a meeting Brother Richardson was in with President Eyring. Actually, I think it was Elder Eyring at the time of the story, but I can't exactly remember. Anyway, President Eyring stood up to get the meeting started. He took off his suit jacket and rolled up his sleeves. Brother Richardson said this was the only time he had been in a meeting where an apostle just took off his jacket and rolled up his sleeves like that. President Eyring addressed the group, "I don't know what faith is." Brother Richardson said at this point in the meeting he was just floored. An apostle of the Lord, Jesus Christ said he didn't know what faith was! Brother Richardson just wanted to rattle off a primary answer or quote scripture. But then President Eyring tapped his finger to his lips and said, "But I do know what faith looks like. Faith looks like those who give their all to God, without knowing what all is." I just love that.
Okay, last story of the night. Brother Richardson was in another meeting being led by an apostle (I forget who). The apostle leading the meeting was talking about how a major problem in the church is that members aren't fully converted. He asked everyone in the meeting to report back to their next meeting with a 6-page report about receiving personal revelation and becoming converted. They were supposed to study the topic out in the scriptures and experiment in their own lives. Brother Richardson was sitting next to Sister Beck, the Relief Society General President. Sister Beck said she didn't know when she would find the time to do this assignment. She had just returned home from a training in Mexico and was preparing her talk for General Conference. Evidently her talk wasn't going so well. She said her home office was just a mess with crumpled up papers. Sister Beck decided to start completely over with her talk. This time, she relied fully on the Lord. She sought revelation as she prepared her talk. Her talk ended up being a lot about personal revelation. It makes her talk so much more meaningful (in my opinion) knowing that her talk on personal revelation came as a result of her own quest for personal revelation. Brother Richardson particularly liked one line of the talk: The ability to qualify for, receive, and act on personal revelation is the single most important skill that can be acquired in this life. When Brother Richardson told Sister Beck how much he liked that particular line she told him about how that line came about. She had written that line as it now reads, but when the proof readers read it they suggested she change the word skill. They went back and forth several times, but Sister Beck felt strongly that "skill" was the appropriate word. Obviously, she won. Receving personal revelation is a skill. It is something we can acquire. Something we can get better at with practice. LOVE IT! Click here to read her General Conference talk in full.