Choose anything by or about President Gordon B. Hinckley. Let’s have a good cry together. Here are a few possibilities:
I’m so glad you’re all voraciously devouring prophetic counsel!
At least one of these books is coming out tonight.
Alison, you make me giggle. I am rereading Gordon B. Hinckley’s biography, “Go Forward with Faith.”
Boy, it’s good for me right now. Just what I needed. I’m going through with a highlighter and marking the things that stand out to me, the life lessons, the patterns for living that I want for my own path. The bumper stickers. Hope nobody minds if I share some of them.
The very first page of the preface has his heartfelt belief that “Adulation is poison.” I’ve heard him say it many times. “Praise is poison.” Gives me so much to think about. (pg. ix) I remember him challenging Russell M. Nelson to a duel in the basement, because Elder Nelson made the mistake of praising him too effusely in public!
On page x of the preface: “The only way to get anything done is to get on your knees and ask for the Lord’s help, and then get to your feet and go to work.” True President Hinckley.
On page xi of the preface: “The most persuasive gospel tract is the exemplary life of a Latter-day Saint.”
Also on page xi: “President Hinckley feels passionately about the gospel and about people, yet he isn’t overly sentimental. He has a deep understanding of the scriptures and the doctrines of the Church, but he constructs his sermons such that they don’t overpower or intimidate. He is tremendously articulate, but he uses language carefully and in a manner that doesn’t call attention to himself. He takes what he does very seriously, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously–hence his often self-deprecating wit that apeals to people of all stations.” Quite a blow to me, the verbose one.
Also reminded me that the Savior, who had the greatest vocabulary of all, spoke in sweet and simple terms, easy to be understood. I remember a bishop once who told me, “Know the big words. Say the small ones.” I was quite offended at the time! But the years have given me appreciation for that counsel.
Page xiii: “He has described the work of the Church to nonmember, and at times, non-Christian, reporters without being preachy, patronizing, or overbearing.”
Page 4: (I can just hear him saying this.) “Carry on! Yes. Our theme will be to carry on the great work which has been furthered by our predecessors who have served so admirably, so faithfully, so well. Building family values? Yes. Fostering education? Yes. Building a spirit of tolerance and forbearance among people everywhere? Yes. And proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is His name which becomes the name of this Church, and whose teachings and ideals we seek to emulate and promote. We will continue to do so.”
On the power of example, pg. 6: “Personal testimony, coupled with performance, cannot be refuted.”
Bryant S. Hinckley, concerning his father Ira Hinckley, page 15: “Father was not interested in the mysteries of the Kingdom. The thing that characterized his religion was its application to everyday life. He had little use for religion that did not register in one’s life, that did not manifest itself in his behavior. He never regarded religion as a cloak that could be laid off and put on at one’s convenience.”
More to follow. When you get tired of hearing me quote, say “Knock that off.”
“The only way to get anything done is to get on your knees and ask for the Lord’s help, and then get to your feet and go to work.”
I love this quote most days. Some days I’d prefer the Magic Genie Gospel.
Keep going, davidson. This give everyone an opportunity to learn from the prophet and comment, even if they aren’t reading any books themselves. Thank you!
I thought this was interesting. The book includes three quotes from patriarchal blessings: one from President Hinckley’s mother Ada’s blessing, one from his father Bryant’s blessing, and one from his own blessing.
His mother’s: “In the same blessing, Ada was also told that she had ‘a particular mission to fulfill, and that the angel assigned to watch over her at birth would direct her course and remove barriers from her way and doubts from her mind.’ ” pg. 21 (Wow.) BTW, he lost his mother to cancer when he was 20 years old.
His father’s: “You shall not only become great yourself but your posterity will become great, from your loins shall come forth statesmen, prophets, priests, and Kings to the most High God. The Priesthood will never depart from your family, no never. To your posterity there shall be no end. . .and the name of Hinckley shall be honored in every nation under heaven.” pg.22
Gordon’s: “Thou shalt grow to the full stature of manhood and shall become a mighty and valiant leader in the midst of Israel. The Holy Priesthood shall be thine to enjoy and thou shalt minister in the midst of Israel as only those can who are called of God. Thou shalt ever be a messenger of peace; the nations of the earth shall hear thy voice and be brought to the knowledge of the truth by the wonderful testimony which thou shalt bear.” pg. 60
I also liked this: “Over time, Gordon developed a familiarity with good books and came to appreciate what his parents valued–literature and history, learning and education. Years later, he concurred with Emerson, who, when asked which of all the books he had read had most affected his life, said that he could no more remember the books he read than the meals he had eaten, but that they had made him.” pg. 30
The Hinckley method of raising children: “Certain standards of behavior and achievement were nonetheless modeled and expected in the HInckley home. Neither Bryant nor Ada was a strict disciplinarian; Bryant never raised a hand to his children. (Sort of unusual in that day and age.)
‘By some quiet magic,’ Gordon later said, ‘our father was able to discipline his family without the use of any instrument of punishment, though on occasion we may have deserved it.’ When the children misbehaved, both parents had a way of communicating disappointment and letting them know that more was expected of them.” pg. 31 Also: “We went to Church, but not under compulsion. Our parents somehow let us know what was expected of us, and we followed their lead without much argument.” pgs. 34-35
On optimism and personal responsibility: “Ada believed, and often stated, that a happy attitude and smiling countenance could boost one over almost any misfortune and that every individual was responsible for his own happiness. The children frequently heard their parents say, ‘Cynics do not contribute; skeptics do not create; doubters do not achieve.’ ” pg.37
About Gordon’s father, Bryant S. Hinckley: “Though Bryant sermonized from the pulpit, there was very little sermonizing about the house. . . .he had a knack for extracting inspiring examples from the lives of those he studied and referring to them when occasion warranted. . . .Bryant believed that one should expect the best in others, that there was decency and goodness in the common man and nobility in the working class. He explained to his posterity on one occasion: ‘There is no royalty like the royalty of high endeavor. We do not belong to a family of geniuses. We cannot depend upon our good looks or our native brilliance of mind to carry us forward. Each of us must pay the price of hard work if we achieve. We belong to the working class–a distinction. Only workers are found among the chosen people. Honesty, industry, and common sense makes a good combination.’ ”
pgs. 43-44 From pg. 52: “For as long as he could remember, Gordon had heard his father say that
things might not always go the way you wished, but the challenge was to move forward and never look back. ‘Never looking back’ was a Hinckley family trait.”
Gosh, if I wrote down everything I liked, I’d be quoting the whole book! But I loved this from Gordon B. Hinckley: “Whatever you choose to do, train for it. Qualify yourselves. Take advantage of the experience and learning of those who have gone before you in whatever field you choose. Education is a shortcut to proficiency. It makes it possible to leapfrog over mistakes of the past.” pg. 55
He certainly understood the discouragement a missionary sometimes feels. “During eight months in Liverpool, Gordon had distributed 8,785 tracts and pamphlets, spent more than 400 hours with members, attended 191 meetings, had 200 gospel conversations, confirmed one person, and baptized no one.” pg. 69
Ending for tonight on a happier note: “Elder Hinckley’s pattern was to expect the best and then work to make it happen. He focused on what could be done, rather than what couldn’t, looked for solutions to problems rather than resigned himself to them, and learned to be happy even when things weren’t going well. His was an attitude of abundance rather than scarcity.” pg. 75
Hmmm, abundance rather than scarcity. I need to remember that!
“Gordon learned how to deal with people. He learned that you don’t quarrel with people, you compose your differences.” pg. 103. I thought compose was an interesting word, used in that context, so I looked it up. The meanings of the word compose are: 1) form by putting parts together; 2) construct in some creative way; 3) calm; quiet; 4) settle differences; adjust. It also notes that a person who is composed is calm and serene. Sounds like President Hinckley, doesn’t it.
In the chapter on Marjorie, this paragraph caught my eye. “She had a light heart without being light-minded. In turn, Gordon’s dry wit delighted Marjorie, who loved the fact that although her beau was
practical, self-disciplined, and serious about things that mattered to him, he didn’t take himself very seriously and was often the first to poke fun at his own quirks.” pg. 106
My admiration for Marjorie grew when I read this: “I felt completely that Gordon loved me. But I also knew somehow that I would never come first with him. I knew I was going to be second in his life and that the Lord was going to be first. And that was okay.” She also said, “It seemed to me that if you understood the gospel and the purpose of our being here, you would want a husband who put the Lord first. I felt secure knowing he was that kind of man.” pg 114-115 I liked this, too:
“Mother taught us by example that the most wonderful thing in the world was to have a husband who loves the Lord. It did not occur to me that there was any other way to live.” pg. 115
Great quotes. Thank you so much for taking the time to post them.
About the patriarchal blessings: I didn’t get mine until I was 21 and just a few weeks from getting married. My bishop practically withheld my recommend until I got it. I was terrified. I was sure the patriarch would put his hand on my head and then say, “Hmmmm. Loser. Nothing here. Amen.”
I’m really glad he didn’t.
thanks for sharing all these quotes! I don’t have any of his books and I’m really glad to get to read these quotes! thank you!
Alison, instead, I’m sure your patriarch said, “Hmmm. Winner. Going to do great things and help many people. Everything here. Amen.” I have often thought you came to the earth with the drive and determination and power to do important things for our Heavenly Father and make a real difference for good. It will be fun to watch you over the years.
Jen, I’m glad you liked the quotes! He was one inspirational man. If no one minds, I’m going to continue to post the things I find. Typing them is a good way for me to study them.
“Faced with making decisions regarding the misconduct of missionaries, Gordon leaned when possible toward the side of compassion. When a rebuke or discipline was necessary, he seemed able to communicate that his first interest was the welfare and future of the wrongdoer, and that any action taken was based on love.” pg. 157
On husbands and wives: “Unfortunately, some women want to remake their husbands after their own designs. Some husbands regard it as their prerogative to compel their wives to fit their standard of what they think to be the ideal. It never works.” Sheri Dew added, “What did work for the Hinckleys was mutual respect and cooperation. . . .Together they created an atmosphere of stability and love in their family, as much by how they interacted with each other as by what they expressed verbally. Because Gordon and Marjorie were content with their lives, the children had a sense that everything else was fine as well.” pg. 166
I know we’ve discussed bedtimes at this website. I’m not a morning person; never have been, but I know President Hinckley had some strong feelings about it. “Family and friends knew not to call late (at the Hinckley home) because lights out were by 10:00. Throughout his life Gordon would claim,
‘If you go to bed at 10:00 and get up by 6:00 a.m., things will work out for you.” pg. 167
I loved this! The Hinckley family was human. Speaking of vacations, “The day of the trip they arose at 4:00 a.m. but never got away until an hour later–with Gordon grumbling about the late start. The children were almost always fussing at each other before they reached the city limits, at which point he would pull the car over and announce impatiently, ‘We are going home RIGHT NOW if you can’t get along with each other.’ ” LOL. Don’t you think, Mommas, we could make a recording of statements
like that and leave the country, and our job would be done? Just tell the children, “If you get in a fight, push play on the tape player and follow the instructions”? Meet you in Italy, ladies (and gents.)
Sheri Dew kept mentioning the Hinckley’s attitudes about discipline. “Neither Gordon nor Marjorie was inclined to impose on the children a lengthy list of rigid rules and regulations. He insisted that he did enough preaching elsewhere–he had no desire to come home and do more. Discipline was handled much the same way. They both believed that harsh corrective measures only created resentment. ‘Mother and Dad taught us that there was a difference between principles and rules,’
Ginny explained. ‘There are never enough rules to tell you what to do in every situation. But they did put a few principles in place. We felt free to make decisions because we knew the fundamental principles against which everything could be measured. The Hinckleys communicated those principles–being responsible, working hard, doing what you say you’ll do, getting an education, being disciplined, finishing what you start, keeping the commandments, and so forth–to their offspring through example, the ultimate textbook.” pg. 168
On the next page it continues. ” ‘We got a clear idea of what Dad appreciated by the way he spoke about others,’ Ginny said. ‘He used phrases like, he is a person of ability, or he is a person of capacity. He was very open about the strengths he saw operating in other people’s lives, and over time we got a sense of what he valued. He valued integrity, goodness, competence, and people who do what they say they’ll do.’ ”
Gordon’s son Dick had vivid memories of the effect his father’s prayers had on him: “I can’t remember a day when we didn’t have family prayer. When it was his turn, Dad prayed very sincerely but never with a theatrical or emotional air. We learned much about the depth of his faith by listening to him pray. He addressed God with great reverence, as he would perhaps wise and revered teacher or mentor, and he referred to the Savior with deep feeling. . . .Gordon prayed regularly for those who were ‘downtrodden and oppressed’ or ‘alone and afraid.’ ” He often said, “We pray that we may live without regret,” a prayer that stayed with his children when they were adults.
Marjorie said, “I think family prayer had a great deal to do with the way our children responded to us. Even though Gordon didn’t preach to them, they heard everything he wanted them to hear in family prayer.” pg. 171 (Well, I thought that was powerful.)
Loved this. “Neither Gordon nor Marjorie promoted doing things for the sake of appearance. ‘It was always a surprise to have other people insinuate that we needed to be perfect,’ said Ginny. ‘Mother and Dad never made us feel that we had to look good for them.’ Clark said, ‘Our parents had a way of making us feel that we were the best kids in town. They never led us to believe that we were better than anyone else. But WE thought THEY thought we were probably a little bit smarter, a little harder-working than other kids.’ Gordon often told his children that he wasn’t interested in having any geniuses in the family, that the penitentiary was full of geniuses who were too smart for their own good. . . .Somehow Gordon and Marjorie managed to monitor what went on in their children’s lives while staying far enough in the background for them to learn to make their own decisions.” pgs. 171-172
Marjorie said this, “I learned that I needed to trust my children, so I tried to never say no if I could possibly say yes.” Wow! What a profound bumper sticker for a parent. She went on to say, “As I could see that I wasn’t going to be able to make all of my children’s decisions anyway, I tried not to worry about every little thing. My parents had absolute confidence in me and my siblings.”
“One day a teenaged Kathy asked her father how it was that General Authorities could have different opinions about things, and yet Church members were supposed to follow the prophet. Gordon’s answer was firm: ‘You keep your eye on the President of the Church, and you will never go wrong.’ ”
Again about their humor: “”Mother and Dad could laugh at themselves and find humor in what happened. Somehow they avoided overreacting to all of our little daily crises.” Marjorie admitted, “We tried not to take ourselves too seriously. We learned that you get in trouble when you do that.” Indeed, both Gordon and Marjorie saw their own foibles and laughed at them openly. Humor became the trademark in a family where the ability to laugh at oneself was required for survival. Gordon loved to hear or tell a good story and would laugh so hard as he approached the punch line that he could hardly speak or breathe. Watching him laugh was almost more fun than the joke itself. Family gatherings became laugh-fests. . . .The Hinkley children often heard their mother say, “The only way to get through life is to laugh your way through it.” pg. 175
I really liked this: “Marjorie Hinckley took that approach with her husband and family, refusing to take offense where none was intended and filtering daily events through an attitude of good humor.
Though a world-class worrier, she tried to laugh even when she wanted to cry.” pg. 175
Gordon gave this simple and wise counsel to parents, “There are four simple principles parents might consider in rearing their children: to love them, to teach them, to respect them, and to pray with and for them.” pg. 175
When Gordon was called to be a stake president over a huge stake, Don Sperry (his stake clerk) attended many meetings conducted by President Hinckley. He said, “I never dreaded having to get up early Sunday morning for a meeting because I knew there was going to be some good activity, a lot of inspiration, and a lot of humor as well.” Sheri Dew said, “President Hinckley’s meetings began and ended on time. He expected stake leaders to be well-prepared and to speak their mind. When sensitive issues arose, he seemed able to grasp the essence of the matter quickly. From there, it was a matter of combining earnest prayer with hard work. In fact, he often reacted to challenges with the statement, “I don’t know how to get anything done except by working, so let’s get going.” Once a decision was made, he didn’t look back. And when things were most discouraging he typically told his counselors, “Things will work out.” pg. 193 (One of the things I love most about older people is they have lived long enough to be able to say with surety, “Things will work out.”)
Gordon spoke of times when people in the Church had to pay for new buildings and other Church-related necessities out-of-pocket. Some found it too difficult. But many committed to support the Lord’s direction on that matter. After the people of his stake helped to finance the building of a new stake center, at great sacrifice, Gordon noticed a principle he never forgot. On the day of dedication, he arrived at the new stake center to find the parking lot filled with shiny automobiles. He said, “Nobody ever missed what he gave for that building, and that has been my testimony to Saints all over this Church. You don’t miss what you give to the Lord.” pg. 204
On visiting with members of other nationalities: “One reason I loved those people so much was that they lived under such adverse conditions. I couldn’t help but reach out to them in a spirit of love.
And they reciprocated. If you love people, they’ll love you also.” pg. 229
I was so impressed with how perfectly President Hinckley accepted the callings that were given to him, even when he staggered under the weight of very pressing and crucial obligations, all dropped on him at the same time. It is astounding what he accomplished. He just believed that the Lord would strengthen him for any task at any time, and He did.
Thanks for doing this. I really enjoy the summaries.
:shamed: Thanks davidson. Not exactly, but it was very interesting how the Lord gave me the exact blessing I needed in order to get me to stop thinking I was such a spiritual loser. Not that I thought the opposite, but it made me think there was hope.
Too personal, probably. Sorry.
Throughout his life Gordon would claim, ‘If you go to bed at 10:00 and get up by 6:00 a.m., things will work out for you.”
Well, that would explain a number of my problems. I’m going to bed.
Some more good stuff.
“Despite his feelings of anguish for the LDS men stationed in Vietnam, he measured his words carefully. The last thing they needed was an apostle giving voice to the sentiment that they shouldn’t be there in the first place. It wasn’t always easy to hold his tongue. He was heartsick after visiting an American military hospital in an effort to locate Church members who had been evacuated from Vietnam. One young man’s chest had been blown nearly away. Others had lost limbs or had been so tragically wounded or traumatized that they would never regain their faculties. He gave blessings to those who desired them and left feeling haunted about what he had seen. pg. 285
“Repeatedly he reassured LDS servicemen that they could make a difference, often citing an experience he had had in Korea at a servicemen’s retreat. During that meeting, a sergeant bore his testimony and said this: ‘I grew up on the banks of t he Susquehanna River, and I almost inherited a hatred for the Mormons. I discovered when I was in the barracks in Korea that the man who was in the bunk next to mine was reading a Book of Mormon, and I went over and started ribbing him. . . .
I was mean and I was nasty. One night he got up out of his bed when I was saying something. . .and I have never seen a man stand so tall in my life. He held out the book and said,
‘Have you ever read it?’ I said, ‘No, of course not.’ And he said, ‘Here it is! Now you read it, and you keep your mouth shut until you are through reading it and then we will talk about it.’ I didn’t know what else to do–and I took it. And I began to read it, and as I read it, the Spirit of the Lord bore witness to me that it was true. And now I know why I was sent to Korea.’ pg. 286
Sheri Dew said, “These men who, in the midst of war, taught the gospel by example and precept had Elder Hinckley’s deepest respect.” pg. 286
“Through word and deed, Elder Hinckley communicated his optimism. After monsoon rains sent a wall of water cascading down a canyon near the mission home in Seoul, destroying both property and spirit, the mission president’s report to Elder Hinckley had the ring of a disheartened attitude. By return mail Elder Hinckley responded, ‘We have your letter of July 22, 1966, with reference to the flood, which engulfed the mission home property. Needless to say this was a frightening experience and doubtless a costly one. You may be interested to know that the night before the London Temple was dedicated we had a flood of serious proportions there. I stood (in the basement) in water to my waist with others, bailing it out. This went on for hours. I only want to suggest that your experience is not peculiar to Korea. Noah had a worse time. Sincerely, your brother.” pg. 287 True President
I thought this was interesting on human relations: “Adney Y. Komatsu said, ‘One of the
things I appreciated about Elder Hinckley was that never once in my three years as mission president did he criticize me, despite all my weaknesses. . .and that spurred me on. Every time he came to the mission home, I thought, ‘I’m going to get it right between the eyes this time. I didn’t turn in this report properly or I didn’t follow this program right.’ But every time he came off the plane, he would grab my hand like he was pumping water out of a well with great enthusiasm. ‘Well, President Komatsu, how are you getting along? You’re doing great work.’ He encouraged me like that. . .and when he left I felt I should give 105 percent, not just 100 percent. He didn’t come into my area and tell me all about the weaknesses that I already knew about.’ ”
“Church leaders were deeply concerned about the (legalizing-liquor-by-the-drink) issue campaign in Utah, which they felt was laden with moral implications. Based on the precedent established in other states where liquor-by-the drink had been legalized, they believed that easy access to alcohol would lead to an increase in welfare costs, crime, and accidents. After discussing the matter at length, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve decided to actively oppose the measure, and they appointed Elders Marion G. Romney, Howard W. Hunter, and Gordon B. Hinckley to spearhead the Church’s effort. . . .Elder Hinckley noted in his journal, ‘The fat is in the fire. Sentiment is boiling up and down the state over the issue. We are being accused of trying to stop the democratic process.’ He later said, ‘We hope that we can honestly differ with our friends who are promoting this enlargement of liquor availability. We hope we can do so without animosity or bitterness. Our disagreements are honest. Our convictions are firm.’ Throughout the summer and early fall, liquor-by-the-drink rhetoric became increasingly vitriolic. And although Elder Hinckley would have preferred to stay in the background, he had become identified as the Church’s point man and therefore was the target of critics who resented the Church’s interference in a ‘political’ issue. His telephones at home and the office rang constantly as proponents took their frustration out on him directly and made their attacks and insults personal. Some went so far as to threaten him if he and the Church didn’t back down. . . .He was weary from the stress of the campaign and did not welcome the assignment, but (said), ‘Critics have singled out the Church as the culprit who has frustrated their well-laid plans. Of course the voice of the Church has been raised. The Church has spoken its opposition openly and frankly. It had a duty to do so. We did not raise the issue. But once it was raised, the Church would have been remiss in its obligation had it remained silent. This is a moral issue.’
Later he said, ‘. . . .A man called me and began swearing at me and the Church. Then a young man called who said he was a returned missionary and thought it was none of the Church’s business to speak out on this. . . .I went to bed feeling greatly depressed by the thought that I had stirred up much antagonism.’ The next day voters in Utah defeated liquor-by-the-drink almost two to one.”
Sheri Dew went on to say, “Elder Hinckley’s assignment with the campaign, though exasperating at times, was tailor-made for him. Through the years he had proven articulate and unflappable under fire. He projected and inspired confidence without appearing arrogant, and he was adept at relating with the non-LDS community. Hence, those who presided over him had developed confidence in his ability to represent the Church regarding delicate issues. His instincts for walking the fragile line between Church and state, responding to critics, and addressing volatile topics were finely honed.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell said of him, ‘He was able and gifted as a communicator, but in addition to his prowess with language, he had a unique combination of candor and wisdom. His judgment in knowing how to handle delicate matters was impeccable, and it was obvious that the Brethren relied upon him heavily.’ ” pgs. 291-294 This story meant a lot to me. It was inspiring to see his grace under fire. What a wonderful man.
Another paragraph about human relations impressed me. “There is a tremendous brotherhood in the quorum,” Elder Hinckley later explained. “I was free to speak on any issue, despite the fact that I was the junior member. Here was a body of twelve men–fifteen when the First Presidency joined
us–all of whom came from different backgrounds, who represented different points of view, and whose Church experiences varied widely. Obviously there were differences of viewpoint or opinion on many subjects. Yet we were each expected to speak forthrightly. That’s why we were there.” At times, their deliberations were both long and energetic. “There was never any animosity in the council, however, which made us able to discuss the most sensitive of subjects,” he continued. “As a discussion developed, a synthesizing took place, a melding of opinions. And when all was said and done, and the President of the Church spoke, everyone agreed. Whatever a man’s conviction might have been earlier, the new opinion became his own. There was complete unanimity, else no action was taken.” pg.302
“The people hunger for spiritual nourishment, and I feel it is our place to give this. . . .The forces against which we labor are tremendous,” President Hinckley taught. “We need more than our own strength to cope with them. To all who hold positions of leadership, to the vast corp of teachers and missionaries, to heads of families, I should like to make a plea: ‘In all you do, feed the spirit–nourish the soul. . . . I am satisfied that the world is starved for spiritual food.” pg. 303
“Elder Hinckley distinguished himself as a financial conservative who deplored debt and waste. He admired thrift and often made note in his journal of those he met who, despite prosperity, lived prudently. Though he appreciated staying in comfortable hotels, he shunned anything lavish.” pg. 304
More on this: “Church leaders and their wives traveled to Rome, where they arrived late in the evening to find that they had been booked into elaborate hotel suites. The extravagance troubled Elder Hinckley, and early the next morning he went to the front desk to request a standard room. President Harold B. Lee happened to walk by at that moment, and he asked his colleague what he was doing. “I’m changing my room,” Elder Hinckley responded. “The President of the Church deserves a suite, but I don’t.” President Lee immediately responded, “While you’re changing your suite, change mine.” pg. 322
“Fathers and mothers are needed who will rise and stand upon their feet to make of their homes
sanctuaries in which children will grow in a spirit of obedience, industry, and fidelity to tested standards of conduct. If our society is coming apart at the seams, it is because the tailor and the seamstress in the home are not producing the kind of stitching that will hold under stress.” He also taught priesthood leaders that the full-time elders and sisters were missionaries to the nonmembers, that hometeachers were missionaries to the members, and that the Church could not succeed unless both functioned effectively. pg 306
Sheri Dew said, “He occasionally wondered if the constant travel was justified, but circumstances he encountered in one country convinced him that regular visits from General Authorities were necessary or there would soon be ‘a thousand splinter groups who would be pursuing rainbows only remotely related to the true program of the Church.” pg. 307
President Hinckley’s faith concerning Harold B. Lee’s sudden death: “Reporters and others have spoken of his passing as ‘untimely.’ Our Father sets the time. . . .We sorrow, properly, for our loss is great. We weep, for we loved him, but. . .I am certain that his passing was as much the will of the
Lord as was his preservation and preparation through the years for the high and holy calling which he filled so nobly.” pg. 331
‘Marjorie had long since decided to dismiss temporary annoyances as just that: temporary. Indeed, she had found that being the wife of a General Authority required a unique combination of fierce independence and unwavering support. At times she wanted to laugh out loud when she was asked what it was like to be married to a Church leader, as if that made her some sort of celebrity. IF ONLY YOU KNEW, she usually thought, knowing full well that only other women in the same situation could understand the ironies, opportunities, challenges, and blessings inherent in their way of life. All in all, her tendency to see humor in many situations, her ability to find joy in everything from the mundane to the exotic, and her complete faith in the Lord suited her well to their peculiar routine, which she not only accepted but enjoyed immensely.” pg. 338 Wow, what a sermon. “Not only accepted but enjoyed immensely.” Way to go, Sister Hinckley.
“Gordon admired those who did what they said they would do, and he adopted that standard personally. He also tried to operate according to other basic principles: that you do the best you can regardless of circumstances, that you can get a lot done if you don’t care who gets the credit, and that it is more important to focus on responsibilities than on privileges. ‘There is nothing in all the world so satisfying as a task well done,’ he said on occasion. ‘There is no reward so pleasing as that which come with the mastery of a difficult problem.’ ” pg. 341
This one’s for us to look forward to, Ray! Marjorie Hinckley said, “Fifty was my favorite age. It takes about that long to quit competing and settle down to living. It is the age I would like to be through all eternity.” pg. 346
Again, Sister Hinckley: “I have a new project,” she wrote to Kathy, “one chapter a day from each of the standard works. I have been on it for four days and am only 3 days behind. Better to have tried and failed than never to have tried.” pg. 346
Loved this! Elder Hinckley said, “To you who have taken your spiritual inheritance and left, and now find an emptiness in your lives, the way is open for your return. I think I know why some of you left. You were offended by a thoughtless individual who injured you. . . .Or you may have been drawn to other company or habits which you felt were incompatible with association in the Church. Or you may have felt yourself wiser in the wisdom of the world than those of your Church associates. I am not here to dwell on the reasons. I hope you will not. Put the past behind you. . . .This, my
beloved friends, is what the gospel is all about–to make bad men good and good men better.” pg. 351
Here is our belief in a nutshell. Elder Hinckley said, “I do not understand those who express admiration for the Church but cannot accept Joseph Smith as prophet. That statement is a contradiction. If you accept the revelation, you must accept the revelator.” He then clarified the Prophet’s unique role. “We do not worship the Prophet. We worship God our Eternal Father, and the risen Lord Jesus Christ. But we acknowledge (Joseph Smith), we proclaim him, we respect him as an instrument in the hands of the Almighty in restoring to the earth the ancient truths of the divine gospel.”
He loved Joseph Smith. He said, “I know that in the natural course of events, before many years I will step across the threshold to stand before my Maker and my Lord and give an accounting of my life. And I hope that I shall have the opportunity of embracing the Prophet Joseph Smith and of thanking him and of speaking of my love for him.” pg. 359 (Wouldn’t you have loved to see it? Maybe someday we can.)
Central to Elder Hinckley’s testimony was a fierce loyalty to the Presidents of the Church. When an influential man asked him to deliver to President Kimball a packet of materials encouraging the Church to change its policy on a certain issue, Elder Hinckley was not subtle in his response: “I told him there was no future for him in this kind of campaign, that anything he said or did would not affect a decision of this matter, that it has never been the policy of the Church to take a stand simply on the basis of popularity. . . .I gave him my testimony that no one was more anxious do the will of the Lord than (then) President Spencer W. Kimball, and that he and the counselors and the members of the Council of theTwelve prayed often for the direction of the Lord in all of their undertakings. I told him that either we have a prophet, or we don’t have a prophet. If we have a prophet, we have everything. If we do not have a prophet, then we have nothing.” pgs. 359-360
One short sentence made me a little sad for him, and so much more appreciative of his service: “It seemed to Elder Hinckley that his life was one long excursion with periodic layovers at home–but that really wasn’t the case.” pg 360 Probably more true than not.
Do I get the award for the longest post ever on a thread? If it were just my words, I would have shut up a long time ago, but I so love President Hinckley, and I think his words are important. Feel free to chime in or discuss another book. I am thread-hogging. Oink.
I love this, davidson, it really makes me peacefull to sit and read these! Thank you for taking the time to do this for us.
More of the things I loved and learned from:
“There is rampant among us a spirit of criticism. . . .None of us is perfect; all of us occasionally make mistakes. . . Men and women who carry heavy responsibility do not need criticism, they need encouragement. One can disagree with the policy without being disagreeable concerning the policy-maker.” He concluded with a plea: “Restrain your tongues in criticism of others. It is so easy to find fault. It is so much nobler to speak constructively.” pg. 387
Much of his life history spoke of the difficulty he faced when he was a counselor to a very ill and weakened President Kimball. The other counselor, Marion G. Romney, was also unable to function in the office the way he would have liked to because of age. Very often President Hinckley sat alone and made decisions alone. He said, “I was called on to give my testimony, and among other things I expressed my view. . .that there are councils in heaven as there are here; and I have the feeling that a council is in session there with all of the prior presidents of the Church who are custodians of the work in this dispensation under the direction of the Lord whose church this is. In our present circumstances, with President Kimball so seriously ill, many questions naturally arise. I am confident that the heavenly council is considering these matters and that they have the power, or have available to them the power, to govern the time frame in the affairs of the Church as well as the course it will take. I therefore have peace in my heart concerning the present and the future.” After he sat down, President Hinckley had an interesting impression: “I saw President Lee looking at me from his portrait, smiling as if to indicate that he knew what the future holds.” pg. 389
On another occasion, after he was called to be the THIRD counselor to an ailing presidency, he said, “The responsibility I carry frightens me. (President Kimball) is unable to handle any detailed matters of business. President N. Eldon Tanner, his first counselor, suffers seriously (with Parkinson’s disease) in his speech and walking. . . .His mind is good, but he has difficulty of expression. President Marion G. Romney. . . has serious problems of recall. . .I pray each day for strength and wisdom and inspiration. This is the marvelous work and a wonder of which the Lord spoke, and I carry so heavy a responsibility in it. Sometimes I weep with concern. But there comes the assurance that the Lord put me here for His purpose, and if I will be humble and seek the direction of the Holy Spirit, He will use me according to His will to accomplish his purposes.” pg. 393
“His wit surfaced often as he handled the circumstances he had inherited. When neither President Kimball nor President Romney was able to attend the mission presidents’ seminar in July, President Hinckley cited health concerns as the reason for their absence and then drew a hearty round of laughter when he added: “I know how they feel. I had a birthday myself yesterday.” pg. 400
“One day, when faced with an unusually difficult situation for which there appeared to be no resolution, he dropped to his knees to petition the Lord’s help. He later related what took place:
‘There came into my mind the words, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’ I knew again that this was His work, that He would not let it fail, that all I had to do was work at it and do my best, and that the work would move forward.’ ” pg. 401
“On one occasion after the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve had wrestled with a difficult challenge, he leaned back in his chair and said, ‘Brethren, sometimes I get weary of being a judge.’ There were days when he felt like the Church ombudsman, the court of last resort for anyone who was disgruntled with a Church department or organization, and he found it impossible to shake loose from the constant stream of appointments. ‘People need a listening ear and they are not always getting it,’ he noted. ‘People are more important than programs and efficiency.’ ” pg. 413-414
“It is almost impossible to believe that some of our people get into the kind of sin they do,” he lamented in one journal entry. “One evil thing begets another, until they are entrapped in a terrible web. Excommunication usually follows, and then there are years of regret before there is baptism and eventually a restoration of former blessings. But the wonderful thing is that there is repentance and forgiveness.” The process (of helping people who had seriously sinned) weighed on him. “I do not like to sit in judgment. . . .However, it is a necessary responsibility. I constantly hope and pray that if we err we will err on the side of mercy. The Lord Himself will be their judge.” He often cautioned his Brethren that such judgments affected not only the person in question but subsequent generations as well. Indeed, he was finding that most First Presidency decisions had grave consequences.” pg. 390
“Occasionally he thought of President J. Reuben Clark Jr., who had also served as a counselor to a prophet in feeble health and had once remarked privately that having responsibility without
commensurate authority was the personification of misery.” pg. 414
Opposition to the Church grew as the First Presidency aged. President Hinckley wrote, “Let us hope and pray that the days of burnings, drivings, and murders are forever behind us. But there will likely continue to be criticism and attacks of many kinds on the Church and its people. It will be of a more sophisticated nature than it has been in the past; and in the future, as before, we may expect much of it to come from those within the ranks of the Church–members of record while apostate in Spirit.”
His words were proving prophetic, for some of the most vitriolic of critics were coming from inside the Church.” pg. 404 Boy, my heart ached for him, to be the sole functioning member of the First Presidency while seeing such an increase in bitter criticism. It had to be a test worthy only of a prophet.
He continued to try to strengthen his Brethren against the opposition. During 1984 President Hinckley conducted a series of solemn assemblies in the Salt Lake Temple, during which the leaders partook of the Sacrament together and received instruction. The purpose of these meetings, he recorded in his journal, “was to strengthen the Brethren spiritually and to assist them in meeting those who are striving with great diligence to undermine the faith of the Saints and who are trying to destroy the Church. There many and they are effective, and we cannot simply close our eyes.” In countless settings he encouraged men and women, regardless of their circumstances, to look for the positive.” pg. 406 My admiration for him grows.
In a moving speech he gave to 7000 members of the American Legion and their families in the Tabernacle, he said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord. . . .I feel to say that military preparedness will not save us if we as a people and a nation lack the heart and the will to cultivate within ourselves moral strength and a recognition of God as our unfailing guide and helper.” pg. 407
Sheri Dew said, “President Hinckley pleaded with department heads at the Church Office Building to embrace simplicity. As thrilling as growth was, he abhorred bureaucracy and at times felt himself swimming helplessly against a mounting tide.” pg. 408
More on Sister Hinckley, who delights me: “Marjorie provided her husband with a much-needed sense of balance. When the weight of the world was pressing in on him, she seemed to know how to lighten his mood. The humor that had always characterized their relationship was ever present. When she returned home one afternoon to find him working at his desk, having been evicted from his office while minor repairs were made, she laughed and asked if it was really necessary for him to wear his tie at home. He replied that he didn’t have to, but that his speech into the dictating machine was more dignified when he did.” After having to go on a trip without her, President Hinckley said, “I miss having Marjorie with me on this journey. I feel that I am only half here when she is not with me.” pg. 409 Elder L. Tom Perry said, “Marjorie Hinckley is the perfect balance for President Hinckley. She is full of life and enthusiasm. When you travel with President Hinckley, you had better have your track shoes one, because he fills every minute. He keeps himself highly programmed so that he can meet with as many people as possible, but she is the balance. She makes certain that he spends time greeting people before rushing off to another meeting. Everyone feels comfortable around her.” pg. 410
“Any time two or more Hinckleys were together, their trademark family humor surfaced. His children knew his quirks and teased him mercilessly. Tom Blair and his wife Kathy (the Hinckleys’ granddaughter) moved into President and Sister Hinckley’s basement apartment while they were attending school. “It so happened that their stay fell in an era when some of President Hinckley’s critics had threatened him, and Church Security insisted on increasing protective measures. An elaborate security system, so sensitive that it set off an alarm if anything heavy was dropped to the floor, was installed. Late one night Tom received a phone call from a worried security officer who indicated that the garage and kitchen doors were open and asked him to check upstairs immediately. The only ‘weapon’ Tom could find was a broom, so upstairs he crept with it in hand. The doors were indeed open. ‘I wondered if I should run back to Grandma and Grandpa’s room, but then I heard footsteps from that direction. I started walking faster with my broom, and suddenly I turned the corner and there was a man who was as big as I was. We both gasped. Just as I was getting ready to swing I realized it was Grandpa, who had heard something and gotten up to investigate. We sat down on the floor and laughed until we were sick.’
Tom and Heather assisted with a number of chores around their grandparents’ home. ‘I hope we helped in some way,’ Tom said. ‘But the real reason Grandpa and Grandma invited us to live with them was that they saw an opportunity to help us get through school and to spend some time with us as well. You would think the last thing they needed, when Grandpa had the weight of the Church on his shoulders, was grandchildren living in their basement. But what they did for us is indicative of their generosity towards and concern for their family.” pg. 411
“In one meeting held early in the afternoon, Church Education System administrators presented their budget for the coming year. Feelings became intense, and at one point another board member turned to President Hinckley and asked, ‘What do YOU think?’ President Hinckley, who had been listening with his chin resting on the palms of his hands, replied, ‘I think I am never again going to have stuffed pork chops for lunch.’ Everyone laughed and the tension was diffused.” pg 416
“President Hinckley has a fiduciary sense about money,” said Elder Maxwell. “He realizes that we really do exist on the tithes of Church members. I went to him with brochures for two or three hotels we might stay at during a trip to Sweden. He looked them over, selected the least expensive one, and said: ‘This one looks nice enough. We’ll take it.’ On the other hand, he is indignant about foolish conservatism and has often referred to his experience of having to beg for an entire ream of paper when he first started to work for the Church. He has remarkable balance when it comes to money.” pgs. 416-417
“We never have a temple dedication when we do not have two audiences: those who sit here and those on the other side who are with us.” pg. 421
“On the issue of illicit drugs, he said, ‘Some have even used as their alibi the fact that drugs are not mentioned in the Word of Wisdom. What a miserable excuse. There is likewise no mention of the hazards of diving into an empty swimming pool or of jumping from an overpass onto the freeway.
To you who may be partaking, I repeat, stop immediately. To you who at any time in the future may be tempted, I urge you to stand your ground.” pg. 422
On the principle of encouragement: ” ‘Our is the task of raising the sights of those of our people who fail to realize the great potential that lies within them.’ He often cited Brigham Young’s plea, made when he learned that two handcart companies were in jeopardy, to ‘go and bring those people now on the plains.’ Such a pronouncement squared with his commitment to those languishing on the plains of discouragement, despair, and sin. As he said on one occasion, representative of many others, ‘I know that all about us there are many who are in need of help and who are deserving of rescue. Our mission in life, as followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, must be a mission of saving. . . .
We can do more to help those who live on the edge of survival.’ ” pg. 422
“His empathy for those who suffered may have been developed partly in the crucible of his own experience. He himself was forced to suffer–almost always in silence–over vicious attacks from enemies determined to humiliate and disgrace him. As the only visible member of the First Presidency, he was an easy target, a lightning rod of sorts. There were those who apparently believed that if they could discredit President Hinckley, they would also undermine and threaten the stability of the Church hierarchy. Consequently, over time he was accused of everything from dishonesty and political maneuvering to repulsive moral transgression. His prominence left him open to bizarre attacks. Ironically, the most vocal critics came from within the Church–liberal scholars, feminists, and others who felt they or their causes weren’t being treated fairly or who took issue with the direction or statements of Church leaders. After a visit from one such individual, President Hinckley reflected: ‘Our problems do not arise from people outside the Church, but from those within who speak of their faith and their love for the work. They do not seem to realize how critics of the Church feast on such materials. . . .I am sorry they do not seem to realize the damage they can do.” pg. 423
And again, his unfailing optimism: ” ‘Things will work out. If you keep trying and praying and working, things will work out. They always do. If you want to die at an early age, dwell on the negative. Accentuate the positive, and you’ll be around for awhile.’ Blessed with an overarching view of the Church in this dispensation, President Hinckley saw past the temporary annoyances. ‘Critics may wear out their lives in trying to deny or demean or cast doubt,’ he said in general conference, ‘but this mission is larger than any race or nation or generation. It is a cause without parallel. You and I may fail as individuals and miss the blessing. But His work cannot fail. There will always be those he will raise up to accomplish it.” pgs. 423-424
Along these same lines: ” ‘I do not fear truth. I welcome it!’ Over the years he frequently encouraged the Saints to see critics for who they were. He said, ‘The Church will weather every storm that beats against it. It will outlast every critic who rises to mock it. It carries the name of Him whose it is, even the Lord Jesus Christ.” pg. 425
“On one occasion a few priesthood leaders in Salt Lake City and their families were invited to attend a family home evening with President Hinckley. During his informal remarks, he asked all the children age eighteen and under to stand. ‘I LOVE the Prophet Joseph Smith,’ he said with feeling, asking them to repeat the phrase with him. After they had done so, President Hinckley concluded, ‘Please write in your journal that I stood and bore my testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and that I love him.” pg. 429
The differences between men and women? One of the Hinckley children referred to her mother’s habit of writing home or telling later about all the the wonderful things she heard and saw as she traveled the world with her husband. “When Mother described the dedication of the temple in Seoul, she went into great detail about the Korean women in their beautiful native dresses who lined the sidewalks as they came out of the dedication. She relived all of it–and helped us live it. Right in the middle of her description, which had us mesmerized, my father looked up and said, ‘Dresses? What dresses?’ ” pg. 438
About changes in administration: after President Kimball passed away and President Benson became the new prophet, he asked Gordon B. Hinckley to be one of his counselors. Gordon said, “From the moment President Benson asked. . . I determined that I would serve as faithfully and loyally as I was capable of doing,” he observed later. “The past is behind us, and it was not my place to bring up the decisions of the past Presidency as we had made them unless he made reference to them. Of course he was different from President Kimball, but he was nevertheless a strong, able leader, and I had great respect for him. It wasn’t difficult making the shift. Every time there’s a change in administration, a shift has to be made, and that will always be the case. No two of us are cut from the same bolt of cloth, and thank heavens that is the case.” pg. 435
For once in my life, I’m going to finish what I start. I did finish reading this book, and I loved the things I read. Don’t know if anybody even cares to read this long post, but I feel compelled to finish.
More good stuff:
President Hinckley: “Most putts don’t drop. Most beef is tough. Most children grow up to be just people. Most successful marriages require a high degree of mutual toleration. Most jobs are more often dull than otherwise. Life is like an old-time rail journey–delays, sidetracks, smoke, dust, cinders, and jolts, interspersed only occasionally by beautiful vistas and thrilling bursts of speed. The trick is to thank the Lord for letting you have the ride.” pg. 448
On education: “None of us knows enough. The learning process is an endless process. We must read, we must observe, we must assimilate, and we must ponder that towhich we expose our minds. I believe in the evolution of the mind, the heart, and the soul of man. I believe in improvement. I believe in growth.” President Hinckley often quoted German philosopher Georg Hegel, who stated that those who don’t read history will most likely repeat it. He added, “I deplore the terrible waste of the intellectual resources of so many people who devote countless hours watching mindless drivel. This old world needs straightening up. It needs leadership.” pg. 457
Sheri Dew: “At a conference on working women sponsored by the University of Utah, he encouraged women to educate themselves and take advantage of the fact that the entire field of human endeavor was open to women. But he also made it clear that a woman’s first allegiance was to her children.” pg. 458
More from Sheri: “President Hinckley had been surrounded by strong women his entire life. His mother had been an accomplished professional prior to her marriage and a devoted mother thereafter, and Marjorie had been a wonderful mother and a tremendous support to him–all while maintaining her own voice and independence. Now his daughters were carrying on in the same manner, each of them articulate, talented, and spirited. He teased them about their strong wills but was privately delighted that they were, each of them, independent thinkers who were faithful and orthodox without being necessarily wedded to convention. He both recognized and valued the influence women had, not only on the home and society but within the gospel kingdom, and he championed their cause at every opportunity.
Admittedly, he was chagrined by the dissenting voices of some women who felt they should be able to hold the priesthood, concerned about the number of young women who were inactive, and disheartened about the suffering of some at the hands of abusive or unfaithful husbands. But he also recognized that within women lay tremendous power and responsibility for molding society and making a vital contribution to the Church. ‘The Church has been in the forefront in training the daughters of Zion and in giving them responsibility,’ he said. ‘We believe and have taught consistently from the earliest days of the Church that a woman’s greatest mission in life is an honorable and happy marriage with the rearing of an honorable and happy family. . . .But this is not inconsistent with other activities. There are tremendous responsibilities for women in the Church as well as in the community consistent with and in total harmony with marriage, motherhood, and the rearing of good and able children.’
Speaking in a general women’s meeting, he challenged women to ‘rise to the stature of the divine’ within them. ‘I see my own companion. Is her contribution less acceptable before the Lord than is mine? I am satisfied it is not. She has walked quietly at my side, sustained me in my responsibilities, reared and blessed our children, served in many capacities in the Church, and spread an unmitigated measure of cheer and goodness wherever she has gone.’ Beginning with his wife, the women of his own family were carrying their share of the load.” pg. 467-468 I loved to see how this prophet of God revered and honored the women in his life!
President Hinckley’s respite from constant problems was working with tools or with soil, but he was able to do this only rarely. He said, “It has been a wonderful summer. I have not traveled as a tourist. I have not been to the beach and walked in the sand. I have not been to resorts or places of fun. . . .With the exception of a half dozen days, I have been in my office up against stresses that are felt there. . . .There are decisions to be made every day, and some of these are difficult. This summer I took a few days away from the office. . . .I spent a few days perspiring in the sun, stirring the earth, and witnessing the miracles of nature. How wonderful a thing it is to stand on the soft earth after the sun has set and darkness comes. . . .I look up to the stars and sense in some small degree the majesty and wonder and magnitude of the universe, the awesome greatness of its Creator and Governor, and the implications of my own place as a child of God.” pg. 461
On raising children: “You need heaven’s help in rearing heaven’s child. . . .If we could follow a slogan that says ‘Turn off the TV and open a good book,’ we would do something of substance in strengthening another generation,” he insisted. “The country is experiencing a moral and ethical disaster. We have lost a tremendous reservoir of values. There has been more of scientific discovery during my lifetime than during all of the centuries of time that preceded it. But in some things we are slipping back into the jungle in terms of real civilization.” Then describing the quality of life his parents had created in his boyhood home, he declared: “Every child is the product of a home. We have a terrible youth problem, but I am convinced we have a greater parent problem. I submit that there is nothing any of us can do that will have a greater long-term benefit than to rekindle wherever possible the spirit of the homes in which we grew up.” pg. 477
President Hinckley acted on his convictions. Sheri Dew said, “When Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Memorial Theater allowed increasing profanity and vulgarity in its productions, he registered a formal objection and withdrew the annual grant from the Church’s foundation.” pgs. 477-478
I found myself feeling a little sorry for President Hinckley until I read this: “When Marjorie asked one day if he really needed to push himself so hard, he responded, ‘Dear, don’t you understand?
I LOVE what I do!’ Through more than five decades of service, he had acquired an expansive view of the Church and its future, and he had spent much of his life trying to lift others to see the same. He believed the Lord held the destiny of the Church in His hands, and that confidence gave him the courage to press forward during difficult times. ‘Survey large fields and cultivate small ones,’ he often admonished the Saints, quoting President Harold B. Lee. “We ought to recognize something of the breadth and depth and height–grand and wonderful, large and all-encompassing–of the program of the Lord, and then work with diligence to meet our responsibility for our assigned portion of that program,” he explained in one general conference message. “Each of us has a small field to cultivate. While so doing, we must never lose sight of the greater picture, the large composite of the divine destiny of this work.” pg. 489 This reminded me of the two churches to which Ray said he belongs. To which we all belong.
Concerning those who insist on fighting truth, President Hinckley added this one little line that I thought was interesting: “The faithful members (of the Church) can distinguish between mere differences of opinion and those activities formally defined as apostasy.” pg. 492 In other words, living by the Spirit can help you know what to be accepting of and what to reject, when it comes to dealing with critics.
Concerning his pattern of living, Sheri Dew reported, “At the end of 1993, with President Benson confined to his home and showing no improvement, and President Hunter in poor health, President Hinckley reflected, ‘I am grateful that I feel as well as I do. I am 83 years of age, and carry a full schedule of work. I try to get some exercise and try to be wise in my diet, although this is not easy. . . .I am able to handle almost anything that I should do. For this measure of strength and health I am deeply grateful to the Lord.’ ” pg. 492
Jeffrey R. Holland is a favorite of mine. It is interesting to me how different the apostles are in personal style and approach and training, very much like the apostles in ancient days. Elder Holland is an emotional person, and I thought it was interesting how President Hinckley respected Elder Holland’s style, even though it was different from his own. Sheri Dew tells about the morning Elder Holland was presented to the Twelve in the temple as the newest apostle. ‘President Hinckley came out into the hall to get me, and I will never forget what he said and did,’ Elder Holland remembered. ‘He could see how shaken I was by the call that had come. He put his arm around me and said, simply, ‘Welcome, dear friend.’ When he walked me through the door, everyone in the room stood up. I was already emotional, but I was unprepared for the emotion that rose within me upon entering that room and seeing the Brethren stand. I am sure President Hinckley understood what I was feeling, because he stood right by me, held my arm, and gave me time to regain my composure. It was an overwhelming experience, but of all the things he could have said to me, the phrase he chose was so brotherly, so collegial. Here was a man I had reported to for most of the past fifteen years, putting his arm around me as if I were a colleague. I will never forget the sweetness of those three words, ‘Welcome, dear friend.’ ” pg. 499
Can you imagine how difficult it would be to retain humility in a calling like they have? As President Hunter’s health declined, people began to talk. “For some time it had been hard for President Hinckley to avoid comments from individuals, even colleagues, who spoke openly about what they considered to be inevitable–that it was only a matter of time until he became President of the Church. President Hinckley was impatient with (and sometimes upset about) such comments and innuendos, and he routinely cut short any conversation headed in that direction. When Elders Faust and Ballard approached him in late February 1995 about the script for a video about his life that the Church wished to produce, President Hinckley was uncooperative. ‘I told them that I would not go along with any such thing at this time,’ he recorded. ‘It would be totally unfitting, inappropriate, and counter to my feelings to make it appear as if I were standing in the wings waiting to take over the leadership of the Church.’ Naturally President Hinckley knew he was next in seniority after President Hunter, but he tried desperately to avoid thinking about becoming President of the Church. Nothing good, he believed, would come of such activity. ‘What I did say to myself,’ he later admitted, ‘was,
‘The Lord is at the head of this Church, and you don’t need to worry about it. Just do what your are supposed to do. You are an old man, and anything can happen. The Lord can move you out of the way in an instant.’ That is as far as my thinking went.’ ” pg. 503
On the evening of President Hunter’s funeral, President Hinckley wrote, “President Hunter is gone. The burdens of leadership of the Church rest on my narrow shoulders. It is an awesome responsibility and even a terrifying thought to think of it. However, it is the Lord’s Church. My responsibility will be to stand strong and listen for the quiet voice of the Spirit.” The events of the week had been hard on him. He arranged to spend time alone on the fourth floor of the Salt Lake temple. (I love this account:)
Wrote President Hinckley about this epiphany, “I removed my street shoes and put on my temple moccasins. It was a wonderful experience. I read from the scriptures, from the Old Testament, the Book of Mormon, and the Pearl of Great Price. On the west wall are three paintings of the Savior. One depicts the calling of the Twelve, two depicts the Crucifixion, three depicts the Resurrection. I took the time to study them. I was particularly impressed with the painting of the Crucifixion. There by myself, as I reflected, I thought much of the price my Savior paid for my redemption. I thought of the over-whelming responsibility of standing as His prophet in the earth. I was subdued and wept over my feelings of inadequacy. On the north wall is a portrait of Joseph Smith, on the south wall is a portrait of his brother Hyrum. Between these and reaching around along the east wall are portraits of all of the Presidents of the Church from Brigham Young to Howard W. Hunter. I walked around in front of these portraits and looked into the eyes of the men there respresented. I felt almost as if I could speak with them. I felt almost as if they were speaking to me and giving me reassurance. I sat down in the chair which I have occupied as first counselor to the President. I spent a good deal of time looking at those portraits. Every one seemed almost to come alive. Their eyes seemed to be upon me. I felt that they were encouraging me and pledging their support. They seemed to say to me that they had spoken in my behalf in a council held in the heavens, that I had no need to fear, that I would be blessed and sustained in my ministry. I got on my knees and pleaded with the Lord. I spoke with Him at length in prayer. I am confident that by the power of the Spirit, I heard the word of the Lord, not vocally, but as a warmth that was felt within my heart concerning the questions I had raised in prayer.” pgs. 507-508
“Though he was grateful for the overwhelming kindness and expressions of support, he was uncomfortable with unfettered emotion that bordered at times on adoration. In numerous settings he repeated his warning that ‘adulation is poison,’ and that the twin traps of praise and prominence had ambushed countless men and women. ‘Few people can bear the burden of notoriety,’ President Hinckley said simply, and he was determined to keep things in their proper perspective. It was his office people were honoring, not him personally, he constantly reminded himself.” pg. 512
“I do not know why this mantle has fallen upon my shoulders. I suppose some of you may also wonder. But we are here. This church does not belong to its President. Its head is the Lord Jesus Christ, whose name each of us has taken upon ourselves. We are all in this great endeavor together. Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. The time has come for us to stand a little taller, to lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millenial mission of this The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a season to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation, knowing well the meaning, the breadth, and the importance of our mission. It is a time to do what is right regardless of the consequences that might follow. We have nothing to fear: God is at the helm. He will overrule for the good of this work.” pg. 515-516
I just can’t get over the Hinckley’s positive outlook, when they had so much about which they could have been negative or depressed. Sheri Dew said, “It seemed President Hinckley couldn’t squeeze enough into the days, which though laden with pressure and heavy responsibility were also rich in diversity. His enthusiasm for the work and excitement over all that was happening were, if anything, greater than ever. From time to time he remarked that his only regret was that he was as old as he was, and that there was so much ahead that he would never see. Sister Hinckley shared much of the same enthusiasm. ‘I just can’t believe what is happening in the Church. It NEVER gets old,’ she exclaimed on one occasion. ‘Every day is so exciting. When you see what is happening throughout the world it is thrilling just to get up every morning and anticipate what is going to happen that day.’ pg. 517
“President Hinckley rarely spoke without sharing his vision, almost as a rallying cry, of the future of the work. In doing so he often exposed a unique amalgram of strengths–reverence for past prophets and leaders combined with an eagerness to explore new territory. Indeed, he seemed to straddle the centuries. He was a unique blend of pioneer heritage and twenty-first century vision–all of which he seasoned with boundless optimism. He said, ‘Back in the days of the great Depression, an old sign dangled by one staple from a piece of rusting barbed wire. The owner of the farm had written:
‘Burned out by drought,
Drowned out by flud waters,
Et out by jack-rabbits,
Sold out by sheriff,
So it is with us. There have been makers of threats, naysayers and criers of doom. They have tried in every conceivable way to injure and destroy this Church. But we are still here, stronger and more determined to move it forward. To me it is exciting. It is wonderful. I invite every one of you, wherever you may be as members of this church, to stand on your feet and with a song in your heart move forward. Together we shall stay the course and keep the faith, the Almighty being our strength.” pgs. 520-521
I have more to type, but my eyes are giving out. I’ll quit there and rest for awhile.
Sheri Dew: “At times, however, his crowded calendar got to him. After one weekend trip to a regional conference on the East Coast, he returned home exhausted. ‘I felt terribly weary,’ he wrote in his journal, ‘so tired I could hardly get in the shower. It has been a very busy four days, and I am weary. But that is what I am here for, to get tired in the service of the Lord.’ ” pg. 523
Some more about his feelings for the women in his life: “He had lived nearly sixty years with a woman who didn’t hesitate to speak her mind, and their daughters were each of them faithful but forthright. ‘I reared them that way,’ he said proudly. When speaking at priesthood leadership sessions, he almost always counseled leaders to cherish their wives and to be good to their children, and during general meetings he often emphasized the influence of mothers: ‘In this age when more and more women are turning to daily work, how tremendous it is once in a while to stop and recognize that the greatest job any woman ever does is in nurturing and teaching and lifting and encouraging and rearing her children in righteousness and truth. I hope the women of the Church will not slight this greatest responsibility. How grateful I am for mothers. Mothers have been the great carriers and purveyors of faith throughout the history of the Church.’ Another time he said, ‘I know that I am a child of God, part of His plan of creation, and that Adam is my father. But there was one after that, and that was Eve. She was the crowning creation. Don’t you young men ever think that you’re so smart in comparison with young women. The Lord created you, and then, as His prime creation, He created woman–Eve, she was the sublime, ultimate in all of His creations. Don’t any of you young men develop any kind of a superiority complex. It isn’t scriptural.’ ” pg. 526
His anxiety about temples: “I have a very strong feeling about this. This is the season in which to do this work. We have the resources with which to do it. The need exists. I think the Lord will hold us accountable if we do not pursue these matters with all diligence.” ‘In one setting, Ted Simmons, the Church’s managing director of physical facilities, joked that he was an inch shorter because President Hinckley had been ‘pounding’ him so hard about accelerating the work of temple building.’ President Hinckley quickly interjected, “Yes, and you’ll be another inch shorter is you don’t get with it.’
“He called upon members to prepare spiritually for a new temple: ‘Let’s clean up our lives. Let’s reach heavenward a little more. Let’s be more faithful Latter-day Saints. Let us choose the right more frequently in all of our decisions. Let us walk more worthily before the Lord as His sons and daughters in anticipation of the day when we can gather and worship in this completed house. ‘ ”
About President Hinckley’s character (Sister Hinckley): “I have known this man since we were in high school, and I have never known him to say anything or do anything that would not be appropriate for an apostle,” she said on one occasion, mirroring many others. “But he is a different man now than he was before he was ordained President of the Church. I know this embarrasses him, and I will probably get scolded when I get home, but I know he is a prophet of God. I have seen the power of the Lord magnify him. I have seen him solve problems that seemed to be almost unsolvable because the Lord has given him the inspiration and the answers he needed to move the work along. I remember that he’s almost, but not quite, perfect–but that more importantly, he bears the mantle of the prophet.” 533-534
Henry B. Eyring: “(President Hinckley) makes you better,” Elder Eyring explained. “When I’m with him, I’m wiser. It is because he brings down the power of heaven into my life. He never says, ‘Hal, I think you’ll be inspired,’ he just acts as though I will be. I have an idea I’ve never had before. Why did I have it while I was with him? Why was I able to express something to him that I have never understood before? One great gift of a prophet is that he brings revelation to other people. I have had the experience of walking away from a meeting with him, knowing that I was given more than I had when I walked in, because I was in his presence. It is a wonderful gift. He doesn’t just bring out the best in me, he helps heaven bring out the best in me. I don’t know how he does it, but he has that gift. And I believe it will be transferred across the Church, such that all those who really want to help this prophet will find themselves more able to help than they’ve ever been before.’ ” pg. 534
“He had often counseled members to cultivate a spirit of tolerance for those of varying religious and philosophical persuasions, and he insisted that it was possible to disagree without being disagreeable. ‘We must cultivate a spirit of affirmative gratitude for those who do not see things quite as we see them,’ he told one congregation. ‘We do not in any way have to compromise our theology, our convictions, our knowledge of eternal truth as it has been revealed by the God of Heaven. We can offer our own witness of the truth, quietly, sincerely, honestly, but never in a manner that will give offense to others.” pg. 536
“In one meeting President Hinckley introduced Sister Hinckley by saying, ‘I am going to exercise my prerogative and call on Sister Hinckley to speak. This is something for which I will pay a dear price, but so be it.’ Sister Hinckley countered with, ‘What would you do if you were married to a man like that? There used to be two important men in my life–my husband and the President of the Church. Now, all of a sudden, there’s only one.’ Typically her friendly manner and wit were but a prelude to the bearing of sincere testimony. ‘Every day of my life I know with more certainty that this is the gospel of our Savior,” she said. ‘I just have to pinch myself to beleive that I have witnessed what is going on across this wonderful Church. I can’t tell you how much it means to us that you would be here. You strengthen OUR testimonies just by being here.” pgs. 548-549
“President Hinckley had long since taken his father’s counsel to heart; indeed, he had long since ceased to be concerned principally about his own needs and comfort and had forgotten himself and gone to work.” pg. 558
“President Hinckley once again shared his enthusiasm for the work in which he had been engaged his entire life: ‘There are still those, not a few, who criticize and rebel, who apostatize and lift their voices against this work. We have always had them. They speak their piece as they walk across the stage of life, and then they are soon forgotten. . . .But we go forward, marching as with an army with banners emblazoned with the everlasting truth. We are a cause that is militant for truth and goodness. We are a body of Christian soldiers ‘marching as to war, with the cross of Jesus going on before’. . . .Everywhere we go we see great vitality in this work. There is enthusiasm wherever it is organized. It is the work of the Redeemer. It is the gospel of good news. It is something to be happy and excited about.’ He didn’t reserve such zeal and vision for the Tabernacle pulpit. ” pgs. 558-559
His concluding testimony, as recorded in his biography:
“I know people in many churches, and I have friends in various churches, and I appreciate them. But I know that this is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth. The Lord Himself has declared it to be so, and I make no apology for it. It may sound egotistical, it may sound arrogant, but I wasn’t the author of that statement. The Lord Himself is the author, and I believe it with all my heart. . . .God lives. He our Eternal Father, the Creator and Governor of the Universe, the Almighty who is above all. He who is above all deigned to talk with a boy in a grove of trees in upstate New York. He who is above all will hear your prayer and hear mine. He lives. Jesus is the Christ, the foreordained Son of God who condescended to come to earth, who was born in a manger, in a conquered nation among a vassal people, the Son of God, the Only Begotten of the Father in the flesh, the Firstborn of the Father and the Author of our salvation. He is our Redeemer, our Savior, through whose Atonement eternal life is made possible for all who will walk in obedience to His teachings. May testimony grow in our hearts that this is in reality the church of the living God and that it will continue to gain momentum and move forward to fulfill its divine destiny.’ ”
The last sentence of his biography? “Be not afraid, only believe.”
The last phrase was significant to me. Every day, when I say my prayers, I listen on my knees. Always, the message that comes to me is “Don’t be afraid,” among other things. It always surprises me. It has made me examine myself. What am I afraid of? Apparently God is aware of some fears I have that I hadn’t recognized as fears. I intend to find them and overcome them, one by one. I bear you my witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, Gordon B. Hinckley was a prophet of God, and Thomas S. Monson now carries on in that capacity. All the men who served between Joseph Smith and President Monson were prophets, seers, and revelators. The Book of Mormon is true, and this is the only true church on the face of the earth. I know it. I know it.
I’m done now. :bigsmile:
Great work, davidson. This is wonderful.
Thank you, Ray. Thank you for taking the time to read it and to rejoice in the life of this good man.
But that is what I am here for, to get tired in the service of the Lord.
So, davidson the awesome, can we christen you “Official Book Club Quote Poster”? (Yes, I’m serious.)
I would be thrilled to be the O.B.C.Q.P! (Yes, I’m serious.) I’ve always wanted to be a poster! This is a way to do it without anyone having to look at me. 😉 :bigsmile:
It’s ok to be a poster; just don’t get your picture on a poster.
OK, where’s my sword. I can knight you. You’re official. 🙂
Wow, I’m official! Thank you. I shall write it in my journal. (Don’t run with the sword, Alison. We want to keep you all in one piece.)
You are knighted. Now go start quoting Hewitt! 🙂
all hail the O.B.C.Q.P. Huzzah, Huzzah, Huzzah!
Thank you, thank you.
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