In just a few short days, the lives of three men will be changed forever as they fill the seats left vacant from the recent passing of LDS apostles Boyd K. Packer, L. Tom Perry, and Richard G. Scott. Accepting the call of Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ will be, to say the least, a daunting experience. Those who accept are expected to take on the same role as Peter, James, or John. They are asked to take the place of powerful teachers who dedicated their lives to the sharing of the gospel. What’s more, they’ll likely be taking on the responsibilities of those who, to them, would have been dear colleagues and friends. It may be a little more than overwhelming.
At a time with so much change in church leadership, one might wonder what it takes to be an apostle. How do these great men do it and why? Our departed brethren, President Packer, Elder Perry, and Elder Scott gave us excellent examples of some specific qualities of the holy calling.
“The present Twelve are very ordinary people. They are not, as the original Twelve were not, spectacular individually, but collectively the Twelve are a power.
“They all are students and teachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What unites us is our love of the Savior and His Father’s children and our witness that He stands at the head of the Church.
“Almost to a man, the Twelve come from humble beginnings, as it was when He was here. The living Twelve are welded together in the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ. When the call came, each has put down his nets, so to speak, and followed the Lord.”“These men are true servants of the Lord; give heed to their counsel.”
According to President Packer, the power of the office of Apostle doesn’t come individually to each member, but the power comes from the Twelve as a unit. Unity is perhaps the greatest strength of the apostles. A man who is about to be called to the holy apostleship can rest assured that the Lord won’t expect him to become an extraordinary seer and revelator overnight. The Lord does, however, expect him to be willing to dive into the work with all he has. A council of twelve is the Lord’s way of offering such a man support and needed delegation while doing the work of His kingdom.
When Richard G. Scott was first called as an apostle in 1988, he had the opportunity to address the church. During their inaugurating speeches, almost all newly-called apostles express how humbled they are to receive this new assignment. Elder Scott, however, didn’t talk about the humbling experience of the call. Instead, he explained the emotional aspect of it. He talked about the struggle he had as he tried to grasp the significance of his new, sacred calling. What was even more impressive is the resolve that he covenanted with the Lord to keep. He then expressed that resolve to the members of the church:“There has distilled within my mind and heart a resolve that I have covenanted with the Lord to obey. It is to live to be worthy to know the will of the Lord and to live to have, with His help, the capacity and courage to carry out that will—and to desire nothing else.”
Throughout his apostleship, we saw Elder Scott live up to this resolve that he made in the beginning. His life is a great example of worthy living, and his acceptance of the Lord’s will was unparalleled.
Tom Perry, upon being called as an apostle, also expressed how emotional of an experience it was. He spoke very personally about his childhood, how he looked up to the apostles and memorized each one by name. He went on to explain how his father took it upon himself to teach him a little bit about the life of each apostle. Elder Perry would say that if you asked him today, he could still name each apostle and something about them. As he contemplated how a different father might tell his son about Elder Perry, then the newest member of the twelve, he was shocked. “What could he ever tell about me?” Elder Perry thought.
Elder Perry lived an ordinary life that was made extraordinary through the Gospel. While he was overwhelmed by his new assignment he realized that the only way he could magnify this calling is to handing over his whole heart to the Lord. This declaration he gave in his very first General Conference Address as an Apostle showcases his determination;
“I am devoted to service in our Father in heaven’s kingdom. Use me in any way that I am capable.”
His humble willingness to work in the Lord’s kingdom qualified him for his assignment, which he served in with optimism and determination.
Three men will each take on these same roles with Elder Perry, President Packer, and Elder Scott as excellent examples. Those three individuals will each have to take that emotional walk up to the stand, called to be prophets, seers. and revelators. They will each have the privilege of watching their own sustaining vote as concourses of people gratefully raise their hands in favor of their calling. They will be set apart to a life of service and will become special witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. The devotion that they exhibit to their calling will help them face every day and every challenge with hope and enthusiasm. Their resolve to perform to their duties to the best of their abilities will instill a deep love and respect in everyone within their stewardship. And the fellowship to which they join is one of power and authority and as they join their testimonies to the quorum, it will be made complete.
Packer, Boyd K. “The Twelve,” Ensign, May 2008, 85–86.
Perry, L. Tom. “Build Your Shield of Faith” April 1974, General Conference Address
Scott, Richard G. “True Friends That Lift” October 1988, General Conference Address