Sunday, April 7, 2019

President Russell M. Nelson on the role of the Lord's Prophet

President Russell M. Nelson (born Sept 9, 1924) was an internationally-renowned heart surgeon when he was called to serve as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in 1984. He became president of that quorum on July 15, 2015. Following the death of President Monson, he was set apart as president of the Church on January 14, 2018.
"Prophets see ahead. They see the harrowing dangers the adversary has placed or will yet place in our path. Prophets also foresee the grand possibilities and privileges awaiting those who listen with the intent to obey. I know this is true! I have experienced it for myself over and over again.
"The Lord has promised us that He will never allow the prophet to lead us astray. President Harold B. Lee declared: 'You may not like what comes from the authority of the Church. It may contradict your political views. It may contradict your social views. It may interfere with some of your social life. But if you listen to these things, as if from the mouth of the Lord Himself, with patience and faith, the promise is that "the gates of hell shall not prevail against you; yea, and the Lord God will disperse the powers of darkness from before you, and cause the heavens to shake for your good, and his name’s glory" (D&C 21:6).' (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Harold B. Lee (2000), 84–85.)
"You may not always understand every declaration of a living prophet. But when you know a prophet is a prophet, you can approach the Lord in humility and faith and ask for your own witness about whatever His prophet has proclaimed."
- Russell M. Nelson, "Becoming True Millennials," Worldwide Devotional for Young Adults, January 10, 2016, Brigham Young University–Hawaii
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

One role of a prophet is to be a seer—a see-er, one who "sees ahead" as President Nelson indicates. They have the opportunity and responsibility to warn us of challenges and dangers, as well as opportunities and blessings.

President Nelson emphasized that we need to "listen with the intent to obey." That emphasis is critical. Our attitude of humility and eagerness to be taught and guided makes all the difference in how we receive prophetic counsel. If we are critical and skeptical, we will not receive the same insights and the same power as will a humble, teachable recipient.

The quotation from President Lee is one that I have pondered for many years, trying to remember and implement its crucial teaching:

It's easy to be critical or skeptical when a teaching contradicts our existing personal interpretation or viewpoint. This caution to trust in God's mouthpiece in those situations is so important. Of course, the ability to do that requires that we start from the position of a firm and abiding testimony of the role and calling of latter-day prophets, seers, and revelators. As President Nelson taught, "when you know a prophet is a prophet" we then can prayerfully petition God for a witness of his teachings, and we will be blessed with that confirmation.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2019)

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