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(
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)

 

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(
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Elder Eyring, a Personal Apostle-Religion Paper
Jo-Pete Nelson
11/9/2004
Rel C 333, section 5
Personal Choice Project

In his conference talks, Elder Eyring shows himself as a personal example to follow in his teachings about the importance of prayer, priesthood keys, Joseph Smith, and families.

Elder Eyring, a Personal Apostle

A few years ago, I had the opportunity to meet with a group of about 50 young adults and Elder Henry B. Eyring. Before I met with him, I didn't really know him very well. I knew that he was an apostle of the Lord and so I was extremely excited for the meeting, but I knew nothing of his personality or of his unique message. As I listened to him speak so intimately with us about his father, I was extremely impressed by how humble and personal this apostle was in small groups. It was captivating to hear the deference this great man gave to his father, who he considered to be far greater. Even as an apostle of the Lord, Elder Eyring referred to the spiritual lessons he learned from his father.

That year, just a few months later, Elder Eyring came to speak at my Stake Conference. I was, of course, excited to hear from him again, especially since this would be my first chance to compare his conduct with a small group with that of a large group. Again, I was struck by how personal he was. I do not remember much of what he spoke about and cannot locate the notes I took, but I do remember him mentioning that he was speaking so freely on personal issues because he was with a small group. Compared to speaking to the whole church, I'm sure that my stake was a very small group for him.

Since that time, I have always been eager to hear what Elder Eyring has to say, to compare his conference talk with those more personal encounters. It was interesting to find that he is rather personal even when speaking with the entire church. I did not think of him as being a great storyteller, drawing on vast personal experiences like President Monson does with every talk. The more I listen, though, the more I see him pull examples from his travels or from his life before being an apostle. He may not be quite as personal in his approach as when he speaks to a few thousand or fifty, but he often teaches by connecting his own life story to whatever topic he chooses to speak on.

Elder Eyring teaches by example, so it is appropriate that a phrase that seems to weave throughout his talks is "we must." Instead of giving orders simply by the power and weight of his apostleship, he focuses on the things that "we" must do, including himself instead of declaring "you must." In his most recent talk alone, he says this five times. This phrase does not seem to ever be the focus of his talk, which leads me to believe that he doesn't even mean to emphasize the point. He is simply teaching the best way that he knows how, including himself among those that need to learn. Along with including himself in "we must," the "must" adds to the weight of the statement. It seems that Elder Eyring feels so strongly about the things of which he speaks that it becomes more than simply good advice or even things that we "should" do. These are imperative to our salvation and his, not merely guidelines or simply important points.

Elder Eyring expands on the concept of leading by example and including himself among those in need of learning in his October 2002 talk. He tells a story of when he was released from his calling as bishop and a member asked him for guidance the day of his release. Because he no longer had the calling and responsibility of a bishop, he relates that he was not able to help this member. He then says, "You will learn what I learned then. God magnifies those he calls." Elder Eyring certainly could have found another equally touching story of how the Lord strengthens us in our callings, but his use of a personal account adds to the impact of this lesson.

In Elder Eyring's April 2002 conference talk about befriending the new member, he lists off several things that "we must" do. In this example, he uses "we must" to tie in one of his common themes, the prophet Joseph Smith: "We must testify of the truth to the new member... it is essential to testify that the Father and the Son appeared to the young Joseph Smith." Besides consistently bearing testimony of Joseph Smith, he speaks of the boy prophet on a regular basis. For example, in October 2001, he speaks on prayer. A substantial portion of his talk is devoted to using the young Joseph's first prayer to demonstrate how we should pray. He says "Joseph Smith's mission was unique, yet his humble prayer can be a helpful model for us." In his October 2003 talk entitled "An Enduring Testimony of the Mission of the Prophet Joseph," Elder Eyring expresses how he feels about Joseph Smith: "The Prophet Joseph is an example... I do not worship him, but I thank and love him."

Elder Eyring also talks about Joseph Smith to lend strength to another of his favorite topics, the keys of the priesthood. In October 2002, he says, "[The Lord] restored the keys of the priesthood to Joseph Smith. Those keys have been passed down in an unbroken line to President Hinckley." Elder Eyring speaks of the keys of the priesthood in several other talks, including his October 2004 talk entitled "Faith and Keys." Besides devoting an entire talk to the importance of priesthood keys, he regularly bears testimony of the importance of keys in our church. In the closing testimony for his October 2001 talk, he testifies, "The keys of the priesthood are only in this Church."

It would be difficult to speak much of Joseph Smith without also speaking of prayer, so it is no surprise that prayer is another topic that Elder Eyring often speaks about. In April 2004, he says, "The first, the middle, and the last thing to do is to pray." In October 2001, he noted how much the quality and quantity of prayers had increased since September 11 of that year. Instead of dwelling on the sorrow of that day, he devotes the rest of his talk to how we can keep from "drift[ing] away from humble prayer." Elder Eyring also teaches how to pray in his April 2000 talk. He devotes a substantial portion of his talk to the Lord's Prayer. He also says, "'You better do a lot of praying' is good council for all of the Lord's servants, new or seasoned."

Another topic of which Elder Eyring often speaks is his father. I found it touching and somewhat surprising that he spoke so highly of his father with our small group when I first met him, but I have now learned that he speaks of his father in this way before the whole church. In April 2003, he tells of an experience in which his father bore testimony of the creation before a large scientific audience. I quote his reaction to show how he feels about his father: "So I said to him with wonder and admiration, 'Dad, you bore your testimony.'" It is interesting that an Apostle of the Lord would be filled with "wonder and admiration" when someone bears his testimony in public. It seems that Elder Eyring must have admired his father for more than just this one event.

In October 2000, Elder Eyring devotes much of his talk to lessons he learned from his father. Toward the end of the talk, he tells a touching story of how his father reacted to his mother's death. He relates how his father went into the bedroom to pray for someone to keep company with his wife in the spirit world. Elder Eyring says of the experience, "Dad surely didn't intend at that moment to teach me about prayer, but he did." It is very touching to note his use of the word "Dad," instead of "My father." This single informal title expresses the intimacy that he publicly shows between him and his father.

When I first met Elder Eyring, I assumed that he was so personal because he was in front of such a small group. I have since learned that he shares this intimacy with the rest of the world. The 11 million members of the church may not all be able to meet with him in a small group, but they all can hear how his personal life has been touched by important topics such as prayer, priesthood keys, the Prophet Joseph, and families. uploaded Tue November 09 2004 at 9:04 PM
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mom says:
You succeeded!! You were constant in your tone and the topics/paragraphs flowed well together. Mom's opinion, but you also got the transitions between paragraphs pulled together as well.

Good job...one less assignment hanging over your head! ;-)
posted Sat September 23 2006 at 1:58 PM

 

 
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