As Sunday, April 2, 1995, came to a close, President Gordon B. Hinckley had every reason to feel a great deal of satisfaction as he retired for the night.
He had just concluded his first general conference as president of the Church, having been sustained to that position Saturday morning by the upheld hands of the Church in a solemn assembly.He had delivered his sermons with sincerity and love. The power of the Holy Ghost had silently borne witness to those who heard his words that surely another prophet had been raised up to lead the Church.
The conference sessions had gone well. President Hinckley's noble counselors had borne eloquent witness of the goodness of the new Prophet and of their support to him in the First Presidency. Each of the other speakers in the various sessions had also added their further testimonies, as well as giving good counsel for the Church as a whole.
Throughout the conference people everywhere had experienced a renewed love for this chosen and foreordained man of God. Comments heard afterward in many settings spoke of the man and his messages. "Isn't it wonderful that he is our prophet now" was a typical response.
Without a doubt President Hinckley demonstrated to the Church, and to the world as well, that he is, indeed, God's prophet on the earth.
Each president of the Church comes to the office with long years of training and preparation in the ranks of the apostles. But few have come with the understanding and wisdom possessed by President Hinckley, due to his extensive Church service. A General Authority since 1958, an apostle since 1961, and a counselor to three presidents of the Church since 1981, he has been tested, tried, and proven in the crucible of first-hand experiences.
Yet, he seeks no personal aggrandizement through this sacred calling. He eschews adulation. In his humble manner he acknowledged: "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."
In his years of service leading up to this prophetic calling President Hinckley has known both the satisfactions of service and the burdens borne by one who holds high trust in the Kingdom. The adversary has brought persecutions and buffetings against him, publicly as well as privately. But he has risen above all of these and has remained firm and resolute regardless of the opposition he has had to bear. Such "refiner's fires" have steeled his will and now enable him to serve with wisdom and understanding, and with a Christ-like love for all mankind.
Though his life essentially now belongs to the people of the Church, he is at heart a family man. Much can be said about the love and devotion of his beloved companion, Marjorie, and of their five children, each a leader in his or her own circles. They are sons and daughters to be proud of, and are rearing their own children with the strengths and values imparted to them by loving parents.
President Hinckley has been a man of civic service as well. His wisdom has been sought by business and community organizations, and he has been a valued contributor wherever he has served. He is also well qualified to manage the role of the Church where moral issues are involved.
As president of the Church he is in a sense the chief teacher of the people. Part of his role is to teach Church members how to press forward steadfastly in their quest for eternal life and exaltation. He certainly possesses in abundance the abilities needed to do this. But he also recognizes that every other officer and leader in the Church must do the same.
"You have as great an opportunity for satisfaction in the performance of your duty as I have in mine," he said to members during a conference sermon. "The progress of this work will be determined by our joint efforts. Whatever your calling, it is as fraught with the same kind of opportunity to accomplish good as is mine. What is really important is that this is the work of the Master. Our work is to go about doing good as did He."
The ministry of President Hinckley has begun well. Now each of us must "stand tall" as he has asked us to do, and ". . .lift our eyes and stretch our minds to a greater comprehension and understanding of the grand millennial mission of this, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a time to be strong. It is a time to move forward without hesitation. . . ."
May we each move ahead by magnifying our individual duties, by following our Prophet, and by emulating the Christ-like example he is setting for us.
"We ever pray for thee, our prophet dear," (Hymns #23), May God bless our prophet dear, President Gordon B. Hinckley!