Apostolic Ambitions?

Apostolic Ambitions? August 26, 2018


The current Council of the Twelve
The Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as of August 2018, from front left: President M. Russell Ballard, Jeffrey R. Holland, Dieter F. Uchtdorf, David A. Bednar, and Quentin L. Cook. From back row left: D. Todd Christofferson, Neil L. Andersen, Ronald A. Rasband, Gary R. Stevenson, Dale G. Renlund, Gerrit W. Gong, and Ulisses Soares


This is good news:


“New Marriott rooms across the globe will get Bible, Book of Mormon”




Have you seen this interesting series of articles?


“Inside the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles: The Ministry of President M. Russell Ballard and His Brethren”


“Inside the Quorum of the Twelve: What It’s Like to Be a Prophet, Seer, and Revelator”


“Inside the Quorum of the Twelve: The Divine Calling Apostles Share with Missionaries”


“Inside the Quorum of the Twelve: Called as Witnesses of Christ in All the World”




Some cynics like to imagine the wealth and luxury, the glory and the status and the prestige, the sheer ego-gratification, that come to the men who are called to serve in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.


Such imaginings tell us far, far more about the cynics and their imaginations than they do about the members of the Twelve.


The odds of being called to the Twelve are submicroscopically low for any given active male in the Church.  Those who are called so to serve can hardly have been seriously thinking about elevation to the apostleship during their decades of prior service in the Aaronic priesthood, as missionaries, as priests quorum advisors, elders quorum presidents, young adult leaders, scoutmasters, members of high councils, counselors in bishoprics, bishops, counselors in stake presidencies, stake presidents, mission presidents, and the like.  These were years of uncompensated, sometimes rather demanding, and very often quite unglamorous labor in the Church and on behalf of the Saints.  There were plenty of welfare assignments, late night calls, and calls to move ward members.


If, through all those years, they were really just in it for wealth, luxury, glory, status, prestige, and ego, these men took an enormous risk for highly unlikely delayed gratification.


Moreover, the life of an apostle isn’t actually one of splendor, status, and luxury.  It entails endless meetings, problems, challenges, reports, and constant, quite un-vacationlike travel.


And, for most of them, apostolic service commences at just about the stage in life where most men are thinking about retirement.


This really hit me when Elder Gerrit W. Gong was called to the Twelve at the end of March.  He and I are approximately the same age.  Like me, he has an academic background.  We’re not intimate friends, but I’ve known him for quite a few years and worked with him once or twice.  It struck me on 31 March 2018 that he’ll never enjoy retirement.  I’m beginning, myself, to look forward to a time, which can’t be too far away, when I’ll no longer be grading student papers and serving on faculty committees.  I have big writing projects and other goals to which I want to devote my attention — on my own time, at my own initiative, on my own schedule.  If Elder Gong was beginning to entertain such thoughts, however, he can kiss them goodbye.  The only way out of the apostleship is death, apostasy, or serious transgression and excommunication.


Anybody really ambitious for attending lots and lots of meetings, helping to oversee and guide a large and complex international organization, and coming into the office every day when not traveling nationally and internationally for the sake of the organization from roughly the age of sixty-five or so until death (perhaps several decades later) has my genuine awe and respect.


These men, too, have my respect, awe, and admiration.  Not because of their ambition to reign, though.  Because of their willingness to serve.



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