What major tasks have you completed so far in 2017? How much of your total strength has that taken? How much good has it produced? Consider just some of what Russell M. Nelson has done in the first two months of this year.
Nelson is the leader of the twelve apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He works full time as a minister, only getting a stipend for living expenses. And he’s 92 years old.
He’s been doing this for over 30 years, since 1984. Before that, he was an accomplished heart surgeon. He has over 50 grandchildren and over 100 great grandchildren.
On January 8, he gave a 40 minute speech to an auditorium of thousands of young adults about leadership and faith. The speech was broadcast online. How much time and effort went into preparing it, do you think? Watch it to see how much passion went into sharing the message. Note that his demeanor is always funny, witty, and pleasant–there is no scolding or negativity coming from him. He loves what he does and whom he serves.
One week later, on January 15, he visited my congregation in North Las Vegas. He spoke for about 45 minutes here, about a variety of spiritual topics. His remarks were prepared, but he worked without notes. Afterwards, he slowly exited the chapel, shaking hands with anyone he could reach on the way out, and even picking up small children to embrace, including my four-year-old daughter.
On February 11, he spoke at a genealogy conference, challenging people to put more time into their own historical research and service efforts.
On February 20, he met with Catholic and government leaders in Mexico to discuss things like family and freedom.
And those four events are just the ones I know about. Of course he’s done more in his service other than that.
Can you imagine how much energy and effort, how much preparation and sacrifice, have to go into such selfless service? And at such an advanced age?
A story to help flesh out what a great man he is: this weekend, Elder Leonard D. Greer of the 70 is visiting our stake, and he told us that he’s known President Nelson to have been an avid skier in his 80s. When he saw President Nelson two years ago, when he was 90, he asked him is he still went skiing. President Nelson said that yes, he did still ski.
“Really? Who do you go with? Your children?” asked Elder Greer.
“Oh no,” said President Nelson. “They’re too old. I go with my grandchildren.”