Power of Revelation

south america

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M. Russell Ballard

"The power of revelation from God to man is the way the Lord reveals his will to his servants. The process of extending calls to members to serve in the Church is a process of revelation. If you are true and faithful to the teachings of the commandments of the gospel, if you repent and turn away from sin, revelation will come to your Church leaders at the ward, stake, and general levels to call you to serve in the callings you have prepared yourself to receive as a result of your exercising your free agency in choosing to keep the commandments of the Lord.

As an example of this process, let me share with you an experience I had when I was on assignment in South America. I was asked by the Brethren to divide a stake and choose new leadership for the new stake.

I realize that to some of you this may not sound like a very difficult assignment, but let me assure you that it is a very important responsibility. The reality was that I knew the Lord had already chosen, by the process we have been discussing, the man he wanted for stake president. You should know that the General Authorities seek to know the mind and will of the Lord in order to extend on his behalf the call from him to his sons and daughters to serve.

In this instance, when I arrived at the stake to begin the interviewing of the potential leaders, the current stake president advised me there were only three men who could possibly be considered to serve as the stake president. Since I do not speak nor understand Spanish, everything that was said to me had to be translated and everything I said also needed translating. I explained to the stake president that the procedure of the Church was that I would interview all of the priesthood leaders living within the new stake.

Since there were over thirty priesthood leaders to be interviewed through the interpreter, that process took considerably longer than normal. Late Saturday night I had not found the person the Lord wanted to preside over this new stake. I reviewed once more with the current stake president all of the potential leaders. We discovered that there was one man who lived in a small district that was being incorporated into the new stake. I inquired after this man and learned that the reason he had not come in for an interview was that he was at home caring for his wife and three children who were ill. Telephone communication, as you know, is very limited in many parts of South America; so it required sending someone out to this brother’s home, which was some distance away from where we were, to invite him to meet with me early Sunday morning.

When this fine man arrived I interviewed him, and I knew this was the man to be the new stake president. You see, he had been preparing through thirty-four years of living for this call by repenting of his sins and striving to keep the commandments of the gospel of Jesus Christ, by serving a full-time mission, by accepting responsibilities and leadership and teaching positions in the Church. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that “Every man who has a calling to minister to the inhabitants of the world was ordained to that very purpose in the Grand Council of heaven before this world was” (Teachings, p. 365). I believe this. It behooves everyone of us to live as close to the teachings of the gospel as we can so we will not forfeit our foreordained opportunities to serve the Lord.

I called this faithful brother to serve at 7:20 a.m. Sunday morning, knowing that the general session of the conference would begin at 10:00 a.m. It seemed almost impossible to me how he would ever select his counselors, organize his high council, and make other calls to leadership in such a short period of time.

Expressing my concern that we were under such a terrible time constraint, this wonderful man smiled, reached into his shirt pocket, pulled out a piece of paper, and then said to me, “Brother Ballard, I am prepared. You see, I was told by the Spirit last night that I would be called to be the stake president. Here are my counselors, here are the men I would like to be my high council, here are the others to serve as leaders of the stake.”

The new stake was organized and the leaders sustained during the 10:00 a.m. session. Immediately following the general session I set apart the leadership of the new stake. All was done through the use of interpreters and was possible because the principle of revelation directed the callings of Heavenly Father’s children.

There is no doubt in my mind that the principle of revelation directs the Church today. I also know that our lives are carefully observed by Heavenly Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We prepare to serve by the daily decisions we make, and these righteous decisions prepare us to fulfill the will of the Lord in helping to build the Church and the kingdom of God."

Excerpt from a BYU Devotional Address by M. Russell Ballard given on Jan. 5, 1986. Link to entire talk "Choose to Serve."