In an effort to mark the six-year anniversary of President Russell M. Nelson’s prophetic leadership, the Church News invited members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as well as leaders of the Relief Society, Young Women and Primary, to share the leadership qualities they have observed from the Prophet.
President Nelson was set apart as the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints six years ago, on Jan. 14, 2018.
The leader of 17 million Latter-day Saints worldwide, President Nelson has traveled to 35 nations, changed Church organization, utilized technology, led the Church through a pandemic, issued historic invitations and built bridges of understanding.
Governed by doctrine
“A prominent leadership quality I have observed in President Nelson during my six years serving as his counselor in the First Presidency is that while he is firmly governed by the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he has been inspired to establish new content for many well-established Church policies or practices. Examples include:
“He fearlessly corrected the way we have acquiesced in omitting the full, correct name of the Church;
“He boldly substituted ‘ministering’ for the names and objectives of our long-established home teaching and visiting teaching programs; and
“He clearly demonstrated that the direction to ‘stand independent above all other creatures’ (Doctrine and Covenants 78:14) still allows the Church and its members to reach out to lead or cooperate with others in furthering the Lord’s work.”
— President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency
Carries the Light of Christ
“I love our Prophet, President Nelson. I have the blessing of serving at his side. When he walks into a room, that room immediately feels brighter. He carries the Light of Christ with him.”
— President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency
Gentle and kind
“President Nelson is, in so many ways, the complete leader, the exemplary guide for those traveling the mortal path. Of his many qualities, let me highlight just two.
“First of all, and most importantly, he is probably the most gentle and kind leader I have ever worked with, realizing that I have worked with among the most gentle and kind men and women on the earth. He truly personifies a Christlike love for and interest in those who try to follow his lead as he follows the Savior.
“The second quality he demonstrates may seem antithetical to the first, but in President Nelson it is not. This complementary attribute is one of confident decisiveness, the determination to follow promptings that come to him as the prophet, seer and revelator for our day. In a recent meeting, a member of the First Presidency, two Apostles, and a member of the Seventy were united on a presentation being made to President Nelson on an important matter. When everything had been said, we waited for his counsel. He thought a moment, thanked us for presenting the issue so clearly, then said we should take an approach to the complex issue exactly opposite to the one we had suggested. The objective was the same but how we should go about it was clarified and improved. And as soon as he spoke, there was a feeling in the room that he was exactly right, even though it meant that the rest of us had been less farsighted, less creative in this particular instance.
“Such confident decisiveness in the midst of differing opinions is a quality we treasure in God’s spokesman.”
— President Jeffrey R. Holland, acting president, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Profound spiritual depth
“In 1984, Elder Nelson came to Germany to teach us as stake and mission presidents. Back then and into the present day, I learned that Russell Marion Nelson has a profound spiritual depth and a deep, loving interest in the lives of others, which is a hallmark of this servant of the Lord, who is now the President of the Church of Jesus Christ and the Prophet of God.”
— Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Focuses on loving God, serving His children
“I believe President Nelson is the embodiment of the spiritual qualities described by King Benjamin in his teachings about faithful servants (see Mosiah 5:13). President Nelson is a reflection of Him whom he serves in all that he does. President Nelson knows our Master, even Jesus Christ, is not a stranger to Him and focuses the thoughts and intents of his heart on loving God and serving all of His children.”
— Elder David A. Bednar, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles