As the president of BYU-Idaho, David A. Bednar received a phone call from President Gordon B. Hinckley to meet with him the next day at 3 p.m.—a call that didn't surprise him in the least.
“I told Susan, ‘I know exactly what he wants. We’ve been here almost eight years and he’s going to thank us for our service and tell me to go get a new job,’” Elder Bednar told East Idaho News in an interview in May. But the meeting was far different than Elder Bednar expected.
“We visited for an hour and he extended the call to serve,” Elder Bednar remembers. “He asked how I felt, and I said, ‘President Hinckley, I’m stunned.’ He said, ‘Good, you should be.’” President Hinckley then told Elder Bednar to turn in a talk to be given in general conference the very next day, one that was exactly 10 minutes long.
“He said the first words out of my mouth [after being called] were, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ I really did feel that way and I’m sorry I did," Sister Susan Bednar says. "When you start to think about the longevity of this calling, it’s a long time and I wasn’t sure what do to. How do I know how to be an apostle’s wife?”
But over the last 13 years, Elder Bednar and Sister Bednar have learned much about this new calling in their lives.
“When he was a bishop, I learned how to share him with the ward," Sister Bednar told East Idaho News. "When he was a stake president, I learned how to share him with the stake. When he was an Area Seventy, I learned how to share him with the area. Now I’m trying to learn how to share him with the whole world. It’s been a great experience and the people we meet are extraordinary. We love them.”
She continues, “It’s been amazing to me how many times I’ve seen the hand of the Lord act and intervene in my life every single day if I have the faith, courage, and discipline to do that. You have to act and pray or you miss the Lord’s hand in your life."
Most Important Lesson He's Learned as an Apostle
When asked the most important lesson he's learned as an apostle, he responded, "The Lord knows us by name." He then shared a beautiful experience of a time he saw that the Lord loves us each, one by one.
Just before a conference in another country, Elder Bednar had a few minutes to speak with missionaries at the missionary training center. Elder Bednar felt inspired to give an overview of his last general conference talk on the difference between being called to the work and being assigned to a specific area to serve. “Why in the world did I talk about that? If I’ve only got 10 minutes, why did I talk about that?" Elder Bednar asked his wife after leaving the meeting.
Elder Bednar learned the powerful reason later, when the MTC president asked him how he'd learned about the sister missionary in the front row—someone Elder Bednar knew nothing about.The MTC president explained the missionary's assignment had been changed just three days previously, something that upset and distressed her. "I think the message you just delivered was just for her,” Elder Bednar recalls the MTC president saying.
Elder Bednar then met with the sister missionary. “I told her, ‘I’m here for a lot of reasons, and maybe the major one was the Lord sent me to deliver that message, which I had not planned to do, so that you would know He knows you by name,'” Elder Bednar told East Idaho News. “What I’ve learned over the years is we’ll travel halfway around the world and we always find one person or a series of individuals that the Lord sends us to bless.”
In One by One, Elder Bednar writes, "This simple pattern of one by one influences everything I do, every day of my life and every place I go. For example, as I stand to speak in a meeting, I do not see a congregation of 100, 1,000, 2,000, or 20,000 people. Rather, with the Lord’s "help I strive to see 100, 1,000, 2,000, or 20,000 ones."
He continues, "The first word spoken by God the Eternal Father to man in the first vision in this latter-day dispensation was 'Joseph.' The Father and the Son knew Joseph Smith as a one. Any call to serve the Savior in any capacity is an invitation to learn about the principle of one by one, because that was the pattern of His service. . . .
"More recently, President Gordon B. Hinckley admonished, 'We must look after the individual. Christ always spoke of individuals. He healed the sick, individually. He spoke in His parables of individuals. This Church is concerned with individuals, notwithstanding our numbers. Whether they be 6 or 10 or 12 or 50 million, we must never lose sight of the fact that the individual is the important thing' (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Gordon B. Hinckley , 298)."
Lead image from Mormon Newsroom
In this book, Elder David A. Bednar offers a compelling look at a pattern the Lord uses to bless His people: He works with us on an individual basis, one by one. Demonstrating that pattern as it occurs throughout the scriptures, in the lives of many Church leaders, and in his own ministry, Elder Bednar invites us to open our hearts to the Lord's love. He also teaches that by ministering as the Savior does, one by one, we can be more powerful instruments in His hands to accomplish His purposes.