Latter-day Saint Life

President Eyring’s Humorous Call to the First Presidency: "Are You Sure You’re Talking to the Right Person?"

While taking out the trash at home one day, Henry B. Eyring received a phone call from President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was then the prophet. Surely he had the wrong number, the then-Elder Eyring thought. He had no way of knowing the magnitude of what he was about to hear. 

Uncertainty shaped Hal’s response to a phone call that came to the Eyring home on the Thursday evening before general conference. He had left the office a bit before five o’clock and driven home. After parking the car, he walked down the Eyrings’ steep driveway to retrieve an empty garbage can. He was wheeling the can up the driveway when his wife, Kathy, stepped into the open garage with a portable phone.

“Hal,” she called, “it’s the phone for you.”

“Can you take a message?” he replied.

“It’s the office of the First Presidency,” Kathy said with a note of urgency. “I think you’d better take it.”

Hal grasped the phone in one hand, still holding the garbage can in the other. He heard the secretary to the First Presidency, Michael Watson, say, “President Hinckley would like to talk to you.” After an uncomfortable silence on Hal’s end, President Hinckley came on and declared, without introduction, “I’d like to ask you to join President Monson and me in the First Presidency.”

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At what otherwise might have been a moment of profound thoughts and feelings, Hal faced an analytical dilemma. President Hinckley hadn’t spoken his name, either first or last. Given the improbability of his being called to the First Presidency, he had to wonder whether Brother Watson had connected President Hinckley to the wrong man. It had happened before. Each member of the Twelve has his own speed-dial key on the main phones in the office of the First Presidency. More than once, Hal had taken a call for someone else due to an inadvertent mistake in dialing. This, he thought, could be one of those times. It was a chance he couldn’t take.

“President Hinckley,” Hal blurted out, “are you sure you’re talking to the right person? This is Hal Eyring.”

“I know who this is!” President Hinckley replied. The ensuing conversation was short. Hal accepted the call, saying he would do anything President Hinckley asked and that it would be an honor to serve with him and President Monson. President Hinckley bade Hal good-bye with no more explanation or expression of emotion than he had offered in calling him into the Twelve. Hal put the garbage can away and shared the news with Kathy.

Learn more about President Eyring's life in I Will Lead You Along: The Life of Henry B. Eyring. Readers will love these richly designed pages, filled with photographs, sketches from the pen of President Eyring himself, and scores of entries straight from his journals woven into an engaging depiction of his life's journey.

President Henry B. Eyring's professional, academic, and personal experiences have all combined to make him uniquely qualified for his responsibilities as a member of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His life story vividly demonstrates the power of the Lord and the example set by one who strives to follow His commands.

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