After working for more than 30 years at a prestigious law firm and serving as firm president, Primary General President Camille N. Johnson certainly didn’t spend much of her professional career speaking to or writing for children, but these days, they are her primary audience.
In a recent interview on the Latter-day Saint Women podcast, President Johnson credits her time serving as a mission leader in Peru with her husband for simplifying her testimony and the way she shares it. She spoke no Spanish prior to their call, and she estimates that around 70 percent of the missionaries they presided over were Latinos from Central and South America and spoke little to no English. Over the course of their three-year service, she spoke at hundreds of stake conferences and never once had a translator.
“I had to write very simple messages because when I [wrote] something that I thought sounded particularly eloquent, I couldn’t figure out how to say it without sounding funny. So [I had to] throw eloquence to the wind because . . . that doesn’t matter. What matters are very simple gospel principles, like we are children of the living Heavenly Father, [that] He loves us so much, that His primary design and purpose [are to get us home to Him], that [He] made the way possible by sending us our Savior, Jesus Christ. So, I learned to teach better . . . or to communicate in simple terms . . . And in Primary, [our] objective is [just] for children to know that their Heavenly Father loves them.”
When asked how she navigated her family, church, and career responsibilities, President Johnson laughed and replied, “It probably looked like organized chaos.” She was already practicing law when her first son was born and added two more boys to their family while continuing to advance in her career. “I think perhaps the blessing in navigating all of that was knowing what my primary purpose and objective was [to] get my family back to our Heavenly home intact. My family was my number one top priority, and my husband and my children understood that, as did my coworkers, so when I was in the workplace, I didn’t shy away from the fact that my primary role in life as a mother and wife . . . was in the forefront. People knew that that was my priority.”
President Johnson certainly knows what it’s like to be busy and shared some great advice for anyone who feels like they don’t have time to strengthen their relationship with the Lord:
“The Lord doesn’t require a 15-minute prayer. If you don’t have 15 minutes, that’s okay! You might have 30 seconds and it might be in the car while your kids are all loading in on your way to . . . drop off the carpool. That’s what He wants. Remember our baptismal covenant . . . that we will always remember Him. Throughout the day, am I remembering Him? . . . Fill those [slivers of time] with things that are inspiring and uplifting and show our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ that we’re keeping our commitment and covenant to always remember Him.”
President Johnson also has unique insights into the Children and Youth program, and shared her thoughts on how the adults around them—parents, leaders, and other family members—can better teach children and youth and help them grow:
“We’re . . . asking our children and youth to be engaged in revelatory experiences . . . Are we as adults doing the same? We’re asking our children and youth to turn heavenward, are we turning heavenward? If we want them to get their own inspiration, we’ve got to model it. . . . We’re done with checklists, the programmatic approach. The Lord trusts us, and we need to engage Heaven’s help so that we can fulfill our responsibilities as Primary leaders or wherever we serve in the church, [most] importantly as parents, as stewards of the rising generations, whatever role we play—uncles, aunts, grandmothers, grandfathers—we need Heaven’s help in identifying how we can best fulfill our responsibilities.”
Listen to the full episode on the Latter-day Saint Women podcast.