My first clear memory of Elder Boyd K. Packer, beyond an awareness of his existence and position, was mediated through my father. Fresh off of my mission my dad had attended Stake Presidents’ training by Elder Packer and taken copious notes. The text was nitrous oxide to the engine of my post-mission soul. In the time since that moment, through my training as a critical observer of our history and as believing member, I have consistently viewed our recently deceased Quorum of the Twelve President through those pages. He rightly understood our tradition to be venerable, and confessed the primacy of revelation.
Nearly 20 years ago and his message is familiar. The Proclamation was drafted by revelation and we must instruct our people and administer the church based on the doctrine, rules and the commandments, not on the exceptions. If we include the exceptions in our instructions and preaching, our people will remember just the exceptions. But in those private settings he confessed his attention to the exceptions and I still am amazed at his willingness to take ambiguous cases to the Lord in prayer. He expected the Lord to speak, and to bless.
If you choose to deny the spirit by not asking, you choose to deny the blessings that The Lord would otherwise have in store for you.
Elder Packer was also wise in his extensive experience. “In all that we do,” he taught “we must not be exempt from common sense.” His teachings regarding the involvement of parents and grandparents, even on the margins of church participations, in the liturgical lives of our children still inspires me. “We must allow kids to be kids, and Heavenly Father will allow us the same to assure our growth here on the earth.”
Despite a reputation for being somewhat institutional in his approach, having never been a Bishop or Stake President Elder Packer warned of apprenticeships. He noted that President J. Rueben Clark had never had a leadership calling in the church before joining the First Presidency.
Most importantly, Elder Packer believed that the word of God could change people. He taught that Stakes had the capacity for bringing Zion into existence, currently having all they need to do so. He also believed that through prayer and faith we could realize miracles. I believe it too.
Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.