“And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”Doctrine & Covenants 88:118
The Lord has always placed a premium on education. Among the very first stories of the Book of Mormon was Nephi’s trek back to Jerusalem to obtain the brass plates from Laban, so that Nephi’s descendants could have the scriptures in the promised land. Ultimately that mission resulted in our having the Book of Mormon today, bringing millions of souls to the knowledge of Jesus Christ.
As stated above in the Doctrine & Covenants, seeking “words of wisdom” is a matter of “study and also faith.” There is no shortage of good books out there that can fortify our faith. Sometimes it’s hard to know which ones are worth our time and affirm our testimonies. Fortunately, I’ve been able to read dozens of such titles over the last two decades, and it’s my privilege now to share some of them with you.
Perhaps the most timely of these titles is INSIGHTS FROM A PROPHET’S LIFE: RUSSELL M. NELSON by Sheri Dew. I received a copy of this wonderful hardcover as a Pioneer Day gift in 2019 and devoured its content.
The book contains roughly 80 sections that cover specific incidents in President Nelson’s life, showing how he was prepared by the Lord to accomplish certain tasks for the Church. Each section is equally concise and thorough, making it a much quicker read than its heft might suggest. A considerable portion of the print version contains photographs from Pres. Nelson’s childhood, family events, surgical career, and service as an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Despite my familiarity with his accomplishments, I learned a great deal about him I didn’t previously know. For one, I assumed all the apostles had served full-time missions in their twenties, but I was wrong. This is no small thing, either; in 1990, the United States Internal Revenue Service was trying to decide whether to let Church members write off the money they spent supporting missionaries in the field.
Elder Nelson was assigned the task of meeting with government officials to explain the Church’s position: the money should be tax-exempt. Read pages 202-204 to see how Elder Nelson’s specific lack of full-time mission service ended up being a major asset in this discussion.
Another surprising fact was the extent of President Nelson’s involvement in pioneering open-heart surgery in the 20th Century. I knew he was a heart surgeon, and he’d been one of the first to perform the procedure, but the details of his entry into cardiology made for a fascinating story all its own. (To say nothing of the fact his wife, Dantzel, helped him build the first blood oxygenator out of spare baby bottles; pages 53-56.)
The list of President Nelson’s accomplishments goes on and on. His military service. His college career and medical school. His discoveries in medicine. His study of languages and cultures the world over. And on top of all of that, he and his wife had nine daughters in a row, continuing to have children because of a vision they would have a son. (Which they did; he was number ten.)
His call to the office of apostle was a miracle in its own right (pages 157 to 164). He served faithfully in the calling for decades before being called to serve as President of the Church in 2018.
I really can’t recommend this book enough, and for so many reasons. If we are to seek learning and wisdom from the best books, we would do well to familiarize ourselves with the example of President Russell M. Nelson. His faith, his initiative, his compassion, and his charity – in short, his striving to live like Jesus Christ – are a massive inspiration to me, even more after reading this book.
Grab a copy from your local library or bookstore and dig in.
- “Seek Ye Out of the Best Books” -Elder Ian S. Ardern, October 2017
- “The Heart of a Prophet” -Elder Gary E. Stevenson, April 2018
- “Where Is Wisdom?” -Elder Russell M. Nelson, October 1992