Savvy Chic

tidbits, thoughts, and ramblings. . .with a Mormon twist

biographies: Gordon B. Hinckley May 29, 2007

Filed under: biographies — savvychic @ 10:01 pm

as posted on LDS Image 

You are creatures of divinity; you are daughters of the Almighty. Limitless is your potential. Magnificent is your future, if you will take control of it.”i

President Hinckley never fails to inspire me as I listen to him speak. Hearing his words, I always feel more loved, more divine, and more confident to take control of my destiny. President Hinckley’s example extends beyond his words. He has lead a magnificent life, one worthy of emulation. Matthew 7:20 states, “Wherefore, by their fruits ye shall know them.” I know President Hinckley to be a prime example of how I want to live my life and draw closer to my Savior.

Gordon Bitner Hinckley was born 23 June 1910 in Salt Lake City, Utah, to Bryant S. and Ada Bitner Hinckley. In contrast to the energetic, healthy 96 year old man we are familiar with, Gordon was afflicted with life-threatening whooping cough at age two as well as asthma and allergies as a youth. The doctor recommended fresh air and sunlight and so his family moved to a country farm.

On that farm through summers, weekends, and holidays Gordon grew to health and learned to work. And somehow there near the soil and close to nature his confidence in God’s good and provident hand prospered like the hundreds of fruit trees and vegetable seeds he planted, tended, and harvested.”ii

President Hinckley tells of an experience with his brother Sherman. At night, while lying in an old farm wagon, they “looked at the myriads of stars in the heavens, and took turns picking out familiar stars and tracing the Big Dipper, the handle and the cup, to find the North Star.” He was fascinated by the North Star. Regardless of the earth’s rotation, the North Star maintained its position in the heavens and never moved. He said: “I recognized it as a constant in the midst of change. It was something that could always be counted on, something that was dependable, an anchor in what otherwise appeared to be a moving and unstable firmament.”iii

Gordon was blessed with two well-educated parents who encouraged the love of reading. In a home library of over one thousand books and comfortable chairs, he developed a love of good books and learning.

President Hinckley attended the University of Utah majoring in journalism. When he graduated, he also minored in ancient languages. While in school, his mother died. “I also came to know something of death—the absolute devastation of children losing their mother—but also of peace without pain, and the certainty that death cannot be the end of the soul.”iv

He intended to go on to Columbia University School of Journalism in New York. This changed when his bishop called him into his office and got right to the point, calling him to serve a mission. This was in the midst of the depression and not many saints were sent on missions. However, his father confidently stated the family would support Gordon and Sherman offered to help. Gordon planned to apply his savings for Columbia University towards his mission, but soon afterwards the bank that held his savings failed. It was then that the family discovered a savings account from Gordon’s mother– money saved from years of frugal grocery shopping.

Gordon was called to the European Mission with headquarters in London, England. The mission was hard and success seemed impossible. Discouraged, Gordon wrote his father saying, “I am wasting my time and your money. I don’t see any point in my staying here.” His father’s reply came, “Dear Gordon. I have your letter. I have only one suggestion. Forget yourself and go to work, With love, Your Father.” After pondering this response and reading Mark 8:35, Gordon covenanted with the Lord that he would try to forget himself and go to work. “I count that as the day of decision in my life. Everything good that has happened to me since then I can trace back to the decision I made at that time.”v

On his mission, Elder Hinckley worked closely with the mission president, Elder Joseph F. Merrill, also a member of the Council of the Twelve Apostles. At the end of Elder Hinckley’s mission, Elder Merrill gave him an extra assignment, to speak with the First Presidency when he returned to Salt Lake City about the need for better media materials for the missionaries.

This Gordon did when he returned, and it changed the course of his life. His comments were well received and he was asked to serve as producer and secretary for the Church Radio, Publicity, and Mission Literature Committee.

Also around this time, the friendship between Gordon and a lovely young woman, Marjorie, blossomed into an everlasting love. They were married for time and all eternity in the Salt Lake Temple on 29 April 1937. To keep their marriage strong, they knew they must always put the Lord first. Sister Hinckley said, “It seemed to me that if you understood the gospel and the purpose of our being here, you would want a husband who put the Lord first. I felt secure knowing he was that kind of man.”vi

Gordon worked most of his career for the Church. In 1958, he was sustained an Assistant to the Twelve. Three years later he was ordained an Apostle. In 1961, he was set apart as a Counselor to President Kimball. President Hinckley remained a counselor for the next 34 years, to Presidents Kimball, Benson, and Hunter. On 12 March 1995, he became the fifteenth President of the Church.

President Hinckley has tirelessly encouraged the saints throughout the world. “Keep trying. Be believing. Be happy. Don’t get discouraged. Things will work out.”vii He has traveled the world over reaching out to everyone. He encourages positive media attention, interviewing with Larry King and Mike Wallace on 60 Minutes. More than 124 operating temples (and 6 more under construction and 5 more announced) dot the earth, mostly built (or rebuilt, like the Nauvoo Temple) and dedicated while President Hinckley has held his office. The Conference Center was also created and the Tabernacle’s structure was recently strengthened. Important proclamations have also come during his administration: The Family: A Proclamation to the World and The Living Christ: The Testimony of the Apostles.

President Hinckley recently became the oldest president of the Church on 3 November 2006. Yet he still carries his cane. His smile is always sincere and his trust in the Lord is stronger than ever. His example is one of courage and trust, that of carrying on! He issues the challenge to “. . . every one of you who can hear me, to rise to the divinity within you. Do we really realize what it means to be a Child of God, to have within us something of the Divine Nature?”viii

President Hinckley answers, “Never forget that you came to earth as a child of the divine Father, with something of divinity in your very makeup. The Lord did not send you here to fail. He did not give you life to waste it. He bestowed upon you the gift of mortality that you might gain experience—positive, wonderful, purposeful experience—that will lead to life eternal. He has given you this glorious Church, His Church, to guide you and direct you. . . May God bless you richly and abundantly, my dear young friends, His wonderful daughters.”ix

i Gordon B. Hinckley, “Words of the Prophet: Daughters of the Almighty,” New Era, Nov 2003, 4

ii Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, Jun 1995, p. 2–13

iii Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, Jun 1995, p. 2–13

iv Gordon B. Hinckley, “Some Lessons I Learned as a Boy,” Ensign, May 1993, 52

v CES Institute Manual: Church Presidents [2005] pg. 262

vi Sheri L. Dew, Go Forward with Faith: The Biography of Gordon B. Hinckley [1996]

vii Jeffrey R. Holland, “President Gordon B. Hinckley: Stalwart and Brave He Stands,” Ensign, Jun 1995, 2–13

viii Gordon B. Hinckley, “Each a Better Person,” Ensign, Nov 2002, 99

ix Gordon B. Hinckley, “How Can I Become the Woman of Whom I Dream?,” Ensign, May 2001, 93