In a family, the parents guide their children and teach them good manners and right conduct. Students are being taught by their teachers at school, and coaches are responsible to train their athletes. Employees are supervised by the team director, and a country is led by a president.
The church is also organized by worthy authorities. Jesus Christ is the leader of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Under His direction, there are General Authorities and local leaders who teach members, and even non-members, throughout the world.
If you’re a member or an investigator, I assume that you probably heard the name “Russell M. Nelson”. But, who is he exactly? How well do you know him?
Who is Russell M. Nelson?
Russell Marion Nelson Sr. is the 17th and current President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He is The Living Prophet who receives revelations and teachings directly from God.
Before he became the Church President, he was a member of the LDS Church’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for nearly 34 years and served as the Quorum President from 2015 to 2018. And before he became an Apostle, he was a great leader and an outstanding surgeon who have saved thousands of lives for decades.
Russell M. Nelson is a loving father, a devoted husband, a skilled doctor, a great teacher, and a trusted friend. He is accepted by the church members as a prophet, seer, and revelator.
“A prophet?” You may ask. Yes, Russell M. Nelson is The Living Prophet — a prophet living on the earth today.
Why is He Called The Living Prophet?
Before we answer the question above, we will have a quick talk about the question “What is a Living Prophet?”
The prophets of today are similar to the prophets of old. They serve as God’s instruments — the ones who spread God’s word to the people who haven’t heard of it, and those who need to hear it. The prophets speak boldly and clearly, denouncing sin and warning of its consequences. For our benefit, the prophets are inspired to prophesy of future events. And most importantly, prophets bear witness of Jesus Christ.
For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Church President is someone whom God has called to receive revelation and guide the entire Church. Thus, the Church President, Russell M. Nelson, is The Living Prophet.
“What I the Lord have spoken, I have spoken, and I excuse not myself;
and though the heavens and the earth pass away, my word shall not pass away,
but shall all be fulfilled, whether by mine own voice or by the voice of my servants,
it is the same.” (D&C 1:38)
The Russell M. Nelson Story
People ask so many questions about the president, such as “When was Russell M. Nelson born?” and “How old is Russell M. Nelson?” I’m wondering why people ask these questions. Is it because of curiosity? Are we being too nosy? Or because we just admire him so much, to the point that we want to know every single detail about the president?
But before Russell M. Nelson became the President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, he was actually prepared several years ago — that God has already chosen him to be the 17th president before he came to the world.
Let’s jump to the past and witness how Russell M. Nelson prepared over the years for this wonderful calling.
Russell M. Nelson was born on September 9, 1924 (age 95), in Salt Lake City, Utah. His parents, Marion Clavar Nelson and Floss Edna Nelson, were less active in the Church, but they sent young Nelson to Sunday School. At first, Russell M. Nelson was not interested in church. He loves playing football with friends, but that changed when young Nelson turned 16… Finally, his heart responded to the truths of the gospel.
At the age of 16, Russell M. Nelson was baptized as a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints along with his siblings. After a few years, the children’s devotion led their parents to become active again. Isn’t it amazing how the kids inspired their parents to be back in church? Isn’t it fascinating how the 16-year-old Nelson encouraged his parents to continue church service?
Education and Medical Career
Yes, humans are always curious about the educational background as well as the profession of well-known individuals — celebrities, pop stars, businessmen, or even their neighbors!
And you’re probably one of the thousands who, at least once in their lifetime, asked the question “Where did Russell M. Nelson go to college?” or “What did Russell M. Nelson do for a living?” But before we continue, I would like to give you a heads up — Russell M. Nelson has been a real overachiever.
Russell M. Nelson graduated high school at the age of 16. As a native of South Lake City, he attended the University of Utah to get a college degree. At age 22, Russell M. Nelson graduated from the university and received a B.A. in 1945 and an M.D. in 1947. I know what you’re thinking right now. Well, you’re right. He took B.A. and M.D. simultaneously!
Russell M. Nelson went to the University of Minnesota for his postdoctoral training. There, he was a member of the research team that pioneered the development of open-heart surgery. Yes, Russell M. Nelson is a part of the Clarence Dennis Research Team — the team that developed the heart-lung machine. In 1951, that machine supported the first human open-heart surgery using mechanical takeover of the heart and lungs (cardiopulmonary bypass).
During the Korean War, Russell M. Nelson was called to serve a two-year term of duty in the U.S. Army Medical Corps. He was stationed in Korea, Japan, and at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. After fulfilling his military service, he went to Harvard Medical School’s Massachusetts General Hospital for research work and surgical training.
In 1954, Russell M. Nelson received a Ph.D. for his research contributions. And for the next 29 years, Russell M. Nelson worked in the field of cardiothoracic surgery and became a noted heart surgeon. He was so busy with his profession, but he has never set aside his family, his faith, and his leadership in the church.
In the year 1975, Russell M. Nelson was elected as president of the Society for Vascular Surgery and also a director of the American Board of Thoracic Surgery. He often traveled to different countries as a medical doctor and held conferences around Latin America, Africa, India, and China.
For the following years, Russell M. Nelson became more successful than ever. If I write down all of his achievements here, this one page won’t be enough. Just like what I’ve told you a few paragraphs ago, Russell M. Nelson is a real overachiever!
Now that we’ve talked about his education and medical career, let’s move on to a more interesting topic — Russell M. Nelson’s Church Service.
LDS Church Service
Despite Russell M. Nelson’s busy surgical career, he never forgot his duties and responsibilities at church. He served in several callings such as counselor in bishoprics and as a stake president in Salt Lake City from 1964 to 1971. Russell M. Nelson was also the Church’s Sunday School General President from 1971 to 1979.
And in the year 1984, Russell M. Nelson and Dallin H. Oaks were selected to fill the two vacancies in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, called by the 12th Church President Spencer W. Kimball — to whom he had served as a personal physician for several years.
The Latter-day Saints Apostles serve for life. The notable Dr. Russell M. Nelson, without any hesitation, retired from all of his professional positions. Before his apostleship, Russell M. Nelson also served as a regional representative assigned to the Kearns Utah Region and had previously served as a regional representative for Brigham Young University. On his first years of service as an apostle, he was an adviser to the church’s Young Women.
From 2015 to 2018, Russell M. Nelson served as the Quorum President. There has been a lot of significant changes with him being in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, where he served under five presidents of the church.
Russell M. Nelson traveled to different countries to share the words of eternal life. One of his first assignments was to introduce the gospel to the Eastern European nations — and have completed the assignment in a short time! Now, we have established a church in every country of Eastern Europe.
And on January 14, 2018, Russell M. Nelson was called to serve as the 17th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Russell M. Nelson Family
When Russell M. Nelson was studying at the University of Utah, he met and began dating fellow student, Dantzel White. They dated for three years and got married in the Salt Lake Temple. They are blessed with nine daughters and a son.
After 60 years of marriage, Dantzel Nelson unexpectedly passed away at the age of 78. After a year of loneliness, Russell M. Nelson married Wendy L. Watson in the Salt Lake Temple. Her marriage to Nelson is her first, and she’s also a perfect match to the president.
As this is being written, Russell M. Nelson has 10 children, 57 grandchildren, and 118 great-grandchildren. Every month, the Nelson Family gather together and celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, and all other significant moments.
Even if the members of the Nelson Family were busy with their lives, they never forget to spend some time with the whole family.
General Conference Talks
It’s not yet late for you to watch Russell M. Nelson’s General Conference Talks. The churchofjesuschrist.org has a complete collection of Russell M. Nelson’s talks from April 1984 up to the present.
If you can follow your favorite celebrities and fashion brands, why not follow our Church President? Follow the links and be inspired by Russell M. Nelson’s inspiring words and thoughts.
Why is it so difficult for people to believe in the prophets of today, but easy for them to believe in the prophets of old?
There are several reasons why non-believers question the truth about the prophets of today. Is it because of the effect of today’s generation where people have a hard time trusting everything? Is it because of the ‘belief differences’ between one sect to another? Is it because ancient prophets are written in the books and have been passed through centuries whereas today’s prophets are living here with us? Is it because ancient prophets wear ancient tunics and carry staff while modern prophets wear suits and carry briefcases?
But whatever their belief is, what’s important is that we, the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are blessed to be led by living prophets — the leaders that are called to speak for the Lord — like Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Nephi, Mormon, and other prophets of the scriptures.
“Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but He revealeth
His secret unto his servants the prophets”
The Lord warned that those who ignore the voice of the Lord, the voice of His servants, and the words of the prophets and apostles, will fall. (See D&C 1:14-16)
Favorite Russell M. Nelson Quotes
“You can change. You can ‘come unto Christ,
and be perfected in him.’”
“Truth, covenants, and ordinances enable us to overcome fear
and face the future with faith.”
“Even if everyone is doing it,
wrong is never right.”
“Counting blessings is better
than recounting problems.”
“Education is the difference between wishing you could help others
& being able to help them.”
“Heavenly Father loves every one of His children.
After all, He is their Father.”
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