Attending President Monson’s funeral and the announcement of the new First Presidency changed the way I saw President Nelson.
I remember as a young girl when President Gordon B. Hinckley passed away and President Thomas S. Monson became the prophet. I wondered how anyone could ever replace my beloved prophet. Since then I have learned that no prophet truly replaces another but instead adds his own spirit and example to those that have gone before him.
President Monson touched the hearts of millions in his lifetime, not only through his calling but also through his incredible personality and divine strengths. Now, Church members have the opportunity to sustain a new prophet, President Russell M. Nelson, as the leader of the Church.
As a photojournalist, I had the unique opportunity to witness President Monson’s funeral and the worldwide broadcast announcing the new First Presidency through the lens of a camera. In general, I like to take in the entirety of an event, but when I’m photographing something, I pay more attention to the little details that make up a bigger picture.
As I watched President Nelson interact with the Brethren and others at the funeral and the worldwide broadcast, I learned some things about who President Nelson really is and why he is going to be an incredible prophet.
- President Nelson is a humble friend. As I watched President Nelson at President Monson’s funeral, I saw a sweet tenderness in his interactions with his fellow General Authorities. These leaders were grieving the loss of a beloved friend and fellow servant of the Lord. As President Nelson stepped onto the stand, where the casket of his friend Tommy Monson was placed, he hesitated and then reached out his hand to President Henry B. Eyring for support. In that simple gesture, I saw the vulnerability of a man faced with a daunting calling in the wake of his friend’s death. I also saw a man who humbly relies on the support of his friends and the Savior to accomplish the will of the Lord. In all of President Nelson’s interactions, he exudes confidence, wisdom, humility, and fellowship.
- President Nelson is a husband, father, and grandfather who loves his family. At the end of the worldwide broadcast, some of President Nelson’s family members gathered to greet and support him. As they lined up to take their turns with him, President Nelson took time with each one individually, picking the younger ones up in his arms and holding the older ones in warm embraces. The kindness that he feels for his family is echoed in his interactions with all of God’s children. He sees our talents, personalities, and potentials and can help guide us back to our Heavenly Father.
- President Nelson is a leader and a follower. In another moment at President Monson’s funeral, President Nelson looked out at the casket of his friend and prophet, President Monson. As I watched, I could feel a sense of sage peace cross his face. Although his calling and responsibilities would be immense, you could feel him leaning on the shoulders of those great men who had come before him. I knew that he had been well trained and prepared for this new assignment by the many other assignments and experiences he’s had over a lifetime.
While his leadership style may differ from President Monson’s, I know that President Nelson’s unique counsel, understanding, and love will be a blessing to us as he leads us with hope in these latter days.
To learn more about the new First Presidency, watch the worldwide broadcast.
—Danielle Jardine, Mormon Insight
images by the author
Find more insights
Watch the video message “God’s Greatest Creation,” in which President Nelson explains the divinity of children of God.
Read or watch President Russell M. Nelson’s general conference message “Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives.”
Read “The Book of Mormon: What Would Your Life Be Like without It?” to learn about President Nelson’s experiences with and testimony of the Book of Mormon.
Learn more about our new prophet by checking out President Nelson’s biography page at LDS.org.