President Kimball, we love you. Prior to getting into my text, let me offer my apologies to you in the audience and across the world who must listen to these proceedings through a translator. During the past year, I have been privileged to travel extensively in your lands, and I have a feeling of love and respect for you. I apologize that I cannot speak to you in your language. May the Lord bless us, as I speak, that you will be able to hear things just as personally as if I were speaking in your language. Perhaps the day will come when we Saints on the Wasatch Front will have to put on earphones so we can understand what’s going on.
I hope I can convey to you the humility with which I approach this calling. I’ve just recently been released as a second counselor. What does one say, when one day you are the second counselor of the Bountiful Thirteenth Ward bishopric, and the next day you’re the Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric. In the Regional Representatives’ seminar Friday morning, Elder Russell M. Nelson reminisced that last year he was sitting in the Regional Representatives’ seminar—sitting very inconspicuously in the back, and very comfortably. Later that day he received an interview which turned his life upside down.
Last Friday I was in the Regional Representatives’ seminar, but my ticket wasn’t stamped “Regional Representative”; it was stamped “Invited Guest.” By four o’clock that afternoon, I had received a letter signed by President Hinckley telling me I was to speak for thirteen minutes in the Sunday afternoon session of conference.
My first question to President Hinckley wasn’t “What should I say?” It was “How do I get in?”
As late as last Wednesday night, I was rehearsing for a ward play. (By the way, Sister Lalli, wherever you are, I’m sorry I wasn’t to play practice yesterday morning.) I was released from the bishopric in January after serving for four years. How I loved that calling, and the brethren with whom I served—Bishop Lee J. Lalli, and his able and dedicated first counselor, D. Ray Alexander—Lee J. and Ray, as I affectionately called them.
Since my release I’ve been traveling extensively, and therefore have been without a calling for two months. At that play practice Wednesday, I sent a signal to the new bishop, Russ Herscher, that I was ready to reenter the “job market.” I hope you won’t feel that I’m an aspiring person, but I told the Primary president, Susan Mabey, I wanted to teach Primary—ideally my seven-year-old daughter’s class. I know sanctification comes not with any particular calling, but with genuine acts of service, often for which there is no specific calling.
Now, despite the humility with which I approach this call, I have full confidence in my ability to perform. This, however, is not self-confidence, but confidence in the fact that the Lord makes every man and woman equal to the assignment that he or she is given. Therefore, I state clearly but humbly, “I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” (1 Ne. 3:7.)
Brothers and sisters, I have never been a bishop. Since Friday afternoon I have felt puzzled, almost bewildered and overwhelmed, at how a man could be called to be a member of the Presiding Bishopric without having had the experience of being a bishop. I agonized for twenty-four hours until yesterday afternoon, when President Hinckley laid his hands upon my head and ordained me a bishop. I heard the voice of the Lord say in my heart, “No, Glenn, you have never been a bishop, but now you are a bishop, and always will be.”
Several years ago, I made a covenant with the Lord. I promised to give him anything he should require of me, and prayed this gesture might warrant forgiveness of my transgressions. Yesterday I gave the only thing I had left. It was something I cherished. I held on to it until the very last moment. I never thought of it as a selfish possession. That of which I speak flew out the window of my home when I turned on the television to watch the news and saw my picture on the television screen. I speak of my prized remaining possession—anonymity.
How I love not to be noticed! I don’t want to sit with the General Authorities in the “fishbowl” at the BYU football games in my dark blue suit! I want to sit in the stands with my father, wearing an obnoxious T-shirt which reads: “BYU #1. Enough said!” I have license and credentials to be obnoxious! I was born and raised in Provo, Utah. I attended school at Provo High School. I received my bachelor’s and master’s degrees from BYU. I’m a member of the Church, and I even work for the Church. My credentials are impeccable. I want to go berserk in the upper tier of the San Diego Stadium as I have the last four years at the Holiday Bowl—with the exception of Ohio State [which soundly beat BYU’s team in the bowl game], when I went into deep depression. I still have one faint hope—perhaps the Brethren will let me sit with Elder Perry at the ball games. Nevertheless, I give up my prized anonymity, just as I will give up my life if it is required of me.
I love the Lord Jesus Christ. I love the transformation his atonement has wrought in me. Earlier speakers have spoken of him with such eloquence. How I wish I had command of the language which would enable me to express my feelings on this Easter afternoon. May I add my simple testimony to those who have spoken articulately. I once was in darkness, and now see light. I once lost all of my confidence, and now know all things are possible in the Lord. I once felt shame and now am “filled with his love, even unto the consuming of my flesh.” (2 Ne. 4:21.) “I am encircled about eternally in the arms of his love.” (2 Ne. 1:15.)
I express my deepest loyalty to Bishop Hales and his First Counselor, Bishop Eyring. I will not betray their trust. I express my love and loyalty to the First Presidency, the Council of the Twelve Apostles, the First Quorum of the Seventy, and those I love most—the rank-and-file members of the Church. I express my love to my wife; without her love and understanding, I literally would not be standing at this pulpit today. I love my children, who must also give up their anonymity, as well as some time with their father. How I wish I could embrace my oldest son, who is serving a mission in the Cook Islands!
I thank God I was born of goodly parents. I begged my mother not to stand and take my picture as I came to the stand for the first time yesterday morning! But what would I have done if, during my formative years, she had not demonstrated that same pride and enthusiasm for everything I accomplished, however small. My father, Bishop Kenneth L. Pace, was the bishop of the Bonneville Ward in the East Provo Stake during my teens. He remains uppermost in my mind as exemplifying the pure love of Christ throughout his life.
Finally, I share the prayer of my heart with you at this time. May I display in my service the courage of my convictions in a manner like unto that displayed by Bishop Victor L. Brown. May I acquire the inspired, objective judgment of Bishop H. Burke Peterson. And may I acquire the open, warm, Christlike personality of Bishop J. Richard Clarke. May I exhibit the love and loyalty to Bishop Hales taught to us so beautifully by Joseph’s beloved brother, Hyrum. And lastly, may we as a Bishopric acquire the same love, respect, and unity I felt in the bishopric of the Bountiful Thirteenth Ward with Bishop Lee J. Lalli and D. Ray Alexander, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.