My Personal Counsel From M. Russell Ballard

President Ballard passed away today. It is always hard to say goodbye to our church leaders that have been a part of our lives for so many years. He has always just been there to preach gospel – especially missionary work. He will be missed.

Waaaay back, circa 1981, I had my one-and-only personal experience with then Elder Ballard, which I have never forgotten. At that time he was serving in the presidency of the First Quorum of Elders. I was serving as a lowly missionary in Vina Del Mar, Chile.

I had been assigned to be Elder Ballard’s companion speaker for a multi-zone conference, which was very cool. Obviously, I prepared well. I knew I was merely the warm-up for the main event, but I wanted to do it right. No pressure!

A few minutes before the meeting began, I needed to go to the men’s room. I approached one of two urinals, and standing next to me was Elder Ballard. A fundamental rule is that when you are at a urinal, you pretend the other person isn’t there. Apparently Elder Ballard didn’t get the memo.

After he finished he said, “Elder, let me tell you something.”

My heart skipped a beat. He went on, “Make sure you step back before you flush the urinal. If you don’t it will spray all over your shoes.”

I mumbled, “Okay, thanks.”

He washed his hands and left the bathroom. I finished up, taking care to step back so as not to get my shoes wet. I went into the chapel and up to the stand where I sat down – next to Elder Ballard. This time he warmly greeted me, shook my hand and said, “Hello again.”

After a minute he leaned over and said quietly, “Your shoes look like you listened to my counsel. Well done.”

That was the extent of my interaction, but I still look back it as the time I was given private counsel by a General Authority, acted on it, and was praised for it.

Thanks, President Ballard for all the other – more important – counsel you’ve given all of us over the many decades. You will be missed.


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  1. Great story! It will be so strange to not see Elder Ballard anymore. So grateful we got to hear his final testimony last month. He has been such a part of our lives for so long and he is so loved.

  2. I’m soooo glad you’re back. I love your posts. Pres Ballard was the longest serving General Authority in our dispensation. He definitely will be missed, but he’s in a much betterplace—with his beloved Barbara.

  3. Your posts, so often, make my day. Thank you for sharing your experience with President Ballard. My grandparents thought so much of Pres. Ballard’s grandfather, Elder Melvin Joseph Ballard, that they named my Dad, Melvin.

  4. I had a chance to meet Elder Ballard shortly after he was called as an Apostle. I was a stake public communications director (a calling that I have had off and on, on various levels, for 40 years now). It was a chance to meet him with just me and the stake presidency of that stake. Precious memories of being in the presence of a Special Witness of Christ. He will be missed, but I thought of what a great reunion he must have had with his sweet Barbara,

  5. Cool story…thanks for sharing. I had a similar experience with Elder Bruce R. McConkie in Arica Chile in 1980. I’ll miss Elder Ballard…

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