"Watching [my father] was probably the best learning experience in preparing for priesthood leadership," said Bishop Gérald Caussé, recently called as the first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric.
From the time he was a boy, he always found happiness in Church service. That was a good thing, Bishop Caussé said, because in his small branch in Bordeaux, France, everyone was needed to keep the unit running.
His parents had joined the Church when he was just six months old, Bishop Caussé said, and he feels fortunate to have grown up in the gospel and with the Church being a major part of family life.
In addition to serving in Aaronic Priesthood quorums throughout his youth, he served as the Primary pianist at age 12, a counselor in the Sunday School presidency at 14, and Sunday School president at 16.
"Serving in the Church helped me get my testimony," he said. His father, who served several times as branch president and bishop, was particularly instrumental in Bishop Caussé's having a positive experience.
"When I was a teenager, he would involve me in doing home teaching or visiting families in need," Bishop Caussé said. "Watching him was probably the best learning experience in preparing for priesthood leadership."
In those experiences, Bishop Caussé said, he has learned that there are two major ways that Church members can come unto Christ and feel His Atonement in their lives: to give service and to receive it.
"By giving service, we follow the example of Jesus Christ," Bishop Caussé said. "We feel more love in our hearts, and our hearts begin to transform to be more like His.
"And when we receive service from others," he continued, "we feel the love of Christ and of God our Eternal Father for us."
These are things that everyone can do, he pointed out. "The starting point of welfare lies with every individual member of the Church," Bishop Caussé declared.
"The welfare program wouldn't work if individual members of the Church did not demonstrate these principles in their own actions."
Service has been a consistent part of Bishop Caussé's life ever since those early days in his branch in France; he has served as ward clerk, elders quorum president, high priest group leader, bishop's counselor, stake president's counselor, stake president, Area Authority and, most recently, a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy.
Ironically, he noted, he has never served as a bishop — until now.
"It's an overwhelming responsibility when I think of the size of the Church and how fast it's growing," he said.
"This is a global Church that covers the whole world. I look forward to the international aspects of supporting the Church in its growth. That is something that I have loved to see in my previous assignments."
He noted the spectrum of that growth in his recent assignments in Europe, where some countries, like England, have mature leadership and strong units, while the Church is brand new in others.
"Europe is a reflection of the diversity of the world and, in many ways, it's a crossroads for the world," he said. "I enjoy this diversity. I enjoy meeting with members everywhere, seeing their testimony and experiencing their strength."
He said that his past experiences — both those involving his family and those involving Church responsibilities — have cemented in his mind a knowledge that the Lord's hand is in individuals' lives and in the work of the Church.
He cited an experience he had early in his career where hundreds of employees went on strike and he, as a new manager, was left to handle the situation with little direction from his supervisors.
Having no idea what to do, he sought — and received — guidance from the Lord. He recalled other experiences involving job changes that made it possible for him to serve in the Church in ways he wouldn't have been able to otherwise.
And he recalled more recent parts of his assignments as a Seventy — such as those involving temple construction and building relationships in local communities — that have shown him that the Lord is at the helm.
And those experiences, he said, have prepared him for assignments now in front of him.
"I have seen so many miracles happen," he said. "These have strengthened my testimony. I know He is watching us personally — not only me but every one of us. We just need to listen more, open our spiritual ears more, and trust Him when things happen in our lives that aren't what we expect."
When we do this, Bishop Caussé said, we "receive so much more than we give Him."
"We are indebted forever," he explained. "However much we serve, it's difficult to 'catch up' with the blessings the Lord gives us.
"The Lord knows what needs to happen, and being an instrument in His hand is probably the best experience you could ever have in life. I look forward to seeing the hand of the Lord being manifest in many other places and in many other ways around the world."
Family: Born in May 1963 in Bordeaux, France, to Jean and Marie-Blanche Caussé. Married Valerie Lucienne Babin in August 1986 in the Bern Switzerland Temple. Five children, Valentine (Jér?e) Bamy, Émilie (Nathana?) Durand, Adrien, Pauline and Noémie; one grandchild.
Education: Master's degree in business from ESSEC in 1987.
Military Service: Served in the French Air Force for a year as a young man, where he was assigned to a NATO agency.
Employment: Six years as a strategy consultant in Paris and London. Later worked for a major retail group in Europe, and then as the general manager and a member of the board for France's largest food distributor.
Church Service: Former member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Area Seventy, stake president, stake president's counselor, bishop's counselor and elders quorum president.