FAMILY'S REASSURANCE AND SUPPORT HAVE VITAL ROLES IN FULFILLING CALLING
LESSONS IN OBEDIENCE, FAITH HELPED MAKE HIM AN `INSTRUMENT' IN THE HANDS OF THE LORDThe first time Elder Rex D. Pinegar stood at the Tabernacle pulpit as a General Authority, he quoted a passage of scripture:
"I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy." (Alma 29:9.)That was 17 years ago, when he was called as a member of the First Council of the Seventy, at age 41. He served in that capacity from 1972 to 1976. In 1976, members of the First Council were placed in the First Quorum of the Seventy. During this past conference, Elder Pinegar, 58, was sustained to the Presidency of the Seventy.
In a Church News interview, Elder Pinegar reflected on his 17 years of being an "instrument" in helping build the Lord's kingdom on earth.
"I have learned what a privilege it is to serve the Lord," said Elder Pinegar. "The privilege of service is almost beyond comprehension. I suppose the greatest thing I have learned in the past 17 years is that the work of the Lord is true. Because it is true, what we do in our daily lives makes a difference now and eternally. The Lord can and does work through men to accomplish His purposes.
"Wherever I have had the opportunity to go throughout the world I have met people who love the Lord and I have seen how the Lord loves them for their devotion and faithful service to Him."
Elder Pinegar's own life has been one of service or preparation for service. He grew up in Spanish Fork, Utah, where he and his nine brothers and sisters, including his twin brother, Max, were taught lessons of obedience and faith by their parents, John Franklin and Grace Ellis Pinegar.
"As I look back at the things I have learned, probably one of the most important lessons is that of obedience," Elder Pinegar reflected. "There were many things that helped teach me that, but I think the most outstanding was the example and expectation of my father in regard to our attitude toward our mother. When she asked us to do something, the answer was always expected to be, `Yes Ma'am.' We didn't have the attitude that we had to be obedient; we just wanted to do as she asked.
"Obedience was taught in loving ways. Our mother loved us into doing right by her expectation, her smile and her faith. We knew she not only had faith in the Lord, but she also had faith in her children. To disappoint her would be very hard on us."
One experience stands out in Elder Pinegar's mind. "An older brother was on the basketball team in high school," he recalled. "It was all right for us to be in sports, but if we had a chore or something to do at home we were expected to do it and not leave the work to our mother. My brother stayed late for a practice one evening and came home to find our mother milking the cow. He was just devastated by that. She didn't have to say, `Now, you will come right home next time.' Just seeing her doing his work was punishment enough."
While Elder Pinegar learned much about faith from his parents, he also learned through personal experiences, at least two of which were physical traumas he overcame.
"When he was 13," said his wife, Bonnie, who also grew up in Spanish Fork, "he was blinded when he was playing with some fireworks. Rex had his eyes bandaged all summer, but he knew he would see again."
Another trial came while he was serving in the U.S. Navy from 1950-1954. Following boot camp, he was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis and could not walk for about eight months.
"He was bedridden or in a wheelchair in the hospital during that time, but he always felt everything would be all right," said Sister Pinegar. "Those attributes of faith and positive assurance continue to be a great strength in his life and one he imparts to his family and to those he serves in the Lord's work.'
After the Navy, he enrolled at BYU, and decided to become a teacher. A short time later, on Jan. 24, 1955, he and Bonnie were married in the Salt Lake Temple.
After he received a bachelor's degree in 1958, he did graduate work at San Francisco State College and the University of Southern California for his master's degree and doctorate in education.
In California, he was a stake missionary, seventies quorum group leader and in a stake YMMIA superintendency, and taught seminary and institute of religion.
After receiving his doctorate in 1965, he became a member of BYU's special education faculty and later became chairman of the educational psychology department in the College of Education.
While on the Sunday School general board, he was called in 1971 to preside over the North Carolina-Virginia Mission. A year later, he was called as a General Authority. At that time, Elder and Sister Pinegar had five children, whose ages ranged from 16 to 5. Since then they have had another daughter, now 12, and four of their children are married. They have 11 grandchildren.
"A great blessing to me has been the reassurances that have come from my family," said Elder Pinegar. "Being able to leave on assignments and knowing Bonnie not only supports me but also wants me to serve has meant a lot. I can go without any reservations, and have always felt that the very principles I am going out to teach are the same ones she is teaching in the home in my absence. I have great appreciation for my wife and her support."
When not traveling on Church assignments, Elder Pinegar enjoys being home. He lists his favorite free-time activity as just being with his wife and children. He feels it is crucial that fathers talk to their children. "I really enjoy listening to what they have to say and talking to them about things they think are important."
One experience illustrating that came as he and a daughter talked one day. At one point in the conversation, he told her, "You know what to do if you need help." She replied, "Yes, you expect me to pray." Then she added, "But I can't see Heavenly Father. I know He is there, but I can't see Him. But you are here and I can see you. Could I report to you, too?"
"That taught me a tremendous lesson about how important it is for parents to be available to their children," reflected Elder Pinegar. He has let his children know he is always available to them, wherever he may be. He has had telephone calls in many far-away places with such requests as, "Pray for me, Dad."
Some of the moments Elder Pinegar is available to his children are when they work together in their yard.
He does not claim any extraordinary gardening skills, but he does like a nice looking yard. He enjoys getting into his work clothes and gardening. His wife said she has seen him mowing the lawn in his suit.
Of his call as a General Authority, Elder Pinegar said: "I never expected it. I suppose we never expect any calling the Lord gives us. Our challenge is to have sufficient faith to do what the Lord asks us to do."
Elder Pinegar referred again to Alma 29, this time reciting verse 10: "And behold, when I see many of my brethren truly penitent, and coming to the Lord their God, then is my soul filled with joy; then do I remember what the Lord has done for me, yea, even that he hath heard my prayer; yea, when I do remember his merciful arm which he extended towards me."
"Having seen the work of the Seventy increase from that assigned to seven men to that now given to 61 men has been a wonderful and remarkable thing," said Elder Pinegar. "Today the scriptural injunction for the Seventy to act under the direction of the Council of the Twelve is being fulfilled. All Seventies ordained today serve as General Authorities and serve throughout the earth regulating the affairs of the Church as directed by the First Presidency and the Twelve.
"What a great privilege it is to serve the Lord and to strive to be an effective instrument in His hands. This is the source of true joy wherever or in whatever capacity we serve."
Elder Rex D. Pinegar
- Born: Sept. 18, 1931, in Orem, Utah.
- Married: Bonnie Lee Crabb of Spanish Fork, Utah, Jan. 24, 1955, in Salt Lake Temple.
- Family: One son, five daughters; 11 grandchildren.
- Education: Graduated from Spanish Fork (Utah) High School; received bachelor of arts degree from BYU; master's degree from San Francisco State College; and doctorate in education from the University of Southern Calif-ornia.
- Military service: U.S. Navy, 1950-1954.
- Church service before called as General Authority: North Carolinia-Virginia Mission president; member of Sunday School general board; stake missionary and member of stake YMMIA superintendency in Hayward, Calif.; seventies quorum group leader in Glendale, Calif.
- Employment background: Chairman of educational psychology, BYU College of Education; teacher in special education at BYU; seminary and institute teacher.