David L. Beck learned early in life the lessons of helping others realize their vast potential and eternal worth.
The Bountiful, Utah, native was just 10 years old when he said goodbye to his neighborhood playmates and Primary pals and moved to Brazil where his father, Wayne Beck, had been called to preside over the Brazilian Mission.
There young David found himself struggling to learn a new language and to fit into a new culture. Still, he soon recognized the love and encouragement his mission president father and his mother, Evelyn Beck, had for the missionaries and the Brazilian people. Many times he witnessed people changing for the good because his parents believed in them.
“My father would build people up and challenge them to become better,” said Brother Beck. “He helped them understand who they really are and what they can do.”
Those childhood lessons would influence Brother Beck’s interactions with others during his own full-time mission in Brazil and later as an assistant Scoutmaster, bishop, stake president, mission president (again, to Brazil) and, since April, as the Church’s Young Men general president.
During the past five months of service in his worldwide calling, Brother Beck has been lifted by the enthusiasm and spirit of the many young men with whom he has come in contact. He is impressed by their willingness to serve and participate in the gospel. “They are a lot of fun to be with.”
The youth leader often speaks of the relationships that can help young men (and their counterparts in the Young Women organization) become converted to the gospel. Such relationships defined President Wayne Beck’s service. Now his son is doing all he can to follow suit.
A discussion with Brother Beck about his personal growth, development and testimony inevitably turns to Brazil. The mission home of his childhood doubled as the Brazil Mission office and headquarters. That shared space allowed David Beck to witness the fruits of missionary work being harvested on a daily basis in that South American nation. He grew to love missionary work, the Brazilian people and the Portuguese language. As he watched the missionaries in action he also came to understand the power that young people possess when they are about the Lord’s work.
When his parents concluded their mission, David returned to Utah and his friends and relatives in the Bountiful area. His decision to serve a full-time mission was rewarded with a call to return to Brazil. “I went back to the same mission home where I lived as a boy,” he said, shaking his head with wonder.
Brother Beck said his life was further blessed following the completion of his mission when he was reacquainted with the young woman who would become his wife, Robyn Ericksen. David’s and Robyn’s parents were good friends and the two had known each other as young children. “We have old home movies of us together,” said Sister Beck. The young returned missionary saw in the neighborhood girl all he had envisioned in an ideal companion.
“She was a sweet, positive person…I was interested,” said Brother Beck, smiling.
“I loved the way he treated me with such respect,” added his wife.
The couple were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1976. Both were students at the University of Utah and quickly learned how to make the most of scant resources. “Our first Christmas together was pretty lean,” he recalled. The two laugh at the memory of fixing their old car each Saturday in hopes the clunker would make it through the week until the next Saturday when they could fix it again. Still, those were special times that helped them develop an appreciation for the priceless things in life: family, gospel and education.
Brother Beck would claim undergraduate and master’s degrees in engineering. He has spent his professional career in the manufacturing industry where he now serves as an executive.
The Becks count their one daughter and three sons among their most prized gifts. All four of the children accompanied their parents to Brazil when Brother Beck accepted a call to preside over the Brazil Rio de Janeiro North Mission in 1996. There they would represent the third generation of Becks providing gospel teaching and service to Brazil.
During his three-year tenure in Rio, President Beck tried to emulate his father’s example of building up each missionary while challenging him or her to become better. “He really made each elder and sister feel special — he made time for them,” said Sister Beck. The mission leader also recognized the value of a positive attitude while fulfilling one’s duty. If, say, a young elder decided he had been assigned to a ‘bad area,’ the elder rarely enjoyed much success. If a sister missionary was certain her new companion was a third-rate missionary, her assumptions were generally fulfilled.
Conversely, those positive-minded missionaries who chose to love their companions, their mission and the people they served inevitably found pleasure and joy in their calling.
That same “positive attitude” can bless young people across the globe, said Brother Beck. Those adults who work with the youth of the Church share his sacred charge to lift and inspire. “Young men can tell when someone truly loves them and they will respond.”
The Becks are following the Brethren’s counsel to seek the Lord’s inspiration in their new responsibilities. They are humbled and honored to serve the young men of the Church alongside thousands of bishops, Scoutmasters and Aaronic Priesthood leaders.
“We are common people who have been asked to do some extraordinary things,” Brother Beck said.