President M. Russell Ballard was set apart as Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles on Jan. 14, 2018, and is the Church’s longest-tenured general authority — sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1976.
Born on Oct. 8, 1928, to Melvin R. and Geraldine Smith Ballard, he was the only son among their four children.
Just three days after he returned home from his mission to the British Isles, he met Barbara Bowen at a Hello Day dance at the University of Utah. They were married Aug. 28, 1951, in the Salt Lake Temple and are the parents of five daughters and two sons. Sister Ballard died in 2018.
Prior to his full-time Church service, President Ballard was engaged in various business endeavors, including automotive, real estate and investments. He was called to preside over the Canada Toronto Mission in 1974 before entering full-time Church service in his 40s.
In honor of his birthday today, here are 12 of his quotes from the last year.
A Christmas gift to the Savior
Between now and Christmas, “let your prayers to your Father in Heaven include a desire that He place one of His children in your pathway, so you can share what you now know is true … . There can be no greater gift that any one of us can give the Savior at Christmastime than to bring someone to Him.”
— Message to Latter-day Saints in England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales, Sunday, Oct. 31, 2021
Preparing for the Second Coming
Temple work is not a means unto itself. “That is all preparatory to the time of the Second Coming — preparing the world for that day when the Savior will return.”
— Pocatello Idaho Temple dedication, Sunday, Nov. 7, 2021
A message of optimism
“Just keep smiling. The pandemic will wear itself out, but don’t let it wear you out. Just keep getting up in the morning and keep raising your families. Things will be OK.”
— “2 years of COVID-19,” Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2022
How seminary blessed his life
“My attendance in seminary is one of the things that set me in the right direction for my life. In seminary my heart was touched and the seeds of testimony were planted within my soul. I don’t remember everything that was taught, but I do remember how I felt when I was there. I also remember feeling as though I belonged there.”
— Seminary and institute instructor training, Jan. 21, 2022
On preparing a conference talk
“I try to think through what the current needs and realities of what people are facing and try to say something that would be helpful to them, all focused on the anchor that everyone needs in their life, regardless of what’s happening, and that anchor is to stay close to the Lord Jesus Christ.”
— Reflecting on 46 years of speaking in general conference, March 27, 2022
Married over his head
“All I can say about my beloved wife, Barbara, was she sustained and supported me in every way, and my calling as a member of the general authorities for almost nine years as a Seventy, and then the balance of my life as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve. So I really ended up, I think, in this responsibility, because I married way over my head and had such a wonderful companion in my dear Barbara.”
— Church News podcast, March 29, 2022
Message to his grandchildren
“I’ve tried really hard with my grandchildren to talk to them from time to time and let them know what my testimony is. Because I think one of the key roles of a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles is to try to encourage and lift and help those who are trying to get through this mortal experience.”
— Church News video titled, “Grand Design,” April 1, 2022
Blessings of serving a mission
“I testify that my mission is where I came to know that Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ know and love me.”
— April 2022 general conference address, April 2, 2022
Utilizing a patriarchal blessing
“A patriarchal blessing is ‘spiritual encouragement’ to strive for the important objectives of life. Getting through life is not an easy deal — and a patriarchal blessing is a wonderful thing to have. It is a comfort.”
— Counsel on preparing for patriarchal blessings, April 29, 2022
Honoring those who laid groundwork for the gospel
“We are here today because it is important to never lose sight of those who have laid the groundwork and built the path that has led to the light and truth [of the gospel of Jesus Christ] that is available to those who are willing to seek it, find it, embrace it and join it.”
— Monument dedication in Topsfield, Massachusetts, May 14, 2022
Pioneer Day is more than handcarts
“Whether you’re a new member of the Church in Hong Kong, India or Salt Lake City, it’s the same message, and that is, the Church is true. Jesus is the Christ. The Father and the Son have appeared to the Prophet Joseph Smith and have restored the fulness of the everlasting gospel. And the priesthood — the authority and power of God — is once again upon the earth to direct the affairs of the kingdom of God in preparation for the day when Christ will come again.”
— Reflecting on pioneer heritage, July 9, 2022
‘Follow Jesus Christ With Footsteps of Faith’
“It is important to follow the Prophet and keep our feet firmly planted on the covenant path of faithfulness as it was for the early pioneers.”
— October 2022 general conference, Oct. 1, 2022