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Brother Michael T. Nelson: Growing from youth experiences to mission work and adult leadership

New counselor in Young Men general presidency tells what he’s learned, what he hopes to share

Feeling trusted and receiving responsibilities led Brother Michael T. Nelson to grow and mature as a youth.

“I was blessed with a trusting father, priests quorum adviser and mission president — three men who trusted me and gave me opportunities to learn.”

More than two decades later, as a mission president, Brother Nelson saw from the viewpoint of a leader that teaching the rising generation correct principles and trusting them to find answers and solutions produced the best results — both in the lives of the individual missionary and for missionary work. “It is all about helping them want to learn and feel trusted. We learned that they have the capacity to lead.”

Those experiences form a core for Brother Nelson’s new calling in the Young Men general presidency. He was sustained during April 2023 general conference as second counselor to Young Men General President Steven J. Lund, who has been serving since April 2020.

President Lund’s first counselor until April was Elder Ahmad S. Corbitt, who was sustained during general conference as a General Authority Seventy. Brother Bradley R. Wilcox had been serving as second counselor since 2020 and was sustained in April as first counselor.

The Young Men general presidency, President Steven J. Lund, Brother Bradley R. Wilcox and Brother Michael T. Nelson.
The Young Men general presidency — President Steven J. Lund, center; Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, first counselor, left; and Brother Michael T. Nelson, second counselor — was sustained during the April 2023 general conference on April 1, 2023. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Brother Nelson is familiar with the general Young Men organization, having been called in 2018 to the Young Men general board — now known as the Young Men general advisory council — and since 2020 having served as executive secretary to the Young Men general presidency.

Opportunities to grow

Brother Nelson grew up in the Salt Lake area in a family of four children. He learned by the teachings and the example of his parents as they lived the gospel in their home and in the community.

Just as he had opportunities as a youth, Brother Nelson says youth today need to be “provided with opportunities to lead. As they seek to find solutions and answers in their leadership, they will seek revelation and learn to recognize the impressions and guidance of the Spirit. To be successful in all aspects of their lives, our youth need to become leaders, in the Church and in the community.”

As a young elder serving in the Chile Santiago Mission from 1975 to 1977, “I had many opportunities in the mission to gain experience through the process of solving problems.” His mission president was Elder William R. Bradford, who during his tenure as mission president was called to be a General Authority Seventy. “Elder Bradford extended trust by allowing missionaries broad responsibilities, which allowed us to grow. He trusted us,” Brother Nelson said.

Before and after his mission, Brother Nelson studied organizational communications at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah. But before completing a degree, he put school on hold to help in the family business, a local franchise of a nationwide tax-preparation company. He assisted first as the director of operations and later became chief financial officer in transforming that company into a business and real estate investments company.

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Young adult

As a young single adult, while living with his parents and working, Brother Nelson was serving in a leadership position in a multistake YSA program, where he met Barbara Fluckiger, who was finishing her schooling in the nursing program at the BYU Salt Lake Center.

“Our dating was fun, exciting, and we grew together through many outdoor activities, attending firesides and participating in Church service. Sometimes our parents were even included in our activities,” Brother Nelson said. “The families blended well, and we learned early on that our family and our commitment to the gospel at home would be our highest priorities.”

The Nelsons married Sept. 21, 1982, in the Jordan River Utah Temple. They lived in Sandy, Utah, for the first 14 years of their marriage and then moved to a rural community near Midway, Utah.

Mission leaders

Brother Michael T. Nelson, sustained as second counselor in the Young Men general presidency in the April 2023 general conference. | The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

The Nelsons served as mission leaders in the California San Bernardino Mission from 1998 to 2001. The Nelsons went to San Bernardino with seven children, ages 14 to 1½. “The missionaries loved the kids,” Sister Nelson said. The children welcomed the missionaries into their home and often would participate in activities with the missionaries.

Two more children were born to the Nelsons while they served as mission leaders. “Missionaries were eager to suggest names for the children, usually their own,” she said.

“The missionaries wanted to do the right thing, and did so with the trust of mission leaders,” Brother Nelson said. “Each one of them, regardless of their background, wants to do good.

“As they learned the principle and the doctrine,” Brother Nelson said, “the missionaries would find the inspiration for those they served, taught and led.” The missionaries gained experience and became leaders.

Local leadership

The Nelsons returned home in July 2001. The next month, he was called as a bishop for a short time before serving as a counselor in the Midway Utah Stake presidency. In 2008, he was called as stake president.

In ward and stake callings, Brother Nelson saw youth with similar traits to the full-time missionaries. “That’s been our experience with young women and young men. They can be trusted. ... It’s the inclination of the rising generation to do good.”

Trusting them as youth is a way to prepare future missionaries and future parents. It gives them experience, he said. Youth need a chance to solve problems by seeking revelation on behalf of others and a chance to put that revelation into action.

Family

Michael Terry Nelson was born June 10, 1956, in Salt Lake City to Monte Cannon Nelson and Viola Stange Nelson. Brother Nelson’s mother is still alive at age 95; his father died three years ago.

Brother Nelson grew up in the Salt Lake Valley and graduated from Skyline High School.

The Nelsons’ nine children are now ages 39 to 22.

The family operated a small farm near their home, which provided an opportunity for the children to “learn to work, solve problems and gain experience,” Brother Nelson said.

Being active and in the outdoors is important for youth of the Church, Brother Nelson says, as it has been for their family. Activities like camping and hiking offer plenty of problem-solving opportunities. Taking time away from technology gives God’s creations a chance to testify of Him.

Sister Nelson was born in Palo Alto, California, one of six children of Arnold Burton Fluckiger and Nadine Cordingley Fluckiger, and grew up in Menlo Park, California. The family was in California because her father attended Stanford University. The Fluckigers moved back to Salt Lake City when Sister Nelson was 16.

After graduating from nursing school at BYU in 1981, she worked as a registered nurse in Salt Lake City.

Sister Nelson also has served in the Church as a ward Relief Society presidency counselor and president; Nursery leader; Primary worker, Webelos Scout leader, Young Women adviser and camp leader, and Sunday School teacher.

Young Men General President Steven J. Lund, bottom left, speaks with Brother Michael T. Nelson, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City during the Saturday evening session of the 193rd Annual General Conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on April 1, 2023. | Deseret News archives

Young Men general leadership

As a counselor in the Young Men general presidency, Brother Nelson looks forward to helping the youth of the Church learn and grow in the gospel and gain the rich experiences they need. “Starting at age 11, working in presidency meetings and in quorums and classes, they are given the opportunity to learn and grow.”

Adult leaders’ roles are to help the youth learn leadership. Young men and young women can plan and organize activities and service opportunities. “They want to ... do good. They don’t need just to be entertained.”

Youth have many choices to make. “Following the Prophet is where safety is. It’s a choice. Often youth find concern in making a choice ... without a doubt. But when they understand the reason, they can be trusted to make a good choice.” 

The new “For the Strength of Youth” booklet is an important resource to help youth make choices based on an understanding of principles and doctrine; this will bless them for the rest of their lives, Brother Nelson said.

Brother MIchael T. Nelson was born in Salt Lake City. | Church News graphic

About Brother Nelson

Family: Born June 10, 1956, in Salt Lake City to Monte Cannon Nelson and Viola Stange Nelson. He and Barbara Fluckiger married Sept. 21, 1982, in the Jordan River Temple. They have nine children.

Education: Studied organizational communications at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.

Employment: Chief financial officer of a business and real estate investment company.

Church service: California San Bernardino Mission president, stake president, stake presidency counselor, stake executive secretary, assistant stake clerk, preside of a stake Young Single Adult group, bishop, ward and stake Young Men president, elders quorum president, teachers quorum adviser and missionary in the Chile Santiago Mission.

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