Lehi’s family had scarcely arrived in the promised land when the prophet Nephi was warned to flee with his family into the wilderness.
Nephi relates: “And all those who would go with me were those who believed in the warnings and the revelations of God; wherefore, they did hearken unto my words” (2 Nephi 5:6).
Individuals today face the same question, Sister Sheri Dew told BYU–Pathway Worldwide students during a devotional broadcast on Tuesday, July 13. “Will we ‘go with’ the prophet? Will we hear his words and follow his counsel?”
Speaking from the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City and flanked by portraits of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Sister Dew bore witness of the unique privilege of having prophets on the earth today.
“I know that President Russell M. Nelson is a prophet of God and that his counselors in the First Presidency and each member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles are also prophets, seers and revelators. I testify that you can know for yourself that this is true, if you will seek a witness of your own,” she said.
Sister Dew, who is the executive vice president of the Deseret Management Corp. and a former member of the Relief Society general presidency, began her remarks to Pathway students across the globe by sharing the experience of a stake Relief Society president in Northern California she met while serving on the Relief Society general board.
This stake leader was part of a walking group with friends who were not members of the Church. One of these women — her “deep thinking” friend — often raised complex topics to discuss. One day, this friend told the stake Relief Society president, “I’ve been reading the Bible, and you may think I’m crazy, but I think we need what they had in Bible times — we need a prophet to help us know how to deal with all of the problems we have!”
The Relief Society president responded: “I hope you don’t think I’m crazy, but we have a prophet, and he speaks to us and helps us know how to handle our challenges. We have a prophet.”
Sister Dew noted the “sobering reality” that most people through history, most of the time, have not known or believed in prophets. Like the Jaredites who hardened their hearts to the many prophets who came to prophesy to them, relatively few people today believe that the Lord has again sent many prophets to the earth.
“We have 15 prophets, seers and revelators — meaning the members of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles — and many consider their teachings inconvenient and politically incorrect. But prophets are under covenant to teach truth, which is why they seem unbending at times — especially to moral relativists who love to pretend that there is no such thing as truth,” Sister Dew said.
Some wonder about changed policies in the Church and ask why procedures would change if prophets were really inspired by God. “The Restoration is ongoing,” Sister Dew said. “Doctrine does not change, but policies and procedures do. And who would you rather trust? A celebrity? A politician? A social media influencer? An ‘expert’? — each of whom have a vested interest in winning over followers, customers and fans.”
Those who choose pundits over prophets choose “foolish and blind guides” (Helaman 13:29) rather than seers, whose ordination allows them to see things others can’t. “Prophets are one of God’s greatest gifts to His children. They form an unfailing safety net of truth,” Sister Dew said.
In September 2020, when the pandemic was raging without an end in sight, Sister Dew was invited to be part of a Zoom meeting with President Nelson, Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and Michael Colemere, the managing director of Church Communications, where they discussed the possibility of President Nelson recording a message of hope for Church members.
President Nelson told them to “sprinkle a little fertilizer” on the idea and bring it back to him the following week. However, the next day, President Nelson said he’d received a strong impression that he needed to record a message for the world, not just members.
“The message was to be about expressing gratitude to God, and it needed to include a prayer for the world. He told us the day and time the video should be released and even how long his message should be,” Sister Dew recalled.
The results were unprecedented. “That video’s reach through social media and various international television networks dwarfed anything the Church had ever released, especially to those not of our faith. Never before had so many people heard a prophet’s voice. And why? Because we heeded the counsel of a seer, who could see things we could not see.”
Some get tangled in asking whether prophets, seers and revelators are infallible. “That’s the wrong question,” Sister Dew asserted. “A better one is, Who exactly are prophets? They are the ordained holders of priesthood keys that authorize the Lord’s power to be distributed throughout the earth. They may not be perfect. But they are the most perfectly inspired leaders on earth, and their only motive is perfectly pure — to help us find our way back home by pointing us to Jesus Christ.”
In conclusion, Sister Dew testified, “There is no greater safety in this life than following the prophet.”