Episode 138: In honor of his 90th birthday, President Eyring shares life lessons on service, modern prophets and his testimony of Jesus Christ

Born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1933, President Henry B. Eyring joins the Church News podcast to talk about his life experiences over nine decades

President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, will celebrate his 90th birthday on May 31, 2023. Born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1933, President Eyring has dedicated his life to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As an educator by profession, President Eyring has served as president of Ricks College, the Church commissioner of education, in the Presiding Bishopric, as a General Authority Seventy, in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and as a counselor to three Church Presidents.

He and his wife, Sister Kathleen Eyring, are the parents of four sons and two daughters. He joins the Church News podcast to share his well-earned life lessons on service, personal revelation and modern prophets, as well as his testimony of the Savior Jesus Christ.

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President Henry B. Eyring: God is real. He is loving. He answers prayers. He talks through His prophets and the Holy Ghost, when you have not even asked. He is sending messages all the time. Jesus is the Christ. There really was an Atonement. There really was. He is the Son of God. He was resurrected. He lives. He loves you. And He loves me. I know that. And so, I bear testimony that the most ordinary of people anywhere in the world who think they don’t matter, oh, they matter. God knows them and loves them. And it is just a joy.


Sarah Jane Weaver: I’m Sarah Jane Weaver, editor of the Church News. Welcome to the Church News podcast. We are taking you on a journey of connection as we discuss news and events of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

President Henry B Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, will celebrate a landmark birthday on May 31. Born in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1933, President Eyring has dedicated his life to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. An educator by profession, President Eyring has served as president of Ricks College, the Church commissioner of education, in the Presiding Bishopric, as a General Authority Seventy, as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and as a counselor to three Church Presidents. He and his wife, Sister Kathleen Eyring, are the parents of four sons and two daughters. President Eyring, it is so great to be with you today. Thank you so much for making time for us.


President Henry B. Eyring: I am so delighted to see you.

Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, I’m excited to talk about nine decades of your life, and I think the best way to do that will be to look back chronologically. ... And so, can you just start from the beginning and share with us some memories you have of your childhood and youth?


President Henry B. Eyring: Childhood was in New Jersey, in a time when, because of World War II, we had to meet in our home. So the church was in my dining room every Sunday, and there were never more than 10 people there. And that was the Church. And so I grew up in the Princeton Branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. And I just thought it was wonderful. … My brother and I were the entire Aaronic Priesthood. My father was the only Melchizedek Priesthood holder, and the rest were sweet widows, all converts, or if not widows, their husbands would not come. And so, that was the little group that sat in our house. That was Church growing up. Wonderful.


Sarah Jane Weaver: And you probably learned that the Church is people instead of a place or a chapel.

President Henry B. Eyring: To me, the Church was some believing people, especially my parents. My mother played the piano and led the singing by beating her foot. And my father conducted, and I thought it was — the Church is wonderful. But that is what the Church was. 


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, let’s talk more about your parents. What can you tell us about your parents? Your dad was a scientist? 

President Henry B. Eyring: He was a chemist, a teacher at Princeton University. And my mother had been an educator. She was the chairman of a department at the University of Utah when she married my father, and he was only a postdoc. … He said he married up in terms of education. So she was getting a Ph.D. at the time she met him in Madison, Wisconsin. And so, he was doing research, and she was there getting a Ph.D., and they met at a Christmas party. Anyway, I will not give the whole story, but it was romantic. And Church and education was at the center of their lives, and had been all their lives. The blending of education and the gospel was what life was from the time I was a little child.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, they must have had high educational expectations of you.

President Henry B. Eyring: No, it is interesting; Dad was excited. He wanted me to be a scientist. But my mother just wanted me to be good. So I never got much pressure from her on the education side, but she was more interested in doing the right thing. And so, that was family life. …. We left Princeton and went to the University of Utah, where my father was the new dean of the graduate school. And my mother told us, “I’m taking you home to Zion.” And I didn’t know what Zion was when I came to Utah, and then began to find out what the Church is like in an organized way. But again, that was sweet because the people that I met were marvelous. When we moved, we moved in to live with [Church President] Spencer W. Kimball, whose wife was my dad’s sister. So, I arrived in Zion as a guest, living in the house of Spencer W. Kimball. It looked like Zion to me. Anyway, that’s growing up.

The Eyring family at Princeton. Ted is standing, with Henry, Harden, Hal and Mildred seated. | Photo courtesy Eyring family


Sarah Jane Weaver: When do you remember first having a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

President Henry B. Eyring: I don’t remember not having it ever — really, ever. In my youngest childhood, I had spiritual feelings that have lasted with me over all my life. So, I have no memory of not knowing that it was true.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and if you’re attending sacrament meeting in Princeton, in your living room, ... where were you baptized? How did that unfold?

President Henry B. Eyring: The only font in the area was in Philadelphia, [Pennsylvania]. And by the way, it was the only chapel east of the Mississippi at the time. Anyway, they took me there; there was a font. And that’s one of the ways I know that I had a testimony because I was baptized in that font in Philadelphia. And on the way home to Princeton, I was standing in the back of the car, because it was that little a car, and I was that young. And I remember thinking, “Uh oh, the free ride is over.” I knew that baptism was real. But essentially, it had the effect of saying, “Now you better be careful, because now you are responsible.”

I knew the freedom of childhood, of whatever you do is OK [was over]. I knew it was real. I knew that I had made a covenant with God and that I was now responsible. And I was just a little kid. And, by the way, if there is a thing that is still with me at age 90, is again, the same feeling of saying: “Uh oh, this is really serious. This is really serious. This is with God. Jesus Christ is Jesus Christ, and that baptism was a covenant. And I am under covenant.” And the good news/bad news, in the sense that I know the Lord will help me, because that’s one of the things the Lord does. But at the same time [I sensed] responsibility.

When people say, you know, “Are you looking forward to the Judgment?” You know, I am 90 now. You say: “Give me a little more time. Give me a little more time.” Because I had, from the time of childhood, a feeling that what the Lord expects is very great. And that He is real. And while I felt that He was loving — my mother kind of was the example; I thought that she loved me, thought the world of me. But there were high expectations, spiritual expectations. And really, I am not joking. When people say, “Oh, I can not wait to see the Savior.” I would like to wait just a little while. There are some things I have not done. Some things I would like to do. Now, that is a very personal thing. A lot of other people do not feel the same way. But that is me.


Sarah Jane Weaver: When you think of this baptism, it sounds like it is this hinge point in your life where you realize, “I’m part of this Church.”

President Henry B. Eyring: And it is real. And it is real. There is a Jesus Christ. There is a Heavenly Father. And there are rules, and there is the law. And there is great joy possible if you live the covenants that you have made. 


Sarah Jane Weaver: Were there other hinge points in your life, other decision points that set you on a path that made a difference for you?

President Henry B. Eyring: Probably one pattern. I got a feeling of what the Lord wanted me to do — call it revelation — about myself and about the future from time to time, and those made the most difference. I have to be careful of which example to give, but one would be the time when I first left home, and I graduated from the university, and I went in the Air Force, and I was alone there, and given a terribly difficult assignment in the Air Force, way beyond my own abilities. And I thought, “I don’t think I can do this.” And then I got a feeling of saying, “Well serve the Lord, and you’ll get the power to do it.” And so the whole time I was in the Air Force, I was a district missionary for the full two years, and I would go do my very difficult thing. And then, every night, I would go out and do missionary work. And I look back now, and that little feeling of saying, “Well, OK, of all the things I have got in front of me, if I can just serve the Lord, the other things will work out.” That pattern occurred, time and time and time again, a feeling of the Lord saying, “You know, what you really ought to do is do this, and then all your other troubles … We will take care of that.”

And it happened when I got into Harvard Business School. My grades were not up to it, and I was a physics student; I didn’t know anything about business. And I got there, and I thought, “I am over my head.” And within a few weeks of arriving at Harvard, they called me into the district presidency. So, while the rest of the students were doing work all the time, I was out running all over New England. And the Lord took care of it; I did OK. And the same kind of thing [happened] after I finished at Harvard; I got a job as a teacher at Stanford University. And that was over my head, and I was called as the bishop of the Stanford Ward. And every time that I got a little nudge to do something the Lord would have me do, then He seemed to take care of everything that was over my capacity.

I’ve had a lifetime of having a feeling like, “If things are tough, find out what the Lord wants, line yourself up with that.” And President [Gordon B.] Hinckley, he always used to say how things will work out. And it was true. I would say that every time I was in some difficulty of hard things, and I turned to say, “No, it doesn’t make sense, but let us do the thing the Lord would want.” And then, you know, when you ask, “How do you explain your success?” I’m just amazed. I would say, “Every time I would turn to try to serve Him, then He somehow would take care of things.”

And I think that is [what it is] about when you said “hinge points.” Every time I made a choice to serve — when I was there at Stanford, I became the bishop of the Stanford Ward, you know, while I was struggling to try to survive, and I survived. And, by the way, I spent so much time doing it that when I finally went to Ricks College from there, the dean of the Stanford residency said, “Well, good, Hal is now going to give all his time to his Church.” So, you know, he was watching me: “What’s this guy doing when he’s putting so much time into his Church?”

My guess is, the hinge points were many times, but if they have anything in common, it was that when I was in a jam, a little bit over my head, I found a way — or the Lord found a way — to let me serve Him. And then things will work out. So, when people say, “Are you proud of your career?” I’m amazed in the sense that it wasn’t that I set out to do things, it was that I was going to do hard things. But I somehow was always nudged or invited to sort of say, “Let’s bet on the Lord.” And that worked. So, I don’t know why I was blessed. But I was blessed.

Henry Eyring, father of President Henry B. Eyring. | Photo courtesy President Henry B. Eyring,


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and I want to talk about the path you chose for your education. Because you’re the son of a famous scientist who actually studied physics as an undergraduate student and then goes to business school. What happened?

President Henry B. Eyring: Again, you hate to be this honest, because you have to talk about your own shortcomings. But my father wanted me so much to be a physicist. But I worked at it, and I worked at it. But physics is like music; some people have an ear for it, and some people don’t. It was one of the professors who knew my dad, of course, well, he said, “Hal, I’ve looked at your exam paper, and you don’t seem to understand; you can not see the curl of a vector.” I said, “A curl of a vector was just a mathematical thing to me.” “So, you can not see the curl of a vector?” he said, “Well, then maybe you better get out of physics.” Because, my father in his science could see — he saw molecules. So I know there is an art. And I didn’t have it.

And so, then I graduated in physics, but then I went into the Air Force. And then, after the Air Force, I said: “What am I going to do? I can not go back to physics; I’m no good at it.” Oh, I heard of a place called the Harvard Business School. I did not know a thing about it; I didn’t care a thing about business. But I knew that there was a school and that they sometimes like people with a science background. I got in. And when I got there, I found out I was the lowest scores of all of the exams coming in. But I did very well. And why did I do very well? Because I was called into the district presidency and gone every weekend when the others were working.

And so really, when you say, “How did I get out?” I got out of physics because I knew I had to get out. And then, why did I go to business school? I don’t know. It is because it looked like something I could do. But what was happening was the Lord was working. By going to the Harvard Business School, and getting a doctorate, and then, again, the Lord moved me to Stanford, and I say, “Why to Stanford?” Well, it was because I was going to be the bishop of the Stanford Ward.

And knowing that — and Dad always told me, he says, “Hal, you will never be good at anything unless it is what you think about when you do not have to. And I knew that — well — that was not physics. And it really was not business. But when I thought about it, my Church work was what I thought about when I didn’t have to. And he said, “You’ll only really accomplish it if you can get something that you think about when you don’t have to.” And it is true — the Lord was leading me along, finding chances for me to serve Him in a way that “I thought about it when I did not have to.”


Sarah Jane Weaver: And while you are at Harvard, the most amazing thing in your whole life happens because you meet your wife, Kathleen.

President Henry B. Eyring: I was at Harvard. I wanted to marry, but I knew that — I just had a feeling that I ought to wait. And then, one Sunday, I was speaking up in Rindge, New Hampshire, in a crowd I saw a girl, and a feeling came into me: “That’s the best person you have ever seen.” And it was very specific with the words, “That’s the best person you have ever seen.”

And that night back in Cambridge, [Massachusetts,] I was sitting on the stand as a member of the district presidency. And that girl walked in. I didn’t know who she was, and she sat down. I turned to my [district] president — it was Wilbur W. Cox, who was the man that President [Russell M.] Nelson activated years before this story; it was the same man. I was his counselor — and I turned to Wilbur Cox, and I said, “Wilbur, do you see that girl sitting there?” And he said, “Yes.” I said: “I would give anything to marry her. If I could be with her, I could become the best thing I ever wanted to be.”

And I didn’t know who it was. And went and got to the branch clerk and said, “Hey, you know, a new girl just arrived. Is there any chance you —” “Oh, yeah. She just arrived for summer school, and she sent her membership.” Now, 21-year-old girls do not send their memberships, but she sent her membership ahead. And so, I got in touch with her. I will not go through all the stories with that. But the Lord, again, because I was up there giving that talk, then He could do something for me — I could meet her. Again, every good thing that has come has come at least apparently as a byproduct of trying to do it for the Lord because you love Him. So, anyway, that is the story.

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, walk to their offices in Salt Lake City on Wednesday June 16, 2021. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Sarah Jane Weaver: And Sister Eyring was and is every bit your academic equal and a pretty good tennis player back then. 

President Henry B. Eyring: She was a great tennis player. In fact, our first date was tennis, She had beautiful [tennis] strokes. And I’m embarrassed to say that I was supposed to be getting a doctorate degree, but I was playing a lot of tennis. And so I was, I thought: “Oh good. I’ll show off.” And so I got up 6-2 or something in the first set, and then we changed sides. And as I passed her, I said something funny and witty, and she would not even look at me. And she just walked past me and went to the other end of the court and began tapping her racket. And I thought, “Hey” — remember, this my first experience with her — I said: “Ah, she is irritated. She will get worse.” I know enough about athletics, and when you get under pressure, you get worse. And she began to hit that ball and just hit the corner, just took me apart. After it was over, I said, “Ah, when things get tough, she gets better.”

And now, see, we have been married for 60 years, and she in a pretty tough situation. And she is getting better. But it was interesting that again, it was a nudging from the Lord. He gave me a feeling for the future. Little things that you know are the Lord giving you little insights, either about people, or about the future. Those are sprinkled through my whole life. And so, I have a very real feeling that the future is going to be just fine, because He has kept me alive. So instead of looking backward as a 90-year-old, I’m looking forward.

What you know is if you can just line up — well, I’ll give a story on that, too. When I was named the president of Ricks College — I had never been there before. I didn’t know anything about it. And I was a professor at Stanford, and I went to the first meeting of the [Church] Board of Education. And President Harold B. Lee was in the chair. And he said, “Brother Eyring, we would like to hear your acceptance speech.” Acceptance — I didn’t know anything, what about it? And he said, “I want to hear your acceptance speech.” And here is my acceptance speech: “I didn’t know anything about Ricks College. I don’t know anything about how to run a college. But I know this: It is the Lord’s school. And I will find out where He wants to go. And I will line myself up, and I will not fail.”

And President Lee said, “That is the best acceptance speech I have ever heard.” But he wasn’t saying it was a great speech. He was just saying: “You’ve got it right. If you can get yourself in the Lord’s service, line yourself up and say, ‘I want to go anywhere He goes,’ you will not fail because He will help you.” 

And it happened. And it has happened in my life. Again, I have to be careful telling this story because you say, “Well, other people don’t, you know, often get that much help.” Why I have that much help, I don’t know. The nice thing is I know it is not me. The Lord is somehow, for some reason, telling me if I’ll just serve Him as much as I can, best I can, as President Hinckley used to say, things will work out. And it happened again, you see.


Sarah Jane Weaver: You marry your sweet wife. And you head to Stanford, and it is sunny and warm. And you live by your in-laws, which was wonderful. Were there some lessons that you learned from your in-laws as you were in close proximity with them during those years?

President Henry B. Eyring: In those years, yes. Mostly what I learned, though, was because of something that had happened when I was sealed by President [Spencer W.] Kimball. He said, “Live so that when a call comes, you can walk away easily.” And when he said that, I saw a hilltop. I do not have a painting of it here, but I have got a painting — a hilltop. Absolutely clear in full color. “Live so that when a call comes, you can walk away easily.”

So, I get married, and my father-in-law takes me out of the countryside in Atherton, [California]. And we start up a hill. And I turn to Kathy and said, “This is the hill I saw when President Kimball said, ‘Live so when a call comes, you can walk away easily.’” So, what happened? My father-in-law, when we got up to the top of the hill said: “We want you to live in the guest house. We’re buying this property. We lived there for 10 years.” But what I learned, when you say, “What did I learn from my in-laws?” First of all, it was the nearest thing to heaven you have ever seen — wonderful people who took care of us. But what I learned during that period of time is every day I’d come home from Stanford, and I would say: “Well, should we play tennis? Or should we swim? What do you want to do? Because we’re not [always] going to be here.”

And 10 years later, [Elder] Neal A. Maxwell calls me on the phone and asks me if I would go to Ricks College; I’d never even heard of it. But the Lord had prepared me, you see, by saying — we didn’t know what it meant — “live so that when a call comes, you can walk away easily.” And I was shown that hilltop, which, if you think about it, my father-in-law didn’t even know that hilltop existed. So, how can the Lord know the future? But it was not a question. He showed me that hillside. And so that 10 years later, when it was time to go to Rexburg [Idaho] and live in a single-wide trailer, we were ready, because the Lord had said, through His prophet: “Live, so that when a call comes, you can walk away easily.”

President Henry B. Eyring and Sister Kathleen Eyring, participate in the rededication of the Laie Hawaii Temple in 2010.
President Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, and his wife, Sister Kathleen Eyring, participated in the rededication of the Laie Hawaii Temple on Sunday, Nov. 21, 2010. | Gerry Avant, Church News


Sarah Jane Weaver: So, you go to Rexburg, and you face those cold, long Rexburg winters.

President Henry B. Eyring: It was the worst winter they had in years. They [did not have a president’s house], so we had a single-wide student trailer; that is where we lived, with three little boys for the first year. And the snow would come, would blow under the door. I remember the snow going across the floor in that trailer. But Kathleen, we went from the beautiful place we lived in California to that. She never complained one time, because the Lord had already told her, “Live so that when a call comes, you can walk away easily.” So, she knew she was on the Lord’s track, and it was OK. She never complained.

So, that single-wide trailer was one of the sweetest times ever. But it is because the Lord had said, a little — I call it revelation, or whatever it is — but He showed the way so that you would be comfortable. 


Sarah Jane Weaver: And every time you get a new assignment in the Church, your wife is right there supporting you. What did that support mean to you throughout all the years of your marriage?

President Henry B. Eyring: Everything, in the sense — again, I don’t know other couples; I don’t know how it works. But she never said, “Attaboy.” She never said, “Great talk.” In fact, even when I was in the Twelve and the First Presidency, the most things she would ever say, after it was over, is, “I felt something.” So, it is kind of a support of — as if she just always knew. So, not supporting me — by the way, I always got the feeling it was really the Lord she cared about, you know, so I never looked for approval, because I never got it. But you kind of just — it was what you felt [in support from her] — that she was pleased to be in that single-wide trailer. 

People often ask me, “What did you use to talk about?” I can not even remember. We always just — pleasant things, things will work out. She, for instance, never gave a talk. Most of the wives of heads of the institutions, they are almost like co-presidents and are very public. I think she gave one talk the whole time I was at Ricks because the young woman students asked her. But other than that, she was very much just — she was just always there. But nothing in public, always doing nice things and taking care of the family.

Now, as we are getting now to the end of the life, I’m saying, you know, I never appreciated her enough. Because she was just always there. Just always, no complaints, no anything. And I guess I felt, well, “That’s just the way things are.” Now, I look back, and I say “a miracle.” Miracle. It was just always — it was like we were one person. It is hard to describe. And now with her present condition, she hasn’t been able to speak for some time. And it is interesting; you say: “Well, it was never what she said. It was just her.” You know, she was — she always wanted to do the right thing and always giving me the feeling that if you did the right thing, that would be just fine with her.


Sarah Jane Weaver: And so, I want to talk more about that. After 60 years of marriage and her constant support of you and this working together, she has faced some health challenges, and you have had the opportunity to care for her.

President Henry B. Eyring: Yes, yes. Although, it has been easy. Look, I go up to sing and pray with her every morning, and I do every night, not to be good; it is because I want to be there. I mean, it is just what — you know, staying with her, praying with her, that’s all. And so I would say, if there is anything that’s happened from this illness, it has made me appreciate more how easy she has been to help me all the time. And she can still do it, when she can not even speak. When I go up there and sing with her in the morning, you know, and pray, it lifts you again.

But it is hard to describe, and it is probably not even a good thing. Because other couples — everybody works differently. But this one is one where I would think that probably the closest thing I can think of, is what I try to have is as in a relationship with the Savior. And that is, I think of Him as so wonderful. And I think of her as so wonderful. That just anything that brings me closer to them makes me happy. And I don’t compare it to the Savior; don’t misunderstand me. But the feeling, the relationship, is one of oh, you know — when the Savior says, “Walk with me,” and invites you, I’ve always had the feeling that Kathleen has been a little the same way. And, you know, and now she will not speak, but she does smile now and then. And it is the smile, you see her sort of saying, “We’re still in this together.” And, by the way, if I ever have, if I ever have — I have not had it often, but a feeling of the Savior smiling, you know, maybe that’s too much to ask for, but I tend to think, oh, I hope that — just not like she will still occasionally smile. It is a smile, a smile of approval, it is a smile of approval. And well, you would like that. And in fact, if I can say one thing that’s come from this whole, I’ve told these stories you see of trying to serve the Lord, the sweetest times a bit, occasionally feeling his approval. And I can still feel that from her. Even with her great limitations.

President Henry B. Eyring waves to the crowd as he and Elder Kim B. Clark, general Authority Seventy and commissioner of Church education exit after President Eyring spoke to LDS Business College students at a devotional in the Conference Center theater in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. | Scott G Winterton,


Sarah Jane Weaver: Talk about raising children with Sister Eyring. And what it means for you to be a father.

President Henry B. Eyring: It has been a joy. It has felt all the way through that the Lord was helping with these children — they are all very different. But I would say I have not thought of myself as you know, how do you be a good father? It was just always a feeling that I loved them. It is funny, if you talked to them about what kind of a father I was, I don’t even know what they would tell you, because I was never working at it as something that I had a technique. It was just — with them, it was like it was with her— it was fun to come home. And, you know, what can we do together? And I think of Father Lehi. I think of Adam. I mean, you know, by and large, most folks struggle, and I don’t, I can not remember struggle. I can not remember struggle.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, even before your children are raised — your daughters are quite small — you are called into full-time Church service. First doing Church education and then in the Presiding Bishopric. Those had to be very, very busy years.

President Henry B. Eyring: But the way to say it is, through it all, as those kids were growing up, there were Saturday projects. Whatever my life was like — Saturday projects. And with the boys — the first were boys — and it was projects. We built things. We built things, and then two little girls and after about — when they got to be about 2 or 3 — “Daddy, is there something we could do without a hammer and a saw?” And so I began baking bread. And today I’m still baking bread at home, because the girls could do it together. So we bake bread.


Sarah Jane Weaver: President Eyring, I also want to ask you about another extracurricular activity that you have engaged in over the years. You and your wife met and spent time together early in your relationship playing tennis. We’ve all seen your beautiful, beautiful watercolors. Can you talk to us about some of the lessons that you’ve learned from these extracurricular activities, and maybe even talk about some of the spiritual lessons that have come as you have created art and watercolors?

President Henry B. Eyring: Tennis and art — athletics — tennis being an example, and I’ve done art. And it is interesting, that tennis, if it is played well, is an art. It is a creative thing. You do not just repeat somebody else’s tennis stroke — you develop your own. And I’m doing this in watercolor — you are trying to get a feeling — is one of the things, for instance, I will sometimes think, I think I want to paint right now. And I think, “Well, no, I can not paint unless I have a feeling.” Either love — there is a feeling of beauty as well. There is joy in creation.

I don’t want to be like somebody else. I want to be like whatever it is the Lord wants me to be. And that is — it is unique. I’m not trying to be like somebody else. I can be whatever this thing is the Lord’s trying to create in me. And, again, there is a searching kind of a thing in art. And it — frankly, in tennis as well. It is not whether you win — golf is even worse, by the way — yeah, you know, I was given my first set of golf clubs when I was 65. And Brother [Richard B.] Edgley, who was a good golfer, said, “Oh, you poor person — you will not live long enough to enjoy it.” And what he was saying is there is a kind of a — I have not been there yet, but I’ve watched good golfers — when they hit that, it looks like it rises, and I have not figured it out yet.

And I’m the same way with watercolor. So I do the watercolors searching for something that I don’t know quite what it is. But it is not like being somebody else or painting like somebody else. It is not playing tennis, or golf. There is something in the doing of it itself — that you’re searching for some better thing. And I’m the same way, you see, spiritually is: I don’t want to be like somebody else. I want to be like, whatever it is the Lord — He made me. And He made me for something. I don’t know what it is. And you see, Dad was that way about his chemistry; who could love chemistry? And mathematics. But he just went, “Hal,” — he is an old man now; he is world famous — “now I understand how to teach calculus.” He was always looking and always sure he wasn’t there yet.

People would say, “Well, why does God not tell us how to create things and do things?” And he said: “Well, we would not understand anyway. But he wants to have the fun of trying.” And I was with him in New York once when somebody attacked him and said, “Professor Eyring, you have been on the other side of this question before.” And he began to laugh — I thought he would [be] mad, he began to laugh. He said, “Of course.” He said, “I’ve been on every side of this question I can find until I finally find out what it is all about.”

And I think that’s how we are religiously, when people say how they love the Savior. You know, “I love him.” I say to myself, “I’m working on it.” I’m not there yet. Not there yet. So the art is — it is a search. You know, there is some beautiful thing — [you realize] that isn’t it yet. But I can try it again. I’ve got 1,000 watercolors — even little ones. 1,000 of them. My secretaries have filed them away as if they are precious. They are not precious — they are a search. You know, I look at them and say, … “I’ll try again, I’ll try again.” And, now my body’s getting where I can not try golf anymore, and I can not try tennis. But it is the same thing as — it is what life is! I mean, we’re supposed to become like God, you know, and people say “become like the Savior.” Well, come on! But I can try a little more today. And it is a joy to try.

But the art is funny — how I got into it, I don’t know. Searching. By the way, the thing we are talking about — you have to be careful, because there are all kinds of things you could, you know, I could try to be a musician or something. You can not do it all. But I think the idea of a little struggle of trying to rise and do something a little more beautiful or better — that is in us. I think in a way, I feel sorry for the people that do have a particular talent, and then spend their whole lives just on that talent. It is probably better to be all over the place a little bit the way I am. It is to say, they all have the desire to do better. I will probably go and do a watercolor today. You know, just to try. And I have got 1,000 of them — I do not like any of them. But I remember the process, and it was fun trying.

In fact, it is related to what we have been talking about. I have had all these callings in the Church — I have not got any of them right. But uh, thanks for the ride. And it is as if the Lord is saying: “Well, I will give you another one, I will give you another try. And I appreciate that. I mean, when somebody says, “Do you feel honored?” No, I feel blessed. The Lord said, “I’ll let you struggle — it is something new.” When we get on the other side, my guess it just goes on, you know, people say, “What is it going be like over there?” A lot of what it is like here. You know, perfection is over a long time — I do not know how long it goes. But I still am not anxious to get over there — I like it here.

President Henry B. Eyring poses for a portrait in his office in the Church Administration Building as he approaches is 90th birthday in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 26, 2023. | Kristin Murphy, Deseret News


Sarah Jane Weaver: And those years in the Presiding Bishopric and the Seventy, and the Quorum of the Twelve, had to be so preparatory for what you’re doing now. What are some of the things that you learned or that impacted you, as you serve the Lord full time?

President Henry B. Eyring: Well, a few things. But I think, by and large, it was just the idea of saying, “Give it the best you can, trust Me, try to find out what I want. I do not see my life in terms of “this really prepared me for this.” My life is the whole process of just trying to do the best you can, and trusting the Lord and being nice to people. But you are really learning the same thing over and over again. If you say, “Well, how different was being in the Bishopric versus — I was also a Seventy, by the way — commissioner of education, all those things.” I was commissioner of education, I think, for 17 years. And you say to yourself: “Good heavens! What prepared you for that?” I don’t know. It was just like everything else. Find out what the Lord wants, do it and enjoy it, because He will be in it with you. If you asked me if any one of those was a bad assignment — no. Find out what the Lord wants, try to do it, trust Him and be nice, be kind. And then things will work out.


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, and it has given you the opportunity to see His work and His Church and His children across the world.

President Henry B. Eyring: What I realize is two things: One is it is incredible — the people who have hard times, how well they do. Poor, born into difficult circumstances. That is why I am reluctant to tell these stories, you see, of my particular life, because the Lord has allowed me to have wonderful opportunities that most people do not have. They just have to keep, just keep going without the “things will work out,” or at least for long periods of time. I’m very impressed with that.

The faith of the average Latter-day Saint is absolutely remarkable. Everywhere you go in the world — in poverty, in wartime, whatever. You are amazed. And with things not working out in health and other kinds of, the faith and the goodness of Latter-day Saints is just remarkable. 

The other thing is: I’ve learned that prophets of God really do get revelation. The Lord is leading His Church, to a degree and in detail, in a way that is constantly amazing. Every time I come out of the presence of one of the Prophets I say, “Oh, it happened again.” You can just see the Lord is not telling them exactly everything, but enough that He is leading His Church, through human beings.


Sarah Jane Weaver: And as a member of the First Presidency, you’ve had the opportunity to observe and work closely with three Prophets. I am hoping you can share with us a little bit of your feelings for each one. Let’s start with President Gordon B. Hinckley.

President Henry B. Eyring: Actually, this one’s going to be difficult. The Prophets are very different. I mean, like we all are, I mean, they are very, very different. So when you say — maybe the way to say is — do I see differences? Tremendous differences. They operate differently. But what they all have in common, all have in common, is clearly, clearly they get revelation. Remember, President [Thomas S.] Monson for instance, when he had some health problems? Well, everyone has. You say, well, even in the midst of anything, I was able to see the hand of the Lord guiding him. Almost what — the story you see that I am telling you about my own experience, you see in them.

President Hinckley, he was fun. Oh, he was fun. He said to me several times, “Hal, considering your parents, you ought to be a lot better.” Now, he knew my mother and father, but he was always, you know, come on, he was wonderful. He was wonderful. And then President Monson — go to the rescue, stories after stories. He was really that way. He — remember he talked about the widows, he went to every funeral of the 80 or so widows — that was him. Unbelievable. All of them had revelation, all of them had love, but they expressed it in different ways. 

And then President Nelson — I cannot describe to you what it is like to watch him operate. I have known lots of very bright people, and he is one of the brightest people I have ever known. But I have never known anyone who was more kindly and more able to see the good in people. Just amazing. He gets revelation. He gets revelation, and yet, he will turn to you and say: “You know, I woke up this morning, and I wrote this down. What do you think?” And what you know is he has no doubt, but he always — he lets people feel that they can participate with him. I think the reason he asked “what do you think of this” is not so he can sit there and prove it, but he wants me to get the revelation, so I can — it can be mine with him. He has a way of including people and trusting them that is just phenomenal.

And I — to live in that glow is — and the whole Church is feeling it. The whole Church is feeling it. Look how many, too, of the brethren, quote the living Prophet. Look at every conference talk. And the last thing he said, is because they can feel, literally, that he is speaking for the Lord. But again, same with President Hinckley, a different style, but the same thing. And frankly, boy, I never had a doubt — one minute, even as he was getting a little older — I knew he was the Prophet of God. I knew it, just as sure as could be that — I listened to his littlest words, with the thought that I could hear the voice of the Lord if I just listened. So what I learned is to listen, and also to feel through them the Lord’s love. And you can feel that. I do not know if you do, but if you listen any [prophets you can feel it]. I can listen to old recordings of Ezra Taft Benson, whom I also knew, and others, and I just come back again — I can tell. I can feel the Lord’s love through him.

I can feel the love. And prophets have that gift. And having that feeling that if I’m listening carefully, I’ll get revelation by paying attention to a prophet of God. And it is just a joy. In fact, I asked [President Nelson], before I came here [for this podcast interview], I said, “Well, you know, what should I do?” He said, ”Just bear your testimony.” And so I’ll bear my testimony. And I have done that through this whole story.

God is real. He’s loving. He answers prayers. He talks through His prophets and the Holy Ghost, when you have not even asked. He is sending messages all the time. I bear my testimony to you. That it is true. Jesus is the Christ. Those feelings I had when I was coming from my baptism, that is real. There really was an Atonement, there really was. He is the Son of God. He was resurrected. He lives. He loves you. And He loves me. And I know that. I know that. And the Holy Ghost — I’ve already borne testimony about the Holy Ghost. My nickname is Hal. So what’s fascinating is I’ve had revelations, where I think I’ve heard the name Hal.

There are the Lord and Heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost. They know my name. They even know my nickname. They really do. And I know. And so I bear testimony, that the most ordinary of people anywhere in the world who think they don’t matter — oh they matter. God knows them and loves them. He weeps when they don’t do the right thing, because he knows He can not bless them. Because He — there is a law. … He’s bound by law, too. So, it is interesting, where — I love Him. I know He loves me. But I know there is a law. And that is why I say, ”I’m not ready to go yet.” I would like to — I want to be sure I have done everything I can to have the Atonement work so that where I have not done all the law asked [of me], I may say — have some forgiveness, because none of us are perfect, and none of us have done everything. But we need the Atonement. And I have faith that if I just keep trying to serve the Lord, that the Atonement will work in my life.

President Russell M. Nelson of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and his counselors, President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, and President Henry B. Eyring, second counselor in the First Presidency, greet prior to a First Presidency meeting at the Church Administration Building in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, June 16, 2021. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News


Sarah Jane Weaver: Well, we have one final question. When you look back on your life, after 90 years, is there one thing that you know now?

President Henry B. Eyring: I can not pick one. I think I would have to pick the three. I am a child of God, of Heavenly Father. He loves me. Jesus Christ really paid the price of all my sins and leads this Church, and He does it with the Holy Ghost, and that is real. The Holy Ghost — we don’t give Him enough credit. And I think I would end on that note and say: If I have a regret — and if I think I will be in some difficulty unless I take care of it — it is to not have appreciated what I have just said to you. Have I really appreciated enough being a child of Heavenly Father? Really, have I appreciated it enough? Am I grateful enough for the Atonement and the service of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Am I grateful enough for the time the Holy Ghost has said “Hal” and told me what to do, or what truth was. I think the great sin is ingratitude. And I am working on that. And I appreciate the chance to do what I am doing now. You see, by bearing my testimony, I am at least expressing gratitude, and feeling it. You have helped me feel it more while we have been together.


Sarah Jane Weaver: You have been listening to the Church News podcast. I’m your host, Church News editor Sarah Jane Weaver. I hope you have learned something today about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints by peering with me through the Church News window. Please remember to subscribe to this podcast. And if you enjoyed the messages we shared today, please make sure you share the podcast with others. Thanks to our guests; to my producer, KellieAnn Halvorsen; and others who make this podcast possible. Join us every week for a new episode. Find us on your favorite podcasting channel or with other news and updates about the Church on

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