Howard W. Hunter’s biography is a bit shorter than other prophets’ biographies but I still got a lot out of it. I loved hearing about his younger life and interest in music and performing in his band. Here are my favorite quotes and takeaways:
“It’s nice to be important, but it’s more important to be nice.”
Characteristics to Strive For
“He liked being with people, but he never monopolized the time or occasion. He was a good listener, thoughtful, and considerate of others.”
Elder Hunter is a modest man, unassuming and undemanding, a person who thinks first of others’ comfort. He prefers to be accepted as part of the group rather than given special treatment. Young people especially relate to him.
These are comments from the Twelve Apostles of his time said of him:
- He has a way of making people feel at ease. He doesn’t dominate them. He is a good listener.
- When you travel with him, he’s always watching to be sure that everybody is taken care of and that nobody is being inconvenienced or put out.
- He is tough when he needs to be tough, and gracious when he needs to be gracious, and forgiving when he needs to be forgiving.
- We have never seen him distraught or excited or unhappy with anything….He is concerned with and sensitive to others. He has charity and a forgiving heart. He is loyal to those over him. He is a student of the gospel, of mankind, of human nature.
- He has extraordinary patience that comes from great inner peace. You have to have the feeling of love and support from our Father in heaven and the Savior to live a life as selflessly as he does
As a Parent
The Hunter boys grew up in a home where loving parents taught them values, gave them responsibilities commensurate with their age and abilities, helped them develop their talents and interest, and provided a sense of security and well-being.
Claire kept an immaculate home, and her sons learned early to make their beds and straighten their rooms before they began their day’s activities. They took time to talk with their sons and to listen to them. They set standards and expectations, not through overt preaching or coercion, but through example, gentle persuasion, and love.
“We always felt that there was a level of performance expected in us and that we shouldn’t do things any other way.”
Claire took her role as a wife and mother seriously. She had three centers of focus: her husband, her children, and the Church. Though she was sometimes quiet and reserved around others, she was very much involved in caring for her family.
“My greatest ambition has been to be a good wife, to be a good homemaker, and to be a really good mother. I have always thought that if I could do this, I would fulfill my mission here on earth.”
“Riches cannot always be measured in money. To some, riches can be evaluated only in terms of lasting friendships, happy family relationships, understanding between business associates, or peace of mind measurable only in spiritual values.”
Concise Objective Statement
“One of the author’s recommendations was that a successful person must have an objective in life that can be reduced to a concise written statement.” So Howard Hunter wrote a statement of his own:
“It is my aim to find pleasure and enjoyment in life by seeking after those things which are good and worthwhile, that I may gain knowledge and wisdom with each passing year, to carefully plan my allotted time so that none of it will be wasted; to give my family the benefits of education, recreation, and travel; to conduct my life in obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; to so manage my business affairs that I will have an income adequate to provide my family with their wants and the advantages of some of the finer things in life; and to set aside a portion for investments to provide an income for retirement.”
As a Christian
“I have observed that this man loved others by putting them in high priority, by listening to understand, and by sharing his experiences with others, which was one of his great enjoyments. He has taught me to understand the importance of these virtues and to feel the joy in practicing them to a great measure.”
There is a story Howard tells of him on a gloomy welfare project with other community church members, laughing and good fellowship of people engaged in the service of the Lord. “It is like the little boy who was carrying another little boy on his back. ‘Isn’t he heavy?’ someone asked. The little fellow answered, ‘No, he’s my brother.'”
Trials & Suffering
Being human, we would expel from our lives physical pain and mental anguish and assure ourselves of continual ease and comfort, but if we were to close the doors upon sorrow and distress, we might be excluding our greatest friends and benefactors. Suffering can make saints of people as they learn patience, long-suffering, and self-mastery.
Doors close regularly in our lives, and some of those closing cause genuine pain and heartache. But I do believe that where one such door closes, another opens (and perhaps more than one), with hope and blessings in other areas of our lives that we might have no discovered otherwise.
At no time in his life has President Hunter aspired to the honors of men; such honors have come because his eye has been single to the glory of God and he has practiced the teachings of the Lord in his dealings with his fellowmen. He has proclaimed the gospel in most nations of the world, but perhaps even more important, he has quietly but unequivocally lived the gospel and set an example for the Saints.