The Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ is the heart and core and center of revealed religion.

Elder Bruce R. McConkie Christ and the Creation

Elder Neal A. Maxwell was called as an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve in 1974.

In October General Conference in 1975, President Spencer W. Kimball reconstituted the First Quorum of the Seventy as a General Authority Quorum.  President Kimball explained, “With this move, the three governing quorums of the Church defined by revelations—the First Presidency, the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, and the First Quorum of the Seventy—have been set in their places as revealed by the Lord. This will make it possible to handle efficiently the present heavy workload and to prepare for the increasing expansion and acceleration of the work, anticipating the day when the Lord will return to take direct charge of His church and kingdom.”

One year later, in October, 1976,  President Kimball reorganized the First Quorum of the Seventy by calling “all of the Assistants to the Twelve into the First Quorum of Seventy” and calling four new members into that quorum.  The “First Council of the Seventy,” which had formerly governed all Seventies in the Church, was replaced by the Presidency of the Seventy, consisting of seven presidents, as we have today.

Thus, Elder Maxwell became a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and was sustained as one of the seven presidents of the Seventy in 1976.  In 1981, he was called as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles.

In the October, 1976, General Conference, after being sustained as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy and one of its presidents, Elder Maxwell gave a masterful talk, entitled “Notwithstanding My Weakness”.  Following are excerpts from that talk.

Thirty years ago President Dilworth Young ordained me a seventy, but only after extracting a promise that I would preach the gospel the rest of my life. His stern demeanor was such that I felt I’d been asked to jump off a tall building. I went over the side saluting. Now I salute that same selfless, sweet seventy, President Young, once again.

Now may I speak, not to the slackers in the Kingdom, but to those who carry their own load and more; not to those lulled into false security, but to those buffeted by false insecurity, who, though laboring devotedly in the Kingdom, have recurring feelings of falling forever short.

. . . .

The first thing to be said of this feeling of inadequacy is that it is normal. There is no way the Church can honestly describe where we must yet go and what we must yet do without creating a sense of immense distance. Following celestial road signs while in telestial traffic jams is not easy, especially when we are not just moving next door—or even across town.

. . . .

Some of us who would not chastise a neighbor for his frailties have a field day with our own. Some of us stand before no more harsh a judge than ourselves, a judge who stubbornly refuses to admit much happy evidence and who cares nothing for due process. Fortunately, the Lord loves us more than we love ourselves. A constructive critic truly cares for that which he criticizes, including himself, whereas self-pity is the most condescending form of pity; it soon cannibalizes all other concerns.

Brothers and sisters, the scriptures are like a developmental display window through which we can see gradual growth—along with this vital lesson: it is direction first, then velocity! Enoch’s unique people were improved “in process of time.” (Moses 7:21.) Jesus “received not of the fulness at first, but received grace for grace” (D&C 93:12) and even He grew and “increased in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52).

. . . .

What can we do to manage these vexing feelings of inadequacy? Here are but a few suggestions:

1. We can distinguish more clearly between divine discontent and the devil’s dissonance, between dissatisfaction with self and disdain for self. We need the first and must shun the second, remembering that when conscience calls to us from the next ridge, it is not solely to scold but also to beckon.

. . . .

4. We can allow for the agency of others (including our children) before we assess our adequacy. Often our deliberate best is less effectual because of someone else’s worst.

5. We can write down, and act upon, more of those accumulating resolutions for self-improvement that we so often leave, unrecovered, at the edge of sleep.

. . . .

8. We can make quiet but more honest inventories of our strengths, since, in this connection, most of us are dishonest bookkeepers and need confirming “outside auditors.” He who was thrust down in the first estate delights to have us put ourselves down. Self-contempt is of Satan; there is none of it in heaven. We should, of course, learn from our mistakes, but without forever studying the instant replays as if these were the game of life itself.

. . . .

10. We can also keep moving. Only the Lord can compare crosses, but all crosses are easier to carry when we keep moving. Men finally climbed Mount Everest, not by standing at its base in consuming awe, but by shouldering their packs and by placing one foot in front of another. Feet are made to move forward—not backward!

11. We can know that when we have truly given what we have, it is like paying a full tithe; it is, in that respect, all that was asked. The widow who cast in her two mites was neither self-conscious nor searching for mortal approval.

. . . .

14. Finally, we can accept this stunning, irrevocable truth: Our Lord can lift us from deep despair and cradle us midst any care. We cannot tell Him anything about aloneness or nearness!

Yes, brothers and sisters, this is a gospel of grand expectations, but God’s grace is sufficient for each of us. Discouragement is not the absence of adequacy but the absence of courage, and our personal progress should be yet another way we witness to the wonder of it all!

True, there are no instant Christians, but there are constant Christians!

Elder Neal A. Maxwell

Notwithstanding My Weakness,” Ensign, Nov 1976, 12

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