What I Learned from Boyd K. Packer

I’m not exactly a fan of Boyd K. Packer. I was at the All-Church Coordinating Council meeting when he said that gays, feminists, and intellectuals were the three great threats to the church. I wasn’t impressed that he read excerpts from private letters and then held them up to ridicule and raucous laughter in that meeting. Still bothers me.

But I learned one of the great lessons of my life from Boyd K. Packer at Temple Square. My roommate and I were waiting in line for the priesthood session of conference, and we were standing just on the inside of the south gate of Temple Square.

Just on the other side of the gate was a rather rabid anti-Mormon guy handing out pamphlets and insulting the church. You know, the usual. Just then, Elder Packer came walking down the sidewalk and through the same gate.

He stopped, shook the man’s hand, and called him by name.

“How’s business?” he asked, smiling.

“Not too good. No one’s taking my pamphlet,” the man replied.

“Can’t say I’m sorry to hear that,” he said, chuckling, and then wished the man a good evening.

The anti-Mormon guy smiled and returned the good wishes. Then he went back to the ranting.

But that’s stuck with me because it wasn’t how I expected someone like Elder Packer to act. I’ve tried to behave the same way since then, though from a lot of people it’s just earned me condemnation as a phony.

I guess I still have a long way to go before I can meet hatred with humor and kindness. But it’s worth trying.

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5 Responses to What I Learned from Boyd K. Packer

  1. Thanks for your post. I’m not a BKP fan, but I admire him for being able to treat an adversary as a fellow human being. That act of human kindness might make up for some of his less than kind conference addresses. Nobody’s perfectly good nor perfectly bad.

  2. I’m not that big of a fan of Fudge K. Packer either. He’s a grumpy old goat, however we need more no-nonsense grumpy old goats in the church.

  3. Odell says:

    Its nice to know that he has a least one good quality. Thanks for sharing. Prior to his scheduled visit to Oklahoma City years ago, he sent a list of demands including blocking air vents which targeted the podium, keeping members away from him, traveling and eating requirements, etc. No one was sorry when he had to cancel the visit.

  4. Seth R. says:

    Odell, I kind of wonder if those weren’t demands sent more by his office staff than him personally.

    I once watched him spend almost an hour shaking hands with a massive line of well-wishers in the Marriott Center. My dad and I stayed after to avoid having to deal with the traffic jam in the parking lot and just spend some time chatting. My dad – a family doctor – remarked that he was pretty sure that at this age Elder Packer was suffering from arthritis, and that shaking those hands had to be physically painful (especially when you get young overeager BYU males who tend to squeeze just a bit too hard). But he kept at it for near an hour until the last in the line had been seen to. This was over ten years ago.

    One thing to keep in mind about the elderly is that their physical needs are significant. I imagine the staff was just looking out for their boss. Young people don’t tend to understand just how big a deal staying warm and eating right is at that age – and just how taxing and tiring public events can be – especially when there’s a mob of adoring fans ready to literally smother the guy.

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