SALT LAKE CITY — Serving "one by one" was something Elder David A. Bednar experienced on his first assignment as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Two days after he was ordained an apostle in 2004, Elder Bednar arrived in a U.S. city where he was met by a stake president. Elder Bednar asked if the president knew why the Lord would send the newest apostle to his stake that weekend.
Initially, the church leader had no idea, but later asked if Elder Bednar would meet with his brother who was struggling with a specific challenge. Elder Bednar agreed, and an "edifying" meeting took place.
Looking back, Elder Bednar wrote that "the Lord had provided him with one of the most impactful learning opportunities he could ever receive."
"I had been sent to represent and speak for the Lord in delivering a message to the stake president's brother," he wrote. "And the method of delivery was one by one."
The principle and spiritual pattern of serving "One By One" (Deseret Book, $21.99) is the subject and title of Elder Bednar's new book. The 168-page book landed on store bookshelves Sept. 4.
In "One By One," which consists of five chapters, Elder Bednar uses the scriptures, quotes from church leaders and compelling accounts to identify this "fundamental pattern" and show how the Lord blesses and works with people in a personal way.
The life and ministry of Jesus Christ provides the best examples because the scriptural phrase "one by one" gives clues about the Lord's "nature, attributes and character," and "teaches us in powerful ways how we are to minister to and serve God's children," Elder Bednar wrote.
"Over the years, the principle and spiritual pattern of 'one by one' has blessed me and influenced my ministry in powerful ways," Elder Bednar wrote in the book's opening pages. "This book is an attempt to describe that basic truth and some of its implications for each of us."
The "one by one" pattern influences everything Elder Bednar does, every day of his life and every place he goes, the apostle wrote.
"I have learned there are no such things as large congregations; there are only large gatherings of 'ones,'" Elder Bednar wrote. "We do not speak to audiences; we speak to assembled 'ones.'"
Less than a week after a mass shooting on the campus of Virginia Tech University in April 2007, Elder Bednar was assigned to speak at a stake conference in Blacksburg, Virginia, home of Virginia Tech. He was grateful to give "spiritual assurance and succor" to students, faculty members and others affected by the tragedy on that occasion.
"Was it merely a coincidence that a member of the Quorum of the Twelve had been assigned many months earlier to preside at a stake conference in Blacksburg, Virginia, only days after such a horrendous event? Was it a random occurrence that an authorized servant of the Lord was in a place with people who needed blessings, solace, and comfort?" Elder Bednar wrote. "Or was this episode divinely orchestrated by a loving Lord who knew the distress of victims and the unsettledness of a community? I believe that in the work of the Lord there is no such thing as a coincidence. On this occasion, my companion and I were blessed to deliver tender mercies to many individuals — because the worth of souls is great in the sight of God."
Elder Bednar concludes each chapter with questions to consider and invites readers to record thoughts in space provided.
"Each of us as a disciple of the Lord still has many additional chapters to write in our own personal book of experiences with the principle of 'one by one,'" Elder Bednar wrote. "As we consistently seek for eyes to see and ears to hear, we can discern and detect the tender mercies of the Lord in our lives — as we are blessed to receive them and act as instruments in the hands of the Savior to deliver them to other people."
To listen to a preview of Elder Bednar's book, which he narrated, click here.