What Shall I Do?…

In the spring of 1999 I was called to serve as elders quorum president for the Peachwood Ward in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. While I had served in many callings of leadership in the church since my youth, I had never held keys of priesthood authority for presiding and felt inadequate to the task of ministering to the needs of about 125 families. Up unto and on the day I was sustained by the members of my quorum and set apart, I wrestled with the daunting task ahead, not seeing inside of me the pathway to effective leadership. I was worthy in every sense of the meaning to serve in this calling, and was long aware that one day I would probably serve in this capacity, but when the time came entire inadequacy beset my heart and conflicted my mind. I kept asking myself over and again in pretty much this very sentiment, “What shall I to do?”

The hour was at hand. I felt overwhelming anxiety for my inadequacy. Then, Larry R. Lawrence, President of the Fresno California North Stake, laid his hands upon my head to confer priesthood keys. What was I going to do? How was I going to minister to and serve so many? I no longer recall the words that he spoke, only that as he conferred those priesthood keys and pronounced certain blessings and gifts that I would receive in order to be able to fulfill this divinely determined assignment, my feelings of inadequacy and wondering what I was to do left me immediately. Even as his hands still rested upon my head, I could see a pathway so clear that I knew I could walk forward and accomplish all that the Lord would ask of me. The Holy Ghost communicated with me that I would not be alone, that it would not be me who would determine the actions to be taken as elders quorum president, but it would be the Lord’s work as communicated by His Spirit. Of course, during the years that followed, more struggles would lie ahead in my service, but as I listened to the Still Small Voice, that Spirit on which I could always rely, everything would be in course with the work of the Lord.

Bertel Thorvaldsen’s statue of Peter, one of the Twelve Apostles, holds keys at the Church of Our Lady in Copenhagen, Denmark. The Twelve Apostles statues were carved out of Carrara marble between 1829 and 1848. Replicas of the statues are now on display in the Rome Temple Visitors’ Center in Italy. Photo by Kristin Murphy, Deseret News.

The Gift of the Holy Ghost makes all the difference in the world for sons and daughters of God as we follow the promptings received.

Think back to the struggles and foibles of the apostles, specifically Peter, during the days that Christ walked upon the earth. I do not compare myself to Peter at any time of his life, as I know his greatness far exceeds my own stature, nevertheless, Peter did show weakness and a lack of understanding on many occasions while he walked with Jesus.

Peter was, with his brother Andrew, a follower of John the Baptist and was looking for the promised Messiah when the Savior came upon them on the shores of Galilee and called them to be fishers of men. Peter had great faith even to walk upon water, though his faith faltered in the process, who among us can do the same? It was Peter at Caesarea Philippi who declared that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God. Peter indeed was a man of great strength and great faith. He was on the right path and was seeking truth, nevertheless, something lacked and he did struggle in his understandings and in his strengths.

“Peter’s Denial” by Carl Heinrich Bloch

One can specifically look at the night that Jesus was taken into custody. Earlier in the evening before Gethsemane when the Savior was to wash his feet, Peter refused at first, and it was only by the prompting of the Savior giving him additional understanding that made him relent and allow this beautiful and essential act. A short time later when he was asked by Jesus to watch with Him during His sufferings in the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter’s flesh was weak and he fell asleep. When Christ was arrested, instead of standing humbly with the submissive Prince of Peace, Peter drew a sword and struck a man, whom the Savior lovingly healed. Then, when Jesus was being oppressed in the illegal trials that followed that night, Peter denied his Friend and Master three times rather than admit to be His disciple. In truth Peter did struggle with his faith.

Now look at the man Peter following the resurrection of the Lord, Jesus having breathed on the apostles saying, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost” (John 20:22), and then further training them, and specifically Peter, until His ascension to heaven some forty days later (Acts 1:3). This Peter, now a prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ and leader of His church on earth, is a man with no falter of faith and no fear to proclaim his discipleship of the Lord. He healed with the same authority that Jesus used when He walked upon the earth. He knew that some of his actions in correcting the Pharisees, Sadducees, and other leaders would result in persecutions, beatings and his own eventual martyrdom, yet he failed not to declare the Godhood of His Redeemer, the Man who was slain by the same. With the Holy Ghost he had access to all understanding and truth, and as he listened to the promptings of the Lord’s Spirit he was able to perform miracles, even as he witnessed Jesus do. At the day of Pentecost Peter lifted his voice to thousands, “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 2:38), promising the same gift breathed upon him by his Lord.

The Christus and the apostles in the Rome Italy Temple Visitor’s Center.

Indeed, Peter was no more a timid man in the shadow of the Savior, he was a man of courage and faith, a true disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, a man acting with the authority of our God and King, baptizing thousands, bestowing the Holy Spirit, ministering, and doing the Lord’s assigned work.

As recipients of the same Holy Ghost that was given by authority as a gift to Peter in days of old, we too may receive promptings that will guide us through life, give us courage, strengthen our faith and make us mighty in communicating the words of the Lord our God to the children of men, if we but listen to those promptings and follow the commandments of God. We need not find ourselves asking in anxiety and with feelings of inadequacy “What shall I to do?”, but only asking of the Lord for His guidance through the Holy Spirit on which paths we should walk. We may have mighty faith, do mighty deeds, if we just listen and follow the Still Small Voice of the Lord’s Spirit. Let us lift our voices, as Peter, and “speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Then we will become disciples, true witnesses of the Lord Jesus Christ. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Daniel Malcolm is an entrepreneur, journalist, photographer, husband to Monica and father of twelve. He is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is a witness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and His Atonement.