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Richard G. Scott’s first meeting with the Twelve was a total surprise to him. What he saw, and what surprised him, teaches us a lot about modern prophets and how they work in leading the kingdom.


Have you ever wondered what the deliberations of the Quorum of the Twelve are like? Or what it would be like to visit one of their meetings? Is it like a stake High Council meeting, or more like a corporate board meeting? If you were called to the holy apostleship, what do you think your first meeting would be like? Most of us will never know, but we do have a handful of records from new leaders who have reported on their experiences.

Elder Richard G. Scott shared his feelings of surprise and enlightenment as he witnessed, for the first time after his calling, how the Quorum operates. His account teaches us something important about the way the presiding Brethren work together.

“Richard, Welcome to the Quorum of the Twelve”

Elder Scott reports that in his first meeting with the Twelve, the Brethren were discussing a very important matter—a matter that would affect the worldwide Church. In his words, the discussion went like this: “And one said, ‘I think we ought to do this,’ and another said, ‘No, this is the right way to go.’ Somebody said, ‘No, I believe we ought to do that.’” No one ever raised their voice or was unkind, but Elder Scott was surprised at their directness and openness in contradicting one another. “I’m sure I had a very perplexed look on my face,” he reported. Then, one of the other Brethren took out a small piece of paper and wrote him a brief note that Elder Scott treasured to the end of his life. It said, “Richard, welcome to the Quorum of the Twelve.” After handing over the note, the Elder explained, “Here we play hardball.”

No doubt this experience is surprising to many members today, just as it was to Elder Scott himself. But actually, it merely reflects the Lord’s instruction to Oliver Cowdery in 1829. Although Oliver was one of the first elders of the Church, filled with faith, and worthy at the time to translate ancient words by the power of the Spirit, the Lord told him it was nevertheless wrong to do no more than simply “ask me.” He was told that he must “study it out”—and then the Lord would confirm or disconfirm his thinking (D&C 9:7–9).

This historical event is familiar, and the instruction to “study it out” is also familiar; but we might not always see how it applies to the presiding Brethren as a whole. The reality, though, is that the Lord generally follows this pattern, even with them. The Lord certainly can and does formulate and deliver divine messages to His servants (through the pure intelligence of the Spirit, visions, dreams, and the like)—which is one important form of revelation. But He also often requires His leaders to study and ponder issues together and to reach a conclusion among themselves—and then to provide the confirming manifestation of the Spirit to what they have determined.

Such a “studying it out” process requires deep discussion, over time, from many different perspectives. Along the way, there will naturally be many differences, as well as many occasions of unsettledness—of a “stupor of thought”—indicating that they have not yet discovered an approved path. But the process of study continues until they do.

“Filled with Charity, the Pure Love of Christ”

Of his initial experience, Elder Scott emphasized that the Brethren were open in expressing opposing thoughts and that they were also kind in expressing such differences. He said they could do both because “every one of those Brethren is interested in identifying the will of the Lord. They are not trying to convince the others that they’re right. They’re trying to find out what the will of the Lord is.” The other part of the secret, he said, is that they follow the admonition of the Lord that decisions are to be made in a way that expresses all the virtues of discipleship—qualities such as meekness, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity (D&C 107:30).

Just last week, in General Conference, President Nelson emphasized the same qualities. He reported that when his two counselors, Presidents Dallin H. Oaks and Henry B. Eyring, express different points of view, “they do so with pure love for each other.” He added: “Neither suggests that he knows best and therefore must rigorously defend his position. Neither evidences the need to compete with the other. Because each is filled with charity, the pure love of Christ, our deliberations can be guided by the Spirit of the Lord.” He concluded: “How I love and honor these two great men.” [i]

Elder Scott reported that because the discussions he saw in meetings of the Twelve were conducted in such a devoted and charitable way, over time, “the Spirit begins to enter and there begins to be identified a certain path…Any one of us, anytime, once that’s accomplished, can say, ‘I move that we do this, this, or this.’ And President says, ‘any more discussion?’ There isn’t any. There is absolutely no exception to uniform 100 per cent supporting what’s done.”[ii]


The Lord has multiple ways to provide revelation, but, as these experiences show, one of them is exactly what he told Oliver Cowdery. That is one reason there are fifteen prophets, seers, and revelators, and why they work together in councils. On most matters, they are to “study out” the issues before them together—and to do so in spirit of pure devotion to the Lord and charity toward one another. That is how they qualify to receive the Lord’s ongoing guidance in the work of the kingdom.


Duane Boyce and Kimberly White are father and daughter. Learn more about modern prophets in their new book, The Last Safe Place: Seven Principles for Standing with the Prophets in Troubled Times.

Click here to learn more.

[i] Transcription of President Russell M. Nelson’s Sunday morning address, General Conference, April 2023,

[ii] Transcription of Richard G. Scott’s comments, appearing at