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I met Elder H. Burke Peterson while he was serving as a counselor in the Presiding Bishopric from 1972 to 1985. After he was sustained to the First Quorum of the Seventy during the April 1985 general conference, I met with him and his wife, Brookie Cardon Peterson, for an interview.
I’ve always remembered our conversation, mainly because of how straightforward Elder Peterson was in telling me about what he called “hurdles” in his life.
During the dozen or so years I’d crossed paths with Elder Peterson, I had always seen him as a confident, self-assured Church leader. I was surprised when he revealed he had a very different view of himself.
In the first few minutes of our interview, Elder Peterson said, “My hurdles today are the same ones I had as a boy—feelings of inadequacy.”
“Those feelings,” he added, “were not brought about by my parents. I was raised in a family where there was never a question that we were loved.” With palms turned upward and a shrug of his shoulders, he surmised, “These are just feelings I’ve always had and will probably never get over, so I quit worrying about them.”
While he acknowledged being “scared to death” when he spoke in general conference, or even stake conferences, he managed to appear calm. “I do an awful lot of praying and an awful lot of preparing,” he said.
His profession as an engineer led him to being very thorough and “preparing to hilt.” He said he would get overly prepared, but he developed a confidence in the Lord. “I know when I do my part I won’t fail; that if I am prepared, He will draw it out of me.”
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