“Elder Neil L. Andersen,” Ensign, May 2009, 133–34
During the 16 years Elder Neil Linden Andersen has served as a General Authority, he has often heard President Monson teach that “whom the Lord calls, the Lord qualifies” (Thomas S. Monson quoting Harold B. Lee, “Who Honors God, God Honors,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 50). Now more than ever, Elder Andersen is holding on to those words.
Elder Andersen, who has been serving as the Senior President of the Seventy, explains: “No one is prepared for a call such as this. It is overwhelming, and I feel very inadequate. I pray that the Lord will find me sufficiently humble and moldable, that He can shape me into what I must become.”
Born on August 9, 1951, in Logan, Utah, USA, to Lyle P. and Kathryn Andersen, Elder Andersen credits those years working alongside his family with instilling important values. “On a small family farm, everyone in the family contributes. It is a blessing to learn early that work is a fulfilling part of life.”
At 19, Elder Andersen was called on a mission to France, where the deep devotion of the members and the converting power of the Book of Mormon fortified his growing testimony.
After returning from his mission, Elder Andersen excelled at Brigham Young University, being named a Hinckley Scholar and being elected student body vice president.
It was there that Elder Andersen met the person who would have perhaps the greatest influence on his life: his future wife, Kathy Sue Williams. The two were married in the Salt Lake Temple on March 20, 1975.
“Once I married her,” Elder Andersen says with a warm smile, “the standards in my life went way up—being absolutely consistent in prayer and scripture study, keeping the commandments with precision. Her influence upon me and our children is phenomenal. She has a pure and disciplined faith.”
After graduating from BYU in 1975, Elder Andersen received a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University in 1977. He and Kathy returned to Kathy’s childhood home in Florida, where he pursued business interests in advertising, real estate development, and health care. Later he served as the Tampa Florida Stake president.
In 1989, at age 37, Elder Andersen was called back to France—this time as president of the France Bordeaux Mission. “Our four young children were courageous in facing a new culture and language, and we witnessed close up the Lord’s hand at work in building His kingdom,” he says.
Elder Andersen was called to the First Quorum of the Seventy in April 1993 at age 41. Including his years as a mission president, he has served 10 of the past 20 years outside the United States on Church assignments. “We have loved the wonderful people of the Church across the world,” he says. “The faith, devotion, and testimony in every land has been a bright example for us.”
For four years, Elder and Sister Andersen lived in Brazil, seeing the Lord’s work flourish as never before and adding lifelong friends from a new continent. Later, Elder Andersen assisted the Twelve in the supervision of Mexico and Central America. When serving at Church headquarters, he directed the Church Audiovisual Department, supervising the filming of The Testaments of One Fold and One Shepherd and overseeing the initial development of Mormon.org in 2001.
Elder Andersen gratefully acknowledges that he has had the extraordinary opportunity to learn under the tutelage of the First Presidency and the Twelve these past 16 years. “President Monson has been a wonderful teacher to me and many others, as he has taught us to reach out to others as the Savior would,” he says. “He has constantly emphasized that there is no greater joy than knowing you have been an instrument in the Lord’s hand to answer an honest prayer.”
While very humbled by the call to the holy apostleship, Elder Andersen expressed in general conference his firm testimony of the Savior. “I take solace,” he said, “that in one qualification for the holy apostleship where there can be no latitude extended, the Lord has deeply blessed me. I do know with perfect and certain clarity through the power of the Holy Ghost that Jesus is the Christ, the Beloved Son of God” (“Come unto Him,” Liahona and Ensign, May 2009, 78).