“Elder D. Todd Christofferson,” Liahona, May 2008, 132–33
“There’s something you can learn from everyone,” says Elder David Todd Christofferson, newly called and sustained member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. “I haven’t found anybody—in or out of the Church —I couldn’t draw something from that made me better.”
Learning from the best that others have to offer is something Elder Christofferson has done his entire life, beginning with his parents.
Born to Paul Vickery Christofferson and Jeanne Swenson Christofferson on January 24, 1945, Elder Christofferson was raised in Pleasant Grove and Lindon, Utah, USA. He says he and his four younger brothers enjoyed a childhood that was “idyllic” and “wholesome.”
“We had a very secure, happy home life,” he remembers. “Father and Mother showed us how to live according to the pattern of the gospel.”
At the beginning of high school, Elder Christofferson moved with his family to Somerset, New Jersey, USA. There he found new places, new people, and new opportunities.
“I enjoyed friendships and relationships with people from all over and with all kinds of religious beliefs,” he says. “The interactions were very positive.”
Following high school, Elder Christofferson attended Brigham Young University for a year before leaving to serve a full-time mission in Argentina. There, he says, he learned from “two exceptional mission presidents,” President Ronald V. Stone for the first several months of his mission and President Richard G. Scott (now Elder Scott, a fellow member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) for the remainder of his mission.
Of Elder Scott, Elder Christofferson remembers: “We learned to be exacting of ourselves, as he was of himself. He always focused on the higher possibilities of being able to grow more and do more and accomplish more. Because of that, we began to see a higher vision of ourselves, the work, and what we could accomplish.”
When he returned from Argentina, Elder Christofferson again enrolled at BYU, where he studied English and became involved in student government and intramural athletics. He also met and married his wife, Katherine (Kathy) Thelma Jacob; they married at the end of their junior year on May 28, 1968, in the Salt Lake Temple. Today they have five children and eight grandchildren.
Elder Christofferson graduated from BYU with a bachelor’s degree in 1969 and then pursued a law degree at Duke University. Upon graduating in 1972, he was hired as a law clerk for Judge John J. Sirica, serving during the Watergate proceedings.
“It was an exciting experience for a first job out of school,” Elder Christofferson says. “I saw some of the best and some of the worst in the legal profession all mixed together. But that experience showed me what good legal work could do, and that gave me confidence and aspiration.”
Elder Christofferson spent his legal career working first at a law firm and then as in-house counsel for banks and other corporations, mostly in the Eastern United States. What he most enjoyed about those years, Elder Christofferson says, “was association with good people of all walks of life and all faiths. I found that a lot of people really do want to help others and are dedicated to making that happen.”
Elder Christofferson was called in 1993 to serve as a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, a period he describes as “very formative.” His assignments took him briefly to the North America Southwest Area and the Mexico South Area.
Elder Christofferson fondly remembers conducting interviews during the reorganization of one particular stake in Mexico. “One of the people we interviewed was a very humble man, small in stature. We had a good interview, and I gave him an abrazo [hug]. After this man went out, he said to the stake president, ‘La autoridad me abrazó.’ [‘The authority hugged me.’] He said it over and over. That experience taught me to appreciate the small things that people do. It also taught me that you can always do something to help others feel valued as a son or daughter of God.
“You really can learn something good from every contact and every association,” he adds. “Hopefully, we’re doing the same for others.”
Elder Christofferson was called in 1998 as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, where he served until his call to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He says that when he first received his new calling from President Thomas S. Monson, it initially “seemed impossible.”
“The responsibility seems overwhelming as I contemplate it. But I have had wonderful tutors as I have worked in the Quorum of the Seventy and with members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles over the last 15 years. And I have the additional reassurance of knowing that the Lord has always sustained me. In every crisis, in every transition, in every need I’ve ever had, He’s been accessible through prayer. I have trusted in Him and have not been disappointed. Surely His promises are still in place. I know that He’ll give me the help I need here too.”