President McKay's
Patriarchal Blessing

from Highlights in the Life
of President David O. McKay

by Morrell

On July 17, 1887, Church Patriarch John Smith conferred a patriarchal blessing on young David O. McKay, who was just a few weeks short of his 14th birthday. Inspired instruction was given, including these words:

"Brother David Oman McKay, thou art in thy youth and need instruction, therefore I say unto thee, be taught of thy parents the way of life and salvation, that at an early day you may be prepared for a responsible position, for the eye of the Lord is upon thee .... The Lord has a work for thee to do, in which thou shalt see much of the world, assist in gathering scattered Israel and also labor in the ministry. It shall by thy lot to sit in council with thy brethren and preside among the people and exhort the Saints to faithfulness."

Having uttered those inspired and prophetic words, the patriarch "placed his hands on David's shoulders, and looking into his eyes said “My boy, you have something to do besides playing marbles.” Young David perhaps had some things to learn about the significance of the words of the Patriarch; he reportedly went into the kitchen and told his mother, "If he thinks I'm going to stop playing marbles, he is mistaken."

President McKay's sister, in writing of the incident later, recorded: "His wise mother set aside her meal preparation long enough to sit down with her son and explain what the white-haired patriarch really meant, though even she could not realize the full impact of the words that had been spoken."

(edited by David Van Alstyne)
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