This is second in what I hope will be a series of periodic book recommendations (my secret plot to get myself to read more!). Leader biographies are some of my favorite “Church books” to read. The best are interesting and edifying at the same time. If you’ve read other leader biographies in the past, you’ll find that this doesn’t deviate much from the mold: It begins with some family history, followed by details about President Eyring’s parents, and then works through his life chronologically. Two unique elements that set this biography apart: Beginning in the 70s President Eyring began keeping a daily journal. Excerpts from his entries are used throughout the book. These personal glimpses into the various accounts of his life help us see more deeply into his heart and mind. Also President Eyring was fond of drawing, and many of his sketches are included in the margins, adding some fun visual nuance to the work.
I really only have two complaints. First, I felt like it bogged down a bit describing President Eyring’s time at Rick’s College. The authors included a lot of detail about the school's enrollment woes and administrative challenges. It felt at times like it had transitioned into a history of Rick's College. Maybe these details are essential to understanding his experience, but I found my interest slipping. In fact, the book as a whole felt a little heavy on his time from Rick’s College to his call as a general authority and a little light on his time as an Apostle and member of the First Presidency. I would've enjoyed more stories and details about his time as a general authority, but for a detailed account of how a man became one of the Lord's Apostles, the book is great.
My second complaint is somewhat tongue-in-cheek. As with most general authorities, Henry B. Eyring is so smart, so driven, and so successful that it’s easy to feel pathetic in comparison. We know our leaders have weaknesses and make mistakes, but the book doesn't show us much of that (if there was any to show). I know I’m not supposed to compare myself to others, but I do anyway. Reading about the life of President Eyring was very inspiring and motivating, but there is a risk of feeling like a scrub as a side effect!
The biggest takeaway for me was just how close President Eyring has been to the Godhead throughout his life. He demonstrates a pattern of incredible faith, sincere prayer, and spiritual guidance. I finished the book feeling like I was living beneath my privileges when it comes to being guided by the Holy Ghost. It made me want to be more obedient and to seek God’s will more carefully. This is a man who is not just incredibly smart and talented, but who is also humble and deeply spiritual. An example worth following and a life story worth the reading. I guarantee this book will make you want to be a better student, spouse, parent, leader, and disciple of Christ. Check it out!