David A. Bednar
David A. Bednar has not only testified extensively of the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, but has embodied it. Those closest to him notice the deepest evidences of that power. His sons say of him, “Faith has driven out fear in my dad,” “He is bold, but he listens,” and “He is an ordinary man who can do extraordinary things because of the strength of the Lord.”1
David Allan Bednar was born on June 15, 1952, in Oakland, California, to good and supportive parents. His mother was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Elder Bednar describes her faith as inspiringly “steady.”2 His father was not a member of the Church, but was supportive of the faith of his wife and son, attending church each week with them and encouraging David in his desire to serve a mission.
After serving in Germany for two years as a missionary, Elder Bednar returned home with much in store for him. He was privileged to baptize, confirm, and ordain his father. He also resumed his education at Brigham Young University, where he met Susan Kae Robinson. They were married in the Salt Lake Temple in 1975.
After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 1976 and a master’s in 1977—both from BYU— David A. Bednar went on to earn a PhD from Purdue University, which he completed in 1980. He then joined the business faculty at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. From there he taught at Texas Tech University, then returned to the University of Arkansas as an associate dean for graduate studies for the Sam M. Walton College of Business. He was also a director of the Management Decision-Making Lab. In 1997 Elder Bednar became the president of Ricks College, at that time the largest private junior college in the United States. His leadership oversaw the school’s transition to becoming a four-year university, now known as Brigham Young University–Idaho.
David A. Bednar was named received the Burlington Northern Foundation Award for Excellence in Teaching and twice was honored with the Outstanding Teacher Award in the College of Business Administration at the University of Arkansas. Elder Bednar’s gift for teaching prepared him for a much larger classroom. In 2004, from the president’s office at BYU–Idaho, he was called to be a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles—the youngest to join that quorum in twenty years. Before that, his Church service had included serving as a bishop, stake president (twice), regional representative, and an Area Seventy.
Elder Bednar has a talent for explaining complex concepts of the gospel in clear, powerful, and relatable terms. Once, as a bishop, he accepted the invitation to teach a lesson about the scriptures in Primary. He wore red suspenders to the lesson and asked the children what his suspenders had to do with the scriptures. One insightful boy raised his hand and offered, “The scriptures hold up our faith like your suspenders hold up your pants!”3 The lesson was simple, memorable. Much later, in a general conference address, Elder Bednar explained that personal revelation was sometimes like the light flooding a room with the turn of a switch, and other times like the gradual, almost imperceptible, but immense light of the sunrise. This address became a key source for Latter-day Saints seeking to understand revelation.4
Elder David A. Bednar’s bold testimony and capacity to cogently illustrate gospel principles show his stalwart faith in the enabling power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Having previously written text for songs of faith, he recently penned the piece “One By One” to share his testimony of the Savior. Performed in a special concert in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, the song declares Elder Bednar’s deeply held belief that “one by one, one by one, strength from His grace gives us pow’r to become.”5
Elder Henry B. Eyring, “Elder David A. Bednar: Going Forward in the Strength of the Lord,” Ensign, March 2005
Elder David A. Bednar, “The Spirit of Revelation,” Ensign, May 2011
David A. Bednar, “One By One,” New Era, July 2016, 38-40.