What is the worth of a soul?
This question has been posed in countless Sunday School classes, Missionary trainings, Seminaries and Institutes since June 1829. It was then that Joseph Smith, Oliver Cowdery and David Whitmer received a revelation in which the Lord exclaimed His answer to this question: “The worth of souls is great in the sight of God!” (D&C 18:10)
President Monson shared some insight to this thought in an April 1987 General Conference talk. As a member of the Council of the Twelve, he was attending a stake conference with Paul C. Child, a member of the General Church Welfare Committee. When it was Brother Child’s opportunity to speak, “he took the Doctrine and Covenants and left the pulpit to stand among the priesthood to whom he was directing his message. He turned to section 18 and began to read: ‘Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight
“President Child then raised his eyes from the scriptures and asked the question of the priesthood brethren: “What is the worth of a human soul?” He avoided calling on a bishop, stake president, or high councilor for a response. Instead, he selected the president of an elder’s quorum—a brother who had been a bit drowsy and had missed the significance of the question.
“The startled man responded: “Brother Child, could you please repeat the question?” The question was repeated: ‘What is the worth of a human soul?’
“I knew President Child’s style. I prayed fervently for that quorum president. He remained silent for what seemed like an eternity and then declared: ‘Brother Child, the worth of a human soul is its capacity to become as God.’
“All present pondered that reply. Brother Child returned to the stand, leaned over to me, and said: ‘A profound reply; a profound reply!’
As you will read in this issue, our local Institutes are doing a profound job of spiritually strengthening the souls of our college age Latter-day Saints. The brothers and sisters who work and volunteer for these programs labor all their days teaching and caring for their students, recognizing the worth of each member and non-member soul alike! For the worth of one soul, or many, is great in the sight of our Lord. May God bless our Institutes and those that partake in this program.