Elder Neal Ash Maxwell was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from July 1981 until his death in July 2004.

In May 1945, on the island of Okinawa, eighteen-year-old Neal Maxwell hid in a foxhole. Japanese shells passed over him and his unit for several days until one exploded between his foxhole and the foxhole of his friend. Neal was sure he wasn't the only one praying for safety, but he promised that if God would spare his life, he would seek to serve God for the rest of his life. The shelling stopped, and Neal kept his promise. [1]

File:Neal A Maxwell.jpg

Personal and Family Life

Neal Ash Maxwell was born July 6, 1926, in Salt Lake City, Utah, the oldest of six children. He loved sports and animals and had a gift for writing. After his service during World War II, Neal served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, in eastern Canada. After his mission, he married Colleen Hinckley on November 22, 1950, in the Salt Lake Temple. Completely devoted to his wife, Elder Maxwell constantly admitted that he had "married up" spiritually and honored Colleen as a "more complete Christian" than he. They have four children, twenty-four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. [2]

Elder Maxwell loved his children and grandchildren, and they loved him. His son Cory tells of a time that his dad pulled him aside to ask how he could be a better father. Elder Maxwell wrote many personal letters tailored to the specific needs of his children and loved sharing his knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them. Equally, he loved to hear his children share their knowledge with him. [3]

Education and Career

Elder Maxwell earned his B.S. and M.S. degrees in political science from the University of Utah. He served as a legislative assistant to Senator Wallace F. Bennett of Utah in Washington D.C., until he accepted a position in the public relations department of the University of Utah. Later, he became the assistant to the president, dean of students, and the executive vice-president of the university. He also taught political science and was named a favorite teacher of the students at the University of Utah. [4]

Known for his eloquence, Elder Maxwell wrote thirty books and gave countless sermons. [5] He was a master of language and yet acknowledged that without the Spirit of God, his words would mean nothing.

Church Service

Likening the world's answers to the world's problems to "straightening deck chairs on the Titanic," Elder Maxwell felt the only true solutions come from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. [6] He served, among other callings, as a bishop, as the Commissioner of Church Education, as an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, as a president of the Quorum of the Seventy, and finally as an Apostle of Jesus Christ and member of the Quorum of the Twelve. [7]

Devoted to the Savior, Elder Maxwell loved serving as the Master served, living as He lived, and loving as He loved. He especially loved to serve those who were suffering. He said, "How blessed I am to know special people in the midst of their suffering. It is I who draw strength from them." [8]

Central to Elder Maxwell's teachings were the topics of discipleship and submission to the will of God. Understanding that we do not fathom God's ways, Elder Maxwell nevertheless urged everyone to trust in God and allow our will to be swallowed up in the will of the Father, just as Jesus had done. "The submission of one's will," he said, "is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God's altar." [9] He also said, "the only true veneration of Jesus is emulation of Him." [10]

Elder Maxwell's teachings were not just words, they were expressions of how he lived.

A Life Well Lived

On on July 21, 2004, the twenty-third anniversary of his call to be an apostle, Neal Maxwell lost an eight-year battle with leukemia. [1] Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would not soon forget Elder Neal A. Maxwell, whom they dearly loved. His humble service and mastery of the English language inspired everyone to become more like Jesus.

At Elder Maxwell's funeral, Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Church, said of him, "His genius was a product of diligence. He was a perfectionist, determined to extract from each phrase and sentence every drop of nourishment that could be produced. Each talk was a masterpiece, each book a work of art worthy of repeated reading. I think we shall not see one like him again." [11]

Books by and about Elder Maxwell

  • A Disciple's Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell by Bruce C. Hafen
  • All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience
  • Enoch Letters
  • If Thou Endure it Well
  • Moving in His Majesty and Power
  • The Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book
  • Not My Will, But Thine
  • The Promise of Discipleship
  • The Inexhaustible Gospel: Speeches of Neal A. Maxwell
  • Whom the Lord Loveth: The Journey of Discipleship

Quotes from Elder Maxwell

  • "The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we 'give,' brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!"
“Swallowed Up in the Will of the Father,” Ensign, Nov. 1995
  • "Both your ministry and mine will unfold in the grim but also glorious circumstances of the last days. Yes, there will be wrenching polarization on this planet, but also the remarkable reunion with our colleagues in Christ from the City of Enoch. Yes, nation after nation will become a house divided, but more and more unifying Houses of the Lord will grace this planet. Yes, Armageddon lies ahead. But so does Adam-ondi-Ahman!"
“O, Divine Redeemer,” Ensign, Nov. 1981


  1. Neal A. Maxwell, “Insights from My Life,” Ensign, Aug. 2000
  2. “Elder Neal Ash Maxwell: A Promise Fulfilled,” Ensign, Sept. 2004
  3. Henry B. Eyring, “Elder Neal A. Maxwell: Pursuing ‘A More Excellent Way,” Ensign, Jan. 1987
  4. Ibid.
  5. “Elder Neal Ash Maxwell: A Promise Fulfilled,” Ensign, Sept. 2004
  6. Ibid.
  7. “Elder Neal Ash Maxwell: A Promise Fulfilled,” Ensign, Sept. 2004
  8. Henry B. Eyring, “Elder Neal A. Maxwell: Pursuing ‘A More Excellent Way,” Ensign, Jan. 1987
  9. Neal A. Maxwell, “Insights from My Life,” Ensign, Aug. 2000
  10. “Elder Neal Ash Maxwell: A Promise Fulfilled,” Ensign, Sept. 2004
  11. Ibid.

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