President Devin G. Durrant, second counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, knows well the importance of good teachers. He’s had them close by his entire life.
As a boy, young Devin was the beneficiary of skilled teachers, instructors and coaches at school, both at Church and in sports.
Meanwhile, his own father, George Durrant, was a renowned college professor and priesthood leader. His mother, Marilyn, skillfully assumed the role of “teacher” in the Durrant household and helped make the family home a classroom of gospel learning.
“Certainly, they taught through their words, but really, the great teachings that I experienced in the home were by watching them live their lives, how they interacted with other people, how they cared for and loved us as children.”
When President Durrant, 53 — who will be released July 1 as president of the Texas Dallas Mission — was sustained on April 5 to serve in the Sunday School general presidency, it’s certain many Church members flashed back to his glory days in a BYU Cougar basketball jersey.
Sports, of course, have played an important role in his life. He was an All-American at Utah’s Provo High School before enjoying a stellar college career at BYU. He even spent a season competing in the NBA against the world’s top players. But basketball has never defined this lifelong member. Yes, he was a star athlete, but he’s been much more: a missionary, a husband, a father, a grandfather, an author, a businessman, a faithful member and, for the past three years, the president to the elders and sisters serving in the Texas Dallas Mission.
President Durrant said his childhood home played a pivotal role in preparing him for each of those varied roles. He and his wife, Julie Mink Durrant, agree that strong teachers at home are invaluable in preparing future missionaries.
“[Future missionaries] are being well taught by their parents in the home and by their teachers at Church and in excellent seminary and institute programs,” he said. The Sunday School program, he added, allows teachers and students of all ages “to teach in the Savior’s way.”
Sister Durrant said she has witnessed many missionaries who immediately “hit the ground running” in their new callings.
“You can almost always attribute that to the great teaching they had at home,” she said.
In a few weeks, the Durrants will be released from missionary service and return to their Utah home. Brother Durrant can then focus his attention on his calling in the Sunday School general presidency — an assignment he calls both “humbling” and “exciting.”
“This is an opportunity to be involved in teaching and to do it with people [fellow presidency members Tad R. Callister and John S. Tanner] that I have such a deep respect and love for.”
Once again, he will enjoy the unwavering support of his wife.
The Durrants became acquainted when they both were undergraduates at BYU. When Devin left school to serve a mission in Spain, the two kept in contact via mail. “I fell in love with my wife as I read her letters,” he said.
Meanwhile, Julie accepted a mission call of her own to Peru.
“After our missions, we picked up our courtship, dated for a year and were married,” said Sister Durrant.
They were married in the Salt Lake Temple on April 23, 1983, and are the parents of six children and have six grandchildren.
The Durrants worked hard to raise their family in a Christ-centered home.
“First and foremost, we’ve tried to live the gospel by taking our children to Church and praying together,” he said. “We’ve read through the Book of Mormon a number of times and tried to be faithful in holding family home evening. We haven’t done anything unique, but we’ve tried to be consistent and practice the basic fundamentals of the gospel within the walls of our home.”
It’s no surprise that sports remain a favorite activity for the Durrant family.
“Athletic participation — or any pursuit of excellence — in the teen years can be great mission preparation and great preparation for life,” said President Durrant. “Simply helping a young person develop a strong work ethic — where everyday you show up, and everyday you give your best effort — can make a big difference in the mission field.”
President Durrant marvels at the power of a dedicated instructor who stands in front of a Sunday School class and invites the Holy Ghost to teach gospel truths.
“It’s a wonderful sign if you are nervous about your calling to teach,” he said. “For me, that means you are humble and you are willing to rely upon the Spirit to be the real teacher.”
The longtime teacher also has counsel for Sunday School students of any age.
“We generally get out of [Sunday School] what we put into it. Prepare in advance and then go to class ready to participate. Then, as we receive instruction and participate in class, we have an opportunity to ponder upon each lesson and prayerfully seek additional understanding.”
Family: Born in 1960, Brigham City, Utah, to George and Marilyn Durrant. Married Julie Mink on April 23, 1983, in the Salt Lake Temple. Six children: Emily (Bryson) Bennett, Laura (Spencer) Kirton, Heather (Danaan) Clarke, Ryan Durrant, Joseph Durrant, Deanna Durrant; six grandchildren.
Education: Bachelor of Arts, Brigham Young University, 1984; Master of Business Administration, University of Utah, 2009.
Employment: National Basketball Association 1984-1985; European basketball leagues 1986-1988; WordPerfect, marketing director, 1988-1993; Durrant Properties and Investments, owner, 1993-present.
Church Service: Sunday School teacher, counselor in a ward and a stake Sunday School presidency, counselor in a bishopric, bishop, stake high councilor, stake mission president, counselor in a stake presidency, institute instructor and president of the Texas Dallas Mission, 2011-2014.