I was recently invited to give a talk in church. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, local presiding leaders ask members to speak on Sunday. We don’t call them sermons, even though that is essentially what they are; we call them talks. Sometimes the topics are assigned, and sometimes the speakers are allowed to choose their own topics. My topic was assigned: Supporting and Sustaining Church Leaders.
What follows is the general framework and outline of my talk. I prepared the quotes and the order or main outline ahead of time, and then spoke as I felt directed by the Spirit on the day I delivered this talk. Not all the quotes included below were included in the talk, but they are all relevant, and I felt them worth posting here.
I am grateful to have had the opportunity given to study and speak on this important subject, especially with the change in branch leadership that is approaching soon for our branch. I pray for the Spirit to be with me as I deliver this message
I grew up in a small town in Michigan where almost everybody was Catholic, and whoever wasn’t Catholic was Methodist, Baptist or Assembly of God. I can’t tell you how many times I was told, over and over, by classmates and adults alike, that I belonged to a cult. Being the word girl that I am, I always turn to the dictionary to help me understand exactly what it is people are trying to say. I used the Webster’s 1828 Dictionary whenever possible, as this was the high point of American vernacular, and coincides with both King James Bible English and Book of Mormon English.
“a small religious group that is not part of a larger and more accepted religion and that has beliefs regarded by many people as extreme or dangerous. A situation in which people admire and care about something or someone very much or too much.”
1. Invariably, a cult will put something else on equal footing with Christ.
2. Salvation comes only through the cult
3. Cults often center around a leader who is trying to gain power, money, or influence from manipulating people. A true leader who serves Jesus Christ has one goal, and that is to exalt and manifest Jesus.
4. A final mark of a cult is the unwillingness of the leaders to let the people grow up. A true shepherd will do everything he can to bring Christian people to maturity as quickly as he can. He will not seek to avoid necessary teaching, nor will he try to keep people from maturity. Many cults perpetuate spiritual dependence so that their followers lose the ability to make independent, rational decisions. Often techniques of brainwashing are used to create robotlike behavior.
As much as we may be misunderstood, misrepresented or even hated by our enemies, any Latter-day Saint who reviews these two descriptions can plainly see that our faith does not fit the definition of a cult at all. The problem for outsiders is that they do not understand what it means to sustain our leaders, for they neither know what it is nor practice it.
Definition of Sustain
SUSTA’IN, verb transitive [Latin sustineo; sub and teneo, to hold under.]
- To bear; to uphold; to support; as a foundation sustains the structure; pillars sustain an edifice; a beast sustains a load.
Here I am reminded of a verse from Ephesians 2:19-22
19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;
21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
Therefore, it is THE TEACHINGS AND EXAMPLARY LIVES OF THE PROPHETS AND APOSTLES THAT SUSTAIN US.
Is it not so? Don’t they:
2. To hold; to keep from falling;
3. To support; to keep from sinking in despondence.
4. To maintain; to keep alive; to support; to subsist;
5. To support in any condition by aid; to assist or relieve.
6. To bear; to endure without failing or yielding.
7. To suffer; to bear; to undergo.
8. To maintain; to support; not to dismiss or abate.
9. To maintain as a sufficient ground.
10. In music, to continue, as the sound of notes through their whole length.
I know that in my life, the teachings of the prophets and apostles have literally saved me. I was kept alive, kept from sinking into despondence, enabled to bear and endure without failing, held up by these righteous men when I had nothing left, just like the arms of Moses were held up by Aaron and Hur.
I believe that the Golden Rule applies here: Just as they sustain us, so we should be willing to sustain them.
Q: Beyond the obvious reciprication of the Golden Rule, where is it written why and how we should sustain our leaders?
A: In FOUR of our Thirteen ARTICLES OF FAITH
***ARTICLE OF FAITH # 5 = By the Authority of God
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
Elder Stephen L. Richards
“Now if gospel ordinances are essential they must be administered, and in logical sequence it follows that they must be administered by those having a delegation of authority to do so. So it follows also that the delegation of authority must come from one source only—the Author of the gospel plan, the Christ, who derived his authority from the Eternal Father. Those who held and exercised such authority in ancient Israel, as in the Meridian of Time, were endowed with what is called “priesthood,” being a divinely bestowed commission to represent the Father and the Son and perform the ordinances of the gospel. . .
SOURCE: What It Means To Be A Christian April 1959 General Conference
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
(1) priesthood is the power of God delegated to man to act for the salvation of the human family,
(2) priesthood authority is governed by priesthood holders who hold priesthood keys, and…
(3) all that is done under the direction of those priesthood keys is done with priesthood authority.
The Lord has directed that only men will be ordained to offices in the priesthood. But, as various Church leaders have emphasized, men are not “the priesthood.” Men hold the priesthood, with a sacred duty to use it for the blessing of all of the children of God…A person may have authority given to him, or a sister to her, to do certain things in the Church… The Church work done by women or men…is done under the direction of those who hold priesthood keys.
SOURCE: The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood, April 2014 General Conference
Prophet Joseph F. Smith
…There are some special commandments that are applicable to the Latter-day Saints only. What are they? One of these commandments is, that we shall honor those who preside over us; in other words, we shall honor the Priesthood. I ask no man to honor me, unless I do that which is strictly in accord with the spirit of my calling and the priesthood which I hold. No member of the Church is bound to honor me if I step beyond that priesthood and authority which has been conferred upon me by the choice of God and the voice of the Church. But when I do speak by the Spirit of the Lord in accordance with the duties of my office, it is proper for every member of the Church to hearken to that which I say. For if it is said by the Spirit of God and in accordance with my duty, it is the word and will of the Almighty.
SOURCE: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph F. Smith: Chapter 24 – Sustaining Those Who Are Called To Preside
President Joseph F. Smith “There is no office growing out of this Priesthood that is or can be greater than the Priesthood itself. It is from the Priesthood that the office derives its authority and power. No office gives authority to the Priesthood. No office adds to the power of the Priesthood, but all offices in the Church derive their power, their virtue, their authority, from the Priesthood. The President of the Church carries on as President by virtue of his Priesthood.”
SOURCE: The Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood, Joseph Fielding Smith, October 1970 General Conference
Gordon B. Hinckley
I give you my testimony that the happiness of the Latter-day Saints, the peace of the Latter-day Saints, the progress of the Latter-day Saints, the prosperity of the Latter-day Saints, and the eternal salvation and exaltation of this people lie in walking in obedience to the counsels of the priesthood of God”
SOURCE: ‘‘If Ye Be Willing and Obedient,’” Ensign, Dec. 1971, 125
Elder M. Russell Ballard
Priesthood is for service, not servitude; compassion, not compulsion; caring, not control. Those who think otherwise are operating outside the parameters of priesthood authority. Thankfully, most of our fathers and priesthood officers lead with love, just as most of our mothers and auxiliary leaders do. Leadership based on love brings incredible power. It is real, and it generates lasting results in the lives of our Father’s children.
SOURCE: Strength In Counsel, October 1993 General Conference
Spencer W. Kimball
The authorities which the Lord has placed in his Church constitute for the people of the Church a harbor, a place of refuge, a hitching post, as it were. No one in this Church will ever go far astray who ties himself securely to the Church Authorities whom the Lord has placed in his Church. This Church will never go astray; the Quorum of the Twelve will never lead you into bypaths; it never has and never will. There could be individuals who would falter; there will never be a majority of the Council of the Twelve on the wrong side at any time. The Lord has chosen them; he has given them specific responsibilities. And those people who stand close to them will be safe. And, conversely, whenever one begins to go his own way in opposition to authority, he is in grave danger. I would not say that those leaders whom the Lord chooses are necessarily the most brilliant, nor the most highly trained, but they are the chosen, and when chosen of the Lord they are his recognized authority, and the people who stay close to them have safety.
SOURCE: Be Valiant, April 1951 General Conference
Elder Parley P Pratt
“The legislative, judicial and executive power is vests in Him [the Lord]. He reveals the laws, and he elects, chooses or appoints the officers; and holds the right to reprove, to correct, or even to remove them at pleasure. Hence the necessity of a constant intercourse by direct revelation between him and his Church.” [Millenial Star, March 1845, p. 150]
Thus, sincerely believing that God, not man, is at the helm, Elder Stephen L. Richards taught,
“When … a judgement is reached and proclaimed by [the First Presidency and the Twelve] it becomes binding on all members of the Church, individual views to the contrary notwithstanding. God’s kingdom is a kingdom of law and order.” [October 1938 General Conference].
And Elder James E. Faust made it even more succinct:
“I do not believe members of the church can be in full harmony with the Savior without sustaining his living prophet on the earth, the President of the Church. If we do not sustain the living prophet, whoever he may be, we die spiritually.” [October 1989 General Conference.]
***ARTICLE OF FAITH # 6 = By the Law of Common Consent
We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.
LAW OF COMMON CONSENT – D&C 26:2
And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith. Amen.
The elders are to receive their licenses from other elders, by vote of the church to which they belong, or from the conferences. . . . No person is to be ordained to any office in this church, where there is a regularly organized branch of the same, without the vote of that church;
“Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.” – Declaration of Independence.
Elder David B. Haight
“When we sustain the President of the Church by our uplifted hand, it not only signifies that we acknowledge before God that he is the rightful possessor of all the priesthood keys; it means that we covenant with God that we will abide by the direction and the counsel that comes through His prophet. It is a solemn covenant”
SOURCE: Solemn Assemblies, October 1994 General Conference
George Albert Smith
We now have one order of business that is customary with these Conferences; that is, the presentation of the Authorities of the Church to be sustained by the vote of the people. I hope that you will realize, all of you, that this is a sacred privilege. … It will not be just a symbol but it will be an indication that, with the help of the Lord, you will carry your part of the work… The obligation that we make when we raise our hands under such circumstances, is a most sacred one. It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct this work, but it means,—if I understand the obligation I assumed when I raised my hand—that we will stand behind him; we will pray for him; we will defend his good name, and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct him to offer them to us while he remains in that position.
SOURCE: Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 6
President Joseph F. Smith
“You will all abide the pledge you have given to the Lord and to one another by the uplifted hand, that you all mean to uphold and sustain these officers in all these various organizations, that … you will do everything you can to help them, to benefit them, bless them, and encourage them in the good work in which they are engaged.
SOURCE: Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 218–19.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks
Church callings are performed according to the principles that govern all of us in working under priesthood authority in the Church. These principles include the persuasion and gentleness taught in the 121st section, which are especially necessary in the hierarchal organization of the Church….
SOURCE: Priesthood Authority in the Family and The Church, October 2005 General Conference.
Gordon B. Hinckley
Concerning the sustaining of officers, President John Taylor once said: “We hold up our right hand when voting in token before God that we will sustain those for whom we vote; and if we cannot feel to sustain them we ought not to hold up our hands, because to do this, would be to act the part of hypocrites. … For when we lift up our hands in this way, it is in token to God that we are sincere in what we do, and that we will sustain the parties we vote for. … If we agree to do a thing and do not do it, we become covenant breakers and violators of our obligations, which are, perhaps, as solemn and binding as anything we can enter into” (Journal of Discourses, 21:207).
Here again is set forth a significant and unique feature established by the Lord in the governance of His church. The right to nominate rests with the superior officer or officers at whatever the level. But that nomination must be sustained—that is, accepted and confirmed—by the membership of the Church. The procedure is peculiar to the Lord’s church. There is no seeking for office, no jockeying for position, no campaigning to promote one’s virtues. Contrast the Lord’s way with the way of the world. The Lord’s way is quiet, it is a way of peace, it is without fanfare or monetary costs. It is without egotism or vanity or ambition. Under the Lord’s plan, those who have responsibility to select officers are governed by one overriding question: “Whom would the Lord have?” There is quiet and thoughtful deliberation. And there is much of prayer to receive the confirmation of the Holy Spirit that the choice is correct….
Source: God Is At The Helm, April 1994 General Conference
***ARTICLE OF FAITH # 11 – By Freedom of Conscience
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.
Elder D Todd Christofferson
God intends that His children should act according to the moral agency He has given them, “that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment.” It is His plan and His will that we have the principal decision-making role in our own life’s drama. God will not live our lives for us nor control us as if we were His puppets, as Lucifer once proposed to do. Nor will His prophets accept the role of “puppet master” in God’s place. Brigham Young stated: “I do not wish any Latter Day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ,—the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves.”
Source: Free Forever To Act For Themselves, October 2014 General Conference.
Hold your peace, let me alone, that I may speak and let come on me what will.
Wherefore do I take my flesh in my teeth and put my life in mine hand?
(Why do I risk my life by what I say and do?)
Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him: but I will maintain mine own ways before him.
He also shall be my salvation: for an hypocrite shall not come before him.
Hear diligently my speech, and my declaration with your ears.
Behold now, I have ordered my cause; I know that I shall be justified.
- Even Job maintained the integrity of his own conscience, maintaining his own ways, before the Lord. He deliberately chose to believe in and follow a loving God that though he sometimes did not understand, he chose to keep trusting.
Elder Delbert L. Stapley, quoting Brigham Young “It behooves us to be careful, and not forfeit that agency that is given to us. The difference between the righteous and the sinner, eternal life or death, happiness or misery, is this, to those who are exalted there are no bounds or limits to their privileges, their blessings have a continuation… they increase through all eternity; whereas those who reject the offer, who despise the proffered mercies of the Lord, and prepare themselves to be banished from his presence, and to become companions of the devils, have their agency abridged immediately, and bounds and limits put to their operations. ” [Source: Discourses of Brigham Young, p 63-64). [Source: Using Our Free Agency.]
George Q. Cannon
“Do not, brethren, put your trust in man though he be a bishop, an apostle, or a president. If you do, they will fail you at some time or place; they will do wrong, or seem to, and your support will be gone.” [Source: Gospel Truth 1:319]
“We have the Bible, the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants; but all these books, without the living oracles and a constant stream of revelation from the Lord would not lead any people into the Celestial kingdom…” [Source: Gospel Truth, Classics in Mormon Literature series, 1987]
“President Joseph Smith read the 14th chapter of Ezekiel… said the Lord had declared by the prophet that the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption of the Jewish church – that righteous persons could only deliver their own souls – applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall – that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.” – [Source: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.237-238, 1842.]
Text of hymn, “Know This, That Every Soul Is Free”.
*** ARTICLE OF FAITH # 12 – By Intelligent Obedience
We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.
No coordinating conjunction and, gramatically indicating that we are to support our leaders so far as they obey, honor and sustain the law
Doctrine and Covenants 134:5
5 We believe that all men are bound to sustain and uphold the respective governments in which they reside, while protected in their inherent and inalienable rights by the laws of such governments; and that sedition and rebellion are unbecoming every citizen thus protected, and should be punished accordingly; and that all governments have a right to enact such laws as in their own judgments are best calculated to secure the public interest; at the same time, however, holding sacred the freedom of conscience.
I hope my brethren and sisters will feel in their hearts to sustain the Presidency of this Church by their faith, works, and prayers, and not suffer them to carry all the load, while we hide ourselves in the rear. If we should do this we are not worthy, we are not worthy of our position as Elders in Israel, and fathers and mothers in Israel. Let each one bear their share; and if we will correct our own follies, and set in order our own houses, and do that which is right, we shall then do some good, and help to lift the load that rests upon those that lead. … It is grievous to [the President of the Church] when he sees the people reckless in pursuing their own course leading them to destruction; when they are not willing to take his counsel and abide the doctrines he teaches; but when he sees the people willing to obey wholesome counsel, and endeavor to sanctify themselves before the Lord, he feels strengthened and sustained…
It is necessary that all the members of the Church should exercise their powers of reason and reflection, and thoroughly understand why they take the course which God points out. Intelligent obedience on the part of His Saints is desired by our Father in Heaven. He has given us our agency to think and act for ourselves, on our own volition, to obtain a testimony for ourselves from Him concerning the truth of the principles which He teaches, and then be firm and unshaken in the performance of all which is necessary for salvation.
SOURCE: Teachings Of The Presidents of the Church, Wilford Woodruff
Elder L Tom Perry
There is order in the way the Lord reveals His will to mankind. We all have the right to petition the Lord and receive inspiration through His Spirit within the realm of our own stewardship. Parents can receive revelation for their own family, a bishop for his assigned congregation, and on up to the First Presidency for the entire Church. However, we cannot receive revelation for someone else’s stewardship…
The closer we keep our lives in harmony with the direction the Lord has given us to guide our lives, the more we will be in tune with His Spirit. A person who petitions the Lord for guidance must be worthy to receive it. His life must be in harmony and in keeping with the standards the Lord has prescribed for His children. His life must be in good standing before God and His people. It must be in harmony with the teachings of the scriptures, the prophets, and the order of the Church.
A person could say that he or she had received a revelation to be dishonest in order to improve his or her financial situation. Or a person may say that he or she has been instructed that the Church should go a different direction than it is being led by the prophet. We would immediately know that such a claim would not be from God.
There is great strength and power in the fact that millions throughout the world share the same testimony of God, the Savior, and the calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith. We have never been encouraged to be blindly obedient; it is an intelligent obedience that characterizes members of the Church.
SOURCE: We Believe All That God Has Revealed, October 2003 General Conference
President Brigham Young
It is not my general practice to counsel the sisters to disobey their husbands, but my counsel is—obey your husbands; and I am sanguine and most emphatic on that subject. But I never counselled a woman to follow her husband to the Devil.
SOURCE: Discourses of Brigham Young, 200–201.
Joseph F. Smith
“We have the written word for example, for instruction, for admonition, for reproof, for counsel and for exhortation. Every man should read and understand them, and then all will know that the oracles of God are in their midst. But when they do not read the word of God nor understand it, when the oracles speak they may not listen to them. The Stake Presidency are your oracles here. They are chosen of the Lord. … You ought to sustain and uphold them, and listen to their counsels. They will not guide you wrong; they will not direct you in wickedness; they will make no mistake in their counsel to you; for they stand as a beacon light to the people—not the only beacon light, but they stand in their place as the presidents of the Church in this Stake of Zion, and God will make Himself manifest through them to the people. Furthermore, it is the right of every man and woman to have revelation and wisdom from the Almighty, to know these men are good men, and are doing their duty.”
SOURCE: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph F. Smith: Chapter 24 – Sustaining Those Who Are Called To Preside
“And none are required to tamely and blindly submit to a man because he has a portion of th priesthood. We have heard men who hold the priesthood remark, that they would do anything they were told by those who presided over them, if they knew it was wrong’ but such obedience as this is worse than folly to us; it is slavery in the extreme; and the man who would willingly degrade himself should not claim a rank among intelligent beings, until he turns from his folly. A man of God… would despise the idea. Others, in the extreme exercise of their almighty authority have taught that such obedience was necessary, and that no matter what the Saints were told to do by their presidents, they should do it without asking any questions. When Elders of Israel will so far indulge in these extreme notions of obedience as to teach them to the people, it is generally because they have it in their minds to do wrong themselves.” SOURCE: Millenial Star, vol 14 #38, p. 593-595, Nov 13, 1852 pub.
BASIC SPECIFICS OF WHAT WE CAN DO TO SUPPORT OUR LEADERS
Joseph F. Smith
There never should be a day pass but all the people composing the Church should lift up their voices in prayer to the Lord to sustain His servants who are placed to preside over them. … These men should have the faith of the people to sustain them in the discharge of their duties, in order that they may be strong in the Lord. …
Source: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph F. Smith: Chapter 24 – Sustaining Those Who Are Called To Preside
Spencer W. Kimball
The children who pray for the brethren will grow up loving them, speaking well of them, honoring and emulating them. Those who daily hear the leaders of the Church spoken of in prayer in deep affection will more likely believe the sermons and admonitions they will hear. – Source: The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 121.
Joseph F. Smith
It is the command of the Lord that we shall meet together to … sustain the authorities of the Church, thus renewing our covenant to uphold God’s authority which He has instituted in the earth for the government of His Church.
Source: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph F. Smith: Chapter 24 – Sustaining Those Who Are Called To Preside
George Albert Smith
Let us sustain these men whom God has raised up to preside over us. Let us bless them, not only by our lips, but by assisting in every possible way to carry this burden that rests so heavily upon their shoulders. … Pray for and bless them and help them.
James E Faust
The wives who sustain their husbands in bishoprics, stake presidencies, and other priesthood callings are a great blessing to the Church. They serve behind the scenes quietly but effectively, supporting the family and home while their husbands are ministering to the Saints. –
SOURCE: You Are All Heaven Sent, October 2002 General Conference
OBEDIENCE, BY OUR OWN FREE WILL AND CHOICE
Joseph F. Smith
No man can obtain a remission of sins; no man can obtain the gift of the Holy Ghost; no man can obtain the revelations of God; no man can obtain the Priesthood, and the rights, powers and privileges thereof; no man can become an heir of God and a joint heir with Jesus Christ except through compliance with the requirements of heaven (Romans 8:27). These are universal blessings, they are great and inestimable privileges which pertain to the Gospel and to the plan of life and salvation, which are open and free to all on certain conditions, but which no creature beneath the heavens can enjoy, but through walking in the channel that God has marked out by which they can obtain them. And these privileges and blessings when obtained may be forfeited, and perhaps lost for all eternity, unless we continue steadfast in the course that is marked out for us to pursue… The sun shines upon the evil and the good;but the Holy Ghost descends only upon the righteous and upon those that are forgiven of their sins (Matt 5:45). The rain descends upon the evil and upon the good; but the rights of the Priesthood are conferred, and the doctrine of the Priesthood distills as the dews of heaven upon the souls of those only that receive it in God’s own appointed way. (D&C 121:36-37, 145).
Now, so long as the Latter-day Saints are content to obey the commandments of God, to appreciate the privileges and blessings which they enjoy in the Church, and will use their time, their talents, their substance, in honor to the name of God, to build up Zion, and to establish truth and righteousness in the earth, so long our heavenly Father is bound by His oath and covenant to protect them from every opposing foe, and to help them to overcome every obstacle that can possibly be arrayed against them or thrown in their pathway; but the moment a community begin to be wrapt up in themselves, become selfish, become engrossed in the temporalities of life, and put their faith in riches, that moment the power of God begins to withdraw from them, and if they repent not the Holy Spirit will depart from them entirely, and they will be left to themselves. That which was given them will be taken away, they will lose that which they had, for they will not be worthy of it. God is just as well as merciful, and we need not expect favors at the hand of the Almighty except as we merit them, at least in the honest desires of our hearts, and the desire and intent will not always avail unless our acts correspond. For we are engaged in a literal work, a reality; and we must practice as well as profess. We must be what God requires us to be, or else we are not His people nor the Zion which He designs to gather together and to build up in the latter days upon the earth.
SOURCE: Journal of Discourses 24: 175-176
Elder John Longden, Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
Truth or principle does not change; today, if we desire the blessing of God, we must be obedient—obedient to conscience, to conviction of right, to divine authority, and to God, in whom we trust.
Obedience applies to all—to youth in school, those who work in the shop and factories, the farmer, the rancher, the office worker, the teacher, all the professions, mothers and fathers and children, in their homes and out of their homes.
Obedience to the gospel, making application of the gospel principles in our daily lives, guarantees every adherent the companionship of the Holy Spirit, and this Spirit secures to every faithful individual a living testimony concerning the truth or falsity of every proposition presented for our consideration.
The Apostle Paul said that “by one spirit have we access unto the Father” (Eph 2:18). All who embrace the gospel are entitled to an individual testimony of the truth; the same Spirit guides into all truth, reveals the things of the Father (John 16:13-15) and imparts the inspiration essential to preserve mankind from a blind obedience to erroneous principles and false guides.
Again, may I repeat the statement of the Savior, recorded in John 7:17:
“If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” This secures to all men protection against imposition and abuse of power and the false decisions of man-made councils.
The Lord has promised to guide and direct his Church upon the earth, for he “will do nothing but he revealeth his secrets unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7)
This does not imply the infallibility of man, but it does imply the promise that no man or council of men who stand at the head of the Church shall have power to lead the Saints astray.
With this assurance, then, the people of God in every dispensation have been justified in rendering absolute, yet intelligent obedience in the direction of the holy prophets.
The evidence is sure that whatever has come, either by written document or vebally, from the presidency of the Church has been attended with good results.
Applying this principle of obedience to organizations of a civil and business character, confusion and weakness result from men refusing their support to the decision of the presiding authority or of the majority where the action is left to popular vote.
SOURCE: The Latter-day Prophets, April 1959 General Conference
I say to you who want to govern your wives, set them an example, continually, that is good. Let them say, “There is my husband, does he do anything that he should not do? No, he does not. He prays, he is faithful, humble, meek, full of kindness and of good words and works, I see nothing wrong in him.” If a man lives like this his wife will say, “I should be ashamed to get up a quarrel, I think I had better do as he says, I think he knows better than I do, I will yield my spirit to his.” If a man pursue this straightforward, manly, godlike course he will find woman in her place by his side following him. He is leading her, she is not leading him. When we find an Elder of Israel do this we find plenty of women who will go along with him. And this is the principle on which to govern a neighborhood or nation as well as a wife or children. When a king, ruler, president, governor or legislative assembly take this course, the people knew they are looking after the welfare of the governed instead of their own aggrandizement, and they will always be glad to have them in office, and they will not wish for a change. When the righteous rule, the people rejoice; when the wicked rule, the people mourn. (Provers 29:2). This is the secret of it; if we govern ourselves we can govern others.
SOURCE: Journal of Discourses 14:162-163
WHAT CAUSES PEOPLE NOT TO SUSTAIN THEIR LEADERS?
From Spencer W. Kimball’s April 1978 talk, Listen to the Prophets
By one means or another, the swiftest method of rejection of the holy prophets has been to find a pretext, however false or absurd, to dismiss the man so that his message could also be dismissed
“HE COMES FROM AN OBSCURE PLACE!”
The trouble with using obscurity as a test of validity is that God has so often chosen to bring forth his work out of obscurity. He has even said it would be so. (D&C 1:30) Christianity did not go from Rome to Galilee; it was the other way around. In our day the routing is from Palmyra to Paris, not the reverse. Just because something is in our midst does not mean that we have been in the midst of it. We can daily drive by a museum or an art gallery but know nothing of what is inside.
CARES OF THE WORLD
The cares of the world are so many and so entangling, even very good people are diverted from following the truth because they care too much for the things of the world… [the rich young man] could not do the one last thing that Jesus asked…
PHILOSOPHIES OF MEN (Looking Beyond The Mark)
Sometimes people let their hearts get so set upon things and the honors of this world that they cannot learn the lessons they most need to learn. Simple truths are often rejected in favor of the much less demanding philosophies of men, and this is another cause for the rejection of the prophets.
There’s a certain cause for this sad record. It must not be passed over. The cares of the world, the honors of the world, and looking beyond the mark are all determined by a persuasive few who presume to speak for all…The holy prophets have not only refused to follow erroneous human trends, but have pointed out these errors. No wonder the response to the prophets has not always been one of indifference. So often the prophets have been rejected because they first rejected the wrong ways of their own society.
The trouble with rejection because of personal familiarity with the prophets is that the prophets are always somebody’s son or somebody’s neighbor. They are chosen from among the people, not transported from another planet, dramatic as that would be! … [David’s brothers] were so busy being indignant with David [that they ]missed the purity in David’s indignation at Goliath, for the giant was defying the armies of the living God. David was a local boy and was ignored until he could no longer be ignored.
NO PRESTIGE (Expert-itis)
The trouble with rejecting the prophets because they lack prestige is that Paul, who knew something of rejection, forewarned us when he said, speaking of the work of God, “For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called.” (1 Cor 1:26) In multiple scriptures the Lord has indicated that he will perform his work through those whom the world regards as weak and despised
HEARTS OF PEOPLE ARE HARDENED
Of course, rejection of the holy prophets comes because the hearts of people are hardened, as people are shaped by their society. Yet even when the hardening is swift, it can also be subtle. Who, for instance, a scant twenty years ago would have foreseen the massive use of abortion in society today, like all the diseased doctrines of the devil. The practice is pleasing unto the carnal mind.
Prophets have a way of jarring the carnal mind. Too often the holy prophets are wrongly perceived as harsh and as anxious to make a record in order to say, “I told you so.” Those prophets I have known are the most loving of men. It is because of their love and integrity that they cannot modify the Lord’s message merely to make people feel comfortable. They are too kind to be so cruel. I am so grateful that prophets do not crave popularity. . .
Let us all give heed to what was said to us. Let us assume the counsel given applies to us, to me. Let us hearken to those we sustain as prophets and seers, as well as the other brethren as if our eternal life depended upon it, because it does! . . .
PURITY OF THE MESSENGER OFFENDS THE LESS PURE
… [Enoch ]describes himself as a lad whom the people despised and who was slow of speech; yet he did his duty in love and compassion with stunning success. (See Moses 6:31 I marvel at the empathy of these men in all ages, because even prophets have no immunity from thorns in the flesh. They learn to cast all their cares upon the Lord. . .
The prophets have always been free from the evil of their times, free to be divine auditors who will still call fraud, fraud; embezzlement, embezzlement; and adultery, adultery.
BUT WHAT IF YOU HAVE HONEST, YES, EVEN RIGHTEOUS DIFFICULTY SUSTAINING A CHURCH LEADER?
D&C 124: 84
And with my servant Almon Babbitt, there are many things with which I am not pleased; behold, he aspireth to establish his counsel instead of the counsel which I have ordained, even that of the Presidency of my Church; and he setteth up a golden calf for the worship of my people.
Levi Savage, the Willie Handcart Company versus Franklin D. Richards
( Franklin D. Richards was disobedient to his priesthood leaders, senior apostle John Taylor and President Brigham Young)
Despite knowing he was right and that his testimony of the dangers of the way at that season was true and confirmed by the Spirit, Levi chose a higher law of loving his neighbor. He went on the fated journey for his fellow Saints, not for himself.
Joseph Smith’s teachings regarding local New York – Ohio – Illinois geography of Book of Mormon people versus Benjamin Winchester & his own brother, William. Their disobedience has only now begun to be uncovered by the Church History department. The damage their actions caused to the Church and to the individual testimonies of members remains to be seen. SOURCE: http://www.firmlds.org/feature.php?id=38
My Mom vs pizza sales no longer authorized by the Church as a fundraiser and the Bishop who insisted upon it. She followed him anyway. The fundraiser failed disasterously. The blame was squarely on his head, not hers – so she says – because she obeyed her leaders. I have always disagreed with her conclusion about this, because it made about as much sense as SS officers blaming Hitler for their choice to participate in gassing the Jews.
Alexander Doniphan, a Missouri Militia officer who refused to follow orders to put leaders of the LDS Church, including the prophet Joseph Smith, in front of firing squad. “It is cold blooded murder. I will not obey your order. . . . [I]f you execute these men, I will hold you responsible before an earthly tribunal, so help me God”
Joseph F. Smith
In the first place every person should know that the Gospel is true, as this is every one’s privilege who is baptized and receives the Holy Ghost. A man may be grieved in his feelings because of some personality between him and [the President of the Church and his Counselors]; he may have feelings in his heart which lead him to think that he could not sustain us in his faith and prayers; but if this should be the case, what is the course for him to pursue? He should say in his heart, “God has established His Kingdom, and His Priesthood is upon the earth; and notwithstanding my dislike for certain men, I know that the Gospel is true and that God is with His people; and that if I will do my duty and keep His commandments, the clouds will roll by and the mists will disappear, the spirit of the Lord will come more fully to my relief and by and by I will be able to see,—if I am in error, wherein I erred, and then I will repent of it, for I know that every wrong thing will yet be made right.” I think all men should feel that way
If we have anything in our hearts against any of these brethren, it is our duty, as conscientious members of the Church, first, as the Scriptures direct, to go to them alone and make known to them our feeling toward them and show them the cause of such feeling; not with a desire in our hearts to widen or increase the difficulty, but we should go to them in the spirit of reconciliation and brotherly love, in a true Christian spirit, so that if any feeling of bitterness exists within us it may be absolutely removed; and if we have cause against our brother, that he may be in a position to remedy the evil. We should seek to love one another and to sustain each other as children of God and as brothers and sisters in the cause of Zion.
A man who is… in communion with his God will find his life sweetened, his discernment sharpened to decide quickly between right and wrong, his feelings tender and compassionate, yet his spirit strong and valiant in defense of right; he will find the priesthood a never failing source of happiness—a well of living water springing up unto eternal life (John 4:14, D&C 63:23)
… If the representatives of our Father in heaven will live close to him, try to be true representatives, the Lord will guide them in their work. The priesthood, though, may be given to those who disregard it, who fail to be true representatives, and when such is the case, “. . . Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man. “Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God” (D&C 121:37-28) and to apostatize from the Church. The only way we can keep the priesthood and keep in touch with the Holy Spirit, the only way we can be true representatives, is to live up to the ideals of the Church which bears his name….
SOURCE: Teachings of the Prophet Joseph F. Smith: Chapter 24 – Sustaining Those Who Are Called To Preside
Elder Erastus Snow
The teachings of the Savior in relation to the settling of difficulties arising among brethren in the Church of Christ, through visiting them and talking frankly one with another explaining and expounding to each other until they come to an understanding of all troubles which may arise among members of the Church (Matt 5:23-24); and in cases of disagreement invoking the aid and council of visiting priests and teachers to act in the premises as peacemakers, as helps to the parties to arrive at a proper understanding, constitute the best method of settling and adjusting the differences of mankind which has ever been instituted;… no cases of difficulty are so thoroughly and effectually settled as those which are disposed of in this way. This is the chief labor of the visiting Priesthood among the people of God.
And yet the enemies of this people prate a great deal about the oppression of the Priesthood. There is no pope or bishop, priest or clergyman or ecclesiastic belonging to any sect on the earth, so far as my knowledge extends, which is so approachable as the President and Apostles and Priests and Bishops and Elders of this Church, whose hearts and ears are open to everybody to hear what everybody has to say, and to give it due weight in all patience and long-suffering, to enlighten and teach them correct principles, so that they may act honestly with each other and secure each other the greatest possible amount of liberty, freedom and happiness. …
SOURCE: Journal of Discourses 22:154
I was reading a day or two ago [Joseph Smith’s] instructions from my journal. He taught us some very important principles, some of which I here name. Brother Taylor, myself, George A. Smith, John E. Page and others had been called to fill the place of those who had fallen away. Brother Joseph laid before us the cause of those men’s turning away from the commandments of God. He hoped we would learn wisdom by what we saw with the eye and heard with the ear, and that we would be able to discern the spirits of other men without being compelled to learn by sad experience. He then remarked that any man, any elder in this Church and kingdom—who pursued a course whereby he would ignore or in other words refuse to obey any known law or commandment or duty—whenever a man did this, neglected any duty God required at his hand in attending meetings, filling missions, or obeying counsel, he laid a foundation to lead him to apostasy and this was the reason those men had fallen. They had misused the priesthood sealed upon their heads. They had neglected to magnify their callings as apostles, as elders. They had used that priesthood to attempt to build themselves up and to perform some other work besides the building up of the kingdom of God. And not only did he give us the counsel, but the same is given in the revelation of God to us. I have ever read with a great deal of interest that revelation given to Joseph Smith in answer to his prayer in Liberty jail. (D&C 121:1-46, D&C 122:1-9, D&C 123:1-17). I have ever looked upon that revelation of God to that man, considering the few sentences it includes, as containing as much principle as any revelation God ever gave to man. He gave Joseph to understand that he held the priesthood, which priesthood was after the order of God, (JST Gen 18:23) after the order of Melchizedek (D&C 124:123) the same priesthood by which God himself performed all his works in the heavens and in the earth, and any man who bore that priesthood had the same power. That priesthood had communication with the heavens, power to move the heavens, power to perform the work of the heavens, and wherever any man magnified that calling, God gave his angels charge concerning him (D&C 84:42) and his ministrations were of power and force both in this world and the world to come; but let that man use that priesthood for any other purpose than the building up of the kingdom of God, for which purpose it was given, and the heavens withdraw themselves, the power of the priesthood departs, and he is left to walk in darkness and not in light, and this is the key to apostasy of all men whether in this generation or any other (D&C 121:34-40).
SOURCE: Journal of Discourses 21:190
“The only motive strong enough to induce men to exercise that self-control required by the religion of Jesus is love.” – Marion G. Romney [October 1962 General Conference].
LYRICS FROM OUR SAVIOR’S LOVE:
The Spirit, voice
Of goodness, whispers to our hearts
A better choice
Than evil’s anguished cries.
Loud may the sound
Of hope ring till all doubt departs,
And we are bound
To him by loving ties.
Our Father, God
Of all creation, hear us pray
In rev’rence, awed
By thy Son’s sacrifice.
Praises we sing.
We love thy law; we will obey.
Our heav’nly King,
In thee our hearts rejoice.