Thursday, October 18, 2007

Support your leaders

So, this blog, unlike my family blog, is for philosophical debate and writing things out for a cathartic and self defining experience. Along those lines...a few weeks ago I had the subject of "sustaining your leaders" brought to my attention. There are two main approaches to this subject I believe: 1) not criticizing a leader and 2) accepting a calling. I have disagreed about things leaders have said or done in the past. Similarly, I have run the gamut of proposed callings...I have suggested myself a name in bishopric meeting and had that person get the call. Also, once there was a calling suggested for Marisa that we really didn't feel was right, but went ahead with anyway. So here are my thoughts on the subject:

  • Can you turn a calling down? I would say that you shouldn't straight up say "no" when you are asked. Rather, it would be better to discuss your concerns about the requested position with your ecclesiastical leader and lay out your reasons for maybe no with his reasons for maybe yes, then prayerfully come to a consensus.
  • Is a calling always exactly what the Lord wants, ie-when a person is called are they the exact best person for that job and was that fact received by direct revelation to the person giving the calling? I would say yes and no. No, callings are given all the time without any direct inspiration. I believe that we are allowed to work out a lot of things on our own in this life and who we want to call to a position can often be exactly that, working it out on our own. That being said, in most situations, once the Lord's representative gives a request that becomes by default the will of the Lord. At the same time, I believe that sometimes there is a direct revelation given for a specific person to have a specific calling at a specific time.
  • Should you raise your hand for a negative sustaining vote in a modern day meeting? I don't know that I have an answer for this.
  • Can you disagree with or even criticize a local or general authority? To criticize:
    • 1 : to consider the merits and demerits of and judge accordingly.
    • 2 : to find fault with : point out the faults of.
    • 3: publicly voice your disagreement with someone. (This is what I think the implied definition is when we are advised not to criticize our leaders).
  • I think it is completely fine to disagree with any decision that a leader makes. You always have the opportunity to pray about something and get your own manifestation as to the correctness of it. If you think your answer is no:
    • and it is a general stipulation to the entire church from the first presidency then you might be in trouble. Not sure what to tell you here, but read below.
    • if it is to something a local leader said you can always step up one step on the authority ladder and discuss it with them. If they disagree with you, you can keep going up the steps until you reach the first presidency and therefore be in the above difficult situation.
  • So, I feel that definition 1 is ok, but 3 definitely is not. I have personally felt that local authorities have made incorrect decisions/policies. I didn't think it was correct to go asking how everybody feels about that issue and tell them my thoughts. On the other hand, I do feel it is ok to discuss that disagreement with others to get or give advice on dealing with it.
  • Now for the big enchilada...GA's making an incorrect decision/policy. First off, all GA's will admit that they are not perfect and can not be held up to that standard (even on doctrinal issues), only the Savior can. On the other hand, who is in a position to declare something as incorrect? I fear that only the original declarer and future GA's are in a position to do such a thing. The quintessential example would be Bruce R's statement about AA and the priesthood. When the '78 revelation came out he was obviously wrong and admitted such. He even went to far as to say that any statement made contrary to the new policy was incorrect and the person was not speaking for the Lord. That would take in statements made by members of the 12 while in the capacity as an apostle and prophets in their respective capacity. Pretty strong statement, but necessarily stated. So, if you are in disagreement with the 12 or first presidency...pray for clarification. If you still feel justified in your disagreement I see that you have two options:
    • discuss it peacefully and reverently with those in charge and to see if you can help a positive change to come about if it is indeed needed
    • wait patiently until that person or a future leader changes the policy/doctrine. Other than that you are up the proverbial creek w/o a paddle and are only doing harm.
Some might "criticize" me for even discussing this topic. I feel that they are misguided and looking beyond the mark. We must sustain our leaders, but we do not have to agree with them blindly. We are expected to receive our own confirmation of all doctrines. To do so we have to work it out in our minds. To work it out you have to evaluate it. To evaluate it, you have to consider if it is correct or not. If you still disagree on any topic, you still must sustain that leader. Until a change is made, it is your responsibility to continue supporting and sustaining or refrain, but do not counteract. Everyone can be wrong, and that at times probably means you as well.

Monday, October 8, 2007


On my family blog I recently posted about a spiritual experience that our oldest son Trevor had. I was surprised that so many of the comments focused on me as a parent doing a good job. Maybe because most of them came from women, but as an RM it is second nature to help someone recognize the spirit when they don't realize it. For that reason I didn't feel like I had done anything special, but I felt that the experience was something VERY special.

To explain that I have to give a little summarized personal history. Having grown up in the church I have always felt like I had a little stronger testimony than the average Joe. Yet, I can't say that I have ever had any "hear a voice" or "strong burning in my bosom" types of experiences. Because of that there have been times that I have doubted, probably like most any person. Basically to get at the gist of my point...I couldn't logically/scientifically prove that any spiritual experience that I had wasn't just me. That bothered me for a while, but faith and hope won out in the end and I continued to step into the dark one foot at a time. One reason is that I couldn't deny that my life had turned out better than I had even dreamed as a child. I was either very lucky or blessed and I figured it prudent to lay claim to a higher source.

With that in mind, I have always prayed for some experience that would somehow be outside those bounds of...possibly coming from me, my subconscious or a predisposition to feel good when good things happen or anything else that someone could argue as originating internally and not extrinsically. So, how does having a six your old boy, with limited to no knowledge on the methodology of gaining a personal testimony, spontaneously asking for forgiveness directly to God for doing something offensive to Him and later unprovokedly stating that he has some weird "tingly feeling" in his chest? I can't think of anything much better than that! It will be an experience that we will help Trevor remember for the rest of his life, but more importantly I think it was an answer that I have been secretly and unexpectedly anticipating for about 10 years.