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.


Bennett Family said...

great thoughts! here are mine:
1. i think that inspiration for a calling amounts-at times-to no more than "she wouldn't say no" (i.e. nursery), so i definitely agree w/you there.
2. i have had some SERIOUS issues w/my eccliastical leaders...i.e. during my divorce my then stake pres. accused ME of being unfaithful to my ex b/c he couldn't understand why i wasn't willing to take anymore...the advice i was given (from LDS social services), was that we are to SUSTAIN our leaders, which doesn't necessarily mean we have to LIKE them. that has alwasy stuck w/me. b/c sometimes even deeper than not agreeing w/a particular issue, i have a tough time w/certain people. make sense?! i'm kinda rambling in my IMPERFECT way!

Hunsaker5 said...

I had a tough time when I discovered that callings are not always a matter of revelation from the Lord. My husband is the executive secretary and he knew that I wanted to be released from my calling. I had been in the nursery for the whole time we were in the ward, which resulted in me not being able to connect with anyone else in the ward. This was starting to wear on me and I really wanted to move on. But as Chris would tell me regularly, when callings came up my name was never discussed. I was doing my job where I was at and they never thought about me. While new members of the ward would get put in the callings that were emptied when others moved. I was shocked that my name never came up. I was used to watching my mom call counselors in her calling by going through each sister's name in the ward. I thought this was always the case, but apparently it isn't. I had to work through this issue. Although the callings may not be "inspiration" driven all of the time doesn't mean the Lord doesn't want you there. I think that everyone wants to believe that the Lord always has a reason why you have a certain calling. They want to believe that they will learn and grow in a new way in that calling, which is why the Lord gave them that calling. But the calling doesn't have to be by inspiration for that to happen. The Lord always wants us to learn and grow and he will allow us to do that in whatever calling we have, if we strive to learn and grow. So, in the end it doesn't matter if the calling came from some great inspirational moment with the Lord, or if the bishopric just came to the decision themselves. We can grow equally from either opportunity.

Jill said...

Some thoughts:

I do agree that some callings are filled more by desperation than inspiration. I also have to add that I've learned to no longer say, "I don't ever want to do ____ calling." Every time I've done that, I've been given that exact calling that I said I'd never want to do. that inspiration??

Jared, Leslie & Vale Ethan said...

Have any of you actually seen the list of "approved" leadership positions listed in the Bishopric's guidebook? (can't remember what it's called exactly) There are well over 400+. My point being, church callings aim to meet multiple objectives... they A)Organize the work in a ward, B)Hopefully enrich the lives of those serving/served... to name a couple. Sometimes a calling is just an assignment from management...

As for getting along with leaders... My mission pres. used to say that leadership assignments were reserved for worthy individuals needing to improve their own leadership skills. E'nuff said.

Chuck Gates said...

Great post!

One thing I would add (you mentioned it briefly), is the power of prayer. Our church is founded on the belief that anybody can pray about anything and get a response. If we take the attitude of NOT seeking out disagreement with our authorities, but sometimes we have concerns, it is okay as long as we maintain an attitude of seeking the Lord's will through study and prayer. In general, we should give our leaders the benefit of the doubt as we work through any concern.

As for callings, my insight comes from having been a Ward Membership Clerk. There is a report that the clerk can generate with adults who don't already have callings. That is usually the first resource used to fill the non-biggie callings. (Probably had something to do with Hunsaker5's permanent nursery assignment.) Sometimes, you only have so many active people not already taken by other callings, that it is a matter of timing. But I do believe that timing plays a role in the Lord's plan. I think the Lord can help anybody do any calling they are given in a way that will benefit them or those they serve. But that doesn't mean it will be easy.