19 January 2009

Following My Leaders in Faith

One of the LDS blogs I greatly enjoy and follow regularly is The Rains Came Down, the personal blog of a woman who goes by the name of SilverRain. I find all of her posts both inspiring and thought-provoking; and I have a similar reaction to her comments on other blogs.

One of her follow-up comments to her December 30, 2008 post entitled “If Only the Church Would Change,” contained the following observations:
It is hubris to believe that you know more and understand better than those who are called of God. Even if it is true, it's a moot point. It doesn't matter. It's even more prideful to believe that your agendas trump everything else the leadership has to deal with. This goes for a local level as much as a general one.
SilverRain’s thoughts struck me as both true and important. As I pondered them, I thought back to times past when I have occasionally been aware of things that leadership (at various levels) was having to deal with which were not public knowledge. I would then be particularly grateful that most faithful members are willing to be patient in difficult situations, and trust that even though our leaders are not perfect, they are usually trying their best, and they are usually inspired.

We are God’s children, not his puppets. Rather than always dictating the details of the "correct" way to do every single thing in the Church, the Lord usually allows us to use our agency and intelligence to try to solve problems, and set and achieve worthy goals. We are encouraged to seek personal revelation about many things, rather than relying solely upon the opinions of others.

For reasons we many not fully understand, Heavenly Father has not felt it necessary or wise to reveal all the knowledge many of us would like to have about many subjects that come up regularly in the Bloggernacle. However, thanks to the Restoration that began with the prophet Joseph Smith, I believe we now have access to all the knowledge that is necessary for us at this time.

As a part of allowing His children to grow and learn how to use their agency, God tolerates some less-than-perfect choices by all his children (including leaders). If we are wise, we will probably choose to extend the same understanding and forgiveness to our leaders that we hope others will offer us. We will try to learn from mistakes (those of others, as well as our own), seek healing from the Lord, and move forward.

I know I have been blessed when I have followed the counsel of my leaders in the past--even when it may have seemed unnecessary, inconvenient, or very difficult. I also believe I will blessed in the future as I choose to follow my leaders in faith, and cheerfully embrace whatever changes in programs or practices they are inspired to make.


m_and_m said...

Great post, RoAnn. I was thinking about this topic on Sunday as we read the Joseph Smith lesson on leading in the Lord's way. It struck me as he testified of the power of the priesthood and the Holy Ghost working through worthy leaders, that we can remember that imperfect leaders don't invalidate the reality of the divine origins of the Church's organization. When and if a leader makes a mistake, WE can be leaders in our own right by taking the higher road, forgiving, and letting go -- and not assuming that it a flaw in the organization or structure or order of things. (I don't know if I'm expressing myself well enough here....)

In my limited experience, I can also say that there have been a few times when I've been able to know just enough to know that things are not always as they appear -- that often decisions are made with much more taken into consideration than we as lay members can see. There is a certain amount of trust we must place in our leaders -- but in the end, the trust really is in God...that, as Joseph Smith said, "no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progessing."

One of the wonders of the Church, imo, is that it can move forward in such amazing ways in spite of our humanness. It all testifies more of God's power and love.

. I have seen some people take someone's mistake and assume that such a mistake is evidence that the way things are organized is bad or wrong and/or that the organization should prevent problematic leadership choices.

SilverRain said...

I have noticed lately how even faithful members on the blogs accept certain decisions of the past as mistakes. I don't think that any of them are mistakes in the sense that things should have been done differently. I believe that everything that happens is planned for and part of God's work. As He said to Joseph after the pages of the Book of Mormon were lost: "Remember, remember that it is not the work of God that is frustrated, but the work of men."

I think some people will be awfully embarrassed when they meet Brigham Young or Joseph Smith face to face.

RoAnn said...

m & m, thanks for highlighting beautifully a point I may have left unclear when you said, "There is a certain amount of trust we must place in our leaders -- but in the end, the trust really is in God...that, as Joseph Smith said, 'no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progessing.'" Exactly.

SilverRain, I have felt rather uneasy as I have observed that growing trend to label as "mistakes" some past policies of the Church. Maybe it’s just a question of semantics, but the connotation of that word is not one I am comfortable with in this context.

Your reference to the lost Book of Mormon pages is particularly apt. When we finally see the "big picture," including all the factors of which we are now unaware, I think a lot of us may be embarrassed at our faulty judgments about the way things were done by the Lord’s servants in all epochs of human existence. Even the most liberal-minded among us are influenced more than we realize by the zeitgeist of our time.

m_and_m said...

I realized that the last part of my comment was unfinished. My thoughts were more along the local lines (how some people, women especially, will sometimes take a bad experience with someone's unrighteous dominion and see it as somehow evidence that the church isn't true, or that the organization is not divine). Ultimately, our testimonies have to go beyond the weakness of mortals, because that weakness is part of our test.

I was struck recently as I read about weakness (feeling overwhelmed with my own) that the Lord told Moroni that if people are meek, they won't take advantage of others' weakness. That suggests to me, then, that others' weakness is an opportunity for us to develop meekness and charity.

I like how you both have captured the problem with labeling what can be, for some, uncomfortable elements of our history as mistakes. While I understand the temptation to do so, I think such an assumption only temporarily assuages tension or questions, and in my mind, can often create more problems than it can actually seem at the moment to solve. I like SilverRain's acknowledgement that there is a bigger picture. I think faith demands that we leave room -- and lots of it -- to say, as did Nephi: "I know God loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things."

RoAnn said...

m & m, thanks for your additional comments! Would that we could always see "others' weakness is an opportunity for us to develop meekness and charity."

If we really want to build Zion, that srikes me as a fundamental building block.