Every six months, the whole of Mormondom pauses its activities for a Saturday and Sunday to listen to the words, counsel, and revelation given to us by general authorities, apostles, and prophets. What a tremendous blessing it is to spend that short period of time being edified, learning, and if you’re like any of my friends – getting tons of retweets, favorites, and follows while live-tweeting the great knowledge being presented to us.
On my mind have been many concerns regarding the fate and direction my fellow millennial mormons are headed. Not only have I noticed a general feeling of apathy, but also a startling misunderstanding of some basic doctrinal principles. The topic I wish to present to you today has weighed heavily on my mind, so heavily that I have deemed what I’m discussing the most important doctrine for the millennial generation. That doctrine is following and sustaining prophets.
The Lord has always seen fit to bless His church with prophets. This has been true from the days of Adam in ancient times, and continued with Joseph Smith through Thomas S. Monson for this last dispensation. The importance of prophets was not lost on the people of scripture who relied on them for revelation and guidance. Noah and the flood, Moses and the exodus, Joseph and the restoration; all are examples of prophets who have saved us, freed us, and taught us what the Lord would have us know. Prophets are absolutely essential to the work and glory that God has for His children.
I wonder then, why on earth do so many don’t “Follow the Prophet”? If I have learned anything, it’s that he knows the way. When hot button issues arise, I see my peers falter and flail in the winds of public opinion. They know the standards and truths taught to them by prophets, yet cease to obey the men they have sustained.
In many of the comments I receive for things I’ve written, the most troubling are not from the ex-mormon, the anti-mormon, or the atheist. They come instead from those members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who take upon them the name of Christ every Sunday, yet don’t sustain His words spoken to them by prophets. Comments that suggest the prophets were wrong about the blacks, and are probably wrong about gay marriage too. Suggestions that because they are fallible men, their words are just suggestions. My generation has forgotten what “living prophet” means.
On the Sunday morning session of the October 2014 General Conference, three talks were given about the calling of the prophet. Three talks, in a row. Does that raise any red flags with anyone? Does that MAYBE denote something important about the topic? Or was it mere coincidence that three speakers, who choose their own topics, spoke sequentially about the sustaining of prophets?
President Henry B. Eyring said in his conference address from the above mentioned session that “human judgement and logical thinking will not be enough to get answers to the questions that matter most in life.” He stated that “we need revelation from God.” Though it’s appealing to “lean unto thine own understanding” and to “trust in the arm of the flesh” when it comes to policies popular with the world, we know revelation from God is essential to getting questions answered.
Every General Conference, members of the Church are given the opportunity to sustain living apostles, prophets, and the president at that time. In October 2014, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints raised their hands to support and sustain their leaders. We are the only church on the Earth today being led by a living prophet of God. God speaks to us, and he does it through His servants. The same servants we sustain twice a year. Elder Russell M. Nelson stated in his recent conference talk, “Our sustaining of prophets is a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities.” In addition he added, “Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be LEGITIMATE and BINDING upon us.” (emphasis added) Legitimate and Binding. Legitimate in that they are real, and binding in that we are bound to their blessings and consequences based on our obedience.
Sustaining a prophet means to, as then-Elder George Albert Smith said, “..stand behind him,.. pray for him,..defend his good name, and.. strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct.”
It is easy to see and understand why we have been counseled to obey and sustain the words of our prophets. Our generation is growing, maturing, and learning in a time when the voice of the adversary is amplified around us. Consider where you stand in relation to the words of the Prophet. Do you stand at his side, supporting and sustaining him? Or do you think he’s just a nice old guy with lots of opinions? Learning to sustain living prophets is one of the single most important doctrines for this generation to learn. With a prophet, there is safety for the soul. Without, there are whirlwinds to lift us up and shake us to and fro. Choose today to sustain the prophet, and trust that he truly knows the way.