Mission Letter 5-5-13
Today, I would like to address the following principle in our search for happiness and joy – on our journey to Life Eternal – Recognizing and follow the Example of our Leaders.
Joseph Fielding Smith, as President of the Church, made the following significant promise:
“I think there is one thing which we should have exceedingly clear in our minds. Neither the President of the Church, nor the First Presidency, nor the united voice of the First Presidency and the Twelve will ever lead the Saints astray or send forth counsel to the world that is contrary to the mind and will of the Lord.
“An individual may fall by the wayside, or have views, or give counsel which falls short of what the Lord intends. But the voice of the First Presidency and the united voice of those others who hold with them the keys of the kingdom shall always guide the Saints and the world in those paths where the Lord wants them to be. . . .
“I testify that if we shall look to the First Presidency and follow their counsel and direction, no power on earth can stay or change our course as a church, and as individuals we shall gain peace in this life and be inheritors of eternal glory in the world to come.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1972, p. 99; or Ensign, July 1972, p. 88.)
Because of the power of modern revelation, we are so fortunate to have leaders who follow the direction of the Holy Ghost. I testify to each of you that the Church of Jesus of Latter-day Saints today has Latter-day prophets, seers and revelators who are chosen by God and directed in all things by Him and His Son Jesus Christ and they will never lead us astray because He will never lead us astray.
I have received a witness of divine callings of the Servants of God and I’m amazed at the blessings this brings. I believe that counsel give to us by our Priesthood leaders are given under the direction of the Spirit and I have also found that when I follow it, there is safety and peace in my life knowing that I have been obedient to the counsel given. By doing this, I exercise my faith of “things not seen” and rely that the Lord will not allow me to fail under any circumstance. I find that even when I’m at odds with the counsel given to me by my Priesthood leaders that if I willingly submit to that counsel that I am obedient and that my life will be richly blessed. Some may call this a blind faith – call it what you may, it is by faith that we receive power to obey all of God’s commandments – especially when it pertains to eternal life. Take the blind out and it is still faith. When at times I did not follow counsel specifically given to my circumstances, there was so much that I lost – most of all I lost the tender and quiet promptings and whisperings of the spirit and just as important, my desire to follow other counsel given was lost. It was not until I repented and straightened my life to be in complete harmony with the counsel given that things were put right once again and peace and serenity came to my restless soul once again.
This knowledge has sustained me throughout my life. God will not allow us to go astray if our desire is to return to His presence and to live with him. We must recognize and follow the example of our leaders and especially the counsel they give us, this is what we should do in order to continue on our path in this life to Eternal Life and most importantly for us to receive the blessings of our loving Heavenly Father and so that we might have peace and happiness in our lives.
When I was serving as bishop, a sister in our ward came to me very concerned at the behavior of her teen aged son. It certainly was troubling to hear the things that this young man was doing and involved in. He loved computers and he had one in his room and had all the access to the internet and he was in deep trouble. The Spirit revealed to me that unless this access to so much filth was taken away, the soul of this young man was in real danger of being lost. I strongly recommended to this troubled mother that the computer be taken away, “just throw it away, it’s not worth it” is what I said to her – to this day, I remember her response “Bishop, this is the only thing he loves and if I take this away, he will hate me forever.” This young man, because of his mother’s refusal to take away the computer fell in a terribly wrong path and has never returned to the paths God prescribed for us. This mother is now totally inactive. I know that if counsel would have been followed, the outcome would have been totally different and happiness, peace and joy would have been the result. I still pray that one day they will have the desire to be rescued. “whether by my own voice or the voice of my servants, it is the same.”
I love the following statement:
“The Presidency, in directing the Church and its affairs and in counseling the people, do so under the directing power of this ‘light and truth.’ When a man and the Presidency are both directed on the same subject by ‘light and truth,’ there can be no conflict. And so, my brethren, all who are out of harmony in any degree with the Presidency have need to repent and to seek the Lord for forgiveness and to put themselves in full harmony.” (In Conference Report, Apr. 1942, pp. 19–20.)
This truth I know, that if we are out of harmony in any degree with our leaders that in truth it is us who are out of harmony.
Further, President Romney stated:
“In response to a contention that to follow such a course, [i.e., to follow the First Presidency] is tantamount to surrendering one’s ‘moral agency,’ suppose a person were in a forest with his vision limited by the denseness of the growth about him. Would he be surrendering his agency in following the directions of one who stands on a lookout tower, commanding an unobstructed view? To me, our leaders are true watchmen on the towers of Zion, and those who follow their counsel are exercising their agency just as freely as would be the man in the forest. For I accept as fact, without any reservation, that this Church is headed by the Lord Jesus Christ, and that He, through the men whom He chooses and appoints to lead His people, gives it active direction. I believe that He communicates to them His will, and that they, enjoying His spirit, counsel us.
“The Savior Himself gave us the great example on this point. As He labored and suffered under the weight of the sins of this world in the accomplishment of the great atonement, He cried out in the agony of His soul, ‘O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.’ (Matt. 26:39.) And so saying, He subjected Himself to the will of His Father in the consummation of His supreme mission. Who will say that in so doing He surrendered His free agency?” (Marion G. Romney, in Conference Report, Apr. 1942, p. 20.)
So, whose life do I want to emulate? We should follow our faithful leaders, those who have been chosen and ordained of God and who are examples of Christlike qualities and attributes. I love it when I’m around my leaders, I receive such joy and peace and I truly feel the love of our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.
When at odds with what we should do, let us first look to what our leaders are doing and saying, then apply those things they do and we will never go astray. We will always be on the path to eternal life and our life will be full of purpose. We will never go wrong or go astray and we are on our way to life eternal.