“Surely one of the crowning blessings of membership in this Church
is the blessing of being led by living prophets of God…..
Trusting in and following the prophets is more than a blessing and a privilege.
President Ezra Taft Benson declared that “our [very] salvation hangs on
following the prophet….
following the prophet….
We can choose to follow the prophet, or we can look to the arm of flesh.
May we have the wisdom to trust in and follow the counsel of the living prophets and apostles.”
Elder Duncan October 2010 General Conference
There is a fun primary song called “Do as I’m doing.. Follow, follow me” These words are sung while the person leading the music performs an simple action while singing “if I do it high or low.. if I do it fast or slow.. Do as I’m doing; Follow, follow me.”
The direction to follow means to do as another has done. Christ asks us all to come, follow Him. He is only One we should follow. Yet, today’s mantra seems to be “Come, Follow the Prophet.”
I recently read a couple of reports from people who attended their Stake Conference a few weeks ago. One the Twelve Apostles was in attendance and was the concluding speaker. It was reported that after he spoke, the congregation sang 6 of 7 verses of the closing song and as the sister assigned the closing prayer approached the rostrum, the apostle then stood up again. He asked the sister for a moment to address the congregation before she prayed and he shared the following the story before the closing prayer was given. He said that there was a devotional at BYU when another apostle spoke. During the closing hymn, some of the students in the building stood to sing. Their closing hymn ended and the apostle stood again and said, "I love you and so I want to teach you something. I noticed that some of you, in your enthusiasm, stood during the closing hymn. You should always follow the presiding authority in the meeting. If he stands, you stand. If he sits, you sit." The apostle then yielded the pulpit to the person who would say the prayer. The apostle in this recent Stake Conference then told us: "The day is coming that you will have to follow the prophet. If he stands, you must stand. If he sits, you sit." And with those words, he sat down and the benediction was given.
The report by one who attended then said and I quote, “Praise be to a loving Father in Heaven. There is a prophet in these, the Latter-Days! Let me be among those who stand or sit as he directs.”
In the Catholic Church, the priests and superior religious leaders are treated with the utmost respect. The rules are that all in room or congregation is to stand when the leaders enter the room and remain standing until they invite the congregation to sit. Men must remove their hats in their presence. When it is your own Bishop, kneel on your left knee and kiss ring as sign of respect for his office.
I read recently why this formality began in the Catholic Church. “The Pope did not need to display virtue, only power. He did not need to produce revelation or expound on how men could entertain angels, only to appear in the seat of power, displaying the incidents of authority, wealth, privilege, standing above the common man in a place filled with art, treasure, statuary surrounded by supporters. These trappings were a substitute for revelation and authentic fruits from heaven. This formula worked to keep all of Christendom subordinate to the rule of oftentimes wicked, even cruel, men. For nearly a thousand years it monopolized power over men. Because these pontiffs claimed to hold God's authority, people feared them and were loathe to challenge them. When the bedrock of an institution's claims rests on authority, these failings are almost always eventually unavoidable. God's power is so resilient, so powerful, so vital for salvation that almost all men will surrender to it or be forced to submit when a group trusts that it exists. These are powerful forces. When released upon the stage of history, they are meant to be held by only the meek, the humble, and the servants of all. Never by the proud, the vain, and the ambitious. But it is always the proud, the vain and the ambitious who are drawn to seek to hold such authority. Hence the many sycophants who always congregate at Rome.” DS Remembering the Covenant. Volume 4 pg 1356
Many of us have heard the Brigham Young quote that was also cited by Harold B Lee in the October General Conference in 1950. “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are being led by Him. I am fearful they settle down in a state of blind security, trusting their eternal desting in the hand of their leaders with a reckless confidence that in itself would twart the purposed of God in their salvation, and weaken that influence they could give their leaders if they know for themselves by the revelations of Jesus Christ that they are led in the right way. Let every man and woman know by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves whether their leaders are walking in the way the Lord dictates or not. (As cited by Harold B Lee, Conference Report, October 1, 1950)
“I do not believe God was meant to be experienced second and third-hand. I do not believe we are supposed to "know about God" but were instead, according to Christ's doctrine, to "know God." He will make Himself known to you. Not vicariously through a Pope, or a Bishop, or an Archbishop, or a Cardinal, or a Stake President, or some other preacher. He, Christ, and He, the Father and the Holy Ghost are the ones who are to declare themselves to you. Then you aren't building on the sandy, unstable foundation comprised of the many varieties of the hireling intermediary who gets acclaim here, praise and adoration here, as an inappropriate surrogate for He alone who can save. When men get put between the individual and God almost every individual immediately begins to exercise control, and dominion and compulsion over others. It is a wise God who restricts His delegation of "power" to such a degree that it cannot be exercised unrighteously.” DS Remembering the Covenant. Volume 4 pg 1328
Someone left a comment on a previous post that I really appreciated. I don’t know who the author was, but this is what they wrote: “God will never remove our ability to have a choice. In order to make a choice, you have to have at least two options. When you remove all other options, there is only one option left so how can there be a choice? By making a statement "The Prophet will not or cannot lead you astray" automatically removes the perception of any options and by definition puts him in a position of control, which is what the war in heaven was about! If you buy into that logic, you have moved over to the dark side. This places a greater responsibility on us to have Him as our standard to measure ideas and revelations against. While it is usually a simple process, it's not always easy, and yes we often don't get totally correct on the first pass. It becomes a learning and sharing process. Thank Heaven for the atonement, patience and forgiveness!”
So lets hope we don’t add “Stand when your prophet stands, and sit when your prophets sits.” to the list of mantras like “When the Prophet speaks, … the debate is over.” and “When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done.”