Every General Conference brings with it a buzz of excitement and wonder as the whole of the Latter-day Saint world waits with bated breath to hear what messages the speakers have prepared. I consider it an honor to participate in this sacred affair. But what I love even more is the opportunity, nay, privilege, to sustain the Prophet and his apostles as men of God.
Indeed, it is a privilege to have my opinion counted as important. As our church has grown to exceed 15 million members worldwide, every person still matters. Each conference, we are given the opportunity to raise our arm to the square and stand in solidarity with God as He ushers His work forward.
Sustaining the prophet and apostles is not considered a vote. In fact, the decision has already been made. Choosing to sustain or oppose the prophet does not throw out his authority, because the power to decide does not belong to us.
In a talk given last october entitled, Sustaining the Prophets, Elder Russell M. Nelson makes this clear:
“The Lord … said, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you.”You and I do not “vote” on Church leaders at any level. We do, though, have the privilege of sustaining them.”
Therefore, the prophet has already been called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands, by those who are in authority to preach the Gospel and administer the ordinances thereof.
Sound familiar? It’s the fifth article of faith, a truth established since the foundation of our latter-day church.
Elder Nelson further defines sustaining the prophet as:
…a personal commitment that we will do our utmost to uphold their prophetic priorities. Our sustaining is an oath-like indication that we recognize their calling as a prophet to be legitimate and binding upon us.
It would seem that the act of sustaining the prophet is nothing more than an outward sign of our inward belief. A symbol of our willingness to support the Lord’s anointed in all that he does and says and asks of us.
However, it really is so much more. It is our promise to:
- pray for our dear prophet
- to follow his counsel
- to defend him
- to carry out his counsel
And to understand that there is nothing done by him, his counselors, or the quorum of the 12 apostles that is not done in unison and without Christ’s consent.
It is a promise to not:
- actively mislead.
If we find ourselves involved in any of these activities, it is time to step back and look within. It is not just the prophet that we are calling out, it is Christ, our Lord and Savior. The King of Kings. The only man who could suffer for our sins and vanquish death, our foe. The one who will bruise the serpent’s heel.
And might I remind you, God will not be mocked. As Paul wrote to the Galations:
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galations 6:7).
Again, Paul spoke of those who toe the gray line:
They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate (Titus 1:15–16).
Out of the mouth of Paul, one who knew so well the consequences of opposition, comes this terrible set down. There is one who knows what is in our hearts, even as we try to hide it.
As I listend closely and watched carefully during the sustaining ceremony, my soul yearned for the prophet. I longed to be there in person, standing front and center, to show my love and support for a man I esteem in the highest.
But I could not be there in person, and the prophet cannot see my arm held strong and firm to the square. But God knows. And Christ knows.
And now others around me will know too, as I move forward from this day because I will profess to know. I will show this by my words, by my actions, and by my deeds. I will sustain the prophet every day through how I live my life. For me, it will not be enough to raise my own arm, but to lift another’s.
I stand as a witness of God, at all times and in all things, and in all places (Mosiah 18:9) and hope to be numbered with the rest of the saints as we support and sustain our dear Prophet and his apostles.
Jessica Clark is a wife, mom, writer, runner, knitter, and proud Canadian. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in Anthropology, and has been a student of people and cultures ever since. Right now she is busy studying the behavior and cultures of the people of Texas.