Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Sustaining Our Leaders

Nine years ago I found myself newly single and signed up to a couple of LDS dating sites. I quickly became disillusioned, not because of the sites themselves (which were, and are, excellent) but with how few people on them seemed to come from the UK, and how difficult it was to identify them among the crowds of Americans.

A single LDS friend and I decided to set up our own LDS dating website and bought the domain We enlisted a few single friends in our ward to populate it, started spreading the word, and set it up as a free resource for LDS singles in the UK.

We were feeling pretty pleased with ourselves until the Stake President asked to speak to us. He said that he felt we shouldn't run the site since people might think we represented the Church. We explained that we had the usual disclaimer on the home page about it not being an officially sanctioned site, and that lots of others individuals had set up websites for Mormons. But he was adamant and asked us to take the website down.

So, of course, we did. We didn't agree with his decision, but we did sustain him as our leader.

When we raise our hands to sustain someone in an office of the priesthood, or in a teaching or auxiliary position, we are declaring that we believe that they are called of God, and stating that we will do all we can to support and help them in carrying out their duties. We are saying that we will honour their responsibility in that role, and will respect their right to do what they see fit.

We are not saying that we think they could do a better job than anyone else, or that we will agree with everything they do, or even that we like them, because those things are irrelevant. We are saying that we trust God, who knows the whole picture, enough to support the fallible human He has called.

Some may feel that sustaining someone includes giving them suggestions and advice, or challenging them in their decisions, or pointing out problems they may like to address. I tend to think that if people want my advice (for example, because I held the calling before they did) then they will ask. In the meantime I will not get involved, either on a ward, stake or worldwide level. (I have never been an apostle or prophet, so think it's unlikely they'll be coming to me for advice anytime soon.)

I hope we all think, when we raise our hands to sustain our leaders, about what it is we are promising. And then I hope we will keep that promise to strengthen and support, not criticise and cajole.


  1. Thank you for this post. I gained such a testimony of this on my mission. I saw missions destroyed, people stop partaking of the blessings of the gospel, and discord and hatred seep in to my districts and wards as a result of many failing to sustain their church leaders. I almost became part of the problem- working with a bishop who I did not agree with on my things, I had to strengthen my testimony of how the Lord organizes and runs his church. I am so grateful for those lessons now- I know that as long as I am in line with the prophets, apostles, and our church leaders, the Lord will be with me.

  2. A couple years ago, there was a man who bore his testimony about an LDS singles website run by the Church. The bishop immediately got up after the testimony and said there was no dating website run by the Church. My husband was translating this into Spanish at the time too.

    This message is good to hear. Sometimes Church counsel doesn't make sense, but we follow it as the Spirit guides.

  3. What a wonderful example. Thank you for sharing this story; we certainly can learn from your experience and be strengthened by your faith.



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