Monday, September 16, 2013

"In All Patience and Faith": The Need to Sustain Our Leaders

This evening, I had a humbling moment when I was gently reminded of the importance of sustaining our church leaders "in all patience and faith" (D&C 21:5). It is important to recall that our church leaders, though I believe them to be divinely called, are nonetheless fallible people. Yet as I have also expressed, I believe that generally speaking, a church leader's willingness to spend ample time on their calling throughout the week is a strong indication of their sincerity toward their flock. I would like to share an example.

This evening, I attended a forum hosted by our stake president (a leader who oversees several congregations of our churches), where he invited us to ask questions about two controversial issues the church is facing: priesthood ordination for women and homosexuality. One woman asked him a question about why priesthood ordination is not available to women, and our stake president attempted to answer this question briefly through what he called a "business management" comparison, which I and some other women found perplexing, if not troubling. While I do not believe in female ordination for women, I wanted further clarification as to what he meant by his comment. I raised my hand and politely asked if he could expand his comparison further, so that I could gain further insight.

I never could have predicted what happened next. He immediately stated that his comparison fell flat, and apologized for making it in the first place. I was surprised and slightly embarrassed, as I certainly did not intend to make a stake president appear foolish in front of an audience. But as I sat down, I saw a priesthood leader whom I could support wholeheartedly.

Why? some may ask. After all, he did not answer the question. But as I sat down, I saw a priesthood holder who cared enough about our group to the extent that he was willing to be hurled questions that did not likely have a clear answer. I saw a priesthood holder who is trying to grapple with difficult questions his congregation members have and attempting to articulate them to the best of his capabilities. Finally, I saw a priesthood holder who was courageous to admit his fallibility.

I did not come away from the meeting with answers that necessarily absolved all of my questions. But I did leave with a greater resolve to sustain and support this priesthood holder who, alongside us, is trying to comb through a torrent of complexity that does not involve simple answers. How can I not show love and patience to this leader who, an engineer by profession, has a position where he becomes a marriage counselor, therapist, disciplinarian, and a perceived expert on church doctrine? And how can I not offer my sustaining hand to a leader who is striving to fulfill all of these titles to the best of his capabilities?

Let us be merciful and forgiving to our leaders who are in a position that they did not ask for. Let us attempt to show support toward their efforts, "in all patience and faith."

Photo by Wikimedia Commons.


  1. I love the thought of being merciful to church leaders. The church is perfect, not the leaders.