Monday, September 16, 2013
"In All Patience and Faith": The Need to Sustain Our Leaders
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.