See also: Exodus 17
How handy inspired but imperfect leaders in the Church are as focal points for our frustrations, especially if circumstances require them to suffer in silence! Having confidence in leaders who keep confidences is part of sustaining them. . . .
The doctrines are His, not ours. The power is His to delegate, not ours to manipulate! — Elder Neal A. Maxwell, “Murmur Not,” Ensign, November 1989, pp 82-83
I thank you for sustaining your leaders whatever their personal sense of limitation may be. This morning in common consent you volunteered to uphold, or more literally hold up, the presiding officers of the kingdom, those who hold the keys or responsibility for the work – not one man of whom sought the position or feels equal to the task. — Elder Jeffrey Holland, Solemn Assembly, General Conference, October 1994
President John Taylor explained the implications of sustaining a person to office: “What is meant by sustaining a person? Do we understand it? It is a very simple thing to me; I do not know how it is with you. For instance, if a man be a teacher, and I vote that I will sustain him in his position, when he visits me in an official capacity I will welcome him and treat him with consideration, kindness and respect and if I need counsel I will ask it at his hand, and I will do everything I can to sustain him. That would be proper and a principle of righteousness, and I would not say anything derogatory to his character. If that is not correct I have it yet to learn. And then if anybody in my presence were to whisper something about him disparaging to his reputation, I would say, Look here! Are you a Saint? Yes. Did you not hold up your hand to sustain him? Yes. Then why do you not do it? Now, I would call an action of that kind sustaining him. If any man make an attack upon his reputation–for all men’s reputations are of importance to them–I would defend him in some such way.” (In Journal of Discourses, 21:207-8) — Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, pp. 42-43
When we sustain officers, we are given the opportunity of sustaining those whom the Lord has already called by revelation . . . the Lord, then, gives us the opportunity to sustain the action of a divine calling and in effect express ourselves if for any reason we may feel otherwise. To sustain is to make the action binding on ourselves to support those people whom we have sustained. When a person goes through the sacred act of raising his arm to the square, he should remember, with soberness, that which he has done and commence to act in harmony with his sustaining vote both in public and in private. (Elder Loren C. Dunn, Conference Report, April 1972, p. 19; or Ensign, July 1972, p. 43) — Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 54
When you vote affirmatively you make a solemn covenant with the Lord that you will sustain, that is, give your full loyalty and support, without equivocation or reservation, to the officer for whom you vote.” (Harold B. Lee, Conference Report, April 1970, p. 103) — Doctrine and Covenants Student Manual, p. 54
The sustaining vote is not just to approve; it is a commitment to support. — Elder Boyd K. Packer, General Conference, October, 1997
In our last General Conference, Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Presidency of the Seventy told the story of his family’s experience sitting in their home watching the General Conference of April 6, 1986, when a solemn assembly took place for the purpose of sustaining Ezra Taft Benson as prophet, seer, and revelator and 13th President of the Church. He said that “at the completion of the voting, President Hinckley, who was conducting, said: ‘Thank you, brothers and sisters, for your sustaining vote. We feel that you have sustained us not only with your hands but also with your hearts and your faith and prayers, which we so urgently need, and pray that you will continue to do so.’ Brethren,” Elder Neuenschwander continued, “our sustaining support of prophets, seers, and revelators is not in the upraised hand alone, but more so in our courage, testimony, and faith to listen to, heed, and follow them.” — Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander, Ensign, November 2000, p. 41
I rejoice today in being permitted to meet with you in this general conference and in being permitted to raise my hand to sustain those whom our heavenly Father has called to preside over us. It must be a source of strength to the President of this Church to look into the faces of thousands of honest men and women and observe them raise their hand in covenant with our Father in heaven, and sustain him in the office to which he has been called as president of this great Church.
The obligation that we make when we raise our hands under such circumstances, is a most sacred one. It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct this work, but it means – if I understand the obligation I assumed when I raised my hand – that we will stand behind him; we will pray for him; we will defend his good name, and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct him to offer them to us while he remains in that position. — President George Albert Smith, Conference Report, June 1919, p. 40; see also The Teachings of George Albert Smith, pp. 66-67
I watched the raising of your hands when President Monson was presenting the sustaining of the General Authorities of the Church, but particularly our prophet, and as I watched those hands and the enthusiasm with which you raised them, I thought, “Here we are with all the blessings we have and the comfort that we have,” and I thought of some other such events that took place in the history of the Church.
In my mind’s eye, I thought of the gatherings of our own family, which is scattered across America – in Georgia; Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Pennsylvania; Texas; California; and here in Salt Lake City. Of those little families in whatever the setting might be, there in their home or in the chapel, I thought I could see some of those little ones being taught to raise their hands and to be in harmony, perhaps their parents teaching them what we were doing. When we raised our hands, we not only just did it in motion because it looks like everybody’s doing it, but because we accept and we’re bearing witness about the knowledge we have and the testimony we have that President Hinckley is our prophet and our leader. We not only raise our hands in saying we sustain but that we follow his direction, that we listen, that we counsel, that we pray about it, that we’re mindful of what comes from the lips of the prophet. — Elder David B. Haight, “Sustaining the Prophets,” Ensign, November 1998, pp. 35-36
Concerning the sustaining of officers, President John Taylor once said:
“We hold up our right hand when voting in token before God that we will sustain those for whom we vote; and if we cannot feel to sustain them we ought not to hold up our hands, because to do this, would be to act the part of hypocrites. . . . For when we lift up our hands in this way, it is in token to God that we are sincere in what we do, and that we will sustain the parties we vote for. . . . If we agree to do a thing and do not do it, we become covenant breakers and violators of our obligations, which are, perhaps, as solemn and binding as anything we can enter into” (in Journal of Discourses, 21:207).
This principle applies to every priesthood quorum and every other organization of the Church where officers are sustained by the membership. — President Gordon B. Hinckley, “God Is at the Helm,” Ensign, May 1994, p. 53
It is no small thing to “sustain” another person. The word literally means to “uphold” or, if you prefer, to “hold up.” When we sustain life, we nourish it, we keep it going. When we sustain a friend or a neighbor or a stranger in the street, we give support, we share strength, we provide help. We hold each other up under the weight of present circumstance. We bear one another’s burdens under the heavy personal pressures of life. — Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, “He Loved Them unto the End,” Ensign, November 1989, p. 25
When we sustain the President of the Church by our uplifted hand, it not only signifies that we acknowledge before God that he is the rightful possessor of all the priesthood keys; it means that we covenant with God that we will abide by the direction and the counsel that come through His prophet. It is a solemn covenant. — Elder David B. Haight, “Solemn Assemblies,” Ensign, November 1994, pp. 14-15
I have given the following counsel to Church members – those who have committed themselves by upraised hands to sustain their church leaders: “Criticism is particularly objectionable when it is directed toward Church authorities, general or local. Jude condemns those who “speak evil of dignities” (Jude 1:8). Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God. It does not matter that the criticism is true. As Elder George F. Richards, President of the Council fo the Twelve, said in a conference address in April 1947, “When we say anything bad about the leaders of the Church, whether true or false, we tend to impair their influence and their usefulness and are thus working against the Lord and his cause.” (Conference Report, April 1947, p. 24) — Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Criticism,” Ensign, February 1987, p. 68
Let us trust in our leaders. Trust in our leaders can be lost very easily. In fact, let me illustrate how easily it can be lost with another situation. There was a young man with whom I grew up in a Mormon community. He was active the same way I was. His parents were active and strong, but there was a situation that developed in that home. After every Church meeting on the way home and at home in that little farming community, the parents played one of their favorite indoor games:
He would say, “Honey, did you notice that the bishop made a mistake? He had to be corrected by his counselor in that announcement.”
And he would say, “Yes, and did you notice that the Sunday School superintendent made a mistake and announced the wrong hymn?”
And she would say, “Yes, and did you notice that the Sunday School teacher could have used better scriptures, and also got a little bit off the subject?”
Then she would say, “Did you notice so-and-so’s hat?”
In the process they diminished the efforts of the people who were there. It didn’t affect them. He went on to be called into the stake presidency. In fact, after that, I don’t think they commented very much about other people’s personal failings and weaknesses because they were then on the other side of the line. They later became temple workers. But that son – hearing the human frailties of the leaders – when he went into the service, when he continued his life, strayed far from the paths of the Church because he had not developed a full trust and respect for the leaders of the Church in spite of their human frailties. — Elder Robert E. Wells, “In God We Trust,” BYU Devotional, June 29, 1982, pp. 4-5
There are many skills which the Lord expects us to develop and in which He expects us to have great expertise. I think He expects us – in one of the greatest assignments of this mortal existence – to learn companionship – to be a great eternal companion to a wife or a husband. I think He expects us to learn all we can about proper fatherhood and motherhood. I think He expects us to understand everything that we can about homemaking, how to make a spiritual celestial existence in a home even in times of adversity, difficulty, rebellion of different members of the family as they go through the difficult teenage years – all of these things. I think the Lord expects us to learn to be a proper provider, to take care of ourselves and our family. I think the Lord expects us to learn missionary skills and to be able to preach the gospel all our lives. I think the Lord expects us to develop skills of management which would serve us in Church callings as well as in whatever our profession may be. People management, money management, delegation, the differences of administration, the diversities of operations, as the scriptures say – I think there are many, many things that the Lord expects us to develop as talents and gifts so that we might have the capacity which would enable him to trust us in any calling in life, any calling in the Church, or any circumstance. — Elder Robert E. Wells, “In God We Trust,” BYU Devotional, June 29, 1982, p. 8
Every one of our Father in Heaven’s children is great in His sight. If the Lord sees greatness in you, how then should you see yourself? We have all been blessed with many talents and abilities. Some have been blessed with the talent to sing, some to paint, some to speak, some to dance, some to create beautiful things with their hands, and others to render compassionate service. Some may possess many, others only a few. It matters not the size or the quantity but the effort we put forth to develop the talents and abilities we have received. You are not competing with anyone else. You are only competing with yourself to do the best with whatever you have received. Each talent that is developed will be greatly needed and will give you tremendous fulfillment and satisfaction during your life.
The almost universal gift everyone can develop is the creation of a pleasant disposition, an even temperament. It will open more doors for you and give you more opportunities than any other characteristics I can think of. — Elder L. Tom Perry, “Youth of the Noble Birthright,” Ensign, November 1998 p. 74
The great plan of salvation is a theme which ought to occupy our strict attention, and be regarded as one of heaven’s best gifts to mankind. No consideration whatever ought to deter us from showing ourselves approved in the sight of God, according to His divine requirement. Men not infrequently forget that they are dependent upon heaven for every blessing which they are permitted to enjoy, and that for every opportunity granted them they are to give an account. You know, brethren, that when the master in the Savior’s parable of the stewards called his servants before him he gave them several talents to improve on while he should tarry abroad for a little season, and when he returned he called for an accounting. So it is now. Our Master is absent only for a little season, and at the end of it he will call each to render an account; and where five talents were bestowed, ten will be required; and he that has made no improvement will be cast out as an unprofitable servant, while the faithful will enjoy everlasting honors. Therefore, we earnestly implore the grace of our Father to rest upon you through Jesus Christ his Son that you may not faint in the hour of temptation, nor be overcome in the time of persecution. — Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 67
President Harold B. Lee, who was then First Counselor in the First Presidency, commented:
“I think that is the role that President [N. Eldon] Tanner [Second Counselor in the First Presidency] and I have to fulfill. The hands of President [Joseph Fielding] Smith [President of the Church] may grow weary. They may tend to droop at times because of his heavy responsibilities; but as we uphold his hands, and as we lead under his direction, by his side, the gates of hell will not prevail against you and against Israel. Your safety and ours depends upon whether or not we follow the ones whom the Lord has placed to preside over his church. He knows whom he wants to preside over this church, and he will make no mistake. The Lord doesn’t do things by accident. He has never done anything accidentally. And I think the scientists and all the philosophers in the world have never discovered or learned anything that God didn’t already know. His revelations are more powerful, more meaningful, and have more substance than all the secular learning in the world.
“Let’s keep our eye on the President of the Church and uphold his hands as President Tanner and I will continue to do.” (In Conference Report, Oct. 1970, p. 153.) — Old Testament Student Manual, p. 123