The Power of Sustaining Faith

Many times I have heard
priesthood leaders give thanks for the sustaining
faith of those they serve. From the emotion
in their voices, you know their gratitude
is deep and real. My purpose today is to convey
the Lord’s appreciation for your sustaining His
servants in His Church. And it is also to encourage
you to exercise and grow in that power to sustain
others with your faith. Before you were born, you
demonstrated such power. Think back to what we
know of the spirit world before we were born. Our Heavenly Father presented
a plan for His children. We were there. You and I, all of us. Lucifer, our spirit
brother, opposed that plan that would allow
us freedom to choose. Jehovah, the Beloved
Son of Heavenly Father, sustained the plan. Lucifer led a rebellion. Jehovah’s sustaining
voice prevailed, and He volunteered
to be our Savior. The fact that you
are in mortality now assures us
that you sustained the Father and the Savior. It took faith in Jesus Christ
to sustain the plan of happiness and Jesus Christ’s
place in it when you knew so little
of the challenges that you would
face in mortality. Your faith to sustain
servants of God has been at the heart of your
happiness in this life as well. For example, when you accepted
a missionary’s challenge to pray to know that the Book
of Mormon was the word of God, you had the faith to sustain
a servant of the Lord. When you accepted the
invitation to be baptized, you sustained a
humble servant of God. When you let someone place
hands on your head and say, “Receive the Holy
Ghost,” you sustained him as a holder of the
Melchizedek Priesthood. Since that day, you have,
by serving faithfully, sustained each person who
has conferred the priesthood upon you and each
who has ordained you to an office in that priesthood. Early in your
priesthood experience, each sustaining
was a simple event of trusting a servant of God. Now many of you have moved up
to a place where to sustain requires more. You choose whether to sustain
all whom the Lord calls–in whatever the Lord
has called them. That choice happens in
conferences all over the world. It has happened in this one. In such meetings, names of men
and women–servants of God–are read, and you are invited to
raise your hand to sustain. You can withhold
your sustaining vote, or you can pledge
your sustaining faith. By raising your hand to
sustain, you make a promise. You make a promise with God,
whose servants these are, that you will sustain them. Now, these are imperfect
human beings, as are you. Keeping your promises
will take unshakable faith that the Lord called them. Keeping those promises will
also bring eternal happiness. Not keeping them will bring
sorrow to you and to those you love–and even losses beyond
your power to imagine. You may have been
asked, or you will be, whether you sustain your
bishop, stake president, the General Authorities, and the
General Officers of the Church. It may happen as you are
asked to sustain officers and leaders in a conference. Sometimes it will be in
an interview with a bishop or stake president. My counsel to you is you ask
those questions of yourself beforehand, with careful
and prayerful thought. As you do, you might look back
on your recent thoughts, words, and deeds. Try to remember and
frame the answers you will give when the
Lord interviews you, knowing that He someday will. You could prepare
by asking yourself questions like the following: 1. Have I thought or spoken of
human weaknesses in the people I have pledged to sustain? 2. Have I looked for evidence
that the Lord is leading them? 3. Have I conscientiously
and loyally followed their leadership? 4. Have I spoken about
the evidence I can see that they are God’s servants? 5. Do I pray for them regularly by
name and with feelings of love? Those questions
will, for most of us, lead to some uneasiness
and a need to repent. We are commanded by God not
to judge others unrighteously, but in practice we find
that hard to avoid. Almost everything we do
in working with people leads us to evaluate them. And in almost every
aspect of our lives, we compare ourselves
with others. We may do so for many reasons,
some of them reasonable, but it often leads
us to be critical. President George Q. Cannon gave
a warning that I pass on to you as my own. I believe he spoke the truth:
“God has chosen His servants. He claims it as His
prerogative to condemn them if they need condemnation. He has not given it
to us individually to censure and condemn them. No man, however strong
he may be in the faith, however high in
the Priesthood, can speak evil of the
Lord’s anointed and find fault with
God’s authority on earth without incurring
His displeasure. The Holy Spirit will withdraw
himself from such a man, and he will go into darkness. This being the case, do you
not see how important it is that we should be careful?” Now, my observation
is that the members of the Church
across the world are generally loyal to
each other and to those who preside over them. There are, however, improvements
we could and must make. We could rise higher in our
power to sustain each other. It will take faith and effort. Here are four
suggestions I make for us to act on at this conference. 1. We could identify specific
actions the speakers recommend and start today
to carry them out. As we do, our power to
sustain them will increase. 2. We could pray for them as they
speak that the Holy Ghost will carry their words into the
hearts of specific people we love. When we learn later that
our prayer was answered, our power to sustain those
leaders will increase. 3. We could pray that
specific speakers will be blessed and magnified
as they give their messages. When we see that
they were magnified, we will grow in our
faith to sustain them, and it will endure. 4. We could listen for
messages from the speakers that come as an answer to our
personal prayers for help. When the answers come, and
I promise you they will, we will grow in our
faith to sustain all the Lord’s servants. In addition to improving
in sustaining those who serve in the
Church, we will learn that there is another
setting in which we can increase in such power. There it can bring even
greater blessings to us. It is in the home and family. I speak to the younger
priesthood holder who lives in a home
with his father. Let me tell you from
my own experience what it means for a father to
feel your sustaining faith. He may look confident to you. But he faces more
challenges than you know. At times he can’t see the
way through the problems before him. Your admiration for
him will help him some. Your love for him
will help even more. But the thing that
will help the most is sincere words like these:
“Dad, I’ve prayed for you, and I have felt that the
Lord is going to help you. Everything will work out. I know it will.” Words such as those also have
power in the other direction, father to son. When a son has made a
serious mistake, perhaps in a spiritual matter, he
may feel that he has failed. As his father, in
that moment, you may be surprised, after you
pray to know what to do, when the Holy Ghost puts these
words into your mouth: “Son, I’m with you all the way. The Lord loves you. With His help, you
can make it back. I know that you can
and that you will. I love you.” In the priesthood quorum
and in the family, increased faith to
sustain each other is the way we build the Zion
the Lord wants us to create. With His help, we
can and we will. It will take learning to love
the Lord with all our heart, might, mind, and strength
and to love each other as we love ourselves. As we grow in that pure love
of Christ, our hearts soften. That love will humble us
and lead us to repent. Our confidence in the Lord
and each other will grow. And then we will move
toward becoming one, as the Lord promises we can. I testify that Heavenly
Father knows and loves you. Jesus is the living Christ. This is His Church. We hold His priesthood. He will honor our
efforts to grow in our power to exercise it
and to sustain each other. I so witness in the sacred
name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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