“Called of God and Sustained by the People,” Ensign, June 2012, 4–6
As members of the Church, we are invited often to sustain people in callings to serve. Years ago an 18-year-old student showed me what it means to sustain the Lord’s servants. I am still blessed by his humble example.
He had just begun his first year in college. He was baptized less than a year before he left home to begin his studies at a large university. There I served as his bishop.
As the school year began, I had a brief interview with him in the bishop’s office. I remember little of that first conversation except that he spoke of his challenges in a new place, but I will never forget our second conversation.
He asked to see me in my office. I was surprised when he said, “Could we pray together, and may I be voice?” I was about to say that I had already prayed and expected that he had as well. Instead I agreed.
He began his prayer with a testimony that he knew the bishop was called of God. He asked God to tell me what he should do in a matter of great spiritual consequence. The young man told God he was sure the bishop already knew his needs and would be given the counsel he needed to hear.
As he spoke, the specific dangers he would face came to my mind. The counsel was simple but given in great clarity: pray always, obey the commandments, and have no fear.
That young man, one year in the Church, taught by example what God can do with a leader as he is sustained by the faith and prayers of those he is called to lead. That young man demonstrated for me the power of the law of common consent in the Church (see D&C 26:2). Even though the Lord calls His servants by revelation, they can function only after being sustained by those they are called to serve.
By our sustaining vote, we make solemn promises. We promise to pray for the Lord’s servants and that He will lead and strengthen them (see D&C 93:51). We pledge that we will look for and expect to feel inspiration from God in their counsel and whenever they act in their calling (see D&C 1:38).
That promise will need to be renewed in our hearts frequently. Your Sunday School teacher will try to teach by the Spirit, but just as you might do, your teacher may make mistakes in front of the class. You, however, can decide to listen and watch for the moments when you can feel inspiration come. In time you will notice fewer mistakes and more frequent evidence that God is sustaining that teacher.
As we raise a hand to sustain a person, we commit to work for whatever purpose of the Lord that person is called to accomplish. When our children were small, my wife was called to teach the little children in our ward. I not only raised my hand to sustain her, but I also prayed for her and then asked permission to help her. The lessons I received of appreciation for what women do and of the Lord’s love for children still bless my family and my life.
I spoke recently with that young man who sustained his bishop years ago. I learned that the Lord and the people had sustained him in his call as a missionary, as a stake president, and as a father. He said as our conversation ended, “I still pray for you every day.”
We can determine to pray daily for someone called by God to serve us. We can thank someone who has blessed us by his or her service. We can decide to step forward when someone we have sustained asks for volunteers.1
Those who uphold the Lord’s servants in His kingdom will be sustained by His matchless power. We all need that blessing.