Middle-aged Mormon Man: I am a Mormon, and I have questions
5) I believe and sustain the principles of "stewardship" and "line of authority."
One of the miracles of the church is the concept of the lay ministry. And I use the word "miracle" intentionally. Every ward, branch, stake or district that we live in are run by people like you and me. For free. No degrees in theology, no careerists. No corporate intrigue.
Then, to make it even crazier, every once in a while, we all play musical chairs and change jobs. And we do this our entire lives. Voluntarily. One day you might be in charge; the next day I might be in charge. We see these stewardships as a sacred trust.
And it works. That is the miracle. The reason it works is because we respect the doctrine of stewardship. We are taught to "stand in the office in which we are appointed."
The reason that these many stewardships can exist and function with remarkable success is that they are girded by the structure of the line of suthority. Every calling is extended by a line leader in the priesthood. And that line leader was called by someone else. All of our callings are tied together in this line. Without this structure, or when this structure is ignored, things get messy.
Leapfrogging in the line of authority also gets messy — and I'm not talking only merely sending letters straight to the prophet — I even get uncomfortable when we leapfrog our bishops and go straight to the stake president to get questions answered. (More on leapfrogging here.)
*IMPORTANT NOTE: If your leader is doing things with you, or to you, that you know are wrong, please leapfrog to the higher authority. Don't keep quiet just to get along or out of fear. Don't be afraid to shine light on darkness.
Finally, the grand prize of this entire structure is that we are entitled to receive revelation from the Holy Ghost as it corresponds to our stewardship, or anyone else that we are responsible for along the line of authority. But it only works in one direction.
A simple test: If someone is claiming inspiration that goes UP the line of authority, they are sadly misled. (If you ever hear me claim to have received revelation on behalf of the entire church, close this window, delete my bookmark and never come back.)
And finally ...
6) I am grateful. God has blessed me with so much. It is impossible for me to get bent out of shape over the things I don't like or don't understand if I am constantly aware of what I do enjoy and do understand. I am forever in a net gain situation. Being self-focused on what I lack does not make me happy.
I will admit that I lack a certain empathy with those who would try and pressure the Lord or his servants to make changes in how he runs his kingdom. Personally, I have never felt so strongly about my own personal concerns that I would be willing to "counsel the brethren" through letters, protests, the media or gossip. Especially in order to impose my views on a church that I have no stewardship over — a church that I am not entitled to receive revelation on behalf of and that is run by those who I already know represent the Lord himself.
Neither could I bring myself to leapfrog that line of authority — partly because I truly believe in that structure, and partly because I have been at various places in that very chain. I know from my experience that good does not come ignoring the organization that the Lord has put in place.
And so you see, I'm not going to be giving President Monson or the rest of the prophets any counsel. I have enough faith in God and his servants that I can leave them alone and let them fulfill their stewardships. But rest assured, I will be glued to the TV next weekend as they counsel me.
Why? Precisely because I'm not that smart.
Middle-aged Mormon Man is a husband, father and all around regular guy. He blogs at MiddleagedMormanMan.com. He is seriously Mormon, but not always serious.
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