You wan’t me to do what?


I don’t know what it means to follow my leaders anymore.

When I was in High School I believed that every word that anyone in a position of authority in the Church said were as good as scripture. This point of view got me into a very bad situation at the end of my senior year of high school. A very well meaning bishop told my family that as long as I was taking medication for an attention deficit disorder I would not be able to serve a mission. I unquestioningly followed his counsel and found myself going through serious withdrawals and became very depressed and delusional. I would later find out that he waswrong and that I could have served but would have most likely stayed in the states as a result of my needing to be medicated to deal with a very real disorder.

The second example of bad counsel that I received was just after my mission. For some reason the Church has adopted a policy for the youth of discouraging steady dating before young men serve their missions. I followed that and found that upon returning from my labors in California that I did not have a clue when it came to dating. I approached one of my leaders for some advice. It made sense that my leaders would have the answers. His relationship advice was worth just about as much as Confederate States of America currency after the South fell.

On the other hand, my bishop at BYU Hawaii really helped me out. His advice probably helped me stay in the Church whereas some of my friends have since left or decreased in their activity for one reason or another. He told me to trust in the Lord and not in men, which has really, really, helped. My branch president in Georgia has also helped me out too in ways that I cannot even begin to describe.

But because I have had very mixed experiences with following counsel, I am not sure what to do. So when in doubt, blaze your own trail. Define your own faith.

I look at it this way. As long as my leaders are talking about things that square with how I understand the scriptures, I have no problems. If what they are teaching is not congruent, I don’t feel obligated to believe or do what they are saying. But there is always the spirit. If I feel the spirit about what they are saying, then I have no problems. The only time when fire shoots out of my ears is when someone tells me to suspend my own reason and just go along with things. Experience has taught me that that is the worst thing to do.

Don’t get me wrong, the Church needs leaders, otherwise nothing would get done and it would probably fall apart and other places do not take to kindly to people who believe in the Book of Mormon. But the following has become my perspective for the past couple of years. In my scripture case on a small sheet of paper that I take out from time to time is written, “My leaders have opinions. God grant me the ability to know when they are speaking for you and when they are stating their own opinions”. That has worked so far without any meltdowns like I mentioned above and hope that it will continue to serve me well for years to come.


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