I made a mistake and burned my study of time today researching the origins of “sustaining” in the Church. It started with trying to figure out when the term was first used the way we use it today, as a pledge of support to those serving in general and local Church leadership positions. I bit off more than I could chew, and as is so common when you start studying a gospel topic, I found myself unraveling a doctrinal fractal; chasing patterns and themes down multiple paths until I was overwhelmed with information and questions.
This all began with pondering two things: The new apostles we will (presumably) sustain at the upcoming conference, and the dissenting votes that occurred during the April 2015 General Conference sustainings.
- What does it mean to sustain our leaders?
- Why the ritual? What does it mean in the moment, and what does it mean in daily life?
- What does it mean if we don’t sustain our leaders?
I have plenty of thoughts and feelings on the topic. I love the practice of raising our hands to the square as a sign that we will sustain our leaders. I’m sure it doesn’t look like anything special to an observer, but on those General Conference Saturday mornings, right there on the couch, I raise my hand with as much gusto as I can muster. I want my Heavenly Father (and my family) to know where I stand. And I raise my hand with the same commitment to sustain ward members.
I’m going to take more time to research my questions and organize my thoughts and feelings. I’d like to really reach the doctrinal base of the practice. Meanwhile, I reviewed three Old Testament accounts that helped me think about what it means to sustain my leaders. They might be worth a look:
And For Extra Credit:
- Topical Guide: Sustaining Church Leaders, Common Consent
- Russell M. Nelson, Sustaining the Prophets, October 2014
As always, thanks for reading and sharing. I’d love to have your corrections, observations, or questions in the comments.