Saturday, October 1, 2016

George Albert Smith on sustaining church leaders

President George Albert Smith (1870-1951) was the son of John Henry Smith (1848-1911) and grandson of George A. Smith (1817-1875), both of whom served as members of the Twelve. He was called as an apostle in 1903, and then served as the 8th president of the Church from 1945 until his death in 1951.
"It must be a source of strength to the President of this Church to look into the faces of thousands of honest men and women and observe them raise their hand in covenant with our Father in heaven, and sustain him in the office to which he has been called as president of this great Church.
"The obligation that we make when we raise our hands under such circumstances, is a most sacred one. It does not mean that we will go quietly on our way and be willing that the prophet of the Lord shall direct this work, but it means—if I understand the obligation I assumed when I raised my hand—that we will stand behind him; we will pray for him; we will defend his good name, and we will strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct him to offer them to us while he remains in that position."
- George Albert Smith, Conference Report, June 1919, 40; see Teachings of the Presidents of the Church—George Albert Smith, p. 64

As a relatively young apostle, then-Elder George Albert Smith pondered on the strength the president of the Church must feel as he witnesses a congregation raise their hands as a sign of sustaining him. He would have that experience himself a few decades later. Any member of the Church who has been sustained has felt the same comfort and reassurance, perhaps to a lesser degree but just as meaningfully.

So what does it mean to raise our hands to sustain the Church president?  Elder Smith went on to give some thoughts:

This is a good thing for us to consider as we have that same opportunity!

  • stand behind him
  • pray for him
  • defend his good name
  • strive to carry out his instructions as the Lord shall direct him to offer

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