Wow – I just found a really cool statement by Brigham Young. An interesting concept that I’ve been feeling for some time and trying to convey and help others understand. I’ve heard many people say that if the prophet or the general authorities say I should do this… I should do this – end of discussion. That’s fine, they probably should do just that – but the concept I’m trying to convey is that we should not just blindly follow the leaders. We should be receiving our own witness of the spirit that what they ask is the lords will. There are many comments by general authorities to say we should heed the prophets command or even our local leaders. One commonly reference is:
President Wilford Woodruff in the October General Conference of 1890 stated: “I say to Israel, The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as president of the Church to lead you astray. It is not in the program. It is not in the mind of God.”
A few other favorites of mine are:
The Lord Almighty leads this Church, and he will never suffer you to be led astray if you are “found doing your duty. You may go home and sleep as sweetly as a bade in its mother’s arms, as to any danger of your leaders leading you astray….” ( Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, 9:289)
“I bear you my solemn witness that we have a living prophet, seer, and revelator. We are not dependent only upon the revelations given in the past…we have a mouthpiece to whom God is revealing his mind and will. God will never permit him to lead us astray. As has been said, God would remove us out of our place if we should attempt to do it. You have not concern. Let the management and government of god, then, be with the Lord. Do not try to find fault with the management and affairs that pertain to him alone and by revelation through his prophet.” (Harold B. Lee, “The Place of the Living Prophet, Seer, and Revelator,” in Charge, p. 112)
These are all good and there are many more. If you’re interested you can read several here. Similarly to the point I wish to make is stated on this site if you’d like to read it. The point however that I wish to make here is stated very well below by Brigham Young.
“Some may say, “Brethren, you who lead the Church, we have all confidence in you, we are not in the least afraid but what everything will go right under your superintendence; all the business matters will be transacted right; and if brother Brigham is satisfied with it, I am.” I do not wish any Latter−day Saint in this world, nor in heaven, to be satisfied with anything I do, unless the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ, the spirit of revelation, makes them satisfied. I wish them to know for themselves and understand for themselves, for this would strengthen the faith that is within them. Suppose that the people were heedless, that they manifested no concern with regard to the things of the kingdom of God, but threw the whole burden upon the leaders of the people, saying, “If the brethren who take charge of matters are satisfied, we are,” this is not pleasing in the sight of the Lord.
Every man and woman in this kingdom ought to be satisfied with what we do, but they never should be satisfied without asking the Father, in the name of Jesus Christ, whether what we do is right. When you are inspired by the Holy Ghost you can understandingly say, that you are satisfied; and that is the only power that should cause you to exclaim that you are satisfied, for without that you do not know whether you should be satisfied or not. You may say that you are satisfied and believe that all is right, and your confidence may be almost unbounded in the authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ, but if you asked God, in the name of Jesus, and received knowledge for yourself, through the Holy Spirit, would it not strengthen your faith? It would. A little faith will perform little works; that is good logic. Jesus says, “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”
JD 3:45, Brigham Young, October 6, 1855
He is not saying you should not heed their counsel – he is saying, you ought to be receiving a witness of the spirit that it is a good thing. He goes on to talk about faith. The point he’s making is that through receiving our own witness it builds our faith, and we are better off with stronger faith than we would be without a personal revelation on the matter. Another statement I found by Heber C. Kimball states it similarly:
In regard to our situation and circumstances in these valleys, brethren, WAKE UP! WAKE UP, YE ELDERS OF ISRAEL, AND LIVE TO GOD and non else; and learn to do as you are told, both old and young: learn to do as you are told for the future. And when you are taking a position, if you do not know that you are right, do not take it − I mean independently. But if you are told by your leader to do a thing, do it. None of your business whether it is right or wrong. You will get water, if you dig away. That is rather presumptuous doctrine with some people; but with me it is not.
I have heard men teach in this stand that I was under no obligation to do anything, except I had a revelation. I do not believe the doctrine at all. I don’t care who preached it. I am not the leader − I am not the Prophet, nor the chief Apostle. I do not hold the keys independently. I have no keys, only what I hold in brother Brigham; and then brother Brigham has the word of God: he must do thus and so. He comes to me and says, “Brother Heber, I want you to do thus and so.” Wait till I go home, get into my private room, and ask God that I may get a revelation! Ain’t that pretty, brother Taylor? Well, I will not talk just as I think. If I did, I would knock this pulpit head over heels, when I think of such folly. Go and get a revelation, when God has spoken through my head! − and then the tail goes off, and gets down on his knees to get a revelation, when the head has got one!
Now, I have heard that doctrine preached here, that they must have a revelation before they are bound to receive that word and go and practise it, just as it would have been with those men I employed to go and dig that well by the arsenal. “Wait, sir.” I will not wait a minute. Go along, or I will employ men that will do it. “I am going to get a revelation to know if there is water there.” They do not know that by believing on any man’s testimony they increase in knowledge, wisdom, and the power of God. They forget that. Do you not see that I can learn more to be led than I can to lead, if I have the right man to lead me? Brother Brigham is my leader: he is my Prophet, my Seer, and my Revelator; and whatever he says, that is for me to do; and it is not for me to question his one word, nor to question God a minute. Do you not see?
I will tell you what it is right for me to do. If there is time, (and if there is not, it is not necessary,) go along and bow down before the Lord God. Say I, “Father, help me to be faithful and do the words of Brother Brigham, my leader, that I may see glory in it, and that I may see immortality and eternal lives in it.”
I am teaching you, Elders. Now, if I am not right, I am wrong. I leave it to you to judge whether I am right or wrong. It is curious for me to talk, but it is not for me to question his words any more that it was Naaman, the Assyrian. Said he, “What better are the waters of Jordan? Why are not the rivers of Damascus and the water round Jerusalem just as good? Why is there not as much virtue in them as there is in Jordan? Why, there is; but the virtue is in the man of God telling him what to do. There was virtue in doing what the servant of God told him to do. If he had told him to have gone and got into a mud hole, it would have had the same effect as that water. It is in the words of the man of God, and God lets his angels go along wherever he goes, and the angel of God goes along and touches the man with the touch of his finger, and says, “Be thou made whole!” Why? “Because the servant of God says so, and I have come here to help to fulfil it.” Either side of the vail they are active to see that your words are fulfilled. If they are not, they are not with us, nor we with them.
JD 6:33, Heber C. Kimball, November 8, 1857
Here Heber C. Kimball is stating that we ought to receive the revelation of our own selves. He tells us to follow the guidance of our Prophet, cause there is virtue in doing what the servant of God told him to do. So we don’t blindly obey, we obey because we have faith. But because we desire to increase our faith in order to someday command a mountain to move or a tree to be moved into the sea, we continue to seek our own witness – our own personal revelation on the matter so that we can increase our faith and become perfected over time.
I have personally prayed to know if President Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet of the Lord and I can say with the Holy Spirit as my witness that I know he is a Prophet of God. I know that Jesus is the Christ and that the Gospel is a fullness of truth, of which I am seeking to receive. I love, praise, and glorify God in all things!!! Amen!