We demonstrate in general and stake conferences by the raised hand support of the President of the Church, his counselors in the First Presidency and other General Authorities and officers of the Church. However, it is much more important that we show our support through what we do when the conferences have ended. We need to show through our actions, as well as by our raised hands, that we sustain the Brethren.
How well do we heed their counsel? President Spencer W. Kimball said: "We have many people who stand aside here and counter the things that the Lord has established, saying, 'I don't think this,' and 'I don't think that.' Or 'I think it ought to be this way' or 'I think it ought to be that way.'
"Who is 'I'? How far off the beam men and women have gone when they substitute their own puny opinions for the dictum of the Lord." (Church News, Jan. 4, 1975, p. 4.)
When the Lord's prophet speaks, do we not have the same opportunity and agency to show our obedience or disobedience as did the children of Israel when they obeyed or disobeyed the Ten Commandments?
How many times have we heard members say — or have said ourselves— something like this: "I know what the prophet said at the last conference, but I think that . . . ."
Do we make excuses for our choices of entertainment by saying something along these lines: "I know we have been counseled to not attend R-rated movies, but this movie has such a great message; I think we can overlook the bad language, the explicit sex scenes, the violence or deviant lifestyle portrayed."
In just the past quarter-century, prophets have counseled Church members on various matters. We've been told, among many things, to clean up around our property, lay in supplies for emergencies, attend our meetings, be morally chaste, be good citizens, give an honest day's work for a day's pay, study the scriptures, pray, hold family home evening, pay our tithes and offerings. The list could go on and on.
Do we heed the counsel the Lord gives through His prophets and apostles? When they make decisions and give directives pertaining to the affairs of the Church, do we quickly sustain them or do we add our voices to a chorus of detractors?
President Gordon B. Hinckley said: "The things of God are understood by the Spirit of God. That is the premise on which you start. You don't get revelation when you are denying the power of God. The Lord said, 'If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or [whether] I speak of myself.' (John 7:17.) Those are His words. Revelation is a process that comes . . . in various forms and in various ways. I can say without any hesitation, not the slightest, that I know within my heart that the Lord has made known His will in many things. . . . In all of the tremendous numbers of things with which we constantly deal, hundreds of them, thousands of them really, across the Church, we pray about them. We ponder them. We consult with one another. We reach a decision. We act. There isn't any doubt in my mind that that decision is inspired. That is revelation in one of its forms." (From Deseret News/Church News interview, Feb. 25, 2000.)
For the most part, members of the Church try to follow the counsel of the Brethren. None of us claims to be perfect. We all make mistakes. It is one thing, however, to make a mistake and quite another to openly criticize decisions that the Lord's servants make in behalf of His Church.