Thursday, May 7, 2015

How Do Mormons Choose a Prophet?

A friend of mine granted that there seems to be a good man presently as the Prophet (we call him President) of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her concern was that a person who wasn't as good might be voted prophet in the future. I don't worry because I know that the Lord chooses His Prophets. God always has. Each man has been prepared and tested all his life for his future calling as God's Prophet. Think of the soul wrenching test Abraham was given of offering his son as a sacrifice before he proved his worthiness. Think of the life of Moses, born an Israelite, but raised in the palace of the Pharaoh where he was taught court etiquette, given military experience, and Egyptian education. He was aptly prepared for his special mission to deal with the Egyptian rulers, lead the Israelite people to freedom, and govern them.  This article describes how one modern day Prophet was prepared for his future responsibilities.

I like how this quote from that article clearly explains how a Prophet is chosen.

“It is reassuring to know that [a new President is] … not elected through committees and conventions with all their conflicts, criticisms, and by the vote of men, but [is] called of God and then sustained by the people. …
“The pattern divine allows for no errors, no conflicts, no ambitions, no ulterior motives. The Lord has reserved for himself the calling of his leaders over his church.” (Ensign, Jan. 1973, p. 33.) by Spencer W. Kimball who became the Prophet in the 1970's

A man does not "work his way up" in Church leadership. I have seen a man who has served as a Bishop (local leader) in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints next serve caring for the little children in the nursery, or passing out hymn books on Sunday.  These men are not paid for their service, for we have a lay ministry, but volunteer their time and energies out of love for Our Savior.

Yes, our full time leaders (we call them General Authorities) do receive a modest stipend to cover living expenses which is drawn from Church investments income. They are called to serve full time until they die. There is not any retirement. (thought you might enjoy seeing their homes ) Most of these men gave up successful careers when called to become an Apostle of the Lord. One, Russel M. Nelson, was a famous heart surgeon, who helped create the first heart-lung machine and performed many open-heart operations. Another, Dallin Oaks, after declaring, “I can’t think of anything in public life I’d rather do than be an appellate judge,” resigned from the Utah Supreme Court when he was called to be an Apostle. One, Richard G. Scott, was a nuclear engineer. Others were successful lawyers, educators, and leaders of businesses. Would these men covet Church leadership positions as a way to achieve greater wealth and prestige?  Most of them were at the height of the careers when called to become an ApostleJust like the Apostles of old, they left their nets and followed the Lord.

When one Prophet dies, the next-senior Apostle is confirmed by a unanimous vote of the all the Apostles as the next Prophet.  The Church membership sustains or raises our hand as a commitment to support the new Prophet. It is not a vote. The Lord has already chosen, and prepared His new Prophet.

Here is the official statement by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
"Jesus Christ is the Head of this Church. The calling and appointment of the Living Prophet is directed by Him whose Church it is.  After each Church President passes away, the senior Apostle becomes the next President."

I have faith that God knows what He is doing and actively leads His church. He prepares and chooses the right person to become Prophet at the right time. I know of each of the Apostles' years of selfless service and have felt their love and wisdom in the talks they give at General Conference.  I know they are worthy and capable men. I have had the experience of seeing "the mantle of the prophet" (the responsibility) fall upon several new prophets. Suddenly, they become new men filled with greater love and light.  There is a real change.

I believe that God does care for us because I have known His help in my life. He has given me many revelations to guide me in my life. (see my articles on prayer, revelation, and adversity) I know that God does communicate with man, because He communicates with me. When a new Prophet is chosen, I have personally felt a sense of peace and assurance that he is now the Prophet. I know Prophets are called by God today as they were in days past to receive revelation from the Lord. God has not abandoned us, going off somewhere and leaving us to muddle through life ourselves. Not only does God still give revelation to individuals, He provides warnings and instruction to guide us in our troubled times through his Prophet who is on the earth today.

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