Dictatorial vs. Open, Inspired Council in LDS Leadership

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Critics of the church often assume that decisions from leadership come in a very worldly, top-down, dictatorial way. Members often expect decisions to come to all of the twelve and first presidency clearly and unmistakable from God all at once. But God often does things differently than we humans would expect. When we see how he does things it is usually very impressive, as we learn in this video.

Although the process described above is the most common in decision making meetings of leadership councils of the church, individual situations demand variations as directed by the spirit. The important thing to remember is that the church is directed by Jesus Christ and he has appointed a specific order of revelatory authority. Although a presiding officer strives for as much input as possible from the council, he is the one ultimately responsible for the final decision. Below is an example from the life of Joseph Fielding Smith from the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church lesson manual covering his teachings.

“At one point in Joseph Fielding Smith’s service as an Apostle, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles were engaged in an ongoing discussion about a difficult question. Elder Smith had expressed a strong opinion about the issue. One day President Heber J. Grant, who was then the President of the Church, came to Elder Smith’s office. President Grant explained that after prayerfully considering the issue, he had felt impressed to recommend an action that differed from Elder Smith’s views. Immediately Elder Smith voiced his support for President Grant’s decision. He later declared, “So far as I am concerned, when the President of the Church says the Lord has manifested to him or inspired him to do anything, I would support him fully in that action.”

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