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How to Disagree with a Church Leader and Remain Faithful

I don’t know how many times we have heard the leaders of the church say that they are only men.

As members of the church, we tend to look at them as superheroes almost, erroneously expecting perfect examples when we cannot hold ourselves to such a high standard. They know and recognize their lack of perfection. We recognize our own lack of perfection but somehow expect our church leaders to be more than we are. That is an unrealistic expectation. Let’s get real for a moment. We are not always going to agree with our leaders.

I have had many bishops and leaders throughout my life, all with unique personalities and ways of handling things in their own lives and the lives of those under their care.

When my husband and I were newly married, we had some strong differences of opinion on one very important subject. Because of our Bishop’s professional career and the need for us to find a middle ground, we made an appointment with him to talk it through and get his advice. It didn’t take long for us to see that he wanted to hurry us through the appointment. I could see he was distracted and was listening for someone outside. I was aware of a door opening and a door closing somewhere in the building. My husband and I felt with certainty that he wanted us out of his office so that he could see to something else.

Broken trust

We walked away feeling no less conflicted, but rather feeling that our concerns weren’t taken seriously. Many times, I wished he would have simply said something about needing to meet someone in the building and ask if we would we be willing to wait or reschedule but that didn’t happen. Instead, we felt that there had been a trust broken which wasn’t going to be repaired. Did it affect our membership in the church? No. Did it kill our testimonies of the restored gospel? No. Did it affect the confidence we had in our leaders? Absolutely.

Broken trust

Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf said, “…to be perfectly frank, there have been times when members or leaders in the Church have simply made mistakes. There may have been things said or done that were not in harmony with our values, principles, or doctrine.

“I suppose the Church would be perfect only if it were run by perfect beings. God is perfect, and His doctrine is pure. But He works through us—His imperfect children—and imperfect people make mistakes.

“In the title page of the Book of Mormon, we read, “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men; wherefore, condemn not the things of God, that ye may be found spotless at the judgment-seat of Christ.”

The perfect day

Perfect day

“This is the way it has always been and will be until the perfect day when Christ Himself reigns personally upon the earth.” (Come, Join with Us, October 2013 General Conference)

I know that church leaders are called by God to watch over their congregants. That doesn’t make them perfect. Only the Savior was perfect. He had all the right answers all the time. We mortals aren’t so wise. We have to put our trust in the Savior, strengthen our relationship with Him and if we have a differing of opinion with our leaders, we take it to the Lord. He is personally invested in each of us, He knows what we need and how to teach us. Sometimes these experiences can be painful tools to help us grow and help anchor us more securely to the Savior.

As the world progresses and becomes more aware of the possible dangers all around us, there may be some leaders who don’t address our modern concerns properly or perhaps we, ourselves, aren’t in tune with the Spirit. Or maybe it is simply a differing opinion. Whatever it may be, we must never let these issues affect our testimonies of the restored gospel. We are told to build upon a sure foundation, on the Savior’s rock so that when the tempests rage, we will not be moved. May we all build our foundation upon Jesus Christ and His gospel that we can be secured no matter what comes our way.

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