Monday, April 18, 2016

Common consent and its blessings


And all things shall be done by common consent in the church, by much prayer and faith, for all things you shall receive by faith.  (D&C 26:2)

This affirms the law of common consent, when all church members vote on whether they consent that someone be ordained, or set apart of a calling, or maintained in an office, or to ratify a change, such as accepting something new be added to the standard works.

I notice that common consent is not the only thing required. It also enjoins the Saints to use much prayer and faith. A mere consenting vote would not be sufficient to fully sustain someone in his or her calling.  Sustaining comes from continued support and faithful following of leaders.

I learned this some years ago by seeing something different when I was employed by a government agency in Austin, Texas. Our department held periodic lunch parties, and I was chosen to lead the party committee.  I felt honored, but I was inexperienced in leading.  When two older employees decided that my efforts weren’t up to their standards, they took it upon themselves to plan the lunch parties instead, without telling me or asking my help.  They essentially took things over as though they were in charge.

I could have let it bother me, but I didn’t. After all, I wasn’t that great at party planning. I didn’t even know enough at that stage of my life to ask for help. All I really had going for me in the first place was my enthusiasm. But I could see pretty clearly the difference between a church calling, which would be sustained by church members, and a worldly role that others might take over if they decided they could do it better.

The principle of common consent and receiving by faith is a great protection. Knowing who has what leadership calling protects us from being imposed upon by imposters.  Also, stewardship boundaries are pretty well defined.  

Common consent also is a means of growth. I’ve noticed that respecting and supporting other people in their callings helps me grow in charity and long-suffering.  I’ve also noticed that when other people support me in my callings, it gives me room in my inexperience to grow into my duties and see the hand of the Lord help me. 

Ultimately, common consent gives us a chance to help build Zion in people—in ourselves and others.