Emerson

Relief Society lesson on Revelation

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I'm teaching a lesson based on President Nelson's conference talk from April 2018 titled " Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives".

My question is, Is it possible for personal revelation to contradict general Church or local leadership revelation?  For instance, can a Bishop get a revelation that you should have a particular calling, you pray about it and come up with a different answer (revelation??).

Am I even defining revelation correctly?  Just looking for some thoughts......

 

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I don't believe God contradicts himself, nor forgets what he told to whom when.

So, how do we explain your example, which I'll bet happens fairly often.

First, the bishop likely discussed the calling with the ward council (and / or presidency over the area in question) and accepted suggestions.  After consideration, discussion, and prayer (probably with his counselors), he comes to a decision.  Then he takes it to the Lord.  He (or they) likely feels an impression that this is right (or wrong and we start this loop over).  It's probably quite rare to receive something more firm (for lack of a better word) than the impression that he's made a good decision.

I suspect that the impression he's received thus far is that it's right to extend the call.  Being humans who are big fans of "cut to the chase", we tend to assume this means the Lord wants that person in this calling.  Any more, I assume it means the Lord is good with the bishop extending the call to that person.

Next, the person either agrees to meet with the bishop or not.  If so, they hear the call extended, and respond in some way.  If they feel the need to pray before answering, that is their privilege and the Lord will guide them as much as they are able to receive said guidance.  Could the guidance they receive be to decline to accept the calling?  At least in theory, yes.  Perhaps the Lord was good with extending the calling because of some side effect it would have.  Perhaps this person needs to discuss some struggle they're going through.

None of that necessarily means the bishop or the member erred in understanding the Spirit's guidance (though in any given instance, these are possibilities).  And yet, I'd bet most of the time, people would assume it does mean that someone was wrong (and if they're personally involved, it's the other person who was wrong).

If I were teaching a talk about revelation, I would refresh my memory of Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge, and I would review the numerous (ok, at least 4) talks from General Conference that relate to following the Spirit, so that I had a variety of perspectives and teaching approaches.

And one of the points of my lesson would likely be that we shouldn't assume more than what the Spirit actually tells you.  A positive feeling about asking someone out does not necessarily mean you're going to marry them - it means asking them out is good.  A positive feeling about moving to a new place may not mean life there is going to be rainbows and unicorns - it might mean there's hard work there and you're needed to help with it.

It seems the Lord doesn't like to skip to the ending, he wants us to pay attention to the here and now.

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I just re-listened to this talk, upon hearing your question.  (And because it was a good talk to listen to while cleaning).  It was really good talk, and provides good insight as to what revelation is.  

As to your question "Is it possible for personal revelation to contradict general Church or local leadership revelation?"   I don't think that this question can be addressed as one umbrella, but instead needs to be broken down into different things.

---Using your example " can a Bishop get a revelation that you should have a particular calling, you pray about it and come up with a different answer", I would say "yes 100%".  Callings are something you need to confirm with the Lord directly too.  If there's a disagreement on things, talk about it.  Thinking of one instance in my life: I was called to be in Scouts, which met Tuesday night.  This calling came from the current Scout leaders, who felt the Lord telling them I would be a great addition to the team.  And I would have been--  but I had to work every Tuesday and could not serve then.  So I told them, and it was agreed that would not work.  Still... being extended the call made me feel thought of, and was a blessing in my life.

--- For a different example: "can I get a revelation that it's ok for my girlfriend and I to have sex, despite what the prophet teaches on the Law of Chasity?"  No.   Just no.

--- There are other examples which can also be examples of two people describing different parts of the same elephant.  

And many more.  When in doubt, approach each case with prayer, consulting God's words, and wise counsel.  

Edited by Jane_Doe

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3 hours ago, Emerson said:

I'm teaching a lesson based on President Nelson's conference talk from April 2018 titled " Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives".

My question is, Is it possible for personal revelation to contradict general Church or local leadership revelation?  For instance, can a Bishop get a revelation that you should have a particular calling, you pray about it and come up with a different answer (revelation??).

Am I even defining revelation correctly?  Just looking for some thoughts......

 

Here are some thoughts pertaining to this question:

1) Ponder thoughtfully Doctrine and Covenants 84: 34-46

2) If a Bishop, Stake President, Elder's Quorum President were to extend a call, and that call is truly inspired by the Spirit, a person would be in error to think they would receive anything else but a confirmation of said calling. If they receive revelation, a person will not receive a different answer from Heavenly Father.

3) In my experience, I recognize two forms of revelation: inspirational and practical. Practical revelation is God has given me a mind to think for myself. If a person were to pray and receive a different revelation (inspirational) then I would move forward with someone else. Inspirational, is direct revelation from God. This can be still small voice, it can be audible voice, and it can be by vision. I do not understand how people think they will receive a different revelation than a leader who has received inspirational revelation, if they are truly seeking God's will.

Let me give a thought in reverse. When a bishop or counselor is called, the bishop does not call, the stake president does. When the bishop prayed, inspiration was received and the name given to the stake president. The stake president than spoke with the stake president in order to request this individual to serve in a single's ward bishopric. The stake president in that area said you can't have him. He was too important for that ward, at least to this stake president. The bishop received word from his stake president by which he (the bishop) went back to the Lord and said, "I have done what I can according to my position, authority, and keys. I know this is whom you called, it is now in your hands." The next day the stake president received a call from the other stake president saying something to this nature, "I don't like it. I don't want it. But the Lord wants it. You can have him."

When we deny inspirational revelation, we will  not receive the blessings God wants us to receive, and remember, as with Joseph Smith, if we pester/ask the Lord enough he will give us what we want. We will receive a revelation that says, "No, don't accept it," not because it was actually the will of God, but he allowed us to receive what we wanted.

4) In relation to practical revelation, leaders have not reached a more sure word of prophecy and revelation. They are not perfect with their revelation. In these cases, yes, a person can easily receive a different revelation.

Yes, it appears you are defining revelation correctly. As with all experiences with the principle of revelation, our sincerity and heart to do God's will is most important, and will determine if we are truly seeking God's will with callings, rather than our own will, because God will indeed give us what we want via revelation, even if opposite to his will.

 

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This is one of those topics where the people of the church accept one directiion when the prophets are trying to direct them elsewhere.

I read on here often and in “LDS” magazines and articles written by freelance Mormon writers about how it is acceptable to decline a calling from a church leader. Some have even attempted to explain how and when it is ok.

And yet I have yet to hear even an area 70 or a bishop let alone an apostle or prophet back this idea that it was acceptable to decline a calling. I have only ever heard them tell us that we are to accept callings we are extended with faith.

Can anyone refute this with evidence?

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9 hours ago, Fether said:

This is one of those topics where the people of the church accept one directiion when the prophets are trying to direct them elsewhere.

I read on here often and in “LDS” magazines and articles written by freelance Mormon writers about how it is acceptable to decline a calling from a church leader. Some have even attempted to explain how and when it is ok.

And yet I have yet to hear even an area 70 or a bishop let alone an apostle or prophet back this idea that it was acceptable to decline a calling. I have only ever heard them tell us that we are to accept callings we are extended with faith.

Can anyone refute this with evidence?

And I am asking sincerely. My little brother has major social anxiety and has a hard time going to church. Currently he attends gospel principles with my mom and that is it.

My mom got called to young women’s and my dad to primary. Now leaving my brother to just sit in the overflow all Sunday.

naturally I say to always accept callings, but I feel this is a time when one of them shouldn’t... but I don’t know why cause I have never once heard a general authority even suggest the idea of turning down callings. And I’m not comfortable just saying “oh I feel good about turning this calling down”.

(disclaimer: I do understand that I am in no way entitled to such revelation, but it is interesting to think about)

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I suspect there are lots of subconscious things (personal and cultural) which prevent us from discussing the impact a calling might have - and the impact we might have in a calling.  I suspect this tendency to avoid the discussion leads to lots of problems from the extreme of turning down a calling you should have accepted to the other extreme of killing yourself in a calling which didn't need to be so hard that it caused you ulcers and heart attacks (literally).

I could be wrong and this may not happen on a large scale (though I suspect it does).  If it does, I have no clue how we adjust so that the subconscious influences are replaced by open, trusting conversation when a calling is extended.  Certainly part of that would have to be to allow more than 5 minutes for the meeting, but open, trust, and discussion / counseling don't appear to be things humans do easily.

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2 hours ago, Fether said:

And I am asking sincerely. My little brother has major social anxiety and has a hard time going to church. Currently he attends gospel principles with my mom and that is it.

My mom got called to young women’s and my dad to primary. Now leaving my brother to just sit in the overflow all Sunday.

naturally I say to always accept callings, but I feel this is a time when one of them shouldn’t... but I don’t know why cause I have never once heard a general authority even suggest the idea of turning down callings. And I’m not comfortable just saying “oh I feel good about turning this calling down”.

(disclaimer: I do understand that I am in no way entitled to such revelation, but it is interesting to think about)

What came to my mind in your initial response was an experience of mine (or my husband or both).  Years ago, we were both called into the Bishop's office.  The Bishop extended a calling to my husband to be the Scout Leader.  Young Men's activities were Tuesday nights and the monthly or so camp outs or activities were Friday nights.  My husband was really quiet and said that he would accept.  He is of the mindset that you always accept a calling.  He was going to accept it.  But accepting would mean failure and letting everyone down because he didn't know how to say "no".  He is an airline pilot and almost always works Tuesday through Friday.  Like leaves the house 10 am on a Tuesday, has a four day trip, then gets home around 10 pm to midnight on Friday.

My husband never actually turned it down but the Bishop said he needed to consider it more and then pulled back the calling or some similar terminology.  Maybe the calling had to occur for the Bishop to get this information to extend a calling down the road that my husband could fulfill.  I don't know.  It isn't always possible to always accept a calling, right?  Bishopric members only have so much information...I don't know.....this kind of back and forth gets really confusing to me.

 

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14 hours ago, Fether said:

This is one of those topics where the people of the church accept one directiion when the prophets are trying to direct them elsewhere.

I read on here often and in “LDS” magazines and articles written by freelance Mormon writers about how it is acceptable to decline a calling from a church leader. Some have even attempted to explain how and when it is ok.

And yet I have yet to hear even an area 70 or a bishop let alone an apostle or prophet back this idea that it was acceptable to decline a calling. I have only ever heard them tell us that we are to accept callings we are extended with faith.

Can anyone refute this with evidence?

Here is a thought, as I have served in positions where callings are extended and training received.

"Information proceeds inspiration" or the more knowledge you have of members circumstance this will provide great opportunity for inspired revelation.  This training has come from my bishops, my stake president, and visiting authorities.

How is this applied? A person is called in and extended a call. The member then says, I am willing to accept; however, this is my personal circumstance which would conflict with the required duties and responsibilities for the calling. At this moment the bishop has a choice. Continue to extend, or recognize the Lord possibly has someone else.

Now this conversation could be different also. The person may have accepted, or asked to pray, which is the right of a member to receive revelation pertaining to their call.

Quote

Elder Loren C. Dunn said this about the nature of a Church calling: “A calling in the Church is both a personal and a sacred matter, and everyone is entitled to know he or she has been called to act in the name of God in that particular position. Every person in this church has the right to know that he has been called of God. If he does not have that assurance, then I would suggest he give his calling serious, prayerful consideration so that he can receive what he has a right to receive” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1972, 20; or Ensign, July 1972, 44).

They don't feel right, and come back to explain the situation. The question you can ask yourself, "Would the bishop have received the same "inspiration" if they knew of the present circumstance of this member?

Just something to think about.

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I turned down a calling once. It was to serve in the nursery and the bishop started out by saying "we've prayed about this and feel good about our decision."  At the time I had 7 kids at home including a one and two year old. I was exhausted and still trying to deal with post-partum depression. I didn't even hesitate to say no, or tell him I'd pray about it. It was flat out NO on the spot! I was at a point in life where I desperately  needed a break from little children for 90 min once a week. It was like nonsense that I would be called into that position. I later told the RS president who was aware of my depression about the call he had extended to me and she was so mad. She said , "I told him not to do that!" So apparently he had consulted her but opposed her view. 

I still wonder about that whole situation. I didn't feel one iota of guilt about turning down the calling at the time. I instinctively knew it was wrong for me at that time. (Right now I'd take that calling in a heartbeat!!) I only feel guilty when these kinds of discussions come up and then I wonder, well, who got the wrong message? Me or the bishopric?  One of us had to have been wrong. 

When my husband was in a student ward bishopric he said there really wasn't a whole lot of praying about callings. They mostly needed warm bodies to fill the positions. 

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1 hour ago, carlimac said:

I turned down a calling once. It was to serve in the nursery and the bishop started out by saying "we've prayed about this and feel good about our decision."  At the time I had 7 kids at home including a one and two year old. I was exhausted and still trying to deal with post-partum depression. I didn't even hesitate to say no, or tell him I'd pray about it. It was flat out NO on the spot! I was at a point in life where I desperately  needed a break from little children for 90 min once a week. It was like nonsense that I would be called into that position. I later told the RS president who was aware of my depression about the call he had extended to me and she was so mad. She said , "I told him not to do that!" So apparently he had consulted her but opposed her view. 

I still wonder about that whole situation. I didn't feel one iota of guilt about turning down the calling at the time. I instinctively knew it was wrong for me at that time. (Right now I'd take that calling in a heartbeat!!) I only feel guilty when these kinds of discussions come up and then I wonder, well, who got the wrong message? Me or the bishopric?  One of us had to have been wrong. 

When my husband was in a student ward bishopric he said there really wasn't a whole lot of praying about callings. They mostly needed warm bodies to fill the positions. 

In this situation, I would easily say the bishop, due to this statement, "RS president who was aware of my depression about the call he had extended to me and she was so mad. She said , "I told him not to do that!" So apparently he had consulted her but opposed her view. "

If he had been informed regarding your current state of health, what you were experiencing, then he should have gone with the information. For me that is "practical" revelation. God has given us a mind -- intelligence -- and we have the ability to use it.

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57 minutes ago, Anddenex said:

God has given us a mind -- intelligence -- and we have the ability to use it.

Well... some men can be clueless.  I remember having a conversation with my husband loooong time ago when the kiddos were diaper babies.  I remember I said something about wanting to go out to get a break from the kids.  And he looked at me like I grew 2 heads and asked, "Why?".

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