Why I follow the prophet can be better stated, “why I follow the teachings of the prophet.” It is the very reason that mainstream Christianity follows the apostles. Now many would say that they don’t and would say that they follow Jesus, but in reality, they are following the teaching of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Peter, James and the rest of the testimonies that testify of Christ. I follow those ancient apostles too, but I also follow the teachings of modern apostles and prophets who testify of Christ and persuade us to believe in God, change, and draw unto Christ.
I fully entered my faith crisis after President Hinckley passed away, not because he had passed away, but it was a tipping point in the process. I had a love and admiration for that man that I cannot truly describe.
The rest of that crisis lasted up until I decided to change and seek healing, which started right before President Monson delivered his final General Conference talk in April 2017. It was then that I realized I had never gained a testimony of Thomas S. Monson as a prophet, seer, and revelator, and certainly never sustained him by my actions. Seeing him deliver what would be his last address, I decided that I would do everything necessary to seek and obtain a testimony of his predecessor being the mouthpiece of the Lord. It wasn’t a matter of hearing what this man had to say in terms of doctrine, because I spent the majority of my life becoming acquainted with the doctrines of the Church. It also wasn’t a matter of whether I felt the Holy Ghost when hearing his words, because I feel the Holy Ghost when listening to a lot of people, reading truth, and listening to good music.
If I wanted to gain a testimony that Russell M. Nelson, I would have to be deliberate in my search. The first evidence for me was not in what he said during his conference addresses and other material, but what he invited me [us] to do, and then look for the associated promises. At the same time, I was making careful mental notes about what the world was inviting me to do along with their associated promises.
Shortly after I was re-baptized into the Church, a friend of mine had publicly declared his disdain for the Church by publishing a video called, “My New Testimony,” which was not a testimony at all, but a 20 minute declaration of each topic in the Church which he no longer agreed with and claimed to prove the Church was indeed not true. (Claims that have many of us gathering in this Uplift community.) He did a great job at explaining what he no longer believed, but there was no mention of what he did believe. In a brief phone call I asked him if there was a belief system that he felt more drawn to, which he had none. I expressed my love for him and his journey as he finds the path best suited for him and his family.He, with a few other friends, have taken an active stance against the Church and their invitations. They, along with those of other people and communities, stand in sharp contrast of those invitations extended by the General Authorities. Their promises ranged from freedom from “ridiculous rules and standards” that separate us from our friends to freedom from “old, outdated men who seek to control you and your money.” They have materials and content that invited us to read, with no promise of feeling the Spirit or gaining eternal life, or any other spiritual gift. The promise is only that our eyes would be opened to the “truth about our Church.”
Inversely, the invitations from the General Authorities of the church are centered on learning the doctrines of Christ, ministering, and praying to know from divine authority if their messages are true. I have followed their invitations and I have proved their promises. I have become more acquainted with the Holy Ghost by accepting their invitations and seeking those promises. I don’t always do things right, but I am learning. I no longer go into General Conference or reading statements hoping to hear the Spirit give divine confirmation of their calling. I prepare for these sessions by inviting the Holy Ghost into my life so that I can hear beyond what these men are saying and hear, through them, what the Holy Ghost has been preparing me to hear. These men are fallible, yes, but their purpose is to testify of Christ and invite us to follow Him so that we can become more than we are. They are not perfect, but they are wise. I don’t follow their guidance perfectly, but I find peace in their guidance. Because I was willing to accept their invitations, I have found joy in my family, joy in my career, and joy in my adversities, which have been many these past three years. I gained a testimony of Russell M. Nelson and the current apostles through testing their invitations and having them fulfilled. I gained a testimony of their calling because my life is better for following them, and it was in shambles when I wasn’t.
Ps. I might add that I gained a testimony of President Monson with his final invitation.”My dear associates in the work of the Lord, I implore each of us to prayerfully study and ponder the Book of Mormon each day. As we do so, we will be in a position to hear the voice of the Spirit, to resist temptation, to overcome doubt and fear, and to receive heaven’s help in our lives.“I always assumed the “implore” was to strongly encourage, but it actually means to earnestly or desperately beg. So here we had a man who I had no spiritual connection to desperately begging me [us] to read the Book of Mormon daily and I, in my desire to change, sought to know if his promises would be fulfilled. It has been fulfilled time and time again as I have not stopped reading that sacred text and can truly say that I know that man was a prophet, a watchman on the tower, a brother in faith.