D&C 90: Instructions to the First Presidency

Section 90 deals with the First Presidency 

What charge are they given?

Verse 4 –They are charged to give the oracles to the church.  In other words, through the First Presidency the world will hear the mind and will of the Lord.

What is our charge?

Verse 5 – We are to receive them and not hold them as a light thing.  In other words, our charge is to heed their counsel and as we do so we have light in our lives and are blessed.

We used a story in class to illustrate this concept:

I’m reminded of a story about a naval officer who finally got his stripes, became a captain, and then was given command of a giant battleship.

While on maneuvers in the Atlantic, during the darkest part of the night, the officer on deck was cautiously piloting the warship through fog-shrouded waters. With straining eyes he scanned the hazy darkness, searching for dangers lurking just out of sight, when his worst fears were realized. There in front of them was a bright light straight ahead on a collision course with the ship.

The sleeping captain was immediately summoned from his quarters to the bridge and told about a signal light headed straight for them off in the distance. To avert disaster he quickly told the signalman, “Signal that ship to bear ten degrees starboard.” To the captain’s amazement however, the foggy image did not move, but instead, sent back a signal saying, “You need to bear ten degrees starboard.”

Appalled at the audacity of the message, the indignant captain, insulted by the blatant refusal to respect his rank as a commander of a battleship, said, “Signal that ship again and tell them that this captain orders them to bear ten degrees starboard now.”

A second time the oncoming light did not budge. “With all due respect, Captain,” came the signal again, “I am a Seaman First Class and I order you to alter your course immediately ten degrees starboard!”

Angered and frustrated that this impudent sailor would endanger the lives of his men and crew, the captain signaled back, “Seaman, I can have you court-martialed for this! For the last time, I command you on the authority of the United States government to alter your course ten degrees starboard! I am a battleship!”

The seaman’s final transmission was chilling: “Captain, sir. Once again with all due respect, I command you to alter your course ten degrees starboard! I am a lighthouse!” The battleship moved. 

What is the First Presidency?  Are they on a little boat?  No – they are the lighthouse.  

We need to move, they cannot move.  The lighthouse will not move, yet society moves constantly.  The boat called the world is always moving.  If I insist on having things my way, I hit the rocks.  They give the oracles to us, my responsibility is to move.  

We discussed issues in our class where society (the ship) is instructing the First Presidency (the lighthouse). 

Another relevant principle addressed in some of my classes was the issue addressed in verse 11 of section 90.  This verse dictates that the First Presidency is to take the gospel to every person so that “every man shall hear the fulness of the gospel in his own tongue, and in his own language…” 

I like this.  It makes sense.  The Lord does not expect us to know His mind and will at first- He first comes to us and communicates to us in our language, after our manner of speech.  This is a powerful principle.  If I want to have influence with others, I need to see the world as they do so that I can help influence them in positive ways.

In another section of the Doctrine and Covenants the Lord said, “I am God and have spoken it; these commandments are of me, and were given unto my servants in their weakness, after the manner of their language, that they might come to understanding.” (D&C 1:24)  This makes perfect sense.  He first comes to us speaking after our language so that we might have His influence in our lives.  If we can emulate His example in our personal lives, we might be greater influences for good in our personal relationships, churches, communities, and schools.

This quote illustrates the point perfectly:  To win one’s respect and confidence, approach him midly, kindly. No friendship was ever gained by an attack upon principle or upon man, but by calm reason and the lowly Spirit of Truth. If you have built for a man a better house than his own, and he is willing to accept yours and forsake his, then, and not till then, should you proceed to tear down the old structure. Rotten though it may be, it will require some time for it to lose all its charms and fond memories of its former occupant. Therefore let him, not you, proceed to tear it away (Joseph F. Smith, From Prophet to Son, 42-43)

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About LDS Scripture Teachings

I write about ways scripture applies in our lives: LDSScriptureTeachings.org
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