Wednesday, April 8, 2015

What Does It Mean to Sustain Our Leaders?

I have had quite a few conversations over the years with people who ask what it means to "sustain and support" leaders.  I have given different answers, depending on the person and the situation, but I want today to provide a straightforward, simple answer, based on the actual dictionary definitions.  I will follow-up tomorrow on one particular aspect mentioned in these definitions which I believe is important but which gets over-looked often.  

To sustain:

1. to support, hold, or bear up from below; bear the weight of, as a structure.

This implies helping someone, and the religious organizational example might be the two men who held up Moses' arms during battle. It implies cooperating with someone in what they do and helping them do it. bear (a burden, charge, etc.).

In the Church, this means helping to run the organization - doing something to take a portion of the load off of others, often by assignment ("charge"). This is associated generally with callings.

3. to undergo, experience, or suffer (injury, loss, etc.); endure without giving way or yielding.

This implies standing by someone, often through difficulty.  This has many applications within a church setting.

4. to keep (a person, the mind, the spirits, etc.) from giving way, as under trial or affliction.

This deals with providing support of some kind, so another person doesn't fall, fail, etc. This includes constructive criticism and counterpoint, and I have sustained a leader by disagreeing on more than one occasion. In fact, I believe it is impossible to sustain someone fully without understanding and accepting this definition.

5. to keep up or keep going, as an action or process: to sustain a conversation.

This deals with on-going commitment - not just "sustaining" now and then, for whatever reason.

I would appreciate any input about how you view any or all of these aspects of sustaining leaders. 


ji said...

I don't like to think of sustaining leaders. Rather, in our community of saints, we sustain each other. I will sustain Clark when he is called as bishop, and he will sustain me when he calls me as priests quorum adviser. Sustaining doesn't only go uphill, so to speak -- it goes every direction. I don't sustain Clark as my leader; rather, I sustain him as my brother who will magnify the office of bishop.

Papa D said...

I like that distinction, ji - a lot.