I am very proud of my son. He has grown up to be a wonderful husband, father and priesthood holder. I asked him to prepare a talk at our November 2010 Stake Conference on the subject of following the stake president. He submitted his intended talk to me and after a few modifications I sent it back to him. Apart from my talk which ended the conference this was by far the highlight of the conference weekend for all stake members. Below are the words he spoke:
Brothers and Sisters I have been asked to speak to you today on the subject of sustaining and following our local leaders. Since this is stake conference I will concentrate on sustaining and obeying the stake president. I have entitled my talk “The Fourteen Fundamentals in Following the Stake President” which has reference to President Bensons talk given at BYU in 1980. This talk was referred to twice in the recent October 2010 General Conference. I have of course adapted the 14 principles to apply to the father of our stake who is also my earthly father even President William Lilburn Godfrey Paternoster.
The first principle in following the stake president is to understand that he is the only man who speaks for the Lord in everything within our stake. This privilege and responsibility rests with him and him only.
In our day the stake president has told us to keep the commandments, to love our fellowman, to serve, to take care of the rising generation, to rescue the inactive or less active—to do many things that we call prophetic priorities. We need to understand that these priorities are God’s priorities and the stake president is His voice in communicating them to all of the Church in this area.
We would do well to apply the following scriptures as we think of our stake president. We are counseled to “give heed unto all his words and commandments” (D&C 21:4). We also learn: “For his word ye shall receive, as if from mine own mouth, in all patience and faith.”
The second fundamental is that the living stake president is more vital to us than the scriptures or standard works. While the scriptures are important I can testify to you that our living stake president is receiving specific revelations for us in these the latter-days that cannot be found in the current standard works of the Church.
The third fundamental is that the current stake president is more important to us than past stake presidents.
We learn a great lesson about this from the scriptures. In the times of Noah it was easier for the people to believe in the dead prophets, but it was difficult for them to believe in Noah. We know that because of their incredulity they did not survive the Flood. Similar things can happen to us in our area if we do not heed the words of president Paternoster.
The fourth fundamental is that the stake president will never lead the Church in this area astray.
President Paternoster has said on several occasions: “The Lord will never permit me or any other man who stands as the president of this stake to lead you astray. It is not in the programme. It is not in the mind of God. If I were to attempt that, the Lord would remove me out of my place, and so He will any other man who attempts to lead the children of men astray from the oracles of God and from their duty”.
The fifth fundamental is that the stake president is not required to have any particular earthly training or credentials to speak on any subject or act on any matter at any time. As the Lords representative in this area President Paternoster has the right and sole responsibility to counsel government representatives, mayors, other civic leaders, law enforcement officers, scientists and other religious communities; even if he himself has not held such a position within the community.
The Lord called a young man, Joseph Smith, to restore His Church. Do you think that the young Joseph Smith was a doctor in theology or science? We know that he was a humble and not academically educated young man. But he was chosen by the Lord, and he received from the Lord all that was necessary to honor and magnify the calling of a prophet of the Restoration. So it is with our stake president.
The sixth fundamental is that the stake president does not have to say ‘Thus saith the Lord’ to give us scripture. Every word that proceedeth forth from his mouth is to be counted as if it were the mind and will of the Lord. Obedience to the president at all times without question is essential to our salvation.
The seventh principle is that the stake president tells us what we need to know, not always what we want to know. President Paternoster often laments that people within the stake speak to him as did Laman and Lemuel to Nephi saying “Thou hast declared unto us hard things, more than we are able to bear”
Our stake president will often reply as did Nephi “And now my brethren, if ye were righteous and were willing to hearken to the truth, and give heed unto it, that ye might walk uprightly before God, then ye would not murmur because of the truth, and say: Thou speakest hard things against us.”
The eighth fundamental is that the stake president is not limited by men’s reasoning.
Does it seem reasonable to cure throat cancer by telling a man to wash seventeen times in the river right behind this very stake center in the middle of winter? No it doesn’t. Yet this is precisely what the President told Brother Stumstead to do; and was he healed? With the help of radiation therapy, surgery, chemotherapy and this act of faith he most certainly was. In fact he is sitting amongst us today.
Brothers and sisters my time is running out so I will skip to the last principle about obedience to the president which is probably the most important and is a warning unto all; follow him and be blessed; reject him and suffer. I don't know how to make it any clearer than that.
We are privileged to have the words of our living stake president during this wonderful stake conference. He will speak the will of the Lord for us, his people. He will transmit the word of God and His counsel to us. Pay attention and follow his instruction and suggestions, and I testify to you that your life will be completely blessed.
Jesus is the Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. Bill Paternoster is the current living president who works under the direction of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles who are prophets, seers, and revelators. I say these things most humbly in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.