A prophet without honor

Following the living prophets is something that must be done in all seasons and circumstances. We must be like President Marion G. Romney, who humbly said, “. . . I have never hesitated to follow the counsel of the Authorities of the Church even though it crossed my social, professional, and political life.” (Conference Report, April 1941, p. 123.) There are, or will be, moments when prophetic declarations collide with our pride or our seeming personal interests. It can happen in many ways: businessmen caught in Sunday-closing efforts who must decide how they really feel about the fourth commandment; theater owners showing near-pornographic films who must decide between prophets and profits; politicians involved in an erring movement that calls forth a First Presidency statement, forcing them to decide which flag to follow; academicians whose discipline gives rise to moral issues on which the Brethren speak out, who must choose between peers and prophets; laborers who are caught in union-shop and free-agency situations. For the participants, such painful episodes tend to force home the question: Do I believe in the living prophet even when he speaks on matters affecting me and my specialty directly? Or do I stop sustaining the prophet when his words fall in my territory? If the latter, the prophet is without honor in our country!

– Neal A. Maxwell, Things as They Really Are, 73.

And too there are those who simply don’t wish to appear too committed, for fear this will cost them credibility in their country:

We must never underestimate the erosive power of routine and repetition insofar as the cares of the world are concerned. There are, depending upon one’s particular cluster of cares, different things to be guarded against. Regardless of role, the challenge is there for us all….

For the academician in his search for truth and in his efforts for its preservation or dissemination, the admiration and esteem of his peers is both useful and desirable. But these too can be easily corrupted into an inordinate desire for “the praise of men.” Sophistry can come to be preferred to simplicity. The language of scholarship, necessary in its realm, can come to be preferred to the language of faith. Once again, even for the person of faith, the incessant requirements of such associations can come to cloud one’s perspective.

For the person involved in government or politics, the constant striving for preeminence or the challenge over turf can get in the way of giving service to others. Some civil servants are barely civil. For some politicians, “getting even” is, somehow, seen as succeeding.

– Neal A. Maxwell, Sermons Not Spoken (Salt Lake City, Utah: Deseret Book, 1985), 10-11.