From Neal A. Maxwell and his book ‘All These Things Will Give Thee Experience’:

. . . . The basic doctrines call for real discipline of self; they are hard because wise self-discipline is hard. Among the requirements that God has placed upon us is to pay heed to his living prophets. In our dispensation this has been described as “following the Brethren.” It is a dimension of obedience that has been difficult for some in every dispensation. It will be particularly hard in ours, the final dispensation. Securely, every form of control, except self-control, seems to be increasing, and yet obedience rests on self-control.

The reasons for the hardness of this doctrine are quite simple: First, these are the winding-up times when there will be a dramatic convergence of growth of the Church and an intensification of evil in the world—all of which will make for some real wrenching. Second, the degree of deceit will be so great that even the very elect will almost be deceived. (Matthew 24;24) Third, the tribulations will be such that, as the Savior said, they will exceed the tribulations of any other time. (Matthew 24;21; Doctrine & Covenants 43;28; 45:67-68.)

To be obedient to the prophets In such a setting will require most of all, special faith and trust in the unfolding purpose of an omniscient and prevailing Lord.

When we speak of following the Brethren, we mean particularly the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. In 1951, President Kimball observed in a general conference that though some of those special individuals might falter, “there will never be a majority of he Council of the Twelve on the wrong side at any time.”(Conference Report, April 1951, p. 104)

We also have the precious promises concerning the President of the Church—that he will never lead the people astray.” (Discourses of Wilford Woodruff, p.212.)

It is exceedingly important for members of the Church to get experience following the prophets in little things, so that they can follow in large matters. By following the prophets in fair weather we become familiar with their cadence, so that we can follow them in stormy times too for then both our reflexes and our experience will need to combine to help us; the stresses will be very real.

It is obvious, for instance, that the Prophet Elijah demonstrated his prophetic powers dramatically on several occasions; those who followed his instructions in little things (without flickering in their devotion) also saw great things. At a time of severe drought and famine, for instance Elijah announced, against a backdrop of clear sky—“there is a sound of abundance of rain.” (1 Kings 18;41.) Nobody else heard such sounds. . . . Soon the scriptures tell us, the heavens grew “black with clouds and wind and there was a great rain.” (1 Kings 18:43-45.)

~ Neal A. Maxwell, ‘All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience’ (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1980) p. 101-03

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