Harold B. Lee teaches that a prophet does not always speak as a prophet; he only speaks authoritatively when inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Speech / Court Transcript
Harold B. Lee

Harold B. Lee, Youth Conference, Morning Session, Billings, Montana, June 10, 1973, in The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1996), 541-42

Harold B. Lee
Reading Public

A prophet may not always speak as a prophet. We had a bishop from down in Florida that had a great problem. A third of his total ward membership had been trying to buy a large piece of property, twenty-six thousand acres. They had obligated themselves to a bank and an insurance company and things hadn't gone right, and now the bank and the insurance company were going to foreclose. The property was worth twice as much as they had borrowed, but somebody had to bail them out. So this good bishop called the First Presidency's office and said, "I'd like to come to Salt Lake. I'd like to see if we can do something to save my people." This good bishop, good old Southerner that he was, came with all the papers. He just neglected everything else pertaining to his business, because he wanted to save his people. And so for two hours the First Presidency listened to him, and I sat there and I said, "No, we can't do that. We can't invest the Lord's money in that property. It can't be done. No, I can't see a way out. We'd get into more trouble." I could see all these difficulties, and so he was sent on his way back home. The President of the Church had said no. But before the next morning came, I knew that the President of the Church hadn't been speaking by the Spirit of the Lord. And when I met my counselors the next morning I said, "Where's the bishop?" And they said, "Oh, he's left on an early morning plane back home." And I said, "Well, I've had a complete change. I've done some praying; I've done some thinking. We mustn't let that bishop go down there without sending somebody down to see if we can help him. I don't know whether we can or not, but we can't send him back with just saying, 'No, there's nothing we can do to help you.' We've got to see if there's not some alternatives." We've had some brethren down there this last week trying to see if we can find a way by which part of the land might be purchased for what is all owing on the balance and save them sixteen thousand acres of their property. Now, I don't know what they're coming back with, but I knew that I hadn't spoken by the Spirit of the Lord the night before. But I knew before the next morning what the Lord was trying to say to me.

Now, do you see the difference of what I'm trying to say to you? Sometimes we can speak just as a man. But when we get the Spirit of the Lord we may think differently, and so it's our responsibility when we stand in holy places that we speak by the Spirit of the Lord and make as sure as we possibly can that we're speaking as the Lord directs us to speak. (73-15)

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