Leading as the Savior would (#11)

This portfolio meets the standards of a “guided project” on the S&I website. The purpose
for this project was to increase my abilities to lead others at home, at Church, and at work in the
same manner as the Savior would. I want to be the kind of father, teacher and Church leader that
the Lord would have me be, and I have gained many insights and learned many lessons that will
help me be better able to teach and to lead.
I have studied the standard works and articles in Church magazines, along with writing
my thoughts and feelings in a study journal. The articles and scriptures I studied covered various
facets of leadership, not just in the seminary setting. I compiled a list of ten important scriptures
on leadership. I recorded in my study journal insights and principles from ten Church magazine
articles on leadership. I also included guidance we have received on leadership from latter-day
prophets along with a list of books, articles and quotes on effective leadership.
My conclusion is this: the most important leadership duties we have in life are as
husbands and wives, fathers and mothers. The Lord has commanded us to teach our children the
gospel (see Doctrine and Covenants 68:25-30). With all the demands on our time and our energy,
this must remain the focus of our best efforts. The Brethren have made very clear what are
responsibilities are in this regard. I found that the majority of articles and talks focused on
leadership in the home, and the principles were easy to apply in every other setting in life.
Table of Contents
Literature review…………………………………………………………………………………..3
Introduction and purpose statement……………………………...………………………….…….4
Ten important scriptures on leadership………………………………………………...………….5
Samples of work (study journal)…………………………………………………………………10
Be a good leader (President David O. McKay)……………………………………………...…..26
Leadership tip (President N. Eldon Tanner)………………………………………………….….27
List of books, talks, and quotes on leadership…………………………………………………...28
Distillation on leadership…………………………………………………………………...……31
Literature review
The sources for this project were the Standard Works, Church magazine articles, and the
Administering Appropriately handbook produced by S&I. Since this portfolio is modeled after
the guided projects approved by the Central Office, there is no formal Literature Review
Introduction and purpose statement
The Objective of Seminaries and Institutes of Religion contains three sections: “Live,”
“Teach,” and “Administer.” Under “Administer” it states, “We administer our programs and
resources appropriately. Our efforts assist parents in their responsibility to strengthen their
families. We work closely with priesthood leaders as we invite students to participate and as we
provide a spiritual environment where students can associate with one another and learn
together.” One of the basic duties of educators in S&I is to be an effective leader and
President Gordon B. Hinckley once taught, “Effective teaching is the very essence of
leadership in the Church. Eternal life will come only as men and women are taught with such
effectiveness that they change and discipline their lives. They cannot be coerced into
righteousness or into heaven. They must be led, and that means teaching.” 1 The better an
educator become at teaching the gospel, he will naturally become a better leader in every other
area as well.
The purpose of this portfolio is to learn principles of Christ-like leadership that will help
me become a more effective teacher and administrator. I will learn these principles by studying
what the standard works, latter-day prophets, and articles published in Church magazines have
taught on the subject. As with everything else, Jesus Christ gave us the perfect example of love
and leadership. As I learn and internalize these principles and work on applying them in my dayto-day responsibilities in the classroom and other areas of my employment, I hope to increase my
capacity to lead in the manner that the Savior would have me.
Quoted in Elder Holland, “A Teacher Come from God,” Ensign, May 1998.
Ten important scriptures on leadership
1. 3 Nephi 27:27. When I began pondering verses on leadership, this reference was the first
scripture that came to my mind. As with everything else in life, the Savior is our perfect example
and role model. He counsels us in this verse to be even as He is. My scripture heroes have
always been King Benjamin and Captain Moroni. To me they are the ultimate definition of real
men. And to me, the reason they are real men is because they are just like Christ in so many
ways. The more we study His words and His life, the more we can apply His teachings and
example into our own lives, both at home and in the classroom. Elder Oaks taught, “To receive
Him and know Him, we and all mankind, must, as Moroni exhorts, ‘come unto Christ, and be
perfected in him’ (Moroni 10:32). In other words, we must come unto Christ and strive to
become like Him.” 2 It goes without saying that a person who strives to live the type of life that
the Savior of the world led will be a better leader in every area.
2. Exodus 18:13-26. This passage is when Jethro tells Moses he will “surely wear away”
(verse 18) if he doesn’t learn to delegate. Moses showed his humility by listening to what his
father in law told him to do, and “did all that he had said” (verse 24). A good leader is humble
and willing to accept feedback. Sometimes it’s hard for teachers to be observed and do student
evaluations because of fear of what the feedback might be. If we truly desire to become the most
effective instrument in the hands of the Lord that we can be, we’ll put aside our pride and do
what we need to better serve our students and those we work with. After all, it’s about the
students, not about us. Moses is a great example of this true. Boyd K. Packer once taught, “A
prime attribute of a good leader is to be a good follower.” 3 By following Jethro’s counsel and
Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32-34.
“The Unwritten Order of Things,” BYU devotional address, Oct. 15, 1996 in the Marriot Center.
appointing lesser judges and delegating authority to them, Moses is also great example of the
truth President Packer taught.
3. 1 Nephi 16:23. In this chapter, Nephi breaks his bow, Laman and Lemuel begin to
Murmur (as usual), and Lehi even joins in the complaining. While everything is falling apart in
the family, Nephi is building another bow and working on solving the problem. When he is ready
to go back hunting, he approaches his father and asks “whither shall I go to obtain food?” Lehi
then inquires of the Lord and before the chapter ends, the whole family is eating the wild beasts
that Nephi killed. I have always been impressed that Nephi still goes to his file leader to gain
direction, even though Lehi was murmuring just three verses earlier. It would have been easy for
him to just go off and do what he felt was right, but he respected the fact that his father, though
imperfect, was still the prophet. A good leader follows the proper chain of command at all
4. Helaman 1:6. Pahoran, Paanchi, and Pacumeni are all contending for the judgment-seat in
this passage. After Pahoran was appointed to be chief judge by the voice of the people, Pacumeni
“unite[d] with the voice of the people.” In contrast, Paanchi tries to use flattery on the people, is
tried and then put to death. Once again, I feel like Pacumeni is an example of the principle that a
good leader is a good follower. Once the decision was made, he fell in line with the voice of the
people and later on was appointed to the judgment seat. I remember when I was assigned to be
the principal in Richmond, Brent Cottle taught me the same lesson. He said that while he was
serving as a stake president, his counselors were so effective at leading the stake because they
were so diligent in following direction that was given to them. He told me that if I want to
effectively lead the men that I work with, I would need to do the best job I could to follow the
direction of my leader, Dee Barrett. I have seen the wisdom of that counsel many times in the last
few years.
5. Alma 62:36. While I don’t condone throwing javelins at people as a regular practice,
I feel that the example of Teancum teaches another principle of leadership: he sacrificed his own
well-being for the whole of the good. In other words, the needs of the group were more
important than his own welfare. This is an extreme example in that he paid for his actions with
his life. Teancum put it all on the line for his people. I have always loved that Teancum didn’t sit
around with great intentions; he acted, thus ridding the world of a wicked traitor.
6. Alma 53:14. The principle this verse teaches is simple, but profound. An effective
Leader is a covenant keeper and he does all he can to help those around him keep their
covenants as well. In this verse Helaman encourages the Ammonites to keep their covenant of
not taking up their weapons of war. Not only did Helaman encourage them not to fight, they
were “overpowered by the persuasions of Helaman.” This verse shows how seriously Helaman
felt about covenants. I feel that one of the best things a leader can do in this Church, whatever
capacity he is serving in, is to powerfully teach covenants and the importance of keeping them.
7. Alma 58:21. In this chapter every one of the Ammonite stripling warriors are wounded,
yet not a single one of them is slain. A huge key to this miraculous outcome is the principle of
exact obedience. These young warriors “did obey and observe to perform every word of
command with exactness.” I especially learned the value of exact obedience in the mission field.
I remember my mission president so many times in Zone Conference asking the question: “How
in the world do you expect to call down the blessings of heaven if you sleep in two hours every
morning (or disobey any of the other mission rules)?” This always made so much sense in my
mind. The doctrine is clear: obey and be blessed. Disobey and get ready to live without the
blessings (see Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21).
8. Moroni 1:1-3. Shortly after I was called to my current calling, someone handed me a talk
by President Hinckley entitled “The Loneliness of Leadership.” At first, I didn’t exactly
understand what that meant. A few months later, I have a solid testimony of it! Some might think
that being a leader is glamorous. While leadership does bring numerous blessings, often it is
challenging and just what President Hinckley said it was: lonely. I have always loved the
example of Moroni at the end of the Book of Mormon. In order to save his life from the
Lamanites, he wanders for at least 21 years. Despite the Lamanite effort to kill all Nephites that
won’t deny Jesus Christ, Moroni testifies: “I, Moroni, will not deny the Christ” (verse 3). As
previously stated, a true leader puts the purposes of God above everything else. In Moroni’s case,
writing on and protecting the plates was his most important objective.
9. Mosiah 13:3, 9. I love the example of Abinadi in these verses. He had a message to
deliver and a purpose to accomplish, and NOTHING was going to stand in his way. He tells
Noah and his priests to keep their hands off him until he delivers the message God intended for
him to deliver. After that, it doesn’t matter where he goes (verse 9). Abinadi shows us a powerful
example in Mosiah chapters 13 through 18 of a focused and determined person whose sole
objective was to accomplish the errand that the Lord sent him on. He is a perfect example of the
principle taught in Doctrine and Covenants 107:99: “Wherefore, now let every man learn his
duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence” (emphasis added).
10. Mosiah 2-5. My all-time favorite example of servant-leadership is King Benjamin. I can’t
even choose a verse or a passage of scripture in these chapters, so I’ll just list all the chapters!
King Benjamin is the Bishop that is right there alongside the young men in his ward setting up
chairs, not just giving them the assignment to do it. He is the leader that is raking leaves and
cleaning up trash during the ward service activity along with everyone else instead of sitting in
his office. He is the home teacher that is diligently making visits himself and not just preaching
to the rest of his quorum to do it. He talks the talk AND walks the walk. In Mosiah 2:14 he
tells his people, “And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you.”
By doing this, he could “answer a clear conscience before God this day” (see verse 16). I can’t
think of a better reward than having peace of mind and being able to sleep soundly each night.
King Benjamin did what the Savior did during His ministry: He “went about doing good” (Acts
Samples of work (study journal)
I just finished reading “Jesus: The Perfect Leader” by President Spencer W. Kimball. If
person wanted to read one talk that summarized everything there is to know on the principles of
effective leadership, this would be the talk. President Kimball stated right at the beginning of the
talk that it would be impossible to include everything the Savior ever taught us about leadership
in an article or a book, but he did a wonderful job teaching so many of the attributes and the
skills the Savior exhibited that we can learn from.
To summarize President Kimball’s teachings, a true leader:
Knows who he is and why he is here. This way he can lead from strength rather than
Encourages others to follow his actions, not just his words.
Works alongside those with whom he serves.
Keeps himself pure and worthy.
Is patient, kind and loving.
Is candid when he needs to be.
Realizes that sin springs from deep, unmet needs. He tries to meet those needs.
Is selfless.
Realizes that there can be no growth without real freedom.
Delegates, enabling those around him to grow.
Makes demands on those he leads.
Holds those around him accountable.
Uses his time wisely.
Helps those he is leading realize their unlimited possibilities.
I really love all of these principles and realize that it will take a lifetime (and more) to
master this list. There is one principle President Kimball taught that I have gained a stronger
testimony of over the last few years- it is the principle of delegating. President Kimball taught
that “Jesus trusts his followers enough to share his work with them so that they can grow. This is
one of the greatest lessons of his leadership.” I learned this early on after being assigned to be a
principal in S&I. I have always felt that, in my role as a father to small children and in church
callings, the job will get done quicker and more efficiently if I just did it myself. And often this
really is the case with most of us. But that is not the best method in helping those around us
grow. I really made an effort to give the men I worked with assignments and then the freedom to
carry those assignments out and to report back to the group on how things went. Sometime they
didn’t do things how I would have done them, and often they accomplished the task slower than I
would have liked, but that wasn’t the point. The point was: they felt included, trusted, and
valued. They felt that they were a part of a team and their contributions were making a
difference. That outcome is way more beneficial than getting the job done a few days earlier.
We are placed on this earth to grow and progress. At home we have given our children
chores to work on each week. “It’s just part of being a member of this family” we tell them. Last
week it took 20-30 minutes to scrub the toilets with my daughter. I could have done the job by
myself in 5-7 minutes. But I realize that even though scrubbing toilets isn’t the most exciting
thing we do in mortality, teaching that mundane task to my daughter and letting her be successful
at it is an important skill that just comes with mortality. Scrubbing toilets isn’t usually the source
of our fondest memories and joy in this life, but I think she felt pretty proud of herself by the
time we got done. She even mentioned that she doesn’t need my help anymore- I won’t complain
about that!
In conclusion, President Kimball made another statement that really stood out to me. He
said that “greatness is not always a matter of size or scale, but of the quality of one’s life.” For
years I have been impressed by Shiblon in the book of Alma. Helaman gets two long chapters
devoted to him (Alma 36-37) and then later a whole book named in his honor. Corianton has a
few problems so he gets a bunch of chapter dedicated to him (Alma 39-42). And then we have
Shiblon, steady-eddy, right in the middle of it all. Alma asks Corianton if he has noticed the
“steadiness of thy brother” (see Alma 39:1). Shiblon is like an offensive lineman on the football
team: no one remembers much about him and he doesn’t get any glory. But the role he plays in
quietly going about his business of keeping the commandments and serving is vital in the
kingdom of God. The quality of Shiblon’s life is obvious. And most of this Church is made up of
members just like Shiblon. They don’t get any glory and their names don’t ever appear in the
Church News- they just quietly follow the example of Jesus and do their best to follow the
Church magazine articles on addresses on leadership
1) “Joseph Smith—Five Qualities of Leadership,” William E. Berrett, New Era, June 1977.
In this article, William Berrett teaches of five qualities that Joseph Smith possessed that
made him a great leader. These qualities are: intelligence; a zeal for learning; faith in a living
God; power of introspection; and love of people. I’ll share my thoughts on a few of these.
Joseph told the Saints that he made a list of around a dozen languages and he planned on
mastering all of them. This is the exact type of attitude that educators in S&I should exhibit
throughout the length of their careers. We should never feel as if we have “arrived.” I believe
that is one of the main reasons for the Certification program. Just as a nurse must keep current on
her license by taking continuing education courses, we should constantly be seeking ways to
better ourselves as teachers and leaders, to be sharpening our skills. It was a desire for
knowledge that drove a young Joseph into a grove of trees in 1820 to find out which church to
join. The Savior displayed a zeal for learning at the young age of 12 when his parents found him
in the temple teaching some of the great Jewish leaders (see Luke 2:40-49).
A leader in this Church must have faith in a living God, just as the first Article of Faith
states. I remember something Elder Thomas Cherrington taught last fall in our Opening Area Inservice. He stressed the fact that “revelation is vertical” in this Church, and he encouraged us to
go first to our Heavenly Father when we need answers to our questions. Often we’re tempted to
go to other sources when we need wisdom such as friends, self-help books or the internet. Our
first instinct should be to do just as Joseph did in following the counsel in James 1:5: “If any of
you lack wisdom, let him ask in faith.” What a powerful lesson on how to gain light and
knowledge from above.
I feel that our #1 motivation in serving other is love. The Savior taught, “If ye love me,
keep my commandments” (John 14:15). We need to serve out of pure love of God and our
fellowman and for no other reason. Any other reason would be priestcraft. Brother Barrett quoted
Emma Smith as saying that the Prophet Joseph would never eat a meal alone- he would invite a
stranger from the street to eat with him (see History of the Church, 6:166). Nothing great was
ever achieved in this world without love.
2) “First and Ten: A Mormon Quarterback Talks About Leadership,” Melvin Leavitt,
Ensign, June 1977.
This article contained an interview with Gifford Nielsen, a record-setting quarterback at
BYU in the 1970’s, who is currently a member of the First Quorum of Seventy. Brother Nielsen
mentions many principles that helped him achieve success as a quarterback, and he relates each
of them to real life, as well. I like how he mentioned that having a leadership label and being a
leader are two different things. Just because someone is in a leadership position doesn’t
necessarily mean they can lead. A good leader is humble and does everything he can to build
those around him and give credit to others. A quarterback usually gets the credit for throwing
touchdowns, but without his offensive linemen, he would most likely be in the hospital with a
broken neck. That is why we hear stories of quarterbacks in the NFL taking their linemen out for
dinner often or even buying them vehicles! Ammon was a great example of giving credit to the
Lord when he proclaimed, “Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak;
therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all
things…” (Alma 26:12). While it is necessary to have confidence in ourselves to really be
successful, we must remember that the Lord is the Source of all power and help.
A good leader listens to those he is leading, which in turns causes others to listen to him
in return. He accepts feedback and suggestions. Brother Nielsen mentioned that LaVell Edwards
was excellent at this principle. As legendary of a coach as he was if his players had ideas and
suggestions, he and his coaching staff would listen to them and even implement the ideas if they
would benefit the team. I have had leaders over the years that genuinely wanted to know what I
thought and how I felt. This inspired confidence in me and I also learned to love that leader even
more, just for the simple fact that I knew he cared. Another principle Brother Nielsen taught was
the need to build up those we are leading with encouragement and praise. He was always sure to
spotlight his receivers and let them know when they had done something well. I really have a
testimony of this truth. I love to “catch” my kids doing something well and then making a big
deal of it. I believe this goes a lot further than constantly nagging them for things they’re doing
wrong. It works this way in the workplace too. I try to uplift and build my men as much as
possible and help them feel good about the efforts they’re making. In return, it seems that they
try harder and keep trying to improve as a result.
3) “Why, How, and How Not to Delegate: Some Suggestions for Home and Church,”
William G. Dyer, Liahona, Jan. 1984.
The first comment Brother Dyer made in this article was that delegation is perhaps the
most misunderstood leadership principle there is. From my experience, I also believe it is the
principle that most leaders have the hardest time implementing. He explained the difference
between assignments, projects, and areas of work. In my home, we’re still in the “assignment”
stage (i.e. make your bed, take this to the neighbor, etc.) The ultimate goal is to train our children
to be able to be responsible in larger tasks which will allow them more opportunities to grow.
While delegation is a true principle, often is initially takes up more of a leader’s time instead of
freeing up more time. But once others are trained in their responsibilities, it is a blessing to all
Out of the seven suggestions Brother Dyer gave to help overcome obstacles to delegation,
the last one may be the hardest to do: “let go.” Once expectations have been clarified and
training has been given, the leader needs to back away and let the person fulfill the task in the
way that they see best. A leader can’t “hover” and make sure the assignment is done in the way
he feels is best- he needs to allow others to struggle and learn and grow and do it their way.
Sometimes the leader might even be inspired and learn ways on how he might improve and
become better. While it is important to follow through and provide any assistance needed,
leader’s need to “let go” and let people have learning experiences for themselves.
One thing I’ve noticed in my calling is the importance of helping people “own it” when
they are given responsibilities. I have seen so many times where members of the ward will take
an assignment but will go about it cautiously, almost as if they’re still waiting for the Bishopric
to walk with them hand in hand, so to speak. For example, the project of planning the next ward
BBQ was given to the Young Men/Young Women groups. After sputtering around for a few
weeks and everyone trying not to step on anyone else’s toes, we finally sat down with the Young
Men and Young Women president and essentially told them: “This is your baby. Own it. Grab
the bull by the horns and let’s get this thing rolling.” We tried to inspire confidence in them that
whatever they wanted to plan and carry out was going to be awesome and they didn’t need to
check with us on every little question and detail. If anything is out of bounds according to
Church policy, we’ll be sure to let them know, but other than that, have some fun and get
creative! As a result, we have what I think is going to be the greatest ward party in the Church
coming up in May. They owned it, we trusted them, and great things happened.
4) “Some Scriptural Lessons on Leadership,” Elder Spencer J. Condie, Ensign, May 1990.
This was an excellent talk full of leadership principles from we can learn from the scriptures.
Elder Condie came to my mission and spoke to us once, and he didn’t mince his words! I love
how he teaches in such a plain and straightforward way. These are the principles he taught of
effective leadership:
A leader must have a vision of the work which lies ahead.
A leader must be humble and obedient.
Leadership positions do not totally protect us from temptation.
Knowledge and wisdom alone don’t qualify us to lead
To lead is to serve.
Faith in the Lord and high expectations can bring about a mighty change of heart.
Leaders delegate and develop leadership skills in those around them.
Leaders are duty-bound and obligated to prepare others to take their place.
A great leader must have high expectations, tempered with patience.
A leader in the Lord’s kingdom must be meek and lowly of heart (see Alma 37:34).
I love the idea of a leader constantly training those around him to one day take his place. I
learned this lesson many times in the mission field. My mission president was always telling us
(when we trained new missionaries) to train them like they’re going to be taking our place as a
senior companion at the next transfer. If we were a district leader, our mindset was to be that we
were training our companion the best we could to be the next district leader. I’ve learned this in
the Church, also. In a Bishopric training meeting years ago, our stake president told all the
counselors to prepare as if they were going to one day take over for the Bishop. While this may
never happen, think of the wonderful lessons that will be learned along the way which can be
implemented in so many other situations.
Elder Condie taught, “Long before his martyrdom the Prophet Joseph Smith was
diligently training those who would continue to lead the kingdom after he was gone.” Zion’s
Camp is an excellent example of this. When I was asked to come to Richmond four years ago,
Brother Brent Cottle told me to “train my way out of a job.” At first I didn’t understand what he
meant. He explained that one of my most important responsibilities was to train the men I work
with to take over for me one day. I have really tried to do that and it has been a rewarding
experience. I hope they sense that I have no ego and I want them to be successful. And the truth
is, one day I will be gone, someone else will be in my place, and the work will roll on
uninterrupted. I love how Elder Condie said, “Brothers and sisters, the cemeteries are filled with
leaders who thought they were indispensable.”
5) “Gospel Teaching,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Ensign, Nov. 1999.
Right at the beginning of his talk, Elder Oaks emphasized that the most important teachers in
the Lord’s plan of salvation are parents. I love this idea and really believe in it. I have found this
teaching in most of the talks and articles I’ve studied so far. The ultimate goal would be that
everything we teach in church and in the seminary classroom is a review of what has already
been taught in the home. However, this isn’t the case in the lives of many of our students. Every
member of the Church is a teacher in one way or another, and often the most powerful teaching
we do isn’t done by the spoken word. Elder Oaks, quoting President Hinckley, said, “Effective
teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church.” 4
There are some points of counsel from Elder Oaks that really stood out to me. One of the
dangers of the “occupational hazards” (to quote Elder Paul Johnson) of this profession is
priestcraft. Elder Oaks warned against it: “Focusing on the needs of the students, a gospel
teacher will never obscure their view of the Master by standing in the way or by shadowing the
lesson with self-promotion or self-interest.” This can apply to any role we have in life. We must
never stand in between another person and the Savior. Another caution Elder Oaks gave was to
teach general principles and leave the application up to the individual. For instance, we are to
teach the doctrine of the Sabbath day and leave the list of “do’s” and “don’t” up to individuals
and families to figure out. I have seen so many times (including myself) where a lesson goes
downhill because we start teaching preferences instead of principles. The Holy Ghost will
validate truth but not necessarily opinion.
See Jeffrey R. Holland, “A Teacher Come from God,” Ensign, May 1998, 26.
6) “Called of God,” Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, Nov. 2002.
I really enjoyed this talk because Elder Perry focused the majority of his thoughts on
leadership in the home. Like so many of the other Brethren have, Elder Perry stressed the
importance of us attending to our duties as husband and wives, fathers and mothers. He quoted
the Family Proclamation in reminding us that our main responsibilities as priesthood holders are
to preside, provide and protect. 5 If the men of this world would put those three duties at the
forefront of all they do, this world would be a different place. I have seen so much heartache in
families and with wives when the man doesn’t lead out in the family as he should.
Elder Perry taught of principles that govern a priesthood quorum, and these same
principles apply to our teaching and leading in the home. The Lord has commanded us to “bring
up [our] children in light and truth” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:40). From my experience, one
of the greatest ways to do this is in Family Home Evening. I think I have taken this program of
the Church for granted until I had children of my own. They are still at the age when they are
begging to do Home Evening every night. How great would that be if this desire continued into
their teenage years! Some of them are getting old enough to prepare short messages, read
scriptures, pray, and be more involved in the teaching process. I know the Lord is pleased when
we put as much (and even more) effort into teaching our own children as we do in the seminary
classroom. Elder Oaks bore a powerful testimony of what our homes should be: “Homes should
be an anchor, a safe harbor, a place of refuge, a happy place where families dwell together, a
place where children are loved. In the home, parents should teach their children the great lessons
of life. Home should be the center of one’s earthly experience, where love and mutual respect are
appropriately blended.” It is sometimes hard to find a “happy place” on days when the kids are
bickering and the house is a mess, but this should always be our ultimate aim.
“The Family: A Proclamation to the Word,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.
7) “Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling,” Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, May 2004.
This talk should be required reading, once a month, for every man in the Church. Despite
realizing some of my shortcomings, I loved every single word that Elder Perry taught. Because
the father is the “anchor” of the home, Satan is doing everything he can to attack, ridicule and
demean husbands and fathers. It makes sense- if he can undermine the role of men in the family,
he can bring down the whole family. Elder Perry gave many examples of men in the scriptures
that we should model our lives after: Heavenly Father and the Savior, Moses and Jethro, and
Alma, to name a few. Elder Perry taught that “fatherhood is leadership, the most important kind
of leadership. It has always been so; it always will be so. I remember my mission president
saying something to the effect of, “Of all the titles that the God of the Universe could have
chosen, isn’t it interesting that he chose the title of Father, Heavenly Father?” It is the one duty
and privilege that we’ll be able to have throughout eternity. Therefore, it is the duty that should
command the majority of our efforts.
I like the idea that Elder Perry shared (quoting Joseph F. Smith) that parents should,
instead of sending their children to specialists, “be a specialist yourself in the truth.” 6 I worked
with a man a few years ago that said (summarizing), “I want my kids to hear the gospel from me
first. I don’t want them to be hearing anything for the first time from their Sunday School or
seminary teachers.” Brent Cottle was my pre-service director. When I got hired, he gave me
some advice. He said that often in this profession we get home and we’re just plain old tired, and
the last thing we want to do is get another lesson ready (Family Home Evening) or read the
scriptures again. But we have to stay the course and be as diligent with our families as we are
with our classes, for those are the most important efforts we will make in this life. I also
remember my grandpa (who taught for CES for 40 years) saying that he always tried to save his
Improvement Era, Dec. 1903, 138.
best for his family and then give everyone else “the leftovers.” I know this sounds extreme and
can be interpreted in different ways, but I like the idea that his wife and children weren’t second
fiddle to anyone.
8) “Tending to the Flock: Teaching Leadership Skills to Youth,” President Dieter F.
Uchtdorf and Elder M. Russell Ballard,” Liahona, June 2008.
In most of these talks I’m studying, the theme of leadership in the home appears again
and again and again. Elder Ballard stated, “The responsibility of building leadership in the
Church belongs to the father and the mother … it begins in the home.” President Uchtdorf and
Elder Ballard shared 10 principles related to teaching leadership skills to youth. Right at the
beginning of the interview, they encouraged parents to include their children in their lives, even
in small repair jobs around the home and things like that. I’ve seen this first-hand with my kids.
At first I thought my children would be bored or uninterested in doing routine things around the
house. I was surprised and please to find out that often the love it. I suspect this will wear out in
the coming years as they get older, but for now, changing the batteries in the smoke alarms was
the highlight of my little boys’ week last week! Showing a child what to do and then letting them
do it can instill important skills and confidence in them when they’re young.
The principle of “shadow leadership” was also taught. From my viewpoint, it is hard for
leaders in the Church to turn over things to the youth. I think this is partly out of fear that the job
won’t get done and also because it is more work to be a “shadow leader” than it is to just keep
our own hands on the steering wheel, so to speak. The truth is, deacon and teacher quorum
president hold keys and it is their right to lead the youth. Elder Ballard pointed out that if there
are three young men who are not active, is it the responsibility of the young men in the quorum
to recover these boys, with assistance from the leaders. Youth can also become better leaders by
participating in the teaching process. This is one of the miracles of the “Come Follow Me”
curriculum that the Church now uses. I have more student sharing things they’ve learned in
Church than ever before. By participating in the teaching effort, they are learning and applying
things better now than in the past.
Another principle that has been repeated many times was reiterated by President
Uchtdorf: “You learn to be a leader by first learning to be a follower. The scripture says to ‘act,’
not be ‘acted upon’ (2 Nephi 2:26).” When youth make an attempt at leading and teaching, they
need encouragement and uplifting, not criticism. We also need to follow up. It does no good to
give an assignment or a responsibility and then forget about it. As President Uchtdorf taught, the
return-and-report principle is vital in the Church, and we need to follow it. The bar was raised
years ago with the youth, which means it has also been raised for adults. Although it takes more
time, effort, and maybe even worry, we need to allow youth to teach and lead, enabling them to
have learning and growing experiences as they prepare to become the next generation of leaders
in this Church.
9) “Recognizing Righteous Leadership,” Elder Paul E. Koelliker, Ensign, July 2010.
Elder Koelliker begins with a warning about adulation. He counsels us to not become
consumed with being recognized as a leader. He taught, “Thinking that we are more important
than others can be perilous to us and to those we lead. It is vital that we not become trapped by
the enticement of recognition or adulation.” My favorite story on this topic is one told by
President Uchtdorf about a lesson he learned from President James E. Faust: “When I was called
as a General Authority, I was blessed to be tutored by many of the senior Brethren in the Church.
One day I had the opportunity to drive President James E. Faust to a stake conference. During
the hours we spent in the car, President Faust took the time to teach me some important
principles about my assignment. He explained also how gracious the members of the Church are,
especially to General Authorities. He said, ‘They will treat you very kindly. They will say nice
things about you.’ He laughed a little and then said, ‘Dieter, be thankful for this. But don’t you
ever inhale it.’” 7 It is so easy to get caught up in what our students think about our classes, what
the ward members are saying about us, or how many compliments we get after teaching a gospel
doctrine lesson. This is contrary to anything the Savior ever taught or did.
Elder Koelliker also testified of the importance of following the words of the living
prophets. Doing this will protect us from evil influences and give us the power we need to stay
on the straight and narrow path. With technology the way it is in our time, there really is no
excuse in not knowing what the latest word of the Lord is through his prophet. It has never been
easier to bring the words of the Brethren right into our homes and our classrooms. The truth they
teach and the spirit they bring is one of the best defenses we have in the last days.
Elder Koelliker summarized lessons we learn from Jehoshaphat that we can implement in
our homes and callings. Effective, humble leaders:
Care about and willingly serve others.
Pray to and express faith in God.
Are morally trustworthy and act responsibly for the good of all.
Point people to the scriptures and teach them to always seek wholesome learning.
Follow the living prophets and obey the Lord.
Do not yield to the temptation to seek for recognition or exercise “unrighteous dominion”
(see D&C 121:39).
“Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2010.
10) “The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy,” Elder Tad R. Callister, Ensign, May 2013.
To me this talk perfectly summarized so many of the principles that were taught in the
previous talks. I thought of so many applications with my own kids, with my seminary youth,
and the youth in my ward. The first principle he taught is the need for adults to trust the youth.
The Lord trusts them- that’s why he gives them keys- so why shouldn’t we trust them? We need
to have high expectations and provide the training that they need to be successful, and then we
need to get out of the way! Elder Callister taught that “with increased vision comes increased
motivation.” Generally people will rise to the level of expectations set for them. If we expect our
youth to call on people to pray and set up chairs, that is generally about what we’ll get out of
them. But if we show forth genuine trust and then let them go to work, I think the youth will
surprise us more often than not.
Another key principle of leadership is teaching those we lead to receive revelation for
themselves. Elder Callister said, “Inherent in every calling in this Church is the right to receive
revelation.” My mission president often said that his most important job was to teach us all how
to follow the impressions of the Holy Ghost. If anyone has this skill mastered, it is President
Monson. To me he is the best example we have of responding to an impression from the Spirit
the first time. I know the Holy Ghost speaks to me- I have had that experience more times in my
life than I can count. I just wonder how many times I have responded the first time he tried to
whisper to me. We have to pay the price for revelation, it doesn’t often just come. With all the
distractions in the world these days, we have to really focus in and have a sincere desire to be
taught by the Holy Ghost, along with keeping ourselves worthy to receive his promptings.
One last thought: Elder Callister taught that “at the core of our leadership, as a central
part of our ministry, should be the burning, driving, unrelenting resolve to go get the lost and
bring them back.” Those are very strong words. As stated before, it is the responsibility of the
youth to rescue their peers, with the adults assisting on the side. The youth need to be in the
spotlight and entrusted to fulfill this obligation. Once again, President Monson is an incredible
example of reaching out to the one. True leadership isn’t about the leader- it is about the good he
can do for those around him, about “lift[ing] the hands that hang down…” (Doctrine and
Covenants 81:5).
Be a good leader
President David O. McKay (1873-1970) was the ninth President of the Church. In the
October 1968 General Conference, President McKay spoke about several traits that characterize
a successful leader or teacher in the Church:
1. “IMPLICIT FAITH in the gospel of Jesus Christ as the light of the world, and a sincere
desire to serve him. This condition of the soul will make for companionship and guidance of the
Holy Ghost.
2. UNFEIGNED LOVE for the … members, guided by the determination to deal justly and
impartially with every member of the Church. Honor … the member, and the … member will
honor you.
3. THOROUGH PREPARATION. The successful leader knows his [or her] duties and
responsibilities and also the members under his [or her] direction.
4. “CHEERFULNESS—not forced but natural cheerfulness, springing spontaneously from
a hopeful soul.” 8
In Conference Report, Oct. 1968, 144; quoted in New Era, July 2007, 38.
Leadership tip
President N. Eldon Tanner (1898-1982), a counselor in the First Presidency for many
years, taught that to be a successful leader, we must follow the example of Christ. He gave nine
suggestions to help us be great leaders:
1. Look to our Savior as the perfect leadership example.
2. Accept the role of teacher and servant.
3. Search the scriptures for correct principles.
4. Pray for guidance, listen, and respond.
5. Help the individual to develop self-government.
6. Hold individuals accountable for their work.
7. Express adequate appreciation.
8. Set a personal example consistent with that which we teach.
9. Listen to the voice of the President of the Church, who is a prophet of God, and follow
his counsel and example.” 9
“Leading As the Savior Led,” New Era, June 1977, 7.
List of books, talks and quotes on leadership
Principles of Leadership Teacher’s Manual, Religion 180R
“A More Excellent Way” by Neal A. Maxwell
“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey
“Servant Leadership” by Robert K. Greenleaf
“Leadership and Self Deception: Getting Out of the Box” by Arbinger Institute
“Running into the Wind” by Bronco Mendenhall
“Leadership Lessons of Jesus” by Bob Briner and Ray Pritchard
“One Minute Manager” by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson
“Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson
“Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t” by Jim
“The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You” by
John C. Maxwell
“Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders” by David
“Jesus: The Perfect Leader,” President Spencer W. Kimball
“Keeping Life’s Demands in Balance,” Elder M. Russell Ballard
“Joseph Smith—Five Qualities of Leadership,” William E. Berrett
“The Image of a Church Leader,” Elder Mark E. Petersen
“Tending the Flock: Teaching Leadership Skills to Youth,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“These I Will Make My Leaders,” Elder James E. Faust
“First and Ten: A Mormon Quarterback Talks About Leadership,” Melvin Leavitt
“Why, How, and How Not to Delegate: Some Suggestions for Home and Church,”
William G. Dyer
“Recognizing Righteous Leadership,” Elder Paul E. Koelliker
“Strength in Counsel” and “Counseling with Our Counsels,” Elder M. Russell Ballard
“Gospel Teaching,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks
“A Prophet’s Counsel and Prayer for Youth,” President Gordon B. Hinckley
“Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling,” Elder L. Tom Perry
“Our Duty to God: The Mission of Parents and Leaders to the Rising Generation,” Elder
Robert D. Hales
“The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy,” Elder Tad R. Callister
“The Loneliness of Leadership,” President Gordon B. Hinckley
“Called of God,” Elder L. Tom Perry
“Leading as the Savior Led,” President N. Eldon Tanner
“Some Scriptural Lessons on Leadership,” Elder Spencer J. Condie
“Lessons Learned in the Journey of Life,” Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin
“The Currant Bush,” Elder Hugh B. Brown
“The Unwritten Order of Things,” Elder Boyd K. Packer
PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY: “It is so very important that you do not let
praise and adulation go to your head. Adulation is poison. You better never lose sight of
the fact that the Lord put you where you are according to his design, which you don’t
understand. Acknowledge the Lord for whatever good you can accomplish and give Him
the credit and the glory and [do] not worry about that coming to yourself. If you can do
that, you’ll get along all right and [you] will go forward with a love for the people and a
great respect for them and [you will] try to accomplish what your office demands you.”
–“Messages of Inspiration from President Hinckley,” Church News, July 1, 2000, 2; quoted
in Ensign, July 2010, 32.
ELDER JEFFREY R. HOLLAND: “Most people don’t come to church looking merely
for a few new gospel facts or to see old friends, though all of that is important. They
come seeking a spiritual experience. They want peace. They want their faith fortified
and their hope renewed. They want, in short, to be nourished by the good word of God,
to be strengthened by the powers of heaven. Those of us who are called upon to speak or
teach or lead have an obligation to help provide that, as best we possibly can. We can
only do that if we ourselves are striving to know God, if we ourselves are continually
seeking the light of His Only Begotten Son.”
–“A Teacher Come from God,” Ensign, May 1998.
PRESIDENT GORDON B. HINCKLEY: “Effective teaching is the very essence of
leadership in the Church. Eternal life … will come only as men and women are taught
with such effectiveness that they change and discipline their lives. They cannot be
coerced into righteousness or into heaven. They must be led, and that means teaching.”
-cited by Elder Holland in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 31; or Ensign, May 1998, 26.
PRESIDENT JOSEPH F. SMITH: “One of the highest qualities of all true leadership is a
high standard of courage … There has never been a time in the church when its leaders
were not required to be courageous…; not alone courageous in the sense that they were
able to meet physical dangers, but also in the sense that they were steadfast and true to a
clear and upright conviction.”
–Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith (1998), 106.
PRESIDENT DIETER F. UCHTDORF: “The responsibility of building leadership in the
Church belongs to the father and the mother … As youth grow and mature through their
teenage years and move toward adulthood, the Church picks up an important role in this
process of giving youth an opportunity to lead, but it begins in the home.”
–“Tending the Flock: Teaching Leadership Skills to Youth,” Ensign, June 2008, 16.
PRESIDENT JAMES E. FAUST: “A leader must cause things to happen and lives to be
affected. Something should move and change. He must see that those under him do not
fail. But it should be done in the Lord’s way. He should be the instrument in the hands
of the Almighty for changing lives. He needs to know where he is now, where he is
going, and how he is going to get there.”
–“These I Will Make My Rulers,” Ensign, Nov. 1980, 35.
Distillation on leadership
While writing and putting together this portfolio, lately I have been pondering all the
leaders I have had throughout my life. This list includes my parents and family, of course. It also
includes coaches, piano and school teachers, church leaders, my mission president, and leaders
I’ve had throughout my career in S&I. Without a doubt, I have been blessed to grow up, live
around and learn from some of the finest people on this planet. None of these people are famous
(yet!), and none of them want attention or any special kind of reward. They are just good, decent
people who quietly live solid, faithful lives worth emulating. Pondering about all the incredible
leaders I’ve had over my life really puts a fire in my heart to want to pay it forward and be that
kind of person for others, most importantly my children. Elder Oaks quoted Daniel Webster as
saying, “If we work upon marble, it will perish; if we work upon brass, time will efface it; but if
we work upon immortal minds, if we imbue them with principles and the just fear of God and
love of our fellowman, we engrave upon those tablets something that will brighten through all
eternity.” 10
The Savior Jesus Christ has provided for us the perfect example of effective leadership
that we can look up to and learn from. President Kimball summarized the Savior’s example of
leadership to all of us. He said, “If we would be eminently successful [as leaders], here is our
pattern. All the ennobling, perfect, and beautiful qualities of maturity, of strength, and of
courage are found in this one person.” 11 Jesus truly is “the way, the truth, and the life” (John
14:6) and our Mediator with the Father. Because of Him we can gain eternal life, the greatest gift
of God (Doctrine and Covenants 14:7) and live with our families forever. I love Him for that.
The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, ed. Clyde J. Williams, (1996), 461; quoted in Elder Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,”
Ensign, Nov. 1999.
“Jesus: The Perfect Leader,” Ensign, Aug. 1979.
The Lord is hastening His work in the last days before the Second Coming of the Savior
(Doctrine and Covenants 88:73). The adversary is also increasing his efforts to lead astray as
many of Heavenly Father’s children as he can. There has never been a bigger need for effective,
Christ-like leaders in this Church, and in this world, than there is right now. We have many
opportunities to lead throughout our lives, at home, work and Church. The Savior has given us
all the tools we need to be successful in our efforts to help the Lord accomplish His purpose “to
bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
One of the greatest tools we have to learn about leadership is the scriptures. President
Spencer W. Kimball taught: “The scriptures contain many marvelous case studies of leaders
who, unlike Jesus, were not perfect but were still very effective. It would do us all much good if
we were to read them—and read them often. We forget that the scriptures present us with
centuries of experience in leadership, and, even more importantly, the fixed principles upon
which real leadership must operate if it is to succeed. The scriptures are the handbook of
instructions for the would-be leader.” 12 Not only do we learn the principles we need to learn
from the scriptures to be effective leaders, we also gain the guidance of the Holy Ghost as we
“feast upon the words of Christ” (2 Nephi 32:3, 5).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught, “Gospel teaching is universal and important. Truly, ‘no
greater responsibility can rest upon any [one of us] than to be a teacher of God’s children.’ 13 Our
Savior’s occupation was that of a teacher. He was the Master Teacher, and He invites each of us
to follow Him in that great service.”14 As we strive to walk in the Savior’s footsteps in all areas
of our lives, the Lord will bless our efforts. His promise is real: “I will go before your face. I will
“Jesus: The Perfect Leader,” Ensign, Aug. 1979.
David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals (1953), 175; quoted in Elder Oaks, “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999.
See, generally, Boyd K. Packer, Teach Ye Diligently (1975).
be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels
round about you, to bear you up” (Doctrine and Covenants 84:88).
Berrett, William E., “Joseph Smith—Five Qualities of Leadership,” New Era, June 1977.
Callister, Tad R., “The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy,” Ensign, May 2013.
Condie, Spencer J., “Some Scriptural Lessons on Leadership,” Ensign, May 1990.
Dyer, William G., “Why, How, and How Not to Delegate: Some Suggestions for Home and
Church,” Liahona, Jan. 1984.
Hinckley, Gordon B., “The Family: A Proclamation to the Word,” Ensign, Nov. 1995, 102.
Holland, Jeffrey R., “A Teacher Come from God,” Ensign, May 1998.
Koelliker, Paul E., “Recognizing Righteous Leadership,” Ensign, July 2010.
Leavitt, Melvin, “First and Ten: A Mormon Quarterback Talks About Leadership,” Ensign, June
Kimball, Spencer W., “Jesus: The Perfect Leader,” Ensign, Aug. 1979.
McKay, David O., In Conference Report, Oct. 1968, 144; quoted in New Era, July 2007, 38.
Oaks, Dallin H., “Gospel Teaching,” Ensign, Nov. 1999.
Oaks, Dallin H., “The Challenge to Become,” Ensign, Nov. 2000, 32-34.
Packer, Boyd K., “The Unwritten Order of Things,” BYU devotional address, Oct. 15, 1996 in
the Marriot Center.
Packer, Boyd K., Teach Ye Diligently (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Company, 1975).
Perry, L. Tom, “Called of God,” Ensign, Nov. 2002.
Perry, L. Tom, “Fatherhood, an Eternal Calling,” Ensign, May 2004.
Principles of Leadership Teacher’s Manual, Religion 180R (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2001).
Smith, Joseph F., Improvement Era, Dec. 1903, 138.
Tanner, N. Eldon, “Leading As the Savior Led,” New Era, June 1977, 7.
Uchtdorf, Dieter F. and M. Russell Ballard, “Tending to the Flock: Teaching Leadership Skills to
Youth,” Liahona, June 2008.
Uchtdorf, Dieter F., “Pride and the Priesthood,” Ensign, Nov. 2010.