The topic this month is "Building the Kingdom of God on Earth", and we focused last week on "Serving Effectively in the Church". We did so by talking about five things:
1) We talked about the meaning of "effectively".
can mean efficient - meaning doing something with as little wasted
energy as possible, but it also can mean "causing an effect" - meaning
achieving a desired result. Both are important in the context of
serving effectively in the Church, but I pointed out that all actions
have effects. One of the critical aspects of leadership is to identify
the desired effect and act in such a way that the desired effect occurs.
I simply said that the ultimate effect from service in the Church
should be a closer relationship with God and each other - or, in other
words, the establishment of Zion. Anything that takes people away from
that effect is not in harmony with the stated goal of service in the
2) We talked about the importance of callings in the operation of the Church.
asked the students to rank church callings in order of importance.
After a brief discussion about the "natural (wo)man" view of callings,
we talked about how the most important calling is the one that they are
doing at the time. We talked about living in the present and valuing
the contributions and efforts of all members - and I mentioned how much I
like the fact that a Bishop can get released and serve next in the
Nursery, for example.
3) We talked about the difference between being a leader
and being a worker - not relative to importance but merely to emphasize
the necessity of each type of calling.
Concerning leaders, we
talked openly, with the Bishop in the room, about how some callings are
through inspiration, some are through perspiration and some are through
desperation. We talked about how callings are important no matter which
category applies in each case - and how, as a leader, it is important
not to present a calling as being in one category when it really belongs
in another one. I told them they should never tell someone a calling
was inspired, for example, if there wasn't clear, undeniable inspiration
in the selection process.
Concerning workers, we talked openly
about how their honest input is important - and how it's okay to say no
to callings and/or give qualified acceptance, meaning doing the best
they can even if it isn't ideal. One of the students mentioned living
in a small ward where his mother had three callings (two of which were
leadership callings) while being pregnant. When she was asked to do one
more thing, she had to say no for her own health and the well-being of
her family. I mentioned a couple of instances where I had said I would
accept a calling, but I shared some things about my situation at the
time that would not allow me to perform the calling the way they
4) We talked about councils and their
centrality to the serving effectively.
We talked about the importance
of input from council members - and I stressed that the best councils
are those where the participants have differing perspectives and views,
since that allows the leader to hear ideas and suggestions (and concerns
and objections) that s/he wouldn't consider naturally.
finished by talking about the need to respect others who are doing their
best, even if that best isn't what the leader would like.
I told them
bluntly that people are more important than numbers and that if they
ever lost sight of that and started focusing on numbers over people they
would lose effectiveness and, more important, hurt people and lose
their support and respect.