Sunday, December 14, 2014

My Sunday School Lesson Recaps: Serving Effectively in the Church; or, Focusing on Building Zion

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".

Effective 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 Church.

2) We talked about the importance of callings in the operation of the Church.

I 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 probably wanted.

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.

5) We 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.

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