Posts Tagged ‘Leadership Training’
In bishopric meeting this morning, our new bishop shared the spiritual thought. He chose the subject of goals and quoted from page 146 of Preach My Gospel on how to set them. Here are some excerpts of the goal setting advice offered on that page:
“Goals reflect the desires of our hearts and our vision of what we can accomplish. Through goals and plans, our hopes are transformed into action.” What we reach for in goals reflects what we desire in our hearts. Our goals reveal our true selves.
Goals, faith and agency
“Goal setting and planning are acts of faith. Do everything in your power to achieve your goals while respecting the agency of others.” I believe the best goals are the ones that we can control. It does little good to set goals dependant on the actions of others.
Think about it. You can set a goal to have another person do some specific thing that is desirable, but you have no control over what they actually do. You can ask, invite, persuade and demonstrate why they should, but you can’t make them do it.
Service improves progress
“The ultimate measure of success is not in achieving goals alone but in the service you render and the progress of others. Goals are a means of helping you bring about much good…” I like the idea of setting goals in areas that benefit not just our own lives.
I believe that the progress of others is directly influenced by the service we render to them. I have seen this over in over in my own life. Those whom I love and serve seem to respond better when I ask them to do something that I believe will help them.
Goals, plans and activities
“Carefully considered goals will give you clear direction and will help you fill your days with activities that help people…” The achievement of goals requires that we make plans and then act to carry out those plans. Goals are not achieved by magic.
“Challenging goals will help you work effectively and lead you to stretch and grow.” Nothing good happens without work. If you want to achieve something worthwhile in life, there must be effort put forth to bring about the achievement of good goals.
Goals and the big picture
Like me, I’ll bet you’ve had the experience of someone else setting a goal for you that was not achieved. Perhaps you’ve even gone to the trouble of setting goals for others and then wonder why they don’t get reached. The goals were worthy.
I’ve discovered over the years that unless I have a clear vision of how a goal benefits and blesses my life or my loved ones, then I am less than enthusiastic in putting forth the effort to achieve it. I don’t think that’s selfish. I think that it’s just human nature.
Shared vision motivates
So anytime we start talking about goals in church, I always look for the leader to help me understand their vision. Unless I can see for myself what they hope will happen, I have a hard time connecting my energy and focus into carrying out assignments.
Again, I don’t think I’m expressing any fundamental character flaws here. I look for the same thing in working with people in my career. A great leader is one who inspires by sharing vision. When vision is shared and understood it is highly motivational.
Where there is no vision…
How do you feel when someone asks you to do something that is hard to do without sharing with you the vision of what they hope will be accomplished when the task is completed? If you’re like me, sometimes other things take priority over the assignment.
Don’t get me wrong. Most of us fulfill the basics of what we are asked to do. It’s not hard. We have instruction manuals and if you have been in the church for a while, you can pretty much figure out how to do any calling successfully with enough time.
Vision based on true principles
But I suspect that we can be much more effective in our callings and in our lives when we have a vision of ourselves achieving the righteous desires of our hearts. I also suspect that we don’t spend enough time creating and enlarging those future visions.
I am convinced that the best leaders motivate by sharing vision in a compelling way. Hopefully the ability to inspire and help people see themselves in different or better circumstances is based on true principles of honesty, integrity and hard work.
Summary and conclusion
So I have come to the conclusion that the best way to set goals, at least for me, is to concentrate on discovering the desires of our hearts. Activities that create a vision of each other enjoying those righteous desires are motivating and encouraging to me.
Once you know what you really want, find a way to visualize it and share it with others. The more people that share your vision, the more likely it is that it will be achieved. The goals and plans we make then become the stepping stones to fulfill our visions.
Except for a year off for good behavior to teach Primary, I have been participating in ward leadership meetings every Sunday morning for the past twenty-five years. Sixteen of those years included Bishopric meetings, either as an Executive Secretary, a Ward Clerk, or a Bishop’s Counselor. I don’t know why I’ve been so blessed but this experience has been a major part of my adult life.
Since Carol and I have lived in multiple wards and stakes over the years, I have sat in council with at least ten different bishops, sometimes as a High Council advisor. Two of the wards have been young single adult wards. I’ve got to tell you that there is something special about Bishops of YSA wards. In one YSA ward, the Bishop and one counselor had both been Stake Presidents.
Love of the people
Not one of these bishops ran things exactly the same as others with whom I served. Some were good administrators and some weren’t. Some knew how to delegate and others had a tendency to do most of the work themselves. Some were sticklers for following the handbook and some weren’t. But all were focused on the people over the programs. Without exception. Every one.
If there is one thing that stands out among bishops with whom I have worked, and one thing that to me represents the mantle of a bishop, it is a love for the people whom they serve, especially the youth. That love is the same thing that impressed me about the bishops of my youth. I knew they all cared deeply about me and wanted to help me grow into a successful and faithful adult.
Desire to do God’s will
Now I know that not everybody has this experience with their bishops. Yes, I have read some of the horror stories. I am acquainted with the claims of spiritual abuse, but have not seen it with any of the bishops in my experience. Some of the bishops would sometimes complain about the dumb things that members of the ward would do, but I never saw any unrighteous dominion.
I have sat in literally dozens of disciplinary councils over the years, both on the ward and stake level. Even when the result was excommunication, I have never felt anything but profound love and concern for the individual and an intense desire to do the will of the Lord in the matter being considered. That has always been the common desire of these bishops, who are imperfect men.
A tech savvy bishop
In today’s Internet age, I am grateful to serve with a Bishop today who understands and uses texting to keep in touch with his flock, in this case, all young single adults. He is also savvy about the Internet and knows exactly what goes on out there. He is aware of the LDS forums, both those that are uplifting and those that aren’t. And yes, he has read Rough Stone Rolling.
I bring that up because it is indicative of a Bishop who is aware of what the young people are reading. I am a church news junkie and am constantly amazed by how well informed this bishop is in comparison to some previous bishops. Maybe it’s just that we are living in the day of the Internet, but it’s a delight to have conversations about items being discussed in the Bloggernacle.
Great Bishopric meetings
Because most bishops are usually counseling members during Sunday school, we take the first part of our Bishopric meeting for gospel study. Sometimes we will spend a half hour discussing a scripture or a quote from the Brethren and how it applies to us and to the ward members. Some of the bishops I served with preferred shorter meetings so we did not have lengthy gospel study.
I have long felt that a ward leadership meeting should never be more than an hour. If you’re going to make it longer, that time should be well spent in understanding the will of the Lord as revealed in the scriptures in these latter days. The majority of a Bishopric meeting is consumed with staffing the ward, which of course involves discussing the right calling for ward members.
Callings through inspiration
If you have never sat in a Bishopric meeting you may wonder how callings are determined. Of course we always open our meetings with prayer, and usually sing a hymn first and then have a spiritual thought. We review the list of recent converts to determine if they are progressing in the gospel. As we are a transient ward, we are also constantly reviewing the new move-in list.
The Bishop usually ponders for a long time who the Lord would have fulfill a major calling like the head of an organization. Those do not come up very often. When they do, the Bishop will usually inform his counselors of who he has in mind, after which a discussion ensues of how that individual will fulfill that particular calling and how the needs of the ward members will be met.
Gift of discernment
The Bishop is very concerned that callings issued to ward members are ones that will bless them, that will help them to grow and that are the will of the Lord. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Bishops pray for the gift of discernment to know where the Lord would have certain individuals serve. Serving in the church is a big deal and it helps us to grow and to love others.
Although it doesn’t always happen, I have been amazed at the number of times as a counselor I have issued a call to an individual to hear them say that they were praying for an opportunity to serve and that they knew that this particular call was coming. It is rewarding to see that when we pray for inspiration to place people in callings that the inspiration is real and is from the Lord.
I don’t know if my experience has been unique in issuing calls but I can only remember a couple of occasions on which I did not extend the call after we had agreed upon it in Bishopric meeting. It became apparent after an interview in the home of the individual that the calling would not be in their best interest at that time. It is usually because I learned of extenuating circumstances.
You may wonder why we weren’t inspired that the call wasn’t right before we went to extend it. Remember, we had prayed for inspiration and felt united as a Bishopric that it was the right thing to do at that time. All I can tell you is that this has rarely happened and that it just may be a part of the inspiration process to visit the home before the spirit can confirm that it is OK to proceed.
Confirmation of the spirit
Perhaps a description of the process we go through when we deliberate in a disciplinary council will help explain the process of inspiration a little better. After hearing the facts of the matter, we excuse the individual and discuss the options outlined in the church handbook. The primary concern is always how the action we take will affect the individual and help them to repent.
We make a decision an then present it to the Lord in prayer. We each kneel and the Bishop asks one of those present to offer the prayer. We tell the Lord what we have decided and ask that we may know through a confirming witness of the spirit that the decision is right. We then conclude the prayer and the Bishop usually asks each member of the council if they are still in agreement.
Knowledge revealed from God
Sometimes the will of the Lord is obvious to all present. There is an unspoken communication that takes place between us. We each just know that the decision is correct. We know by the same process that individual members receive a testimony – by knowledge from the Holy Ghost. That is one of the blessings of serving in a Bishopric. You come to know how revelation works.
That’s what most people don’t know about Bishopric meetings – the amazing experience that we have each week with revelation. It is one of the best training grounds for understanding how the Lord communicates his will to the mind of man. I can tell you from many years of rich and deep experience that this process of revelation has always been present and it is a sacred experience.
Summary and conclusion
You may know former bishops or bishopric counselors who have said that there is a lot of small administrative detail that goes on in priesthood leadership meetings. You may even be a former bishop yourself. Yes, I agree that it can be tedious week after week to address some of the same issues over and over as callings need to be filled. It takes effort to ensure that God is involved.
Bishopric meetings can be a most amazing and rewarding experience as humble yet imperfect men unite in prayer to seek the mind and will of the Lord on behalf of the people that they serve. But to me, the most gratifying part of serving in a Bishopric is to be tutored by the Holy Ghost in how revelation works. It is a real thing and it is used constantly to further the work of the Lord.
I attended the Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast this morning. It was well worth my time. I’m glad I was there. I’ve attended every one of them since 2003 and this was one of the best. After Elder Holland’s introduction, President Packer read and expounded upon “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.” It was wonderful to hear it from one of the authors.
There was then a round table discussion with Elder Holland, Elder Oaks, Sisters Julie B. Beck, Susan W. Tanner and Cheryl C. Lant, general officers representing the Relief Society, the Young Women and the Primary organizations. They modeled for us what a great ward council meeting should be like, although I don’t recommend that it go so long. I like short meetings.
I took four pages of notes from that discussion and look forward to reviewing the transcript when it is posted on the church website sometime next week. I was disappointed that our satellite feed had audio problems so we had to watch it from the DVD. It was obviously recorded weeks ago as President Packer was referred to as the ‘Acting’ President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We also did not get to hear President Monson’s address at the end.
Carol did not go. Besides not feeling well she said she did not want to experience feelings of guilt abut not being a perfect parent. I know the Brethren have heard this before. Elder Holland addressed it immediately. He told the parable of the homemade shirt and explained why we need a pattern in the church for doctrinal standards, quoting D&C 52:14. He said they fully understand that we are not perfect but it is their responsibility to teach general rules and ideals.
Elder Oaks also addressed it when he said that we never give up as parents of wayward children but that we MUST lay down the burden of guilt at the feet of the Savior. In one of the most touching moments for me, Sister Beck spoke about mothers who had been abandoned by priesthood holders in their homes but had not abandoned the Lord’s plan for happy families.
She was obviously speaking of husbands who had left them, causing them to deal with divorce and raising children in the church alone. I have no idea how difficult a task that must be. I have known some courageous women like this who have been faithful and have been blessed with children who go on missions and marry in the temple. But I also know of women who have tried and feel like failures because their children did not accept the gospel or remain faithful.
I wonder if this comment was in any way related to the sisters who objected to her last talk in General Conference entitled “Mothers Who Know.” They wrote and posted an ‘opposing view’ in their piece entitled, “What Women Know.” I wrote about this back in November. I know the sisters of the church sometimes feel that their voices are not heard. I hope that is changing.
Did you attend the Leadership Training broadcast? If so, what were your impressions?