Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Inspired Leadership

One of my favorite quotes comes from Thomas Watson, the founder of IBM. I don't remember where I first heard it, but I have had it on my desk at home and at the office at various times throughout my life since college.  It states: "Nothing so conclusively proves a man's ability to lead others as what he does from day to day to lead himself." To me, leadership principles fall into two categories, as this quote and the scriptures almost always point out when discussing the matter.

Probably, the most complete list of leadership principles comes from Section 121, which is the most inspired treatise on leadership I have ever read. I suspect I have read at least 40  - 50 books on the subject of leadership; some of them several times. Nothing compares with D&C 121. These sections also cover some of the principles of leadership.

1. What we do to properly lead others.

In D&C 26 we learn that what is accomplished in the Church is done by common consent. Common consent is only accomplished by much prayer and faith. In other words, leaders should be led themselves by the promptings of the Spirit after proper preparation. When the people know that the leadership is inspired, they will follow in faith.

We also learn, in D&C 27 that there is to be order in priesthood. Joseph and Oliver were given the "first" priesthood at the hands of John the Baptist in the same manner as Aaron received the lesser priesthood. They received the sealing power and the charge to seek out and be a blessing to their "fathers" from Adam to the present time. They witnessed "Joseph and Jacob, and Isaac, and Abraham, your fathers, by whom the promises remain. And also ... Michael, or Adam, the ancient of days: And also ... Peter, and James, and John, whom I have sent unto you, by whom I have ordained you and confirmed you to be apostles, and especial witnesses of my name, and bear the keys of your ministry..." (v. 10-12) What Joseph Smith received on those occasions are also the keys of Christ's kingdom and this final dispensation of the fullness of times when all things shall be gathered together in one, both in heaven and on earth.

We also learn that the sacrament (the common term then and now for the sacrament of the Lord's last supper) is the responsibility of those who hold the priesthood. It is in Section 27 that we learn that water should be used in the place of wine. We are told that the act of partaking of the water and the bread should be done with an eye single to the glory of God "...remembering unto the Father my body which was laid down for you and my blood which was shed for the remission of your sins."

2. What we must do to lead ourselves.

Elder Robert D. Hales, in the most recent General Conference gave us some keys for remembering Him during the sacrament. "I testify that the sacrament gives us an opportunity to come to ourselves and experience 'a mighty change' of heart—to remember who we are and what we most desire. As we renew the covenant to keep the commandments, we obtain the companionship of the Holy Ghost to lead us back into our Heavenly Father’s presence. No wonder we are commanded to 'meet together oft to partake of [the] bread and [water]' and to partake of the sacrament to our souls."

We are commanded to put on the whole armor of God in order to withstand the evil day.  Leaders in the Church and in our homes must protect themselves with truth, righteousness, faith and the preparation of the Gospel of Peace. They must be armed with the Spirit which will be their weapon of choice. As a sword, the Spirit is also a protection. When we enter into battle with less than the whole armor, we leave ourselves vulnerable. By ourselves, we are not that good, or that smart or that strong.