Of all the church services I have attended, I will never forget the Sunday on 16 September 2001. That was our 29th wedding anniversary, I laid that day in the LDS Hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah recovering from open heart surgery that happened 3 days earlier. I was serving at the time in a Stake Presidency. We were fast friends with President Steven, President Hansen and their wives who had taken the day off from church duties to drive to Salt Lake City to visit us in the hospital. I witnessed real leadership that day.
This story actually began the previous weekend. As a Stake Presidency we hosted President Hinckley and his wife at a talent show during Arts in the Park, an annual community celebration. The Hinckley family has deep roots in Fillmore and Cove Fort. He had stayed in Fillmore often during his youth. Just before the program started, President Hinckley arrived, we met him and then, interesting enough, he went directly to the full time missionaries to visit with them. So much for our greatness and glory. We had a fun time and the event ended.
In the hospital room that Sunday morning, words of comfort and encouragement were offered to my wife and me. During their visit, a knock came on the door. Elders from a University of Utah ward came by to offer the sacrament to those who cared to partake. At first they looked a little surprised, but we enjoyed that private sacrament service, felt the spirit and were renewed. As the young men were leaving, I asked them to come back in the room so I could introduce them to the great Stake President and 1st Councilor of the Fillmore, Utah Stake. They said, “You do not need to introduce yourselves, we already know who you are.” It turns out, unknown to us, the Church News that morning had a big spread on President Hinckley’s trip to Fillmore and our pictures with his plastered all over in the article.
At that moment we were well known and recognized which is important in the eyes of the world for leadership. But, I have since thought that the visit by my Stake President, his councilor and their wives was true ministering and true leadership, much more than the sitting on the stand and presiding over meetings which is commonly thought of about Stake Presidencies or any leadership position in the church, the mission or the world.
Leadership should be a work of faith not just a work of techniques. You must emulate the Savior, be absolutely synchronized with your spouse so people see the Savior in you. You are always teaching, there is no informal time that you are not teaching. I realized the positive affect my visitors had on me came from who they were, not outward appearance.
To his disciples, the members of the church, the Savior powerfully taught what leadership should consist of in Matt 16. The following is a very brief review of those leadership concepts and are worthy of your visualization of how these concepts are displayed in yourself as you live your mission purpose in your current assignment.
Leaders have discernment. They are sensitive to knowledge and light. Try to discern what issues may be holding people back. Understand that times ahead may be tough, so support now will prepare them for that. Jesus was talking to people many of whom would be killed for their religion. Recognize the small steps of improvement. We do not compare ourselves to others but compare our own performance trends and the direction of our own movement.
2 …When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather today: for the sky is red and lowering. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
Leaders watch for false doctrine. For missionaries this could be any number of distractions or beliefs that when acted upon, take the missionary away from his assigned duty. Christ counseled that people take heed of the leaven of the Pharisees.
12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
Leaders are built on the rock of revelation and, because of that, the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church. Leaders must be worthy of and open to receive revelation, otherwise, how can Christ lead his church or the mission or your life? Look for, receive, recognize and follow promptings from the spirit must be a full-time engagement.
18 …and upon this rock [revelation] I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
Leaders understand and clarify doctrine. To paraphrase Elder Packer, “Teaching doctrine changes behavior faster that teaching behavior changes behavior.” The scriptures are where doctrine is found so know the scriptures and use them.
17 …flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
Leaders remind people of miracles. Miracles are all around us and provide a great basis for others to develop faith. To do this you must be aware of miracles in your own life and in the lives of others. It is inspirational to follow a leader who knows the Lord.
9 Do ye not yet understand, neither remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
10 Neither the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many baskets ye took up?
Leaders testify of the Savior and the things of God and, because of your example, those you lead testify immediately of the Savior. Christ asked all the apostles who he was. Of all the answers, Peter testified of the Savior and testified immediately.
15 He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?
16 And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
Leaders savor the things of God. The performance of the atonement was the purpose for his life. It must have been tough to be sentenced to such an awful destination in life. Trying to comprehend the atonement, you realize what an act of love it was for us by Him and His Father. Your love for him should result in following Him and result in your own repentance.
22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.
23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
Leaders lose their lives in the service and ministering of others. To take up your cross is to deny yourself all ungodliness and every worldly lust and to keep the commandments.
24 …If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
25 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.
These leadership qualities are much different than a list of characteristics that you check off one by one when you work on acquiring that attribute. They are qualities that you have integrated into your life to the point they define who you are. You cannot be someone you are not, that is a phony. But as you incorporate these qualities, people feel uplifted and inspired when you are in their presence as I was that day in a hospital room.