Posts Tagged leadership

Boy Scouts, camping, and learning independence

Last Sunday, the Scout leaders in our ward went to the Relief Society and brought out the following factlet – “97% of missionaries who leave their mission early do so because of homesickness”.  I don’t know where they get their data, but the usage of this statistic bothered me because it was used as a rationale to guilt the mothers into sending their scout aged sons to a National Scout Jamboree.  Little details: the trip is three weeks long, takes place in West Virginia, and costs $2500 per boy.  To me, the cost is much too high, but that is beside the point.  The thought seems to be that campouts (and especially things like this extended uber-campout) fosters independence.  We don’t want our boys afraid to leave home, do we?  Send ’em on a three-week trip, completely chaperoned, where they get all of their meals, travel, entertainment, crafts, and housing without any significant effort on their part!

When the local high school marching band had an opportunity to play in the Rose Bowl Parade (held on New Years Day in Pasadena, California), the money had to be raised to get them there.  Each student had a significant amount of money they had to come up with to be able to go.  So, they had several fundraisers, one of which was door-to-door sales.  They worked together to raise the funds so that every member of the marching band could go.

The young women in our ward are currently having a fundraiser to pay for the costs they have in going to Girls Camp.  The cost per girls is nowhere near the amount being asked for the Scout camp, and it is likely that the cost of sending just one boy to this camp could pay for several years of Girls Camp.  Maybe I’ve been reading too many feminist blogs, but this doesn’t seem right.

You want to encourage independence?  Have your kid get a job and make decisions on their own as to what to spend their own hard-earned money on.  Help them learn the value of the money they are earning.  Trips and campouts can be fun, but just throwing in money isn’t going to foster independence; quite the opposite, in fact.


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Getting spiritual confirmation of callings

Today we got a new Bishopric.  My wife told me how she got a confirmation from the spirit of who our new Bishop would be this morning before Church started, well before it was announced, and it was interesting hearing the experiences of the Stake President in his learning who he should call to be Bishop, but I’ve not yet gotten confirmation myself.  I’m not sure if I will.  I don’t think it would be from a lack of listening, but for me, I think it is more that I don’t need to have confirmation.  No, I’m not saying that others “need” confirmation, or that others don’t have faith, this is just the way it has been for me.  Except when I was in the Bishopric (as a Clerk), it’s never been really important to me who has which calling, or if any person would be strong enough spiritually to handle the calling.  I figure whomever has been called has been called for a reason, and anything else is not my problem.


It’s funny, but the only thing I could think about when they announced the new Bishopric was wondering why women couldn’t be called.  Aside from women not having the Priesthood, which I don’t think is likely until after the Second Coming, I think it is because we live in a world where it is nigh impossible for non-related (and non-married) men and women to work as closely together as they would need to be in any Presidency, no matter what they were over.  I do so look forward to when we can get over all that, both as members of the Church and in the culture at large.

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Allowing people to govern themselves

One of the discussions that occasionally comes up on various Mormon blogs is the issue of how to react and/or teach about inappropriate behavior and dress.  The youth, particularly the young women, tend to be most often the subject for this, as the standards given by the Church are more specific than elsewhere, but the problem, for me, is more in how to react to these issues, rather than the standards themselves.  Standards and laws are much the same.  You can simply follow them the best you are able, or decide not to and understand that there are consequences involved.  A person driving over the speed limit may be subjected to a fine.  A girl in a bikini at a Church function may be asked to cover herself with more appropriate clothing.  I’m not going to argue the merits or effects of those standards and laws.  I want to address the ways to enforce said standards and laws.

In all of the dealings of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the example has been set – praise in public, reprove in private.  This is very important in dealing with anyone, no matter what the issue.  Another thing to remember when reproving, or even just advising, someone is your relationship with them.  Some theoretical examples:

  • Once I saw that a young woman had managed to get a sticker attached to the backside of her dress without her knowledge.  Rather than tell the girl myself (which would be embarrassing to her), I passed it along to an older woman to take care of it discreetly.
  • At another time, a young woman in the class I was teaching was absent-mindedly leaning back in her chair, not making the connection that she was wearing a short skirt.  Even though I was her teacher, I felt it was more appropriate for me to mention it to her mother, rather than going to the girl herself.
  • At a church youth dance, I notice that the skirt of a young woman seems a little too short.  Not being a leader, teacher, advisor, or of any relation to this young woman, I have no recourse.  It is not my job to police or even advise on dress standards.  It doesn’t even need to be kept as something to “deal with” later, or remember as more proof of “kids these days”.  (What am I doing checking out young women’s legs, anyway?  Creepo.)
  • I am an advisor to the Deacons Quorum.  I notice that some of the young men are starting to get a little sloppy in their dress for passing the Sacrament.  In a private setting (not in front of the whole group), I make mention of this to the Deacons Quorum President, who can choose how to manage it himself.  I can advise if asked, but it is not my responsibility to fix.  If one of the deacons is my son, however, I get the responsibility to teach my son how to dress better.
  • I notice someone has been coming to Sacrament Meeting dress in t-shirt and jeans or other inappropriate clothing.  I make no mention of it at all, not even a disapproving glance, as it is absolutely not my purview and I have no idea as to the circumstances of that person.  The only thing I should be doing in this situation is welcoming and fellowshipping the person, as it is the person, not the clothes, that have come to worship.

Open criticism is akin to gossip.  You are telling the perceived faults of another to people who have no concern in it (especially bad when you, yourself have no concern in it).  For most of the people in your ward you are not their keeper or minder.  Seek out the virtues of each person, get to know them as people, and let those who are placed to advise to their own work.  Vigilant criticism, especially before others, is hurtful and damaging, most especially to you.

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Leaders called by revelation who do bad things

I have read a number of stories of people who have fallen away from the Church because of the poor decisions of local leaders, blaming the Church or those who put these people in authority for the misdeeds. I have a friend who often states that leaders “must have been listening to the wrong spirit” to have called someone who has either sinned or treated them in what is perceived (at least by my friend) as in a poor manner. I have seen still others point to misuses or perceived carelessness of leaders as an example of the “intolerable” male-dominated system of leadership within the Church.

In all of these cases, the choices of an individual, with their own free agency (or ability to choose their actions), is being projected onto those who received personal revelation that a particular person should be in a particular position, or onto the Church as a whole. That these leaders choices were independent of the trust placed in them is ignored. It is assumed that those assigning the positions (or making the callings) “should have known” a problem was going to happen.

In the Church organization began by Jesus, 12 Apostles were called, in anticipation of their leading the Church when He was gone. All of them were men with their own strengths and weaknesses, their own knowledge and experience. Two (at least) failed for a time to live up to what was expected of them. Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus for money. Peter betrayed his own Apostolic calling to declare that Jesus is the Christ when he denied three times that he knew or associated with Jesus. Was Jesus just not listening to God when he made these calls? The idea of predestination can also be discarded, being contrary to LDS teachings.

If Jesus can call men who have the potential for making mistakes, could we not also, even with direct inspiration from God also call men who have the potential to make great mistakes?

The plan of salvation given by God, as opposed to that given by Lucifer, is one of choice. Each one of us is capable of being worthy to return to Heavenly Father, and are also able to choose not returning. The plan of Lucifer was to remove that choice, so all would return. Hence, no matter what callings are extended, no matter what opportunities we have in this life, we all retain the possibility of doing both right and wrong. To lose trust in the personal revelation of others in who should fill what positions when they have been called of by God to do so will erode the trust in the Church as a whole, and ultimately in God.

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