Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Saturday, April 10, 2010

The last post

...at least for class. I hope that as I continue to learn about and grow in my role in this life, I will also continue to take time to share my thoughts on the subject. For now, here is something that I thought a while ago in response to overwhelming circumstances.

Over the last year, I thought that I was coming to better understand the Lord's love for me. Now I'm realizing that much of His love is manifested through the love of our family and friends. Though I am willing and happy to serve other people, if I am unwilling to receive others' acts of service--unwilling to expect them to love me--I am not fully accepting His love. I have been working so hard on growing into the leader Heavenly Father wants me to be; now I need to learn to follow. I humbly hope that the Lord will teach me to depend on others, to rely upon and grow stronger in their strength.

This class has taught me not just that I am a leader--I already knew that--but, more importantly, that everyone is a leader by divine birthright. As I move forward, I want to help others reach their potential, both by leading (serving) them and by letting them serve me.

"I lift thee, and thee lift me, and we'll both ascend together."


Friday, April 2, 2010

Fun stuff! For a grade!

Thanks for this assignment, Tommy! It was great!

So, my friend Jeff and I went to the closing performance of As You Like It, which was really very well done. It had been a while since I'd experienced Shakespeare, and this was a compelling and entertaining way to revisit him. On top of that, I got to catch up with an old friend from high school who happened to be sitting behind us. Then came hamburgers at the Creamery and typing this post on Jeff's computer before listening to...interesting?...music. We'll see how that goes.

In all, this has been a fantastic ending to a very long week. Enjoy Conference, everyone! The deep-ish thoughts will resume tomorrow.


Monday, March 29, 2010

A thought that happened in Relief Society while discussing Adam and Eve

To preside is not to dominate.

The presiding figure at a meeting is the one with the highest level of authority. It doesn't mean they're "better" than anyone else there. Nor does it mean that they are the center of attention (think bishops at BYC). So, yes, the husband presides over his wife and children because he holds (or, as part of his divine nature, is endowed with the ability/responsibility to hold) the priesthood of God.

A good leader--one with real authority as well as official authority--will lead out, encouraging the whole team to move onward and upward. He will show his followers that he loves (verb) them and is working for their best. Wise followers will understand this, will defer to that authority, and will strive to grow and progress under its influence. They will give their all to the goal of the team, becoming leaders in their own right (think the Everest clip from the beginning of the semester).


Friday, March 26, 2010

Leadership in my home!

I mentioned in class that my family has established a sort of mission statement. While we haven't written it out, we have created a "family flag" to help us remember where we want to go together. The flag bears our name (in kanji) and a symbol that represents each member of the family. On the left is a representation of the Tree of Life, for Christ, and on the right is an image of the Ogden, Utah Temple, for our forever family.

The flag goes up on family holidays such as birthdays, Fathers Day, and Thanksgiving. The flag raising ceremony is as follows: The flag is hung, outside or in the living room, as the weather dictates. Next, we recite our family scripture, 2 Nephi 25:26

And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.

Afterwards, we sing our family song, "Families Can Be Together Forever."

My parents started this tradition, intending the frequent reminders of our goal to inspire and strengthen us in our love for each other and for the Lord. The design and composition of the flag was a group effort, involving the kids as well as our parents, and we all remind each other when "we need to get out the flag." I see this tradition, intentionally instituted in our family, as one of the most tangible and symbolic results of great, divine-centered leadership in my home.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Ethical teaching? What??

Remembering that I have a "leadership role" to which I'm supposed to be applying the principles we've discussed, I decided to find a potential moral/ethical dilemma in teaching Sunday School. I was surprised when one came almost immediately to mind. Behold the issue of Too Much Information...

There was a teacher who was to give a lesson to her class on Sunday. Now behold, this teacher had prayed and studied diligently the materials written in the manual. And it came to pass that as she prayed and pondered, behold, the eyes of her understanding were opened, and new knowledge flowed into her mind, adding upon the basic principles in the handbook; yea, and much of this knowledge was concerning personal trials and afflictions, the solutions to which she had been earnestly seeking. Yea, and it came to pass that this knowledge from God brought her great happiness.

So where's the dilemma? Well, the teacher's first inclination would probably be to share the deeper insights with others, including her class; after all, if it was interesting and beneficial to her, it likely would be for her class members as well. The problem comes in when she remembers that the First Presidency, who set the curriculum for gospel instruction in the Church, urge teachers to stick with what is in the manual. Though sharing one's specific understanding of gospel principles isn't a bad thing morally, it might be out of line ethically.

As an objective observer of this teacher (huh, right), I would recommend the following steps for dealing with this morethical dilemma: (1) Generally speaking, stick with what is in the manual. The content is basic for a reason; namely, so that the students can develop a solid foundation on which to build their own understanding through personal revelation. (2) If, during the course of the lesson, the Holy Ghost prompts you to share your own experiences and insights because it is right in this context, then you may do so. The most important thing is to be attentive to the Spirit, who will tell you what is good, better, and best to teach in any given situation.

And, as I am writing about ethics, I feel obliged to report that, according to my clock, I am 6 minutes late in posting this. Woo!


Friday, March 12, 2010

outward and upward

Brother Cox strongly emphasized serving "this way" (with an outward-moving gesture). This, to me, seemed to define the entirety of his lecture. In all of his examples--George Washington, Alvin York, Ghandi, etc.--the greatest thing about them was that they worked to bring the best for other people because they loved them.

Brother Cox laid out the central dogma, so to speak, of servant-leadership: desire, love, serve. I loved how this corresponded to the message in my selected book, The Servant (cool, huh?): leadership is built on authority is built on service/sacrifice is built on love is built on will. True success as a servant-leader comes when one wills or desires for others to have, to do, and to become their best. As someone that Brother Cox quoted said, "The genesis of servant leadership is building others up."

Building and lifting others is what Heavenly Father is all about. He says, "For behold, this is my work and my glory--to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). We, as covenant members of Christ's church, have pledged to "press forward" in our lives "with a love of God and of all men" (2 Nephi 31:20). We show our love for God by keeping his commandments (John 14:15) and by helping His other children to do the same by serving them, meeting their needs so that they can grow and progress (which is just exactly what Jesus does; see John 13:34).

A small example of application: in my role as a Sunday School teacher, I try to help my class members fulfill their need to understand the doctrines of the gospel so that they can grow in understanding and in love for their Father in Heaven.

This, then, is servant leadership: to love those in your sphere as children of God; to show them the goal, the Light of the world; and then to give your all (time, talents, energy, resources) to boost them on their journey upward.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Aww, man. I forgot about scheduling conflicts...

But even though I'm late, I figure I'll write this post anyway.

As we talked about dealing with conflict, I initially thought, "No way, what kind of conflict could there be in a Sunday School class?" Then I remembered that working with tricky doctrine opens up all sorts of opportunities for clashing ideas and egos.

In fact, I had an experience like that about a while ago while teaching about the Fall of Adam. Of course I won't go into any detail; suffice it to say that a couple of my students had some very strong opinions about one of the more ambiguous points and had the beginnings of a...tiff. Nothing really nasty happened during the lesson, because the people in my class are awesome. However, I had to work to stay calm; keep my eyes, ears, and mind open; and encourage my students to do the same. As we did so, we were blessed with the presence of the Holy Spirit, who helped us come to an understanding of the truth, at whatever level each of us needed at the time.

So the lesson went well, and I was happy to move on with my Sunday. But later that afternoon, one of the participants in the almost-argument surprised and impressed me with a very humble apology in the form of an e-mail. I'm grateful to say that I was able to forgive him right away; and while I have forgotten his offense, I have remembered this experience as I prepared and taught other lessons.

I think that in my specific leadership role, the most important things for resolving conflict are keeping an open mind and relying on the Holy Ghost to do the real teaching and testifying of the truth. I pray that I can make these ideas a part of me and that they will manifest themselves in my actions as I continue to lead and serve Heavenly Father's children in the BYU 153rd Ward.


Friday, February 26, 2010

Find where you stand so you can lift!

I decided to apply President Uchtdorf's council to "Stand close together and lift where you stand" to my relationships with my friends. We have a pretty closely knit group, and we love spending time together. However, I have recently felt that I haven't been growing any closer to them, despite the fact that I've spent more time socializing than usual in the past couple of weeks.

Earlier today, I sat puzzling over this issue. I just didn't feel like I was being much of a friend, and on top of that, my schoolwork was beginning to suffer. I realized that I needed to reset and reconfirm my priorities--to figure out where I stood. I asked myself these questions:
  1. Who am I?
  2. Why am I here?
  3. Where am I going?
  4. What am I going to do to get there?
These questions apply to the grand scheme and also to the smaller steps, like being a student here at BYU.

Now, I haven't really tested this yet, but I think the Spirit is telling me that if everyone in a team, a ward, or a group of friends asks themselves these questions and commits to the answers, and then does everything they can to help the others with their commitments, that pianos will be moved, testimonies will be strengthened, friendships will solidify beyond anything we can imagine at the outset! Nice run-on sentence. In other words, if we each stand solidly in our close circle, there is no fear of failure as we lift where we stand.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Mosiah 4:27 tells me...

If I am diligent (always doing) in the different areas of my life, then I will get everything that I need to done.

It's kind of cool: Mosiah 4:27 is almost chiasmatic in form.

And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order;
for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.
And again,
it is expedient that he should be diligent, that thereby he might win the prize;
therefore, all things must be done in order.

So we can set "be[ing] diligent" to "not run[ning] faster than [we have] strength," with emphasis on the word "faster"--we could also say, "running as fast as we have strength." Heavenly Father requires our all; no more, no less. And He promises us that when we give our lives, our hearts, and our wills to Him, that we will "win the prize."

Which leads to another scripture, Doctrine and Covenants 106:3, which reads, "And devote [your] whole time to this high and holy calling, which I now give unto [you], seeking diligently the kingdom of heaven and its righteousness, and all things necessary shall be added thereunto; for the laborer is worthy of his hire."

Since coming to BYU, I've begun to really understand that the gospel encompasses all of life--not just the spiritual aspects. So I know that if I work to be diligent in my various roles, keeping the Lord as my focal point and always seeking the guidance of the Holy Ghost, then I will have everything I need and I will do everything I need to do.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Not especially leadershippy...

But I wanted to post it somewhere, and I don't like Facebook. The following is an excerpt from an e-mail that I wrote to a friend after hiking the Y on my first Monday here.

"Working toward and growing through those things that will make me happy is hard. Very hard. And when I look up the aggravatingly steep path and see only the next switchback, with no destination in sight, it's too easy to get discouraged. But I need to just grit my teeth and smile and keep breathing and never stop, and when I get to the where I want to be I will be so thrilled and humbled, and so happy to see others make their goals too. And I always want to keep climbing. Because when I'm moving up, even though it hurts, I'm always in control; I can always choose to stop, though I always choose to keep going. But once I start the downward path, away from the goal, it soon becomes nearly impossible to set my own pace. I go faster and faster down the slope until I'm nearly running, against my will. And in real life, there are no pizzas or buckets of ice cream waiting at the bottom."

So, pretty cool. Hope that's beneficial to someone. :)


Friday, February 12, 2010

Givin' the candlestick, guys.

Well, I'm not really sure if this counts, but I chose to type up my notes from my U.S. History class today and send them to they guy who usually sits next to me but was absent. That might sound a little wimpy, but I have a couple of qualifications: (1) notes from that class are always huge, as we go at a ridiculously fast pace, and (2) the teacher never posts her slides on Blackboard. Having studied with this my neighbor for the last test, I know how heavily he relies on his lecture notes and how hard it would be for him to miss a day.

So, how will doing this help us as a student body become more unified and happy? Hm. Actually, I think it might. We've all gotten those piteous e-mails begging for notes because someone has missed a day or a week or whatever. I've even sent one. I know how happy it would make me to have someone spontaneously send me their notes before I even had to ask; I would know that someone in my class was watching over me and cared enough to help me stay afloat. I think everyone's education at BYU would be better if we viewed our learning as a joint process, a community effort. The society that we're hoping to benefit with our careers is in school with us right now--so let's start now!


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Sidenote: a moon

I really admire Lachoneus. He was a fantastic leader! Mormon tells us that he "was a just man, and could not be frightened by the demands and threatenings of a robber" (3 Nephi 3:12), but inspired his people to unite, to repent, and to look to the true source of salvation. We also know that he knew how to delegate, and that he stayed strong under the immense pressure of governing a compressed and people during the 7+ years that they were "besieged" by the Gadianton robbers. But I really want to focus on his ability to inspire. He let his light shine, and it was a light that led his followers to Christ, the source of all light and truth. I hope that I can be a leader like that in the Lord's kingdom.

Friday, February 5, 2010


Well. My results for the Myers-Briggs test came out INTJ, so according to the MB website, I...

Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop long-range explanatory perspectives. When committed, organize a job and carry it through. Skeptical and independent, have high standards of competence and performance – for themselves and others. (I promise I'm not just trying to fill space here. And please ignore the inconsistent grammar...)

Unlike most of the people in our section, I didn't really feel that this description described me perfectly; rather, it seemed to depict a very harsh version of me. That was rather disconcerting, so I looked a little deeper (or, farther down the page) at my interpretation and realized that I fell almost exactly half-way between the Thinking and Feeling preferences--there was only a one-point difference in favor of Thinking. Taking that into consideration, I could just as easily be type INFJ:

Seek meaning and connection in ideas, relationships, and material possessions. Want to understand what motivates people and are insightful about others. Conscientious and committed to their firm values. Develop a clear vision about how best to serve the common good. Organized and decisive in implementing their vision.

That really feels a lot more like me. However, since I do fall half-way between the two, I probably behave like an INTJ half the time, so I may as well take the results I received as legitimate.

In doing so, I had some really interesting discussion with my friend Madeleine, whom I mentioned in a previous post. She helped me recognize some strengths ascribed to me by the test that I didn't think I had, such as skills in "innovative problem solving," by pointing out how I help her to focus the stories that she writes. It's good to think about these strengths, and also the weaknesses that come with my type. Being aware of them will help me monitor my own actions and decisions as I work, teach, and build relationships. Additionally, I hope to learn to think about others in terms of their strengths so that I can best encourage them to reach their goals.

One place to start is, again, with Madeleine and her stories, because we're making a pretty good team. She tells me, "You are an enzyme for storytelling. We should call you Emilase."


Friday, January 29, 2010

Really? Extra Credit?

Hm, leadership in a movie. Well, I just watched Monsters vs. Aliens with my friends (which is why my post is late: fail), which actually has some pretty interesting examples of leadership. The one that I'll focus on here is my tied-for-favorite character: General W. R. Monger. Monger runs the top-secret monster containment unit (aka Area 51), keeping the 5 monsters therein, obviously, top secret. Throughout the course of the film, we see his attitude and leadership style change with the situation. While introducing the main character to her new life in the holding unit, he is stern and authoritative, yet compassionate (as far as he can be) for her distress. Later, Monger takes the initiative to propose a monster attack against the alien invaders. Upon approval, he switches from directing the monsters straight to delegating, instructing them to incapacitate the enemy and then getting completely out of the way. Monger shows complete trust in his wards' abilities to succeed, and demonstrates his dependability as well.

Wow, I'm making him sound all nice and inspiring or something. Yeah, I mostly love him for his stereotypical ROTC image. But it's interesting to note that he appears to be either on one extreme or the other of the leadership spectrum, yet he is an effective and capable leader.

K, sorry that was so long. Have a fantastic weekend, and maybe watch that movie if you haven't yet. It's fairly entertaining.


Hersey and Blanchard in Sunday School!

(Sorry it's late)
All right, so, first off: I am reading The Servant: A Simple Story About Leadership by James C. Hunter.

Next: four "real life" applications of the levels or styles or whatever of leadership. Conveniently, I happen to be teaching this Sunday, so I can look forward to using these applications right away!
  1. Directing I will likely use this at the beginning of class as I introduce the lesson, ask members to read passages, and the like. I see this as just getting the basic framework of the lesson in, giving my students (or "followers") some concrete material or common ground to grab onto. (Yes, bad grammar. Yes, I'm an English minor.) Naturally, this is where the bulk of my tangible preparation will come in--I need to be well-versed in the material in order to feed it to the class.
  2. Coaching To me, this feels like the biggest part of teaching. I will be following my lesson plan and I have a few points that I want especially to get across; therefore I will form my questions so as to encourage the discussion in that direction and will probably provide answers if what I'm looking for doesn't quite come from the class members.
  3. Supporting Of course, with the Spirit being the real teacher, and with class members being actual people with their own ideas and concerns, the discussion may well turn in a different direction. In this event, my job will be to continue to facilitate the discussion--asking for people's comments and tying everything together for the whole class.
  4. Delegating Honestly, I'm having a hard time making this fit into the teaching scenario. I suppose that I may employ it when I ask the class to break into groups and work out a passage before bringing everyone back for group discussion. While I may give them some focus questions, I will trust them to teach each other.
So there are my four situations. Or rather, my one situation that will shift and change throughout the duration. I pray that I can be a responsive and responsible leader as I teach Heavenly Father's children.


(Really, it is late. Blogger just seems to be behind an hour and a half or so.)

Monday, January 25, 2010

sorta random thought

In his telling-off of Pahoran, Moroni says, "For were it not for the wickedness which first commenced at our head, we could have withstood our enemies that they could have gained no power over us" (Alma 60:15). This illustrated to me, somewhat conversely, the importance of having integrity and being righteous when in a position of influence. It's somewhat sobering to realize how far-reaching the consequences of my decisions can be--I can be a source of strength and inspiration or the cause of great suffering.

That prospect motivates me even more to choose the right. Who wants to cause other people that much pain? In fact, I can see that idea keeping me on the right path when I might otherwise slip off. I wonder if that's one reason that Heavenly Father gives us leadership opportunities. See the Quaker proverb again.

Friday, January 22, 2010


I chose to interrogate my best friend, Madeleine, who is a great leader as well as a great story teller. She inspired me to interview her about leadership when she told me that she had checked out a room in the HBLL and planned to give a lecture on "Good Visual Communication" to the Animation Club.

The really inspiring thing was that she took that initiative in spite of her anxiety about appearing presumptuous ("What right do I have to lecture? I'm no expert!"). So I asked, if she was so doubtful, what got her to set this thing up in the first place? She replied that, amateur as she was, she felt like she had something to contribute to the group in this area. Her love for telling stories and communicating visually had led her to some really great discoveries, and she wanted to share those ideas with the club so that we could all grow.

So, the main leadership qualities that I see in Madeleine are:
  • She is well-versed in her area of expertise. She has taken the time to really study and learn about her subject, and now she is ready to begin teaching others.
  • She is enthusiastic about development. Her current understanding of the principles motivates her to change and growth, the foundation for the next step up.
  • She loves the people she leads and serves. Her care for us as her friends and her desire for all of us to reach our potential as artists are the real driving forces behind this endeavor.
I admire Madeleine greatly for these qualities, and I see in her a fantastic example for me as a Sunday school teacher. Teachers need to be knowledgeable enough about their subject to teach, be humble enough to continue learning, and most especially love their students and the Lord. I hope to emulate these qualities as I prepare to teach His children every month.


Friday, January 15, 2010

Not actually my post for the week (go farther down!)...

...just something cool that my dad wrote to me in a letter. Thought I'd share.

"Elder Gonzalez spoke in Priesthood Session of October General Conference and mentioned how Lemuel made the mistake of following Laman's lead because he 'knew not the dealings of that God who had created them' (1 Nephi 2:12). In other words, he didn't understand the doctrine...I was prompted to consider not only Laman and Lemuel/Nephi and Sam as the wicked/righteous brothers, but Laman and Nephi/Lemuel and Sam as the leaders/followers...[Teaching] correct doctrine and helping [to] apply it in their lives can turn Lemuels into Sams and maybe even Sams into Nephis."

Thanks, Dad.

If only Sir Churchill had taught Old Testament

Week 2, and it's that time, folks! Not as much of a drum-roll as reverent pencil-clatter, it's my leadership role as a Sunday School teacher!!! Woooo!

It may be noted that I only teach once a month. However, my calling is foremost on my mind far more often than one might think. And I may get called in to sub some time. Who knows? At any rate, I wanted this to be the focus of my leadership learning experience because I used principles that I learned at FOL to help myself get into this calling at the beginning of last semester (I think I mentioned that in my last post. Oh well.). Also, teaching is right now my favorite form of leadership.

OK, so at the International Time Warp Commission I became Sir Winston Churchill of Great Britain. His accomplishments and leadership were rather incredible, and his speeches very memorable. Actually, it was (partially) through his speeches that Churchill brought Britain through World War II as he inspired the people to fight for their liberty, to protect their children and their homeland. Reminds me a bit of Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty. Though not in a position of political or military power at all, I would like to be able to inspire my Gospel Doctrine class to endure to the end of this life, to fight valiantly for the truth.

It's important to remember that Churchill was sometimes criticized for his speeches, accused of producing sparkling rhetoric at the expense of total accuracy of facts. I don't want to skew or warp the doctrine that I'm teaching (I hope that's not a huge concern, but I may tend that way sometimes...as an English geek...). The best remedy/preventative measure that I can think of is to remain humble and remember that the Holy Ghost is the real teacher; I'm merely there to open the door for him.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Week 1: What? We did...

So here I am, back to actively and intentionally thinking about leadership. Actually, I used principles and ideas from FOL almost constantly at the beginning of last semester as I tried to adjust to teaching Sunday School. However, I got a little lazy as my weeks to teach kept getting overridden by General and Stake Conferences, Thanksgiving, etc, so it's good and refreshing to be focusing on leadership again.
What struck me most as we began class on Monday and Wednesday was how essential it is to be ready to lead. Everyone, not just a select few, has a role to fill some time--just like the climbers in Erik's team. Our own Section 9 is a team, working towards the goal of becoming more like Christ through leadership. As we each step up and support each other, I know that we will reach that goal and that we will be ready to be Christlike leaders for others in our lives who need us.

I lift thee and thee lift me, and both ascend together.
-Quaker proverb