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.