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In the 1969 speech “The Loneliness of Leadership“, Gordon Hinckley discusses the loneliness that leaders feel-both spiritual leaders and secular leaders and how true leaders stand up for what they believe to be right regardless of consequences. Examples he uses include Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and recent converts to the Church who are ostracized and cast out for their belief.
He concludes with the following:
I like these great words of the Lord given to those who would go out and teach this gospel:
I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up. [D&C 84:88]
I think that is a promise to each of us. I believe it; I know it. I bear testimony of its truth to you this day.
After reading this, I thought about times in my life when I’ve had to stand up for what I believed to be right, according to what I felt that God had put in my heart.
Joining the Mormon Church
When I was 9 years old, my parents divorced and I moved with my mother to another state. We had been raised members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon), but after the divorce we gradually quit attending church.
I remember my mother inviting people over and having study sessions on why the Mormon religion is false and although I don’t think she knew I was listening, it did have an affect on me. Also, she confided in me a lot of negative information about my father that influenced my opinion of him as a person. He remained a practicing Mormon, so as a child, I blamed the Mormon church as well as all of the negative things that I heard in my home about Mormons. I hated Mormons.
At school I would bully them. Tease them. Gradually, it evolved into where I was not only teasing Mormons, but all people of faith. I was very young-11 years old- but I was getting involved in drinking, vandalism, and heading down a very negative path.
One day my mother came to me and told me that I should go and visit my father as I hadn’t seen him in 2 years because of my hatred for him and his religion. I told her I didn’t want to go, but she told me that legally I needed to and also it would be good for me. Looking back, I think she recognized a lot of the negative things in my life and thought I needed a father figure.
Before I left, she sat me down in the my bedroom that was in the garage of our old house and told me that when I visited my father that he would try and make me go to church with him. She told me that I didn’t have to go and to make sure that whatever I do I didn’t become Mormon. I looked at her confused and wondered why she would even worry about that because that was the last thing I wanted to do. I just wanted to have the 2 week trip over with.
To make a long story short, I visited my Dad. I noticed a very peaceful feeling almost immediately when I was in his home. Something I didn’t realize I had been craving. I also noticed that he wasn’t as bad as I had been told and that he was actually a very sincere and fun person to be around. He had remarried and my new step-mom was very kind and patient.
The other thing I realized was that the Mormon church wasn’t bad. In fact, I felt peace there that I hadn’t felt anywhere else (when we left the Mormon church, we went “church shopping” to a bunch of churches like Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, non-denominational, etc). After only a short time, the Holy Spirit shared with me a vision of my life and what would come of it if I stayed with my mother in that situation at the time, or moved in with my Dad. It was clear to me and I feel blessed that the Lord put it into my heart that I needed to join the Mormon church and also live with my Dad.
When I had the conversation with my mom, I knew that if I came back home with her, I was too weak at the time to stand up for what I had felt in my heart and I would fall back into my bad friends and behavior. I told her I was staying with Dad. She and I had a big blow-out conversation on the phone that ended with her telling me that if I went back to the Mormon church and my Dad she wouldn’t talk with me again. That hurt me deeply, but I knew what God had put in my heart and I had faith that I should follow that. So I chose to stay with my Dad.
Years later, after I had experienced a lot of psychological and emotional pain (which I wrote about in my book Discovering Light: 12 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Depression without Medication), I realized I needed to make amends with my mother and forgive her. Funny thing was that she put the blame back on me by saying I imagined that she had said that. I’ve forgiven her regardless and I’m very glad that I made that difficult decision years ago because it has changed my life a lot.
Since becoming a Mormon, I have had to walk a lonely road at times. I haven’t been perfect by any means, but largely the Lord has blessed me.
There were times in college when young ladies wanted to sleep with me and I turned them down because of what I believe.
There were times in Europe when I was working after having served a mission in Germany where I was ridiculed and cast out of a home I was staying in because I wouldn’t drink with them.
In my career, I’ve found that people are very accepting for the most part, of my beliefs and I’ve made some great friends as I don’t shy away from my faith, but stand up for it. I’ve found that for the most part, people are drawn to that.
Most importantly, I’ve found that I feel the Lord’s comfort and Spirit come over me in a way that I can’t describe as I’ve been all alone and decided to stand up for what I feel is right. I’ve found that Heavenly Father surrounds us with love when we do this and we come to know Him as a father more deeply in these times.
I’ve shared a few examples of standing up for truth and your beliefs and how God blessed my life.
I’m sure that you have some stories as well. We would all love to hear them, so please share.
Today one of my friends, who is serving as a counselor in a bishopric for a Mormon Church, told me he couldn’t hang out this weekend because of his schedule with a church assignment. I jokingly told him that the main reason I keep moving around is to avoid getting a “big” church calling. I’ll explain.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) are assigned jobs, otherwise known as church callings. The callings are assigned under the inspiration of the local minister, or bishop and his leadership team. From my experience, callings usually last no more than 3 years and can range from working in the nursery with kids during church, being the humanitarian representative in the community or even being a Relief Society President (for women) or Bishop.
I have been an active member of the LDS church for a number of years. Just to give those of you who are not familiar with Mormon callings an idea, I’ll list some of the callings I’ve had over the years along with a brief description of what the job entailed:
Home Teacher: Visiting an assigned group of families within the congregation once per month and sharing a spiritual message with them along with making sure their needs are met.
Deacon’s Quorum President: As a 12 year old boy, the Deacon’s president functions under the supervision of the Deacon’s adviser who is an adult. He mainly organizes youth activities and makes sure the sacrament (communion) is passed out accurately each week.
Teachers Quorum President: This is very similar to a Deacon, except the boys are 14 years old.
Priest’s Quorum 1st Assistant: Same as Deacon and Teacher, except the Priest also blesses the communion during church.
Elder’s Quorum President: The Elder’s Quorum President is responsible for seeing that all the Elders (usually males in the congregation 18-50 years old) are being spiritually in line with the Lord, making sure their needs are met, assigning home teaching assignments, receiving feedback on how to help members in the congregation with various needs, working with the bishop to help new members move out or move into the “ward” (i.e. congregation).
Elder’s Quorum Instructor: Teaching a spiritual lesson in Elder’s quorum class on Sunday.
District Leader: Leader of a group of 4-10 missionaries. Can also be a leader of Elders in a large Elder’s quorum.
Zone Leader: In a mission, the District Leaders report to the Zone leader. Usually about 2-4 district leaders to each zone leader.
Substitute Primary Teacher: Primary is Sunday School for children ages 3-12.
Executive Secretary to the Bishop: Note-taker and organizer for the bishop to keep him on track with all his duties.
Ward Missionary: Works with the full-time missionaries to teach investigators (people considering being baptized into the Mormon Church)
Gospel Principles Instructor: Teaches investigators and newly baptized members basic gospel principles each week in Sunday School.
Youth Instructor (ages 16-18): Teaches youth each week during Sunday School
Sunday School President: Responsible for calling all Sunday School instructors and ensuring they are properly taught on how to best teach.
There are also “callings” mentioned frequently over the pulpit from our church leaders that are things assigned to us as being disciples of Christ such as being a good neighbor, parent, spouse, etc.
The culture within the Mormon church is that it is sort of taboo to turn down a calling. I’ve heard people say that if you turn a calling down from a leader, you are turning down the Lord. Since the leader is (ideally) receiving revelation on who should be called to what position, that may very well be the case, but my purpose in writing this article isn’t to debate turning down a calling. I mention it, just to let those of you unfamiliar with Mormon culture in on the mind set many members of the Church have when asked to do something.
Personally, I have turned down a calling on a couple occasions, but I usually accept the calling, even if I don’t necessarily want to do it. I have found that in most cases I learn and grow a lot from the various callings I have been given.
That being said, I will rank my favorite callings (being a father and husband are my number one callings that I thoroughly enjoy, but I am referring to callings that are formerly issued) as well as my least favorite.
Favorite Church Callings
1. Elder’s Quorum Instructor: I loved this calling because I only taught once/month and had a whole month to dive deep into the lesson plan and scriptures. The conversations and discussions with the Elders in church were very inspirational for me and I learned a lot from them and mostly from the Holy Spirit. Plus, I love teaching.
2. Zone Leader: I remember on my mission as a zone leader thinking if I could find a job that was like that, I would love it! I am a Regional Manager in sales now, which is very similar to what I did as a zone leader. The upside now is that the product I sell isn’t as hard of a sell as religion was!
3. Sunday School President: As I oversaw all the instructors in the congregation and made assignments, I felt I had the best of both worlds in teaching as well as administrative tasks. It was an enjoyable calling.
Least Favorite Church Callings
1. Executive Secretary to the Bishop: I absolutely hated this calling. I do not do well with organization and being the executive secretary was nothing by trying to keep the bishop organized. I also do not do well with taking orders and this calling is nothing but taking orders from the bishop. I will admit that I didn’t have the best attitude while I had this calling and so the experience wasn’t as good as if I had humbled myself more…or just not said I would do it.
2. Elders Quorum President: This was a love/hate calling for me. There were aspects that I completely loved about the calling. The group of men I served had 92 elders in it. It was a massive group. I had 3 counselors and 1 secretary along with 5 district leaders (I divided the group in to 5 districts with nearly 20 men in each district). I loved visiting the men in the group, teaching them, praying with them and for them, etc. The only part I didn’t like was how draining it was on me emotionally and time consuming. I was in graduate school at the time and working full time as well. This calling took about 15 hours/week. After about 2 years I asked to be released because I just couldn’t emotionally keep up with the demanding schedule and something had to give.
I think from my experience that I have learned that I do best in a role that gives me some flexibility to “call the shots” such as with teaching, or in some leadership roles. My preference is that of teaching because I don’t have as many people who are reporting up to me and what I have to worry about is making sure what I am teaching is in line with what the Spirit is leading me to teach.
If you are a Mormon, what have your favorite and least favorite callings been and why?
If you are in a different faith, what is your understanding of being “called” to something and what callings have you had?
In one of my recent posts on a CNN interview with former members of Mitt Romney’s congregation, a reader asked me if we as Mormons enjoy all the media coverage.
I’ve seen people both excited about it, indifferent about it, and others who don’t want the Mormon church to be too exposed (as written about in the Washington Post article earlier this year).
I thought it would be interesting to gauge how readers feel by having a poll to see where people from around the country (and world) feel about Mormons being in the media so much. Take a few moments and record your thoughts on the poll below:
One side of my family has a long history in the LDS or Mormon church dating back to the early 1800’s. I have ancestors who were pioneers leaving their families in Denmark to follow a prophet’s counsel to “come to Zion” in Salt Lake City. Two of my ancestors married Joseph Smith. One ancestor, Edward Partridge, was the first Mormon Bishop of the church and was killed by mobs who tarred and feathered him for his beliefs.
I have a special place in my heart for those who went before me and I thank the Lord for their sacrifice.
Below is an excerpt from a movie that depicts the early Mormon pioneers traveling across the plains to heed the call of their prophet. I hope you feel the Spirit as I do when I reflect on all they sacrificed to serve the Lord.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) functions primarily as a lay ministery. This means that members within the congregation are not paid, including the clergy.
Mormon congregations are divided geographically into “wards”. Every 5 years or so a new pastor (called a Bishop) is called from within the ward by the general authorities of the church.
In typical Christian denominations, I have seen that people tend to bounce around a lot until they find the “right” pastor for them. They search for a pastor with the right personality, charisma, preaching style, and leadership style that fits their needs and if the pastor isn’t working or them, as Donald Trump would say, he’s fired!
Although members of a ward ultimately can choose to attend a different ward outside of their boundaries, it is typically frowned upon to do that. Mormon leaders encourage members to stay in their assigned ward in order to help build it up, regardless of who is called to be their leader.
This can be great when a “good” bishop is called to lead the ward. However, if a bishop is called that clashes with members it can be a significant challenge.
I’ve seen people quit coming to church altogether based on a new Mormon Bishop that was called.
A Micr0manger as a Mormon Bishop
One of the greatest conflicts I’ve seen is having a Mormon Bishop who is a micro-manager. Since virtually all members of the ward are called to have a church job, this can lead to challenges for members if the bishop has a heavy hand in all the decisions.
For example, within a ward (usually consisting of 200-400 people) there are leaders called by revelation by the bishop to lead many areas such as Young Men, Young Women, Sunday School, Primary (children’s sunday school), Elder’s Quorum (Men’s Group), High Priests (Typically the older men), and Relief Society (Women’s group). Each of the leaders within each of those groups are in charge of selecting people from within the ward to help carry out tasks as well.
According to a recent regional conference in Asia led by Mormon Apostle, Dallin Oaks, members who are called are “entitled to receive inspiration and revelation for [their] respective stewardships”. This gives members of the ward flexibility to pray and select people to help run their group as they feel inspired to.
The conflict arises if a bishop (who ultimately makes the final decision) doesn’t accept the decisions made by leaders of the various groups. This can be very frustrating for the group leaders.
What is the best way to deal with a micro-managing Mormon Bishop?
I’m definitely not the expert on this and welcome any feedback, but I will give a few suggestions that have helped me along the way.
Dealing Effectively with a Micro-managing Mormon Bishop
When things happen that a leader does that I don’t like it is very easy in the heat of the moment to say or do something I will regret later. If I choose to pray for guidance the Lord usually calms me down and guides me.
2. Remove the beam from my own eye
It’s hard to do, but it is essential to look at myself and what things I’m doing wrong possibly first and not judge my leader. This is what Jesus taught and it’s easy to talk about, but not always easy to do. When I choose to do this things are a lot better and I have the Lord’s Spirit with me.
3. Try to see the Bishop’s perspective
The Bishop has a tremendous responsibility and is privy to many people’s challenges and needs. He also has ultimate stewardship for the ward. Since bishops are untrained and simply rely on their life experience and their faith in the Lord, it is crucial that members of the congregation rally around him and support him even if he’s not the most personable or a micro-manager.
4. Trust in the Lord
I’ve heard President Monson say on many occasions “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord Qualifies”. Try and remember that the Lord called the bishop and to pray to see things from His perspective as to why the bishop was called. Pray again to see what you can do to support the bishop and lighten the load. The church is the Lord’s church and He had faith in the bishop that was chosen, pray to see why.
5. Let Go
If I let go of my feelings and turn them over to the Lord, I feel much better. I share my desires and reasons for why I want to do something and my frustrations of being micro-managed, or having a personality conflict, or whatever it is, and the Lord takes the burden for me.
The following quote is taken from a 1992 publication of the Encyclopedia of Mormonism and is informative for those not familiar with Priesthood Blessings and also for the personal story I will share later:
A priesthood blessing may be given only by those who have been ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood. In the Church, most boys at the age of twelve have the Aaronic Priesthood conferred upon them and are ordained to the office of deacon. At age fourteen, they are usually ordained teachers, and at age sixteen, priests. If the priesthood bearer continues to show faithfulness and worthiness, then at age eighteen, or anytime thereafter, he may receive the Melchizedek Priesthood with ordination to the priesthood office of elder. An elder in the Melchizedek Priesthood has authority to perform most priesthood functions in the Church, including giving priesthood blessings.
Each priesthood ordination, from deacon to apostle, is a type of priesthood blessing and is characterized, as are all priesthood blessings, by (1) the laying-on of hands by those in authority, (2) an invocation of the authority of the priesthood and the name of Jesus Christ, and (3) such words of blessing as follow the impressions of the Spirit.
This third element, that of spiritual impressions, is vital for any priesthood blessing. A fundamental doctrine of the Church is a belief that a worthy priesthood bearer, when giving a priesthood blessing, will receive promptings from the Holy Spirit regarding what is to be spoken-not necessarily the exact words, but ideas or thoughts that he will then express as clearly as he can in his own words. This is the essence of a priesthood blessing, and distinguishes it from a prayer. A prayer seeks to communicate with God, either vocally or silently, and is rooted in the faith that God will hear the words or the thoughts and feelings and then, in his infinite wisdom and power, will respond. A priesthood blessing is based on trust that the priesthood holder, while speaking the blessing, will receive spiritual promptings regarding what is to be spoken and thus his words represent the will of God.
As described in the quote, Elders in the Mormon church are ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. The Elders within a congregation are assigned to be “Home Teachers”, or overseers for 3-5 families within the congregation. Hometeachers are assigned in pairs of two and visit the homes of their assigned families on a monthly basis. Part of their duty is to ensure the families’ physical, temporal, and spiritual needs are being met. This requires the Elders to stay in tune with the Lord because at any given moment, a family can call and ask for a Priesthood blessing. As we’ve already covered in the quote, a blessing is much more than a prayer. It is being a spokesman for the Lord and is a humbling, but deeply spiritual experience.
Yesterday when visiting one of my families, the father asked us (me and my home teaching companion) to give him a blessing. He asked me if I would be the one to give the blessing.
When giving a blessing, the Elders place their hands on the head of the individual receiving the blessing. If it is a blessing of healing, consecrated olive oil is placed on the individual’s head and one Elder annoints the oil through a quick prayer and then the next Elder, who will be giving the blessing places his hands on the head together with the first Elder. He opens the prayer by sealing the annointing and then speaks as thoughts from the Holy Spirit enter His mind.
Here’s a picture of what a blessing looks like:
After my companion annointed the head of the father, I sealed the annointing as outlined. It was a deeply moving experience for me as thoughts and feelings came to my mind and heart of how much God loved this father and viewed him as His son. Feelings of how noble and valued he was in the sight of God entered through me and it was hard for me not to get emotional. Towards the conclusion of the blessing, I felt a strong feeling of Jesus’ suffering on the cross and in the Garden of Gethsemane for our sins. I became very touched and cried openly as I spoke words of comfort and encouraged the father to turn to the Lord and place his burdens at His feet.
I’ve given many blessings in my life. Some are very moving like this one and others are less moving, yet still spiritual and simple. One thing I know is that in each case, I am not speaking my own thoughts and feelings, but I am speaking as a spokesperson for God. It is a very humbling experience and a privilege that I am grateful to have the opportunity to participate in on occasion.
I realize priesthood blessings are very sacred for those who have both received and given them. However, if you are comfortable with sharing your experiences, I think it would be good for those less familiar with blessings to learn from you.
Also, any of you who may not be Mormons and have additional questions, feel free to ask!
Recently, a Sunday School lesson in our Mormon Church was on a Book of Mormon prophet named Enos. His account is very short in the Book of Mormon, but it is a very important chapter in the Book.
In short, he describes a long prayer and process he goes through to receive forgiveness from his sins through Jesus Christ. His description could be described as what is commonly known in Christian circles as a “born again” experience because he prays and confesses Jesus as his Savior and asks Him to take away his sins. He then is filled with the Holy Spirit and prays for his fellow friends and his enemies alike.
As I reflected on Enos’ experience, it reminded me of my own.
When I was in my early teenage years, I had been already living a pretty devious life and was full of hatred and anger. Through the grace of God I picked up a Book of Mormon and read it within a few weeks. At the end of the Book of Mormon, I had a very big desire to pray and know if the concepts in the Book were true. The concepts in the book include the doctrine of the gospel of Jesus Christ, which includes: faith, repentance, baptism, committing our lives to the Lord, and receiving the Holy Spirit.
According to a modern Mormon prophet, Ezra Taft Benson, for every one person who has a “born again experience” such as Enos, there are thousands of people who do not have a huge manifestation of the Holy Spirit all at once. Rather, it comes gradually as we keep the commandments of God.
I feel fortunate to have had an experience like that of Enos. Immediately after I prayed, I felt a warmth come all over me and a love and desire to share the Good News with my fellow man. From the age of 13 (when I had this experience) I had the desire to go on a mission and tell the world about the gospel. My mission was everything I dreamed it would be. Although I was in a country (Germany) whose people didn’t accept the gospel with open arms, I still grew to love the Lord and the German people. If I hadn’t had this born again experience as a younger man, I’m not sure that I would have been able to be so motivated to go on a mission, and the experience is something I reflect on almost daily that sustains my faith now.
I would be curious to see how many people out there have had a “born again” experience. If you have, please share. If not, please share how you have experienced receiving the Spirit and a testimony of Jesus.
Baptisms for the Dead have been a part of the Mormon church almost from the beginning. For those who are not familiar with the Mormon view of baptisms for the dead feel free to review this link for articles and scriptural references on baptisms for the dead. Here is a very short history on where Baptisms for the Dead originated:
Joseph Smith had received a vision of the celestial kingdom in which he saw his brother Alvin, who had died before Joseph had received the gold plates (see D&C 137). Joseph was surprised to see Alvin in the celestial kingdom, because Alvin had not been baptized before he died. The Lord explained to Joseph that all people who would have received the gospel, been baptized, and lived righteously if they had been given the opportunity will be able to be in the celestial kingdom (see D&C 137:7). Joseph later learned that baptisms for the dead could be done vicariously, using people on the earth as proxies.
Recently there was an article that covered members of the Jewish community being upset with the LDS church because an LDS member had done what is called “baptisms for the dead” in a Mormon temple for a holocaust victim. According to the article the LDS member who did the baptisms had seriously violated the church’s policy on baptizing deceased members of the Jewish faith as there had been an agreement between top Jewish and Mormon leaders.
If this LDS member is like me, he never heard anything about an apparent agreement between the Jews and Mormons not to have deceased members of the Jewish faith get proxy baptisms.
Some members of the Jewish community were outraged and suggested that the Mormon church should do away with baptisms for the dead. This sentiment is also found within members of the Catholic church and other Evangelical churches.
Personally, I highly doubt that the Mormon church would do away with baptisms for the dead. It is one of the key aspects of the religion.
Furthermore, I don’t see the reason why members of other faiths are so opposed to baptisms for the dead. The way I see it, if they don’t believe in baptisms for the dead, then it is irrelevant if the Mormons do it in their temples.
What are your thoughts?
We had a pretty interesting discussion to close out our last Elders meeting in 2011. It was a lesson on judgment and the second coming. As you can imagine, many interesting things were said. Some off the wall about what would happen leading up to the Second Coming, and others that were scripturally based.
One brother kept bringing something up though that caused me to reflect on an issue I hear quite frequently from fellow Christian friends of other denomonations, specifically on how they feel Mormons think they can earn their salvation and also become Gods.
The brother kept asking questions about what we needed to do in order to be saved. He asked about the steps such as baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and going through the temple. In his mind, it sounded to me like he thought he was home free once he made those steps. He also made mention in reference to the scripture that if we make these steps, we will become Gods and have everything equal with God.
Although I am a Mormon, or Latter-day Saint, I completely disagree with these statements. For starters, we will never be equal to God. I believe that God (Heavenly Father), and Jesus Christ (also a God) are separate beings who are far superior to us and always will be. Even though we are created in their image, we will never be equal to them. I feel that it is damaging and dangerous to put ourselves at the same level with them in that it sets us up for pride and it is erroneous doctrine.
Some LDS or Mormon prophets (most notably, Lorenzo Snow) have come out and stated that we can become gods and that God was once like us. Mormons are also quick to point to the scripture in the Bible that states in both the Old and New Testamant “ye are gods…” and use that as evidence that one can be a god.
A closer reading of the scriptures shows that every time Jesus or Heavenly Father are mentioned, the “g” in god is capitalized. In the scripture that says we “are gods” the “g” is lower case. To me, this means that we can become “like” God and have power and authority over certain things that He gives us, but we will always be inferior to Him and function under his jurisdiction. Another way of looking at it is what we learn in the Mormon temple about us becoming “kings and priests” unto god, but not a God in the sense that He is God.
Regarding earning salvation, there are certainly actions we must take to receive the gospel into our hearts. However, we will always be in debt to God the Father and Jesus for their sacrifice so that we have the opportunity to be saved. Although we should always take actions to be obedient and close to the Holy Spirit, it is through the grace and mercy of Jesus that salvation comes. The moment we start thinking we’re the ones accomplishing the task of being saved, we run into pride issues and this is also erronous doctrine to think we can earn our salvation.
Perhaps since I’ve been able to learn more from fellow Christian friends through this blog and other sources such as friends and family in other faiths, I am a bit more sensitive to the subject of Mormons earning their salvation and becoming Gods than I was before. After that discussion we had in class, I can see why members of other faiths are alarmed when they attend a Morm0n church.
For those of you inside the church, do you think there is an issue with people feeling they have to earn their salvation? What can we do to overcome this error in doctrine?
For those outside of the LDS church, have you had any experiences with Mormons thinking they can earn their salvation? If so, please share your experience and how it makes you feel.
The LDS, or Mormon church functions under a lay ministery. This means that no one is paid for church service including the pastors and other leadership positions within the church.
One of the key leadership positions is the Elders Quorum President. According to the LDS Auxillary Guidebook, the Elders Quorum President has several duties, which include: setting example and presiding over men in the quorum, organizing home teaching (monthly service visits to congregation members), teaching men of their duties as husbands, fathers, and in the church; and ordaining men to other priesthood callings, or jobs within the church.
Each quorum can consist of up to 96 elders (men) before being split into a new quorum.
As you can imagine, the position of an elders quorum president carries a lot of weight and responsibility, especially for someone who has a job and family full-time. It can seem very overwhelming for an individual who is called to work in this position.
I know first hand how overwhelming it can be. I was called to the position in 2003 right when I had started Graduate school for my MBA. The Stake President (in the LDS church, he is the leader over a group of 8-10 congregations) called me to the position and I openly expressed my concerns with him as far as my time constraints were concerned. The quorum I was being called to had around 90 men in it and the ward (congregation) was very transient and therefore required a lot of administrative work to organize the home visits.
Noticing the concern, the Stake President offered me some very inspired advice on what an Elders Quorum President should focus on to be the spiritual leader for the men he needs to be. He offered three tips, which include:
The tendancy for a lot of presidents (said my stake president to me) is to try and tackle everything by oneself including: scheduling the home teaching visits, visiting sick members of the ward, visiting the elders in the quorum to help them maintain spiritual relationship with God, etc. He told me not to be afraid to have counselors and delegate things to them. I took his advice and called 3 counselors to help me with all of the administration behind the scenes and it made a huge difference.
- Minister vs. Administer
Ministering is the heart of Christ-like service, he said. Administering helps, but isn’t the heart of Christ-like service and being a shepard, which is what the elders quorum presidents’ job entails. As a president, having counselors doing the administration while I got out and met the members of the quorum individually through visits to their homes made a great difference in me being able to try and serve like Christ would.
- Stay close to the Lord
This goes almost without saying, but it is important to keep oneself close to the Lord for inspiration to help quorum members. It is easy to get lost in the shuffle and focus only on the job and not on ones’ personal relationship with God. Regularly schedule times to read scripture, pray, and meditate. If an elders president is in tune with God, he can act as God’s hand in serving those who may be struggling.
I hope these tips help anyone who is in a leadership position. Of course, we would love to hear from those of you who are or have served in a similar position and share your insights for others to learn from. My hope is that this article will help those newly called elders quorum presidents be successful.