Saturday, November 28, 2015

Jesus: The Perfect Leader

My remarks are taken from an excellent talk given by President Spencer W. Kimball to the Young Presidents Organization in 1977 and reprimted in the Ensign in 1979.

With over 2.2 billion Christians in the world. Christianity is the world's number one religion and is experiencing amazing growth Africa and on the verge of a similar explosion of growth in China. As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, part of our responsibility in being members of the Church is not only leading others to Christ but also to be an example of true Christian discipleship. 

In learning to be a leader, shouldn't we look to Christ, our Great Leader, for our example. We can look to Christ's and seek to develop the same qualities, attributes and skills that He more than anyone else so perfectly exemplified. Christ our Exemplar As we examine Christ's leadership, President Kimball pointed out a few attributes that set Christ apart for all others. As we lead and set an example in our families, among our friends and coworkers, we would do well to apply Christ's example and do as He did. 

3 Nephi 27:27 And know ye that ye shall be judges (leaders) of this people, according to the judgment which I shall give unto you, which shall be just. Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am. 

Fixed Principles 
First, Christ based his leadership on fixed principles. Jesus Christ knew who He was, the Son of God, and why he was on the Earth. Jesus acted based on truth and true principles and not like so many secular leaders of the day that, like chameleons, “change their hues and views to fit the situation.” Many secular leaders love to hold focus group and gather “informatics” on their constituency and develop social and political stands based on what seems popular at the time. However, we shouldn't be surprised when our politicians political stands turn out not to be much of a stand once elected. Could traveler's depend on landmarks that migrated from one position to another? Could ancient seamen be guiding by the North Star if it wasn't fixed in it unfaltering position? Similarly, we can't effectively lead others unless our lives and decisions are based on constant and correct principles. 

Moral Authority 
Christ taught “come, follow me”, “come and see” and “do what I do” not just do what I say. Christ was not afraid of close relationships or proximity. Christ chose his 12 Apostles to assist in his desire to personally minister to his followers and not as a way to create distance. Christ lived a moral and virtuous life. Christ wasn't afraid of his follows seeing Him as He really was and is. This is in contrast to many of today's leaders who live very discordant personal and public lives and try to convince us that their personal conduct does not affect their public administration.  Our leaders should be selected based their personal virtue as well as secular qualifications.  Virtuous living empowers our moral authority.

Leading with Love 
Christ was a listening leader who sought to understand those he taught. Jesus was patient. Because he loved others he was able to be candid and forthright. He reproved Perter at times but afterward showed an increase of love. 

D&C 121: 41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; 42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile— 43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy; 

In the workplace, how many of our supervisors and managers manage based on fear instead of love? How many leaders seem only instrested in elevating their own status?  The most effective leaders are concerned with the development and happiness of their coworker and seek to build a unified team instead of just focusing to taking all the credit for things that go right and shirk all the blame when things go wrong.  

Christ could see sin as wrong. But he also was able to see sin as springing from deep and unmet need on the part of the individual. In this way, Christ was able to condemn the sin without condemning the individual. We also need to be able to look deeply in the lives of others to see and understand the causes for failure and shortcomings. Alma the younger in the Book of Mormon exemplified this when he counseled his son Corianton who went astray during his mission to the Lamanites. Coriantan excused himself and committed sins of immorality. 

Alma 39: 7 And now, my son, I would to God that ye had not been guilty of so great a crime. I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good.

Alma then says: Alma 40: 1 Now my son, here is somewhat more I would say unto thee; for I perceive that thy mind is worried concerning the resurrection of the dead. [and] concerning the restoration of which has been spoken… 15 For that which ye do send out shall return unto you again, and be restored; therefore, the word restoration more fully condemneth the sinner, and justifieth him not at all

So, we see that part of Cortianton's problem was a mistaken understanding of the atonement of Christ and when it meant that Christ's followers would be resurrected and redeemed from sin. And this misunderstanding led to Corianton making up excuses in his own mind to justify himself in sin. 

Selfless Leadership 
Christ was a selfless leader. So many problems arise today from self-centeredness. Jesus' leadership emphasized the importance of being discerning with out seeking to control and manipulate others. He taught us that there can be no growth with out real freedom. Christ respected the agency of others and wanted his followers to develop self-reliance. 

Let me explain. The scouting EDGE method emphasizes this exact principle of self-less leadership. This is about teaching people to fish for themselves and not just continually hand out fish making people weak and dependent upon you. EDGE stands for explain, demonstrate, guide, and enable. 

Imagine that I want to teach the scouts to build a fire. I could tell them to build a fire and not explain or show how to do it, and then when the sun is set, and dinner is not cooked, and they fail, I swoop in and save the day. The boys may be fooled into believing how helpless they are, and how skilled I am. Unfortunately, this kind of thing happens all too often because the natural man, naturally desires to feel important, needed and powerful. 

Instead, a selfless leader that is committed to seeing the boys become self-reliant will explain, demonstrate, guide and enable the boys until they can perform the task on their own and even begin to teach others. 

Christ's atonement works the same way. Christ came to save us from our sins and not just in our sins. Christ atonement is meant not just grace alone to sweep our sins under the rug but also power to overcome our sins and purify and sanctify our lives. Christ atonement empowers and enables us to repent, forsake sin, to improve and grow and develop. Any gospel that preaches faith in Christ without repentance, is not teaching the full gospel of Christ. Faith without repentance teaches a God who doesn't respect the agency or progression of His children.

Family Application 
As parents, we have the sacred responsibility to raise and lead our children to Christ. What can we do to respect their agency, and provide self-less leadership? Are we teaching our children to be spiritually and temporally self-reliant? What are we doing to help each of our children develop their own individual relationship with God? Develop their own testimonies? Develop their own love of the scriptures? Develop their own talents, and develop their work ethic? 

Satan likes to take us to the extremes. Are we guilty of neglecting our children on the one hand, or being “helicopter parents” on the other? We can neglect our children when we are emotionally unavailable, or are unwilling to deal with our children's weaknesses or desires and try to imagine that their problem's or opinions don't exist. Helicopter parenting is a term describing a current prevalent parenting type which means that some parents are guilty of doing too much and make all decisions for our children such that they do little for themselves? 

Doing too much vs not doing enough for our children stems from parents talking their children's mistakes personally and worrying too much on how they may be viewed or feel about themselves more than helping their chikdren to improve. Consequently, many children of the so-called Millennia generation aren't learning to be self-reliant and are graduating college and having a difficult time leaving home, finding a job, getting married, and starting their own families. 

Infinite Potential 
Not all of us would be the prefect example of leadership but all of us can make efforts toward approaching that great ideal. Christ saw in each person a spark of the divine and infinite potential. Christ taught that all mankind are spiritual children of our Heavenly Father. Each soul has the God-given ability to progress towards perfection. Each of us has opportunities and ability to do good and be better. We may not be perfect leaders overnight, but by following Christ's example and implementing Christ-like leadership, we all can be more effective leaders.

No comments: