An Effective Leader Works Step by Step

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(This is an excerpt from the book Counseling with Our Councils, Revised Edition by Elder M. Russell Ballard.)

One bishop I know understood immediately upon his calling that his biggest challenge was going to be the ward Aaronic Priesthood program. Not only was that his most pressing responsibility according to divine mandate, but it was an especially vexing concern in his ward, where Aaronic Priesthood programs were facing some unusual challenges. As he sat with his counselors for their first bishopric meeting, considerable anguish was expressed over the situation.

“I’m afraid we’ve already lost a few of these boys,” one counselor observed.

“And those who are coming to church will probably resent it if we try to get them to do anything more than what they have been doing on activity night,” the other counselor added.

The bishop had been prayerfully considering this most important responsibility ever since his new calling had been extended, and he had a pretty clear vision of what needed to be done. But he also understood that it couldn’t happen all at once. Instead, the new bishopric moved through the process one step at a time.

“Who’s the strongest priesthood leader in the ward at working with young men?” the bishop asked.

Both counselors immediately named a man who was serving in a stake calling at the time. The bishop considered the man thoughtfully for a few moments. Yes, it felt right.

“Don’t you think he would be a great deacons quorum adviser?” the bishop asked.

“Of course,” his first counselor said. “He’d be great at anything you called him to. But assuming you can get him from the stake, don’t you think it would be better to make him Young Men president so he could control the entire program?”

“Brethren,” the bishop said, “we are the Aaronic Priesthood presidency of this ward. If anyone is going to ‘control’ the program, it’s going to be us. But if we are going to rebuild the program, we need to do it from the ground up. And it seems to me that means starting out with the strongest deacons quorum we can possibly create.”

The counselors felt the wisdom of what their bishop was saying. The stake president agreed to release the brother to serve in the ward, and before too long the ward had an excellent deacons quorum. Its success eventually carried over to the teachers and priests quorums. By the time the bishop was released, every Aaronic Priesthood holder was ready to serve a mission, and the ward had one of the finest Aaronic Priesthood programs in the stake, if not the entire Church. This happened in part because the bishop understood the process of working through council one step at a time. It’s interesting to note that the entire stake Aaronic Priesthood program improved because of the example of this outstanding deacons quorum.

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