Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Chapter 9.3 - Faithfulness

Faithfulness

What is faithfulness?  At face value, the word looks like it means, "Full of faith" or to be believing. Certainly a leader needs to be full of faith, but for some additional clarity let's look at the dictionary definition:

Faithful (adjective)

  1. strict or thorough in the performance of duty:a faithful worker.
  2. true to one's word, promises, vows, etc.
  3. steady in allegiance or affection; loyal; constant:faithful friends.
  4. reliable, trusted, or believed.
  5. adhering or true to fact, a standard, or an original; accurate: a faithful account; a faithful copy.
  6. Obsolete. full of faith; believing.

According to the dictionary the "full of faith" definition is obsolete.  Now words like strict and thorough in the performance of duty, true to one's word, steady, loyal, reliable, and trusted are more representative synonyms.

Look how Elder L. Tom Perry tied faithfulness to obedience.
Too often we think of obedience as the passive and thoughtless following of the orders or dictates of a higher authority. Actually, at its best, obedience is an emblem of our faith in the wisdom and power of the highest authority, even God. When Abraham demonstrated his unwavering faithfulness and obedience to God, even when commanded to sacrifice his son, God rescued him. Similarly, when we demonstrate our faithfulness through obedience, God will ultimately rescue us. (L Tom Perry, "Obedience Through our Faithfulness", April 2014 General Conference)

Why does a leader need the trait of faithfulness?  This trait has a direct relationship to the amount of trust you are able to build between you and the people you lead.  In his book "The Speed of Trust” Stephen M.R. Covey said that trust is built on character an competence.  Faithfulness is a trait that helps establish character.  As you are strict in the performance of your duties, true to your word, and loyal, your character will become a person that with worth of trust and builds trust in their relationships.

For additional insight, consider these scriptures:
D&C 107:99–100
Alma 53:20-21
Mosiah 5:15
Alma 48:13
Helaman 10:4
D&C 82:24
D&C 84:80
JS-H 1:59

Monday, September 26, 2016

Chapter 9.2 - Virtue

Virtue

What is virtue and why would an effective leader need this character trait?

First, what is virtue?  The LDS Guide to the scriptures defines virtue as integrity and moral excellence, power and strength (Luke 8:46), or sexual purity (Moroni 9:9).

It should be obvious that a leader needs the traits of integrity, power, and strength, but what about moral excellence and sexual purity?  What does that have to do with leadership?  I'm sure we can find many examples of great leaders who lacked the ability to resist the inclinations of the natural man and succumbed to the  appetites, desires and passions of the flesh.  Certainly these examples are the exceptions and their inability to live a virtuous life only inhibited their potential leadership.

The reason this is true goes back to the core principle of my leadership pattern, "Leadership is Love in Action".  The type of love we are talking about is charity (see trait #1).  When we have Charity we have the type of love for others that God has for his children.   If we have that kind of love, then we don't see others as objects to fill our selfish desires.  When we view each other through the lens of love for our spiritual brothers and sisters, then our ability to lead with love is magnified.  A virtuous heart makes this all possible.

There is great power and strength that comes to an individual who has a virtuous heart.  Energy that would be spent on un-virtuous acts or attempting to hide a dark part of our life from others could be channeled into greater opportunities.  As those who follow you look carefully they will see what kind of heart you have.  A heart that is pure will inspire others to become better.  After all, that is the outcome of great leadership.

Bishop H. David Burton said:
"Now is the time for us to join in rescuing and preserving that which is “virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.” As we allow virtue to garnish our thoughts unceasingly and we cultivate virtuous traits in our personal lives, our communities and institutions will be improved, our children and families will be strengthened, and faith and integrity will bless individual lives." (H. David Burton, "Let Virtue Garnish Your Thoughts", October 2009 LDS General Conference) 

For additional study see:  Luke 8:46, Moroni 9:9, Ruth 3:11, Psalms 24:3-4, Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:10-31, 2 Peter 1:5, D&C 4:6, Alma 31:5, D&C 121:45, Article of Faith 13, Philippians; 4:8

Friday, September 16, 2016

Chapter 9.1 - Charity

Charity

From the scriptures, the definition of charity is: The pure love of Christ (Moro. 7:47).  It is the love that Christ has and it is the love that  and that we should have for each other (2 Ne. 26:30; 33:7–9; Ether 12:33–34).  Charity is more than affection, it is the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love.

In my mind the best scripture about charity is in Moroni Chapter 7
 45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail—
 47 But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
So why does a leader need to develop the trait of charity?  Simply put, Christlike leadership is motivated by charity.  Other motivations for serving as a leader might include riches, honor, duty, loyalty, hope of a future reward, and power over others.  However, the highest reason of all is that a leader is motivated by the pure love of others.  It is what the scriptures call “a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31).

Returning to the core principle of my leadership patter, “Leadership is Love in Action”, it is easy to see why this trait is the first trait that every leader should  work to cultivate in their lives.  When we are motivated by pure love, then our actions will be pure and will be favorably viewed by those who follow.  When we act in pure love we place large deposits in the personal emotional bank accounts we have with others (to borrow a concept from Steven Covey).  This allows those of us who are imperfect leaders to occasionally make errors and still be able to act in our leadership role.  Without being motivated by this trait, it is not possible to live the core principle of leadership.

Consider these words by President Thomas S. Monson:
     I consider charity—or “the pure love of Christ”—to be the opposite of criticism and judging. In speaking of charity, I do not at this moment have in mind the relief of the suffering through the giving of our substance. That, of course, is necessary and proper. Tonight, however, I have in mind the charity that manifests itself when we are tolerant of others and lenient toward their actions, the kind of charity that forgives, the kind of charity that is patient.
     I have in mind the charity that impels us to be sympathetic, compassionate, and merciful, not only in times of sickness and affliction and distress but also in times of weakness or error on the part of others.
     There is a serious need for the charity that gives attention to those who are unnoticed, hope to those who are discouraged, aid to those who are afflicted. True charity is love in action. The need for charity is everywhere.
     Needed is the charity which refuses to find satisfaction in hearing or in repeating the reports of misfortunes that come to others, unless by so doing, the unfortunate one may be benefited. The American educator and politician Horace Mann once said, “To pity distress is but human; to relieve it is godlike.”11
      Charity is having patience with someone who has let us down. It is resisting the impulse to become offended easily. It is accepting weaknesses and shortcomings. It is accepting people as they truly are. It is looking beyond physical appearances to attributes that will not dim through time. It is resisting the impulse to categorize others.  (Thomas S. Monson, “Charity Never Faith”, October 2010 LDS General Conference) 

For additional study see: 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 and the topical guide under Charity.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Ponderize 2 Timothy 3:7

Consider 2 Timothy 3:7
7. Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
Question:  Why are they not able to come to a knowledge of the truth?

It is helpful to read the verses before verse 7 starting in verse 1 of 2 Timothy chapter 3.
 1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
 3 Without natural affection, truce breakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
 4 traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
 5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
 6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away withdivers blusts,
The people that are not able to come to a knowledge of the truth are those that are seeking the pleasures of the world and following the voice of the evil one.

So, what is truth and why should we seek it?

Read Doctrine and Covenants 93:24-27
 24 And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;
 25 And whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning.
 26 The Spirit of truth is of God. I am the Spirit of truth, and John bore record of me, saying: He received a fulness of truth, yea, even of all truth;
 27 And no man receiveth a fulness unless he keepeth his commandments.
From this scripture we learn that truth is knowledge of this as they are.  As they REALLY are.
If we rely on the spirit of Satan to help lead us to truth, then we will never obtain it.
We obtain the fullness of truth when we come to Christ for the answers to our questions.
It is interesting that he points out that the first step is receiving that fullness it to keep the commandments.
By keeping the commandments we minimize the influence of Satan and open up our spirits to receive greater light and knowledge.

It is clear that there is no "temporal" truth.  All truth is spiritual truth.   See D&C 29:34
 34 Wherefore, verily I say unto you that all things unto me are spiritual, and not at any time have I given unto you a law which was temporal; neither any man, nor the children of men; neither Adam, your father, whom I created. 
That is why our knowledge rises with us in the resurrection (D&C 130:18-19), because it is tied to our spirits and not to our mortal bodies.

Why do we seek for truth?  It is because our deepest desire is to become like our Father in Heaven.  He knows all or by definition, he is omniscient.  To become like him, we must at some time come to a knowledge of all truth.

A careful review of the definition of God in the Bible Dictionary clearly explains this point.
"Although God created all things and is the ruler of the universe, being omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent (through His Spirit), mankind has a special relationship to Him that differentiates man from all other created things: man is literally God’s offspring, made in His image, whereas all other things are but the work of His hands (Acts 17:28–29)."

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Chapter 9: Leadership Traits.

I believe the greatest discourse on leadership in the scriptures is found in D&C 121:34-46.  This passage of scripture should be read an reviewed often by all leaders.
34 Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?
35 Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson—
36 That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.
37 That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.
38 Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
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;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
This brings me to the final piece of my leadership pattern.  These are the traits that surround both the core principle and my five key principles of leadership.

I believe that these twelve traits should be developed by all leaders.  While they might not be our strengths, the certainly need to be in your leadership tool bag.  Here are the twelve leadership principles I gleaned from D&C 121:34-46

* Charity
* Virtue
* Faithfulness
* Righteousness.
* Endurance
* Knowledge
* Sincerity
* Confidence
* Persuasion
* Gentleness
* Meekness
* Kindness

In the coming blog posts I take each of these traits individually and discuss what it means and why we should try to better develop each trait.

One additional note.  Those with some knowledge of military history will note that my leadership pattern has some distinct similarities to the the U.S. Army Air Corps Insignia.  When I was developing my leadership pattern I was challenged to draw a picture of it. As I started to try and visualize how to represent it, an old patch that I wore a long time ago came to mind.  It seemed to fit perfectly.  

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Be a Lighthouse

I heard this thought the other day and it caused me to stop and ponder its meaning, particularly in relation to how we spread the gospel.

Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining. ― Anne Lamott

It reminded me of the scripture in Matthew 5:14-16
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
Elder Gordon B. Hinckley gave us this council in the April 1982 general conference.  
The most persuasive gospel tract is the exemplary life of a faithful Latter-day Saint. . . If we as a people will walk with integrity, will be honest and moral in our actions, will put into our lives the simple and basic and wonderful principle of the Golden Rule, others will be led to inquire and learn. We shall become as a city set upon a hill whose light cannot be hid. (See  Matt. 5:14)  We shall witness an ever-growing fulfillment of the promise of Isaiah: “And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths.”  Isa. 2:3
We are all familiar with Hymn #335 - Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy.
Pay particular attention to verse 2. 
1. Brightly beams our Father's mercyFrom his lighthouse evermore,But to us he gives the keepingOf the lights along the shore. 
2. Dark the night of sin has settled;Loud the angry billows roar.Eager eyes are watching, longing,For the lights along the shore. 
3. Trim your feeble lamp, my brother;Some poor sailor, tempest-tossed,Trying now to make the harbor,In the darkness may be lost. 
(Chorus)Let the lower lights be burning;Send a gleam across the wave.Some poor fainting, struggling seamanYou may rescue, you may save.Text and music: Philip Paul Bliss, 1838-1876
While going "To the Rescue" and leaving the "ninety and nine" may be appropriate and needed at times, our daily responsibility as disciples of Christ is to be that lighthouse for those who are eagerly watching for the lights upon the shore to help guide them.  We can be that light on the shore.  Let our lives be examples that are worth emulating.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Chapter 8 - Enabler #2:Continuously Improving

Enabler #2, Continuously Improving, is closely tied to Enabler #1.  However, this is more focused on daily and steady improvement in becoming more like our Father in Heaven.  Jesus Christ gave this commandment to the people he visited in the Americas.
12.  Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect."   3 Nephi 12:48
“Becoming” is a principle of consistency and growth.

Elder Dallas Merrell said:  "Our most fundamental doctrines impel us to improve, individually and as a group. We counsel one with another. We pray together and in secret. We acknowledge our weaknesses, search scriptures, and ponder course adjustments. We receive the righteous benefits from heavenly inspired gifts of science, technology, and art. We bring all truth we are capable of receiving to harmonize our lives with the teachings and perfect example of our leader, Jesus Christ."  (Elder V. Dallas Merrell,  Beyond the Genius of Man, April 1993 general conference."

Christ provided for us the example of how we can grow and improve.  In the Doctrine and Covenants it is called growing from "grace to grace”  See D&C 93:11-20
 11. And I, John, bear record that I beheld his glory, as the glory of the Only Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, even the Spirit of truth, which came and dwelt in the flesh, and dwelt among us.
 12. And I, John, saw that he received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace;
 13. And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness;
 14. And thus he was called the Son of God, because he received not of the fulness at the first.
 15. And I, John, bear record, and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove, and sat upon him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son.
 16. And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
 17. And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
 18. And it shall come to pass, that if you are faithful you shall receive the fulness of the record of John.
 19. I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
 20. For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace.
So, it should be our daily quest to seek to improve a little each day, to be a bit better than we were yesterday.  It is through forming good daily habits and allowing ourselves to become subject to them that we improve and grow.

“In truth, the only difference between those who have failed and those who have succeeded lies in the difference of their habits. Good habits are the key to all success. Bad habits are the unlocked door to failure. Thus, the first law I will obey, which precedeth all others is—I will form good habits and become their slave.”
― Og Mandino, The Greatest Salesman In The World

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Chapter 7 - Enabler #1:Continuously Learning

The two "enablers" in my leadership model are those things that make applying the core definition of leadership and the 5 principles possible.  The first enabler, Continuously Learning, centers around the idea of intellectual curiosity.   Intellectual curiosity is a term used to describe one's desire to invest time and energy into learning more about a person, place, thing or concept. It is a deep and persistent desire to know.  A person who is intellectually curious is always asking and seeking the answer to the question of "Why?"

The scriptures are clear that each of us should be continuously expanding our knowledge.  Here are a few examples
36.  The glory of God is intelligence, or, in other words, light and truth.  D&C 93:36
7.  And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom, seek learning even by study and also by faith;  D&C 109:7
19.  And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.  D&C 130:19
28.  He that keepeth his commandments receiveth truthand light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things.
29.  Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be.
30. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence. D&C 93:28-30

It is the act of continually seeking greater light and knowledge that caused the restoration of the gospel.  Think about this statement by Joseph Smith:  “...for how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know…” JS-History 1:12

Likewise, we receive greater light when we seek greater light.  Wisdom is added to wisdom and we receive greater wisdom as we seek it.  (Reference Alma 12:9-11).

There are many versions of the quote listed below because many have re-quoted it in different ways.  Here is the earliest reference to this idea that I was able to find.

"Who can see the barely perceptible line between the man who can not read at all and the man who does not read at all? The literate who can, but does not, read, and the illiterate who neither does nor can?"  The Southern Workman, Volume 39, Number 7 page 384, Comment by Joseph D. Eggleston, Jr. state superintendent of public instruction in Virginia.

Harry Truman said, “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers"

Without seeking to learn and understand leadership you cannot improve your leadership.  You will stagnate and eventually your skill will deteriorate until you become ineffective.  When we read and study we expand our knowledge and improve our leadership.  It is this act of continually learning that enables us to more effectively employ the 5 leadership principles.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Chapter 6 - Principle #5: Lead from the front

This principle can best be summed up with this phrase.  "When you are in charge, take charge”.  That may sound a bit harsh, but teams and organizations suffer when the person who is supposed to be leading shirks their duty and does not step up to the responsibility of leadership.   General Norman Schwarzkopf said it in another way, “When placed in command, take charge.”  Leading from the front involves using the “come with me” approach to leadership.

I think one of the great scriptural examples of this principle is found in the Book of Mormon Chapter 2.
 1 And it came to pass in that same year there began to be a war again between the Nephites and the Lamanites. And notwithstanding I being young, was large in stature; therefore the people of Nephi appointed me that I should be their leader, or the leader of their armies.
 2 Therefore it came to pass that in my sixteenth year I did go forth at the head of an army of the Nephites, against the Lamanites; therefore three hundred and twenty and six years had passed away. (Mormon 2:1-2) 
Notice how Mormon accepted the responsibility to lead the armies of the Nephites and that he went forth at the head of the army.  He didn’t try to lead from the back or from a place of safety, he accepted his leadership responsibility.

There are similar examples in others leaders in the book of Mormon.  Think of the great warrior leaders like Captain Moroni (Alma 43:16), Teancum (Alma 52:33-34), and Lehi (Alma 53:2).  These great leaders all knew what it means to step forward and take charge.

Leading from the front does not mean that you have to be the best at everything your team is working on, but you do have to be competent.  During my time as a pilot in the Air Force I had the experience of being in a squadron where the squadron commander neglected his responsibility to maintain his flying proficiency.  He quickly came to be considered the worst pilot in the squadron.  Because of his lack of competence in the aircraft he lost the respect of his entire squadron.  The flight schedulers would only put him up to fly with the very most proficient instructor pilots because they knew he was lacking in flying proficiency.   The lesson learned from this poor leadership example is that you gain the trust of your team as you demonstrate both character and competence.  When competence is lacking, trust in leadership vanishes.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Chapter 5 - Principle #4: Lead With Your Strengths

There are a plethora of books published on how to be a great leader.  Most of them are the musings of famous or successful people.  While I think it is important to read about the success of others to help you better define your leadership pattern, it can also lead you into a trap.  Often the leadership principles in these books are portrayed as the 3,5,7, or 10 things you need to do to be an effective leader.  However, that leader was effective because the (pick a number) leadership principles that they wrote about in their book are their leadership strengths.  Unfortunately, it is rare to find a book about leadership that is well-researched and documented that spells out exactly what will make you an effective leader.  Your leadership pattern is as individual as you are.  

Over the past several years a number of companies have embraced StrengthsFinder as an approach to evaluating employees. StrengthsFinder is a test and an the accompanying instructions that help an individual identify their top strengths.  This work was followed with the book “Strengths-Based Leadership.  The author of that book, Tom Rath, said the following. 

“If you spend your life trying to be good at everything, you will never be great at anything. While our society encourages us to be well-rounded, this approach inadvertently breeds mediocrity. Perhaps the greatest misconception of all is that of the well-rounded leader."  (Tom Rath, Strengths-Based Leadership.)

There has been other research into this idea of leading with your strengths, but it comes down to a simple doctrine that we sometimes miss.  We are not all blessed with the same talents and gifts.  D&C 46:11-12 says.  

 11 For all have not every gift given unto them; for there are many gifts, and to every man is given a gift by the Spirit of God.
 12 To some is given one, and to some is given another, that all may be profited thereby.


The gifts we are given are supposed to be used for the profit of others.  Yes, we should seek to obtain and develop the best gifts (D&C 46:8), but what do we do in the mean time?  We use the gifts, talents, abilities, and strengths we are given.  We don’t hide our gifts and talents, but we bring them forward as part of our leadership pattern.  When we use and develop our strengths we will be a far more effective leader that trying to mimic the leadership style of some famous person.