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.   

Saturday, July 23, 2016

The Light You Seek

Recently I was having a conversation with a good friend.  He was going through a bit of a faith crisis and was considering asking the bishop to release him from his calling.  As we were talking I had a rare, but poignant flash of inspiration.  I told him that the light you are seeking is at the other end of the tunnel, not the end you just came from.  As we discussed the challenges he is facing we both came to realize that the way out of this frustration is not found in turning back, but by pressing forward.

Elder Vern Stanfill spoke about a similar topic in the October 2015 General Conference (Choose the Light)  He talked about bicycling with some friends into a long dark tunnel.  At first they could see the light from where they came into the tunnel, but eventually they were enveloped in darkness.  Those with insufficient lights had to rely on those who had more powerful lights.  Eventually they saw the pinpoint of light from the exit of the tunnel.  The anxiety of the darkness melted away as they felt the reassurance of the light and were able to ride into the warm glow of the sun.

To develop a spiritual gift, that gift must be exercised, tried, and stretched.  For example, to develop patience we our patience must be tried.  How can you possibly develop patience if you patience has never been put to the test?  We must be tried in all things (D&C 136:31)  That is how we grow.   Likewise, if we want to develop greater faith, we must allow or faith to be tested.

What do we do when we temporarily enter a place where our faith is being tested.  Do we try and turn back to where we came from and avoid the test?  Do we sit in the darkness refusing to move?  Or do we look for others who have greater light and rely on their light as we press forward through the challenge?

Remember what is says in Doctrine and Covenants 46:11-14.  Sometimes the gift we are given is simply the gift of believing in other's words.
 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.
 13 To some it is given by the Holy Ghost to know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that he was crucified for the sins of the world.
 14 To others it is given to believe on their words, that they also might have eternal life if they continue faithful.
We are to commanded to covet the best gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31), but that does not mean that we will gain all of those gifts at once.  There will be times in our lives that we will need to exercise the gift of believing on other’s words that we might have eternal life if we continue faithful.  (D&C 46:14).

In that same conference talk, Elder Stanfill said:
"We live in a world in which we will experience challenges to our faith. We may feel confident that we are ready to face these challenges—only to find that our preparations have been insufficient. And just as my friend had warned me about the darkness, we are warned today. Apostolic voices urge us to prepare ourselves with the powerful light of spiritual strength.
"Likewise, we might feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, or confused spiritually when we encounter a challenge to our faith. Generally, the intensity and duration of these feelings will depend upon our reaction to them. If we do nothing, doubt, pride, and eventually apostasy may drive us from the light.” (Elder Vern Stanfill, “Choose the Light”, October 2015 General Conference)
Press forward.  The light you seek is at the other end of the tunnel.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Chapter 4 - Leadership Principle #3: Lead Fairly and Kindly

Lead Fairly and Kindly

Most leadership books list several styles of leadership.  They have different names, but some of the main categories are the leaders that coerce and drive their people to “Do what I say”.  Another style may be the “Come with me” approach.  There are those leaders that take a “People come first” style.  Others my lead in a more democratic fashion.  Or they may view themselves as a coach.  The hypothesis is generally that an effective leader can readily switch between styles when needed.  
While this may be necessary, this principle of leadership applies to all of them.

The leader has a responsibility to maintain and sometimes set the standards for the organization or the team.  Inevitably someone breaks the rules and the leader is left with the responsibility to “Deal with it”.   A leader that is both fair and kind has to strike that balance between the justice and mercy part of leadership.  A leader sometimes has to make judgments about people, events, ideas, direction.

This goes beyond the golden rule “All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them” (Matt. 7:12).  It is more than that.  It is balancing their desire to be treated as they would like to be treated with the necessity of fairly applying the rules to everyone.

In my life, I have found that more leaders have difficulty with the kindness part of leadership than they to with enforcing the rules.  We would all do well to remember this poem.
I have wept in the night
For the shortness of sight
That to somebody’s need made me blind;
But I never have yet
Felt a tinge of regret
For being a little too kind.
Author unknown, in Richard L. Evans, “The Quality of Kindness,” Improvement Era, May 1960, 340
We need to remember that our team members are children of our Heavenly Father.  President Thomas S. Monson exemplifies this principle better than anyone.  He said:
"May we begin now, this very day, to express love to all of God’s children, whether they be our family members, our friends, mere acquaintances, or total strangers. As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way. (Thomas S. Monson, Love-the Essence of the Gospel, April 2014 General Conference)
Finally, I would like to conclude with this scripture.  May each of us seek to be merciful.
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matt. 5:7.)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Chapter 3 - Leadership Principle #2: Lead with Integrity

Chapter 3 - Leadership Principle #2: Lead with Integrity

     This next principle is called "Lead with Integrity".  To be an effective leader you must have person integrity.  If my 20 years as serving as an Air Force Officer taught me one thing, it is this, personal integrity is the key to leadership.  Perhaps this deep anchor of personal integrity comes from the Air Force Core Values - Integrity First, Service before Self, Excellence in all we do.  Effective leadership always means first having integrity.

     My favorite scripture on integrity is the statement about Hyrum Smith in the 125th section of the Doctrine and Covenants.  
15 And again, verily I say unto you, blessed is my servant Hyrum Smith; for I, the Lord, love him because of the integrity of his heart, and because he loveth that which is right before me, saith the Lord. D&C 124:15
     Think of how wonderful it would be if the Lord could say that about each of us.

Referencing the definition of integrity you will generally find two definitions. 
1. the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness 
2. the state of being whole and undivided.
     While honesty is part of integrity, I think we sometimes miss the second definition.  To have integrity your heart needs to be whole and undivided.  Without hypocrisy.  The bottom line is that your insides need to match your outsides.  There needs to be no duplicity in your life.  There is not one life you live as a leader and another life you lead when you are not in front of those you lead.  Without this internal congruence, your true self will eventually be revealed and the fraud you perpetrated will become evident.   Once I heard a description of the the difference between honesty and integrity.  Honesty is when your words match what you did and integrity is when your actions match what you said.  Or, in other words, honesty is backward looking and integrity is forward looking.  Integrity is about what is in your heart.  

    Another scriptural example of a person with integrity is Job.  He said:  
4 My lips shall not speak wickedness, nor my tongue utter deceit. 
5 God forbid that I should justify you: till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me. Job 27:4-5
     Job’s integrity was demonstrated when he was faced with trials.  Like us, trials are when we demonstrate our integrity, not when we develop it.  Integrity is developed in the quite moments of personal reflection when we decide who we are, who we will follow, and what we intend to be.  

   I will conclude with this quote from Elder N. Eldon Tanner: 

“Let each of us begin with himself to find out how he stands on the principle of integrity. Let us make an honest assessment of our hearts, our lives, our desires and goals, involving a recognition of all our faults. Then we should make a serious effort to set them right, to change directions toward the ideal of integrity and its associate virtues. (N. Eldon Tanner, “Integrity”, April 1977 General Conference)

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Chapter 2 - Leadership Principle #1: Aligning our with with our Heavenly Father

Chapter 2 - Leadership Principle #1: Aligning our with with our Heavenly Father

The first step in leading like the Savior is understanding how he wants us to lead.  How do we do that?  How do we align our will with his.  Consider the definition of “Prayer” in the Bible Dictionary.

Prayer: As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings.

A couple of key points are worth repeating.  First, we use prayer to help align our will with the will of the Father.  Second we are not trying to change God, we are trying to change ourselves.   We must submit our will to His will.  This concept was best articulated by Neal A. Maxwell.

“The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” brothers and sisters, are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us. However, when you and I finally submit ourselves, by letting our individual wills be swallowed up in God’s will, then we are really giving something to Him! It is the only possession which is truly ours to give!  Neal A. Maxwell  “Swallowed up in the Will of the Father”, October 1995 General Conference

Additionally, we come to know our Father’s will when we serve him.  Mosiah 5:12-13 states:

12 I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.
13 For how knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?
Mosiah 5:12-13

So, through serving our Father in Heaven we can come to know him and by knowing him we can align our will with His.

Finally Elder Uchtdorf gives us a pattern to follow:

"We increase our love for our Heavenly Father and demonstrate that love by aligning our thoughts and actions with God’s word. His pure love directs and encourages us to become more pure and holy. It inspires us to walk in righteousness—not out of fear or obligation but out of an earnest desire to become even more like Him because we love Him. By doing so, we can become “born again … [and] cleansed by blood, even the blood of [the] Only Begotten; that [we] might be sanctified from all sin, and enjoy the words of eternal life in this world, and eternal life in the world to come, even immortal glory.” Moses 6:59. (Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "The Love of God", October 2009 General Conference)

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Chapter 1 - Leadership is Love in Action

For the next 9 weeks I am going to take a slightly different approach to my ponderizing post.
I will still be including my thoughts about a scripture, but it will be related to what I call my personal leadership pattern.  This pattern is broken into 9 chapters.  Today is chapter 1.  

Chapter 1 - Leadership is Love in Action

We have all heard many definitions of what leadership is.  If you asked 100 people to finish this statement “Leadership is . . .” you would likely get 100 different answers.  The problem is that each leader is defining leadership based on what has made them a better leader.  While there are many people who have been successful leaders that are worth emulating, I don’t think that a particular CEO, military leader, religious leader or politician is able to perfectly model the kind of leadership that that is life changing, or better yet, soul changing.  Only by modeling the leadership style of the one perfect being can we begin to approach real leadership.  I have heard the term “Lead like the Savior, but that statement never really resonated with me until I read a passage in  Neal A. Maxwell’s book “A More Excellent Way”.  He said:
"Leadership is love in action. Most human situations in which we are called upon to exercise leadership are in fact those in which there will be little recognition and small applause. Our encounters are apt to be frustratingly drawn-out rather than rapidly performed."  Neal A. Maxwell, A More Excellent Way – Essays on Leadership for Latter-day Saints
This definition, "Leadership is Love in Action", really spoke to me.  This is a powerful principle.  Leading with love is at the core of being able to lead like the Savior.  You can only truly lead like the Savior when you strive to love those you lead like He loves us.  With that type of love in your heart you are more concerned about the flock than you are about yourself.   This principle was demonstrated by the prophet Mormon.  Notice how it says in Mormon 3:12 that he had loved his people according to the love of God that he had within him.
12 Behold, I had led them, notwithstanding their wickedness I had led them many times to battle, and had loved them, according to the love of God which was in me, with all my heart; and my soul had been poured out in prayer unto my God all the day long for them; nevertheless, it was without faith, because of the hardness of their hearts.  Mormon 3:12
Consider this quote by Elder Maxwell.
     The prophet Mormon unselfishly consented to lead a people who were in steep decline. He prayed for them, but confided that his prayers were without faith because of the people’s wickedness (see Morm. 3:12) Other times a visionary leader, like Joseph in Egypt, lifts people out of the endangered routine they’re in by preparing them for the specific challenges of the future (see Gen. 41:46–57 A few, like Lincoln, though in a political role, provide spiritual leadership as well. Lincoln, by the way, warned of how individuals of ambition and talents would continue to arise and that such an individual “thirsts and burns for distinction, and if possible … will have it,whether at the expense of emancipating slaves or enslaving freemen” (cited in John Wesley Hill, Abraham Lincoln—Man of God [1927], 74; emphasis in original).
      No wonder we have been told, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” and this includes self-worship! Ex. 20:3 emphasis added). One way or another, the grossly selfish will finally be shattered, whimpering, against the jagged, concrete consequences of their selfishness.  (Neal A. Maxwell "Repent of our Selfishness" April 1999 General Conference)
     Of unselfish George Washington it has been written: “In all history few men who possessed unassailable power have used that power so gently and self-effacingly for what their best instincts told them was the welfare of their neighbors and all mankind” (James Thomas Flexner, Washington: The Indispensable Man [1984], xvi).
     Power is most safe with those, like Washington, who are not in love with it! A narcissist society, in which each person is busy looking out for number one, can build neither brotherhood nor community. Aren’t we glad in this Easter season and in all seasons that Jesus did not selfishly look out for number one?
This idea that leadership is love in action is obvious in the scriptures, but it is often overlooked because we don’t see the words “Leadership is” at the beginning of the scripture.  But if you re-read 1 John 4:7-11 with the question in your mind, “What is Leadership?” then you can easily see what he is trying to communicate to us.
7 Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8 He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might alive through him.
10 Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.  
He is telling us to love one another, but not simply to simply love them, but to follow his example and act in love.  When we have love, then we have a desire to serve.  Elder Russell M Nelson said:
Hence, our highest priorities in life are to love God and to love our neighbors. That broadly includes neighbors in our own family, our community, our nation, and our world. Obedience to the second commandment facilitates obedience to the first commandment. “When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.” (3 Mosiah 2:17)  (Russell M. Nelson, "Teach us Tolerance and Love", april 1994 General Conference.)
A review of the greatest passage of scripture on leadership reminds us that "No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood . . . only by love unfeigned".  (D&C 121:41)  N. Eldon Tanner helps us understand what that means.
"To be an effective leader or teacher one must show love and actually feel love for the person he is trying to instruct. No power is as motivating as the power of love. Christ loved everyone—the weak, the sinner, the righteous. Sometimes the ones who need to be loved most are the ones who seem to deserve it the least. Though we may not appreciate or approve of what someone does, we must still show love for the individual". (N. Eldon Tanner, Leading as the Savior lead,)
To truly lead as the Savior lead, we must try to emulate the one characteristic that drives all of his other actions.  He is love.  His leadership is based on love.  He cares for his flock because he loves them.  He loves each of us in was that are incomprehensible to our finite view of eternity.  As we learn to act in love we will become someone who leads more and more live the Savior.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ponderize Alma 31:19-25 (12-18 June 2016)

The Rameumptom and Fast and Testimony Meeting

I heard a comment the other day that sometimes fast and testimony meeting looks like the rameumptom experience described in Alma Chapter 31.  Has your fast and testimony meeting become a rameumptom type experience?

     19 Now it came to pass that after Alma and his brethren and his sons had heard these prayers, they were astonished beyond all measure.
      20 For behold, every man did go forth and offer up these same prayers.
      21 Now the place was called by them Rameumptom, which, being interpreted, is the holy stand.
      22 Now, from this stand they did offer up, every man, the selfsame prayer unto God, thanking their God that they were chosen of him, and that he did not lead them away after the tradition of their brethren, and that their hearts were not stolen away to believe in things to come, which they knew nothing about.
      23 Now, after the people had all offered up thanks after this manner, they returned to their homes, never speaking of their God again until they had assembled themselves together again to the holy stand, to offer up thanks after their manner.
     24 Now when Alma saw this his heart was grieved; for he saw that they were a wicked and a perverse people; yea, he saw that their hearts were set upon gold, and upon silver, and upon all manner of fine goods.
     25 Yea, and he also saw that their hearts were lifted up unto great boasting, in their pride.

Note some of the characteristics of this type of worship.  
- Everyone gets up and says the same thing. 
- Their “testimony” was based on pride, not gratitude
- They only thought of spiritual things on the day of worship and never spoke of God outside of that worship day.   
- Their hearts were set upon the things of the world
- They were boastful and prideful.  

How do we keep our testimony meeting from becoming like this?  
What is the purpose of fast and testimony meeting?
Let’s reference  Handbook 2. 18.2.3

     After the sacrament, the bishopric member who is conducting the meeting bears a brief testimony. He then invites members to bear heartfelt testimonies  and to relate faith-promoting experiences. The bishopric encourages members to keep their testimonies brief so more people may have the opportunity to participate.
     It may be best to have young children learn to share their testimonies in settings such as family home evening or when giving talks in Primary until they are old enough to do so in a fast and testimony meeting without assistance from a parent, sibling, or other person.

Some key points:
- Testimony comes from the heart
- They are based on faith.
- They are simple and short
- The point about having young children learn to bear testimony before doing it is fast and testimony meeting may be to help prevent the “look at my kid” syndrome that could distract from the spirit.  

What can we do?  Here is a quote by Elder Uchtdorf:

     "Instead of worshipping God and loving our neighbor, we reveal the real object of our worship and love—the image we see in the mirror.
     "Pride is the great sin of self-elevation. It is for so many a personal Rameumptom, a holy stand that justifies envy, greed, and vanity. [See  Alma 31:21) In a sense, pride is the original sin, for before the foundations of this earth, pride felled Lucifer, a son of the morning “who was in authority in the presence of God.” Doctrine and Covenants 76:25 
     "If pride can corrupt one as capable and promising as this, should we not examine our own souls as well? (Deiter F. Uchtdorf, Pride and the Priesthood, October 2010 General Conference)

   So, here is the bigger question.  Is there room at the pulpit during fast and testimony meeting for those who’s heartfelt testimony is not as strong the “standard” testimony that we have labeled acceptable.  Can someone stand and say “I believe”, “I hope”, “I wish”, or “I think" rather than “I know”? What if a member is struggling with doubts?  Are we able to listen with love as they pour out their heart as they struggle through what will someday become a faith-promoting experience?  Perhaps there is room at the pulpit for those who’s testimony is based on faith, comes from the heart, and is simple and short.  

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