CharityFrom 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.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).
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.
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.