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I can see leaving your job for three years to be a mission president (as long as it was some place cool) because you can at least resume your career afterwards. But to derail your career to head up BYU-I must take Abrahamic faith.

Don't forget the Coveyesque principles that are at the foundation of many programs. And it goes both ways - I know that my career has been propelled by church service (notable a mission).

If people were generally called by inspiration we wouldn’t be discussing this bench thing. My second mission pres’s was probably the last (mission pres) called by inspiration. He was retired and his highest calling in the church before mission pres was scout master. He was great! I’ve heard so many horror stories about people who had no business being a mission pres, and were too arrogant to learn the calling. BTW, Covey is a pathetic GA wannabe. George Will nailed it with his comment about Covey having a knack for obscuring the obvious.

Bbbwwwwwwwwaaaaaaaaahahahahahahahaha!!! Nice call on Covey, antiprude. Of course there's no shortage of GA wannabes out there. Case in point: last year my former stake president was called to be a mission president. It was the culmination of years of campaigning. Every time he would come to our ward he would clear the slate of speakers and discourse for at least 45 minutes. Oh yeah, and we have a GA in our ward.

I remember the point on my mission when I realized that the guys who came in determined to be A.P., who spent their mission brown-nosing and backstabbing, brand-building and campaigning their way up the ladder, almost always got exactly what they wanted. For some reason, it took me years to realize that people don't change just because they get a few years older. But it was far more disheartening when I realized how many rungs up the ladder that attitude will actually take you.

This topic (the abundance of talent in the LDS leadership pool) obviously touches on a lot of related hot-button issues for people, but my perspective is objective, not personal.

Every organization (firm, voluntary association, government, military, sports team) wants to get certain things done and seeks leaders who can make that happen. Leadership (the ability to get things done and help others to do so as well) is surprisingly transferable across domains, so the Church can tap leaders from other fields.

The fact that one's motives might be less than pure is no bar to effective service in the Church or elsewhere. What good is a saintly leader who can't get anything done?

I think it was Elder Oaks, or perhaps Elder Nelson, who referred to "the Lord's deferred compensation plan" (cf. standard jokes about "the pay being out of this world," etc.).

I think Pres. Lee spoke about the real strength of the Church residing in the members' testimonies. He's right; it allows the "deep bench" you refer to be willing to invest in the Church this life with expectations of return in the hereafter.

Absolutely agree with y'all. It goes back to the earliest days of the primitive church, when the disciples were taught: "And thou shalt manage unto others as ye would have them manage unto you. For in numbers lie thy safety, and through policies and procedures and their proper execution shalt thou find the path to my father's house."

*few people (it seems) turn down leadership callings* However, when one considers calls to serve a Scoutmaster or Primary teacher, the incidence of turning down callings greatly increases. I had one sister tell me that she had retired from church service. I told her that we retire from church service the same way the prophet does. How’s that? Death. She chuckled and accepted the calling.

"If people were generally called by inspiration we wouldn’t be discussing this bench thing. My second mission pres’s was probably the last (mission pres) called by inspiration."
Why would we assume that inspiration would preclude God preparing people ahead of time for the callings they will accept? I really believe people are generally called by inspiration. My bishop was. My stake president was. My mission president was. Were they prepared? Yes? Did they have relevant experience? Yes. Still, I know they didn't campaign for the post. they simply performed their clalings to the best of their abilities, and that probably helped them to do well at their present callings. When I was young, my bishop became my Scout leader. He was a great bishop, and both callings were inspired.
I think we should expect god's leadership training plan to be good. And I think he would really like everyone to participate so that the bench would be as deep as the church membership.

And just how would we know that a man (a bishop, stake president, or mission president) was not called by inspiration? What denotes an uninspired calling?

Dave,
That is a good point. I’ll confess that my saying “My second mission pres was probably the last (mission pres) called by inspiration” was hyperbole to make a different (but not opposite) point. The point being that his being called as a mission pres was equivalent to the boy David being called as king. That kind of inspiration doesn’t seem to happen in our church very often, but it should. Upon retirement my mission pres and his wife put in papers to be Joe and Jane missionary couple, but he was called to be a mission pres. His highest calling before that was scout master. He was an excellent mission pres, a natural in the calling, clearly an inspired choice.

I’ve seen so many failed mission presidents called from the traditional LDS bench. The usual shortcoming is an arrogance that prevents them from learning the calling. In the absence of repentance, it doesn’t matter how much the members/missionaries sustain that person, because they are too proud to accept the assistance. The same could be said even for some apostles. On that point, when was the last time a common laborer or tradesman was called as an apostle?

So, am I saying the bench concept is antithetical to the gospel of JC and thwarts inspiration? Yes.

...but are churches meant to be training grounds for MBAs?

This isn't necessarily evidence of "success" but can also be evidence of misplaced priorities...

A couple of years ago, our wonderful branch president was released and replaced by his surprised and not terribly happy second counselor. He complained once to my wife that the reason he was called was that the first counselor did everything he could to campaign against being made branch president (showing up late or skipping meetings, including Sac Mtgs where he was scheduled to conduct, etc.). I think he is right, the other man would have been a disaster of a branch president (and I say this as a close friend), but the attitude made the new branch president a difficult one to accept, both for him and for the branch. I think he had the makings of a good branch president in him, but needed a real attitude adjustment before that could even begin to happen.

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