Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Leadership, the Lord's Way

Over twenty years ago I learned a lesson about leadership. It has stuck with me all this time, and is as vivid today as when I first heard it. My boss, Bill Seabrooke, a good Christian man of another faith, told me one day, "Rick, I work for you. You don't work for me. I'm here to make sure you have all the tools and resources you need to get the job done."

I was impressed. It's sort of a pet peeve of mine when I hear someone referring to their subordinates and saying "He works for me...." The self-importance implicit in that statement has always irritated me. And in many cases, I have found, it isn't even true.

When we see traditional organizational charts in corporate America, we see the people who manufacture or sell the products - those who are actually producing the income - at the 'bottom' of the chart, as if their position is of lesser importance. Just take away the production and sales people - those who are 'at the bottom', and see how profitable the company is!

I later learned that the philosophy my boss embraced was found in the Bible:

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Ye know that the princes of the Gentiles exercise dominion over them, and they that are great exercise authority upon them.

But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;

And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:

Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (Matthew 20:25-28).

The more I thought about this, the more I realized that this is the way the Church is organized. We have a prophet, and apostles, and others who are called of God to serve the rest of the world. We do not serve them. They serve us. How do they serve us? By teaching us the word and will of the Lord, by helping us have the resources we need to work out our salvation, teach our families, and receive the saving ordinances. They make these things possible, and available, for us. We don't do one thing for President Monson's personal benefit, when you really think about it. We don't pay him a salary, or a fat Wall Street bonus (although I'd argue that he deserves it as much as anyone else). We don't provide him a private jet. We don't fund lavish vacations for him or the other general authorities. Many people don't know of the great financial sacrifices some of these leaders have made to serve the Lord with all their heart, soul and mind, for the rest of their lives. They work for us, quite literally. This is the Savior's way, and He set the example. We don't 'work' for Him. He works for us (see Moses 1:39).

Following this example, how great it is to be in the service of the Lord, working 'for' the families who need us to be there, as examples, teachers and leaders, as loving ministers and servants, in any way we can.

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