Church councils expand leaders' reach

Share responsibilities

Listen to others- Implement ideas

A system of committees and councils in the Church is the inspired creation of God, Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Council of the Twelve said.

"If understood and put to proper use, this system will decrease the burden on all individual leaders and will extend the reach and impact of their ministry through the combined help of others," he said Saturday afternoon.

Elder Ballard was in the automobile business before his call as a General Authority and learned to appreciate a well-tuned engine. "An automobile engine will run on only a part of its cylinders, but it never will go as far or as fast, nor will the ride be as smooth as when it is tuned properly," he said.

Then he declared: "Unfortunately, some wards in the Church are hitting on only a few cylinders, including some that are trying to make do with only one. The one-cylinder ward is where the bishop handles all of the problems, makes all of the decisions, and follows through on all of the assignments. Then, like an overworked cylinder in a car engine, he is soon burned out. . . .

"Our Heavenly Father does not expect them to do everything by themselves. The same is true of our stake presidents, priesthood quorum and auxiliary presidents, and, for that matter, mothers and fathers."

Elder Ballard said he wanted to see how the counsel he gave on councils in October 1993 conference was received. In training meetings since, he found, "Without exception, the bishop took charge of the situation immediately and said, `Here's the problem, and here's what I think we should do to solve it.' "

Elder Ballard asked the bishops to solicit ideas and recommendations from council members.

"When the bishop opened the meeting to council members and invited them to counsel together, the effect was like opening the floodgates of heaven," he said.

There is an urgent need in the Church for leaders to harness and channel spiritual power through councils, according to Elder Ballard.

"Family, ward, and stake problems can be solved if we seek solutions in the Lord's way," he promised.

Two major concerns of the General Authorities were discussed by Elder Ballard. The first, lack of retention in full fellowship of some new members, can be remedied by properly functioning ward councils, he said.

The Brethren also have expressed " concern regarding Church members' involvement in groups [that are often very expensive] that purport to increase self-awareness, raise self-esteem, and enhance individual agency.' Church leaders and members should not become involved in such groups. Instead,local leaders should counsel those desiring self-improvement to anchor themselves in gospel principles and to adopt wholesome practices that strengthen one's ability to cope with challenges.' (Bulletin, December 1993-2.)"

Elder Ballard said, "The best leaders are not those who work themselves to death trying to do everything single-handedly; the best leaders are those who follow God's plan and counsel with their councils."

Then he added: "Let us remember that the basic council of the Church is the family council. Fathers and mothers should apply diligently the principles I have discussed in their relationships with each other and with their children. In doing so, our homes can become heaven on earth."

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