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Bishops, branch presidents receive practical counsel

Elders M. Russell Ballard and Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve offered instruction to bishops, branch presidents and their counselors during the June 2004 Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting. Below are several of the questions posed by bishops, along with excerpts of responses from Elder Ballard and Elder Eyring.

Question: We are often very overwhelmed with things we have to do or that which we are not doing. . . . In a busy situation, how do you prepare yourself to receive the Spirit? Reading the scriptures is very important in a regular way. Perhaps you can give us a little insight on how you read the scriptures.

Elder Ballard: "I find that if I read towards a subject that I want to enlighten my mind with, I get better focus out of the scriptures than if I just pick it up and just read the scriptures. For example, if (you are) concerned about forgiveness or repentance or the Atonement or any of these kind of doctrinal issues, you can go to the Topical Guide, you can go to the resources, you can look at the cross references on a subject, and you come away — at least I do — come away with some enlightenment on that subject, because (you) study differently."

Elder Eyring: "I find I need to read enough, even as I go from one scripture to another, to get the context — what is happening, who is the person. Because if you're going to have it to use with someone, it isn't just words, it's how the words were used, where they come from."

Question: The first several times I had people come in with significant problems, I realized that Sunday School had not necessarily prepared me for helping someone else go through the repentance process. What is the goal of the repentance process, and how do you know when you've achieved it?

Elder Eyring: "(Members) have to be really penitent to even get started in the process. And you do that differently with different people. Sometimes in certain situations you do it by warning them, and it's quite severe. Other times you tell them about the great opportunities they're not going to be able to have if they don't repent. You have to find some way to have the broken heart and the contrite spirit. When that comes, you're on the way."

Elder Ballard: "(Ask members seeking repentance to) 'share with me how you feel about the Savior? What does He mean to you now? What does His Atonement mean?' And then just sit back and let them talk to you. If that's very shallow, their response, I don't know that they have paid the price yet, to be able to be washed clean by the blessing of the Atonement. There's a price that has to be paid. And one of the ways that I think a priesthood leader can determine whether or not that price is being seriously striven for by the member of the Church that's before you is if they can testify in their own words, with real feeling and meaning, and you can feel it and know that it's genuine and sincere."

Question: How do I obtain a balance of touching ward members' lives and meeting the needs of my family at the same time?

Elder Ballard: "The wise bishops and branch presidents that we've observed that are really moving the work and building up their units and getting more Melchizedek Priesthood and getting their youth to the temple and off to missions and so forth are those who realize that they have a lot of resources, that they have Melchizedek Priesthood assistance, that they have auxiliaries."

Elder Eyring: "Empowering the people around you is one of the great arts of any bishop, giving the people the feeling that he trusts them, that he knows they have revelation, that he knows that they can get revelation. That can help him tremendously."

Elder Ballard: "Cherish your relationship with your wife, Bishop. In some ways she will be a counselor, not as it pertains to the spiritual or the affairs that only you can manage with your ward members, but she'll be a counselor to you in helping prioritize your time."

Elder Eyring: "You want to be extra sensitive to the needs of your wife, particularly, and of your children."

Question: Could you help us with some ideas on how we can help our members remain motivated in doing the routine responsibilities that we have?

Elder Eyring: "In those small things, the wise bishop finds a way for (members) to feel it's like a spiritual experience, even putting the chairs away or, you know, whatever the little things are. And it's not so much what he preaches, but if he thanks (members) in a way where they feel that the Lord is thanking them. You know, they feel that they are doing it for the Lord."

Elder Ballard: "Sometimes we find that bishops and branch presidents feel like they speak to their ward only at ward conference or branch conference, once a year. I think that's a mistake. I think if you have an insight and it's something that's weighing on you and a concern, you ought to pray about it, and then you ought to feel totally comfortable to be the speaker in a sacrament meeting and to teach a principle that helps keep the flame going."

Question: How can we inspire worthy young men to serve missions?

Elder Ballard: "We have to instill in every young man a desire to serve the Lord. I think that's part of being a priesthood bearer."

Elder Eyring: "If you could touch the heart of a young person to feel what the gospel has meant to them, then what they owe the Lord is to go back and try to give that to someone else."

Bishops receive practical counsel

Elder M. Russell Ballard and Elder Henry B. Eyring, both members of the Quorum of the Twelve, offered instruction to bishops, branch presidents and their counselors during the June 2004 Worldwide Leadership Training Broadcast. Below are several of the questions posed by bishops, along with excerpts of responses from Elder Ballard and Elder Eyring.

Question: We are often very overwhelmed with things we have to do or that which we are not doing. . . In a busy situation, how do you prepare yourself to receive the Spirit? Reading the scriptures is very important in a regular way. Perhaps you can give us a little insight on how you read the scriptures.

Elder Ballard: "I find that if I read towards a subject that I want to enlighten my mind with, I get better focus out of the scriptures than if I just pick it up and just read the scriptures. For example, if I'm concerned about forgiveness or repentance or the Atonement or any of these kind of doctrinal issues, you can go to the Topical Guide, you can go to the resources, you can look at the cross references on a subject, and you come away — at least I do — come away with some enlightenment on that subject, because I study differently."

Elder Eyring: "I find I need to read enough, even as I go from one scripture to another, to get the context — what is happening, who is the person. Because if you're going to have it to use with someone, it isn't just words, it's how the words were used, where they come from."

Question: The first several times I had people come in with significant problems, I realized that Sunday School had not necessarily prepared me for helping someone else go through the repentance process. What is the goal of the repentance process, and how do you know when you've achieved it?

Elder Eyring: "(Members) have to be really penitent to even get started in the process. And you do that differently with different people. Sometimes in certain situations you do it by warning them, and it's quite severe. Other times you tell them about the great opportunities they're not going to be able to have if they don't repent. You have to find some way to have the broken heart and the contrite spirit. When that comes, you're on the way."

Elder Ballard: "(Ask members seeking repentance to) 'share with me how you feel about the Savior? What does He mean to you now? What does His Atonement mean?' And then just sit back and let them talk to you. If that's very shallow, their response, I don't know that they have paid the price yet, to be able to be washed clean by the blessing of the Atonement. There's a price that has to be paid. And one of the ways that I think a priesthood leader can determine whether or not that price is being seriously striven for by the member of the Church that's before you is if they can testify in their own words, with real feeling and meaning, and you can feel it and know that it's genuine and sincere."

Question: How do I obtain a balance of touching ward members' lives and meeting the needs of my family at the same time?

Elder Ballard: "The wise bishops and branch presidents that we've observed that are really moving the work and building up their units and getting more Melchizedek Priesthood and getting their youth to the temple and off to missions and so forth are those who realize that they have a lot of resources, that they have Melchizedek Priesthood assistance, that they have auxiliaries."

Elder Eyring: "Empowering the people around you is one of the great arts of any bishop, giving the people the feeling that he trusts them, that he knows they have revelation, that he knows that they can get revelation. That can help him tremendously."

Elder Ballard: "Cherish your relationship with your wife, Bishop. In some ways she will be a counselor, not as it pertains to the spiritual or the affairs that only you can manage with your ward members, but she'll be a counselor to you in helping prioritize your time."

Elder Eyring: "You want to be extra sensitive to the needs of your wife, particularly, and of your children."

Question: Could you help us with some ideas on how we can help our members remain motivated in doing the routine responsibilities that we have?

Elder Eyring: "In those small things, the wise bishop finds a way for (members) to feel it's like a spiritual experience, even putting the chairs away or, you know, whatever the little things are. And it's not so much what he preaches, but if he thanks (members) in a way where they feel that the Lord is thanking them. You know, they feel that they are doing it for the Lord."

Elder Ballard: "Sometimes we find that bishops and branch presidents feel like they speak to their ward only at ward conference or branch conference, once a year. I think that's a mistake. I think if you have an insight and it's something that's weighing on you and a concern, you ought to pray about it, and then you ought to feel totally comfortable to be the speaker in a sacrament meeting and to teach a principle that helps keep the flame going."

Question: How can we inspire worthy young men to serve missions?

Elder Ballard: "We have to instill in every young man a desire to serve the Lord. I think that's part of being a priesthood bearer."

Elder Eyring: "If you could touch the heart of a young person to feel what the gospel has meant to them, then what they owe the Lord is to go back and try to give that to someone else."

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