Building leadership requires the “building of people — not products,” said Elder Bradley D. Foster of the Seventy during a campus devotional at Brigham Young University-Idaho on June 10.
Elder Foster emphasized that young adults of the Church today are future parents, leaders of the Church and leaders of the world. This brings the great responsibility to lead in the Lord’s way, he said.
To illustrate the trust that Heavenly Father has given His children, Elder Foster reminded listeners that when Heavenly Father sent spirits to occupy bodies on earth, He did not “program” those souls to come back to Him, but instead gave them an opportunity to grow and prove themselves.
Elder Foster illustrated this by recounting the creation when Heavenly Father sent Jesus Christ to create plants and animals on the fifth day.
“When Christ returned to the Father, the Father said ‘that is good,’ ” said Elder Foster. “He didn’t ask, ‘So, where did you put the tigers?’ He trusted the Savior. He wasn’t going to micro-manage Him because He trusted [Christ].”
Elder Foster gave examples from the scriptures to relate Heavenly Father’s plan of trust and growth.
According to Doctrine and Covenants Section 58, the first presiding bishopric was asked to move to Missouri from Illinois with their families. When the newly formed bishopric understood this, they came to Joseph Smith and asked that he inquire of the Lord for instructions on how to make their journey.
As recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 58:25, the Lord responded that the people needed to counsel between themselves and the Lord, said Elder Foster. The Lord gave them this counsel in verse 26:
“For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.”
The ability to receive personal revelation, understanding and the ability to become like Him is the reward that is spoken of, said Elder Foster. He acknowledged that learning to receive and recognize direction from the Holy Ghost is a challenge.
“In your effort to receive revelation, as you counsel together with Him, as husbands and wives, as families, as friends, don’t exclude [Heavenly Father]. He will answer your prayers, maybe not immediately, but He will answer them,” said Elder Foster.
To continue, Elder Foster told about the story of Nephi in the Book of Mormon, specifically in the book of Helaman. He quoted Helaman 10:4: “Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.”
Elder Foster noted that the Lord trusted Nephi and gave him great power over the people, even unto inflicting famine and destruction upon them because he chose to not seek his own life.
He then said that to “seek not thine own life” is to overcome the natural man and gave a list of three human tendencies that might be personal to listeners. The list includes:
the desire to mate; the desire for power and dominion; the desire for material things. Of the desire to mate, Elder Foster said, “The Lord has asked us to manage that desire in a way that is appropriate, proper and virtuous; and, as we do that, we are entitled to receive counsel from Him.”
In speaking about the desire for power and dominion, Elder Foster said that we must not specifically seek this, as it is seeking our own life and leads to the practicing of unrighteous dominion.
Last, in the desire to have more material things than our neighbors, he said that we cannot let greed and covetousness control our lives or we will lose the ability to receive personal revelation and become what Heavenly Father wants us to become.
In closing, Elder Foster urged listeners to apply the principle of trust in their own lives:
“If you trust someone to make decisions, then don’t ask, ‘So, where did you put the tigers?’ ” he said. Elder Foster then asked listeners to remember, “Trust leads to growth and growth leads to becoming. May we all allow each other to grow, to become like our Heavenly Father and to be exalted.”