How ‘Leadership Lessons’ — and a few cookies — are unifying an Idaho deacons quorum

Jeff Hintze was recently driving home and spotted a curious site.

Peddling on the side of the road in his Meridian, Idaho, neighborhood was his son, Nick, and his two friends — Erik Nielson and Adam Cluff. 

Erik is the deacons quorum president in the Meridian 12 Ward, Meridian Idaho West Stake. Adam and Nick are his two counselors.

When Hintze asked the boys what they were up to, they enthusiastically held up bags of cookies and explained that they were delivering the goodies to other deacons in their ward.

So were those deacon-baked cookies tasty? No clue.

But what is certain is Erik, Adam and Nick were strengthening relationships with their fellow quorum members — and implementing principles they were learning from the “Leadership Lessons” outlined on the Church’s online “Quorum and Class Presidency Resources” page.

The leadership lessons include discussions on preparing for and conducting meetings, counseling together, planning service and activities, and, of course, ministering.

In its Sept. 11 letter to Latter-day Saints worldwide, the First Presidency emphasized the many opportunities, using technology and safe in-person practices, “for presidencies and councils to meet, for youth to be encouraged and supported, and for meaningful worship, ministering and service to occur.”

Members of the Meridian 12th Ward, Meridian Idaho Stake, enjoy a quorum activity at Idaho's Bruneau Sand Dunes. Activities have help unify the quorum.
Members of the Meridian 12th Ward, Meridian Idaho Stake, enjoy a quorum activity at Idaho’s Bruneau Sand Dunes. Activities have help unify the quorum. Credit: Courtesy of Jeff Hintze

As an Aaronic Priesthood leader holding sacred keys, 12-year-old Erik recognizes that presidency meetings and the leadership lessons have taught him “what I need to do in my calling to help my quorum members.

“We’ve been able to learn about service and ministering and how they can help our quorum and bring them all closer to God.”

Erik’ quorum advisor, Darin Johnson, began working with the Aaronic Priesthood holders in his ward at about the same time his former mission president, Brother Bradley Wilcox, was called to be a counselor in the Young Men general presidency.

In their emails, Brother Wilcox said he was eager to learn how the deacons quorum presidency meetings were going in the Meridian 12th Ward. He also encouraged Johnson to utilize the Leadership Lessons and report back with his observations.

The Leadership Lessons “have been great training for the boys,” Johnson told the Church News.

“This is obviously the first time they’ve served in a priesthood quorum or been asked to lead. So it’s been fun to see them listen and learn and participate. They’ve been awesome.”

The Leadership Lessons, he added, are designed to prompt discussion among the boys. The boys ask about how to care for others. And they are taking ownership of their own quorum, even amidst the challenges of the ongoing pandemic.

In a recent deacons quorum presidency meeting, the young leaders and their advisers discussed the needs of fellow quorum members, including a few boys who were not participating in activities. Erik and his counselors volunteered to make home visits during the week to fellow deacons.

“The boys decided to bake cookies together and deliver them,” said Johnson. “They did it all on their own. They even made two different kinds of cookies, which surprised me.”

Watching 12-year-old boys becoming “take-action priesthood leaders” inspires Johnson. He’s grateful for the Leadership Lessons and other resources helping young men and young women answer calls to serve.

“The lessons help spark so many conversations on how to best lead the quorum,” he said. “They are learning about ministering and planning meeting agendas and activities. The leadership lessons are pretty short and the content is just right.”

Nick, the deacons quorum presidency second counselor, said the weekly presidency meetings and the lessons “have taught me how to reach out to people, especially those who aren’t coming to the activities.”

First counselor Adam said their labors are already yielding fruit.

“We went to one deacon’s house and personally invited him to the activities — and now he’s coming.”

The key, they added, is getting to know each quorum member and planning activities that they will want to join.

President Erik Nielson said the things happening in his quorum can be done in any quorum or Young Women class anywhere in the world.

“Just be friendly. Let people know that you care — and then have fun with them.”