How Can I Be a More Effective Leader?

We are all leaders, whether we have a formal position of authority or not. We all have the opportunity to influence others and to inspire them to positive action. Here are some principles of effective leadership I have learned from the Book of Mormon:

“I trust there remaineth an effectual struggle to be made.”

Great leaders inspire people to do their best work. They do this by speaking with confidence and enthusiasm about potential positive outcomes, and by reminding people of their noblest motives.

The people of King Limhi had tried, unsuccessfully, multiple times to free themselves from bondage to the Lamanites. Each time, they had failed and had suffered significant losses. But when a messenger arrived from their home country, Limhi was able to embolden his people to try one more time. He reminded them that God had preserved and delivered their ancestors, and he told them that he believed they could also be delivered. This time, they were successful. His words inspired them to achieve a successful outcome (Mosiah 7:18-20).

“He rent his coat.”

Sometimes, words aren’t enough, and leaders need to find creative ways to galvanize other people to action. Captain Moroni ripped his coat and wrote a message on it, reminding his people of their most fundamental values, which were in jeopardy unless they were willing to defend them:

In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children (Alma 46:12).

As he traveled from city to city waving this banner, “the people came running,” and ripped their own coats to signify their commitment to the cause (Alma 46:21-22).

“I did make tools.”

Leaders are proactive. They don’t wait for certainty before taking action.

Nephi’s brothers did not believe that he could build a ship. They eventually agreed to help him, but early on, while they were still grumbling, he got to work, forging tools which they would use for the project. His efforts paved the way for them to work together to complete the project (1 Nephi 17:15-18).

“I am like as yourselves.”

One of the most beloved leaders in the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin, made it a point to see himself as one of the people. Unlike King Noah, who enriched himself at the expense of his people, Benjamin labored side by side with his people and refused to think of himself as different from them. “I am like as yourselves,” he said, “subject to all manner of infirmities in body and mind” (Mosiah 2:11).

An effective leader refuses to allow positions of influence to go to his or her head.

“These twelve whom I have chosen from among you…to be your servants”

When Jesus Christ selected twelve men to lead His church, He referred to them as the servants of the people they led (3 Nephi 12:1). When Mormon tells us about a group of Nephite missionaries who traveled to Lamanite lands, he says that Ammon was “the chief among them.” Then, he corrects himself: “…or rather he did administer unto them” (Alma 17:18).

A Christlike leader is a servant to the people he or she leads.

Today, I will strive to be a more effective leader. I will speak up and help others catch a vision of what they can accomplish. I will avoid letting positions of authority go to my head, and I will serve the people I lead.

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What Does It Mean to Be a Disciple of Jesus Christ?

A disciple is someone who follows another person for the purpose of learning. (See “disciple,” Online Etymological Dictionary.)

During the mortal ministry of Jesus Christ, the term was often applied to His twelve apostles, but many other people were also called His disciples:

He called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles (Luke 6:13).

About 600 years earlier, the prophet Nephi learned that twelve of his descendants would also be chosen to represent the Savior. He referred to them as “twelve disciples” or “twelve ministers” (1 Nephi 12:8-10). Subsequently in the Book of Mormon, the term “disciple” is generally used to refer to the twelve men Jesus chose during His ministry on the American continent. (See especially 3 Nephi 18, 3 Nephi 19, 4 Nephi.)

Jesus made it clear that to be His disciple is not only to learn from Him but to live according to His teachings: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed” (John 8:31). It is their actions, not only their words, which mark them as His disciples: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35).

True disciples of Jesus Christ strive to develop His attributes, to become like Him. In the words of Elder Robert D. Hales:

Many people hear the word disciple and think it means only “follower.” But genuine discipleship is a state of being. This suggests more than studying and applying a list of individual attributes. Disciples live so that the characteristics of Christ are woven into the fiber of their beings, as into a spiritual tapestry (“Becoming a Disciple of Our Lord Jesus Christ,” General Conference, April 2017).

As a result, a disciple sets a good example for other people: “Ye are my disciples; and ye are a light unto this people” (3 Nephi 15:12).

And a disciple of Christ is duty-bound to teach and testify: “Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life” (3 Nephi 5:13).

Today, I will strive to be a true disciple of Jesus Christ. I will strive to learn from Him, to follow His teachings, and to become more like Him. I will also teach other people by word and also by example.

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How Can I Manage Time More Effectively?

We are all stewards of the resources God has given to us. One of those resources is time. I’ve been thinking today about how I spend my time and how I can make better use of it. Here are some thoughts which were inspired by the Book of Mormon:

  1. Don’t try to do more than you can. King Benjamin taught his people that even important activities like caring for the needy should be done “in wisdom and order,” because it’s not wise to “run faster than [we] have strength” (Mosiah 4:27).
  2. Be careful about your time commitments. Two prophets who served as chief judge—Alma and Nephi—both had the experience of recognizing that they were overextended. In both cases, they chose a successor and stepped down from their civic responsibilities in order to dedicate themselves to the ministry (Alma 4:15-20, Helaman 5:1-4).
  3. Prioritize. Jacob paraphrased a passage from Isaiah as he gave some advice to his people: “Do not spend money for that which is of no worth, nor your labor for that which cannot satisfy” (2 Nephi 9:51, Isaiah 55:2). It’s wise to think about the expected future returns on our current investments of time. At the end of a day, a week, or a year, we want to look back with a sense of satisfaction because we have accomplished something meaningful.
  4. Work hard. After Nephi and his people left his brothers and established their own city, they “lived after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27). A key contributor to that happiness was that they were “industrious,” and that they “[labored] with their hands” (2 Nephi 5:17).
  5. Be responsive to the needs of the people around you. At the end of the first day of the Savior’s visit to the American continent, He told the people that He needed to leave. He had another assignment. He told them how to prepare for His return the following day. Then, “he cast his eye round about again on the multitude, and beheld that they were in tears, and did look steadfastly upon him as if they would as him to tarry a little longer with them.” As a result, He decided not to leave yet.

Today, I will strive to spend my time wisely. I will pace myself and avoid overcommitting. I will prioritize high-value activities. I will be responsive to the needs of the people around me, even if it means adjusting my schedule.

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How Can I Be Healed?

Jesus Christ is the Master Healer.

After the destruction which coincided with His death and resurrection, while the people mourned their lost loved ones, they heard the Savior’s voice announcing all of the cities which had been destroyed. After enumerating the losses, which indicated that He was fully aware of the scale of the calamity, He issued an invitation:

O all ye that are spared because ye were more righteous than they, will ye not now return unto me, and repent of your sins, and be converted, that I may heal you? (3 Nephi 9:13).

Whether the people recognized it or not, this was a more hopeful version of the principle taught to Isaiah when he was called as a prophet. The Lord told Isaiah that the people would harden their hearts, close their eyes, and refuse to listen, “lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and be converted and be healed” (Isaiah 6:10, 2 Nephi 16:10, Matthew 13:15, John 12:40, Acts 28:26-27).

Jesus Christ has the power to heal us, but we must be willing to seek and accept the healing He offers.

Later, during His visit, He invited the people to bring forward everyone who needed healing: the sick, the lame, the blind, the halt, the maimed, the leprous, the withered, the deaf, or “they that are afflicted in any manner” (3 Nephi 17:7). Those sound like physical disabilities to me, but He can also heal wounds which are unseen. In one of my favorite passages from Isaiah, the prophet speaks with the voice of the Savior:

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified (Isaiah 61:1-3).

I will admit that I can relate to some of the infirmities described in this passage. I think I know what “the spirit of heaviness” feels like, for example. I have been “brokenhearted” before. I know what it’s like to mourn. Projects I have poured time and energy into have crumbled to “ashes,” and I have been in situations where my options were limited and I felt like I was “bound.”

To me, it’s comforting to know that Christ can heal not only physical wounds but also emotional, mental, and spiritual ones. I know that the pattern is the same: I must seek Him and ask for His healing power. I must exercise faith in Him. And I must be willing to receive the healing He offers to me.

As Elder Neil L. Anderson has promised:

For you, the righteous, the Healer of our souls, in His time and His way, will heal all your wounds. No injustice, no persecution, no trial, no sadness, no heartache, no suffering, no wound—however deep, however wide, however painful—will be excluded from the comfort, peace, and lasting hope of Him whose open arms and whose wounded hands will welcome us back into His presence (“Wounded,” General Conference, October 2018).

Today, I will seek for the healing of Jesus Christ, for myself and for those I love. I will remember that His healing power is not limited to physical wounds but extends to every injury, every trauma, every suffering we experience. In His time, if we trust in Him, He will heal every wound.

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What Are the Gifts of the Spirit?

We are all different, and after we become disciples of Jesus Christ, we continue to have different strengths and abilities. When we receive the Spirit of the Lord, God gives us new spiritual capabilities, which we call spiritual gifts or gifts of the Spirit. But we don’t all receive the same gifts.

These gifts help us to progress and give us opportunities to serve others. The prophet Moroni explained to us that, even though there are many such gifts, “they come from the same God.” “There are different ways that these gifts are administered,” he said, “but it is the same God who worketh all in all” (Moroni 10:8). This echoes the apostle Paul’s teaching that “there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit” and “differences of administration, but the same Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:4-5).

Some of these spiritual gifts are:

  1. The ability to impart wisdom to others
  2. The ability to provide knowledge
  3. Great faith
  4. The ability to heal
  5. The ability to work mighty miracles
  6. Prophecy
  7. The ability to see angels and ministering spirits
  8. The ability to communicate in multiple languages and to translate between languages

(See Moroni 10:9-16, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, Doctrine & Covenants 46:17-25.)

Years ago, Elder Marvin J. Ashton added some additional gifts he had encountered:

  1. The gift of asking
  2. The gift of listening
  3. The gift of hearing and using a still, small voice
  4. The gift of being able to weep
  5. The gift of avoiding contention
  6. The gift of being agreeable
  7. The gift of avoiding vain repetition
  8. The gift of seeking that which is righteous
  9. The gift of not passing judgment
  10. The gift of looking to God for guidance
  11. The gift of being a disciple
  12. The gift of caring for others
  13. The gift of being able to ponder
  14. The gift of offering prayer
  15. The gift of bearing a mighty testimony
  16. The gift of receiving the Holy Ghost.

(“There Are Many Gifts,” General Conference, October 1987).

Why do we all receive different gifts? I can think of a few reasons:

  1. We learn to support one another and to accept help from one another as we recognize the different gifts we each have.
  2. The gifts we lack help us stay humble and remind us of our reliance upon God.
  3. We can each find a sense of belonging as we discover the unique contributions we can make.

Elder Ashton provided the following counsel:

It is up to each of us to search for and build upon the gifts which God has given. We must remember that each of us is made in the image of God, that there are no unimportant persons. Everyone matters to God and to his fellowmen (“There Are Many Gifts,” General Conference, October 1987).

Today, I will strive to better understand the gifts I have been given by God. I will also strive to recognize and celebrate the gifts He has given to other people. I will be grateful that there are “diversities of gifts,” and I will strive for unity with other people, so that we can all benefit from one another’s gifts.

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How Can I Recognize the Temptations of the Devil?

The Book of Mormon teaches that there is a being in the universe who is trying to harm us and to thwart God’s plan. His name is Satan (שָׂטָן – the Hebrew word for “adversary”), and he is commonly known as the devil, from the Greek word diabolos (διάβολος), which means “slanderer.” He was once an angel of God, but he rebelled and became miserable forever (2 Nephi 2:17-18). Now, his goals and his tactics are the opposite of God’s:

Satan is not only God’s adversary; he’s our adversary too (Alma 12:5). He is not loyal to the people who follow him, “but doth speedily drag them down to hell” (Alma 30:60).

In Lehi’s dream, the temptations of the devil were represented by mists of darkness, “which blindeth the eyes, and hardeneth the hearts of the children of men” (1 Nephi 8:23, 1 Nephi 12:17). Throughout the Book of Mormon, we read about Satan having power over people’s hearts (2 Nephi 30:18, Ether 15:19), hardening people’s hearts (3 Nephi 1:22), getting hold upon people’s hearts (Alma 8:9, Alma 10:25, Alma 27:12, Ether 15:19), stirring up people’s hearts (Helaman 6:21, Helaman 16:22-23), and leading away people’s hearts (3 Nephi 2:3, 3 Nephi 6:16). But we are also told that the choice is ours, that God has made it possible for us to overcome the temptations of the devil (2 Nephi 2:26-27). Still, the danger is real, and the Savior warned us to “watch and pray always, lest ye be tempted by the devil, and ye be led away captive by him” (3 Nephi 18:15, 18).

Fortunately, the Book of Mormon provides a number of examples of messages that the devil attempts to place in our hearts. An awareness that these messages come from the devil can help us detect and reject them:

  1. There is no devil.” It’s harder to defend against an attack which you can’t see. If Satan can convince you that he doesn’t exist, you will be less likely to recognize his temptations. (See 2 Nephi 28:22.)
  2. It’s okay to commit a little sin.” If Satan can get you to ask, “How bad is it?” instead of, “What is the right thing to do?” then he is in a win-win situation. You are now choosing between bad and worse instead of between good and evil. (See 2 Nephi 28:8.)
  3. Nobody will know.” Any time you’re tempted to hide something that you’re doing, that’s a red flag. The reality is that things tend to come to light over time. And we can’t hide anything from God. (See 2 Nephi 27:272 Nephi 28:9, Isaiah 29:15).
  4. Believers are naive.” Nobody wants to be seen as gullible or foolish. If Satan can convince you that believers are unsophisticated, then he may be able to persuade you to reject their beliefs by association rather than considering those beliefs objectively. (See Alma 30:16, 27, 3 Nephi 2:1-2.)
  5. Don’t pray.” If you feel uncomfortable or disinclined to pray, that is an indication that you are being tempted. Satan would like to disrupt communication between you and your Father in Heaven. A particularly insidious version of this temptation is to convince you that you are unworthy to pray or that God doesn’t want to hear from you. The truth is that God always wants to hear from you, which is why the Savior urged us to “pray always.” (See 2 Nephi 32:8-9, 3 Nephi 18:15, 18.)

Today, I will watch for Satan’s attempts to influence me. I will remember that he does not have my best interests at heart, and that, unlike our Heavenly Father, he does not reward those who obey him. I will strive to detect and reject temptations as soon as they enter my mind and heart.

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What Is the Spirit of Prophecy?

While the children of Israel traveled in the wilderness toward the promised land, an incident happened which demonstrated Moses’s understanding of prophecy. Moses held a council at the tabernacle with the seventy elders who had been selected to govern the people. All who participated in that meeting were filled with the Spirit of the Lord and began to prophesy. But two men who did not attend the meeting, Eldad and Medad, were also filled with the Spirit and began to prophesy in the camp. A young man ran to tell Moses what was happening, and Joshua advised Moses to stop these men from prophesying. Moses responded, “Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!” (Numbers 11:24-29).

Many years later, the apostle John saw an expansive vision narrated by multiple angels. When he fell at the feet of one of them, the angel said, “See thou do it not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10).

The Title Page of the Book of Mormon states that it was written “by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation.”

Jacob explained the relationship between the words of prophets, the spirit of prophecy, and personal faith:

  1. We search the prophets,” — We read the words of other people who had the spirit of prophecy.
  2. And we have many revelations and the spirit of prophecy;” — We invite the Lord’s Spirit into our hearts.
  3. And having all these witnesses, we obtain a hope, and our faith becometh unshaken.” — We base our faith not only on the knowledge shared by others but on the knowledge we have gained by direct experience.

Alma told the people of Zarahemla that he knew for himself that the things he was teaching were true: “I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself,” he said.

And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit; and this is the spirit of revelation which is in me.
And moreover, I say unto you that it has thus been revealed unto me, that the words which have been spoken by our fathers are true, even so according to the spirit of prophecy which is in me, which is also by the manifestation of the Spirit of God (Alma 5:46-47).

Years later, Alma experienced a joyful reunion with the sons of Mosiah. He was thrilled to see them, and even more thrilled to see their spiritual maturity:

They had waxed strong in the knowledge of the truth; for they were men of a sound understanding and they had searched the scriptures diligently, that they might know the word of God.
But this is not all; they had given themselves to much prayer, and fasting; therefore they had the spirit of prophecy, and the spirit of revelation, and when they taught, they taught with power and authority of God (Alma 17:2).

The word “prophecy” comes from the Greek word propheteia (προφητεία), which means literally “to enlighten in advance.” It’s a compound word: pro (πρό) means “before,” and phemi (φημί) means “to bring to light or to illuminate.”

When we are receptive to the Spirit of the Lord, we know for ourselves things which we can learn in no other way, and we can know not only things which are, but also things which will happen in the future. (See for example 2 Nephi 6:4, Words of Mormon 1:7, Mosiah 8:17.)

Like prophets in ancient times, modern prophets strive to help all of God’s children receive the spirit of prophecy. President Russell M. Nelson has said:

Whatever our Church calling, we can pray to our Heavenly Father and receive guidance and direction, be warned about dangers and distractions, and be enabled to accomplish things we simply could not do on our own. If we will truly receive the Holy Ghost and learn to discern and understand His promptings, we will be guided in matters large and small….
My beloved brothers and sisters, I plead with you to increase your spiritual capacity to receive revelation…. Choose to do the spiritual work required to enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost and hear the voice of the Spirit more frequently and more clearly (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” General Conference, April 2018).

Today, I will strive to do the work required to receive the Spirit of the Lord in my life. I will remember that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy,” and that the Lord can enlighten me in advance.

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