A Council of War – Alma 52:19

19 And in the commencement of the twenty and eighth year, Moroni and Teancum and many of the chief captains held a council of war—what they should do to cause the Lamanites to come out against them to battle; or that they might by some means flatter them out of their strongholds, that they might gain advantage over them and take again the city of Mulek.

In just a few verses in this chapter, Mormon shows us a variety of decision-making strategies employed by Moroni, the captain of the Nephite armies, and Teancum, who led one of those armies. I’m impressed by how these two leaders interacted with each other and how they approached the decision-making process:
  1. In some cases, Moroni sent orders to Teancum (as you would expect from a military leader) (Alma 52:8-10, 16). His orders were broad enough that Teancum had room to customize the implementation according the realities of the situation on the ground. For example, Moroni told Teancum to “seek every opportunity to scourge the Lamanites in that quarter” (Alma 52:10), leaving it to Teancum to identify those opportunities and act on them.
  2. Moroni also explained what he was doing in another part of the land, which gave Teancum perspective on how his efforts fit into the overall strategy (Alma 52:11).
  3. Even when Moroni gave specific instructions, Teancum was empowered to alter those orders when necessary. For example, Teancum was told to take the city Mulek, but in his assessment that was not possible, so he decided to wait for Moroni instead (Alma 52:16-17).
  4. When Moroni arrived, he called a council of war so that he, Teancum, and their chief captains could discuss the question of how to retake the city of Mulek. Neither he nor Teancum knew the answer, but they knew that they had a better chance of identifying a workable solution if they tapped into the combined wisdom of their leadership team. As M. Russell Ballard has taught, tackling difficult issues as a council “broadens the base of experience and understanding, leading to better solutions” (“Counseling with Our Councils,” General Conference, April 1994).
Today I will strive to follow the examples of Moroni and Teancum. I will work with the people I lead, giving them assignments and trusting their judgment in the implementation of those assignments. I will do my best to keep them informed, so that they understand how their efforts contribute to shared goals. In particular, when I face difficult questions, I will counsel with my team to figure out the best way to move forward.

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