8 And it came to pass that the Lord spake unto me, saying: Thou shalt construct a ship, after the manner which I shall show thee, that I may carry thy people across these waters.
9 And I said: Lord, whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?
10 And it came to pass that the Lord told me whither I should go to find ore, that I might make tools.
(1 Nephi 17:8-10)
What are some of the possible ways Nephi could have responded to this challenging commandment? Here are a few possible responses:
- I have no experience with this kind of work. I’ve never built a ship before. I can’t do it.
- I can’t build a ship without the proper tools. If you will give me tools, I will build the ship.
- I need more information, so that I can build an appropriate vessel. Where are we going? How long will we be on the ocean?
- I’ll do my part, but the project will be a failure unless my brothers do their part as well.
When I give an assignment to my employees, I appreciate them keeping me informed and letting me know when they encounter obstacles to completing the assignment. But I want them to really own it. An exceptional employee is willing to take full responsibility for fulfilling the assignment. He or she may need assistance along the way, but they are willing to request that assistance without shifting the responsibility for the assignment back to me or to other people.
I love Nephi’s actual response: “Whither shall I go that I may find ore to molten, that I may make tools to construct the ship after the manner which thou hast shown unto me?” He needed a little direction, but he was willing to get to work and to take responsibility for the outcome. He didn’t complain about the lack of tools, but he recognized that he needed tools to complete the project, and so he resolved to make them himself. All he needed initially was a little guidance about where to find ore, and he was ready to get started.
Today, I will follow Nephi’s example. I will take ownership of the responsibilities I’ve been given, at home, at work, and in my church and community responsibilities. Rather than focus on what I lack, and rather than shift responsibility to other people, I will take responsibility for the assignments I’ve been given, ask for help when needed, and ensure that the project gets done.