Elevating the Elders Quorum President

Another positive effect of combining priesthood groups in a ward into one quorum: the position of elders quorum president, as the single head of all the men in the ward, will be recognized as a calling of greater importance than it has been seen as in the past.

If this calling is being magnified properly, the EQP is really sort of a junior bishop. That’s not meant to eat into the bishop’s authority, of course, but there are so many things a bishop does that should be shared by others in the ward–and not just by the ward council leaders, but by all of us helping each other–and the EQP is the only other man in a ward who holds priesthood keys, so a large share of the responsibility for ministering overall falls on his shoulders.

People often joke the the EQP is the president of a moving company, but nobody would ever say that the bishop is just “the tithing settlement guy” or “the dude who signs temple recommends,” because his many other, more vital functions are so visible. I wonder if, around the church, the elders quorum presidents have been living beneath their privileges, as it were, if people don’t see how much power to serve and bless that this calling really has.

Consider this summary from the church handbook:

The elders quorum presidency…preside over, sit in council with, and teach quorum and group members… They direct the efforts of quorum and group members to advance the work of salvation in the ward…. They serve as members of the ward priesthood executive committee and ward council. As members of this committee and council, they participate in efforts to build faith and strengthen individuals and families…

There’s a whole world of possibilities in those general outlines!

I’ve been very lucky to live in a ward where every man who holds this calling rises up to make the most of it and make a real positive difference for others (full disclosure: I had the privilege of serving as EQP myself over a decade ago, and I loved it). A man who catches the vision of this opportunity can be a major force for good in a community. He can truly challenge, lead, and help draw everyone in a ward closer to the Lord.

When ward members think of men with inspired directions, noble examples, pure and fervent testimonies, constant priesthood service, and selfless sacrifice for the whole ward, they should think of the elders quorum president and the bishopric together. I think that’s a worthy vision for this calling in its new, expanded, elevated form.

The Left Needs To Make Up Its Mind About Conservative Leadership

Once again, the political and cultural left in this country has been haranguing us with two contradictory mantras this year:

On one hand, conservatives have no official, strong, unifying leadership.

On the other, the massive protests by conservatives are the work of carefully orchestrated planning by scary conservative leaders.

You can’t have it both ways, media!  Either American conservatives have nobody in power representing them effectively, or they not only do have leaders, but leaders who are masterminding an impressive series of unified protests. 

Make up your mind and get back to us.

The Teachings of the Bishop

I had the idea while I worked with our last bishop to keep a careful track of his teachings, saving my notes from ward conference and fifth Sunday combined lessons, his ward newsletter messages, etc.  It’s actually strange to think how relatively rarely we hear our bishops address us directly.  Sadly, I never got around to it, so now all I have are a few notes and my understanding of major themes from his ministry (emergency preparedness and priesthood leadership in the home, perhaps paramount). 

With a new bishop in place for about a month now, I’ll more diligently keep track of his teachings.  After all, we’re familiar with taking notes on General Conference and even stake conference, but how often do we keep and study notes on whatever our bishops–our primary, immediate leaders–counsel us to do?  We’re used to books about the teachings of prophets and general authorities, but if everybody is ultimately supposed to be a prophet (Numbers 11:29), and if the words of our priesthood leaders represent the Lord’s will to us (D&C 1:38), couldn’t we think of our local leaders in terms of what their collection of teachings to us would be?  (In fact, I used this as a discussion topic in a lesson once–shouldn’t all of us think of what the collection of our teachings would be like, or should be like, and minister accordingly?)

Letting Me Make Mistakes

Not all trial and error is learning the hard way.  I’ve found that some of my biggest progress in life came after some wiser, older person over me let me stumble along and find my own way.

As a student teacher, my mentors looked over more than a few lesson plans that they knew wouldn’t work, which were full of hypothetical, idealistic experiments that were bound to crash and burn; lessons built more on group creativity than on drills of basic skills, for example.  Doubtless that someone could have told me that I was wasting my time, but actually going through the experience of teaching some embarrassingly poor classes helped me really understand what does work. 

Ditto at church.  In various positions, I’ve tried some dumb stuff to help motivate and serve people–unnecessary assignments, pointless meetings, inappropriate lessons–and the patient people in authority over me have usually let me do my thing, providing that it doesn’t do too much damage. 

The more I think about it, the more impressed I am that so many people have been comfortable enough  and trusting enough to let me grope my way forward in the dim, bleary vision of the rookie, quite like a parent letting a child toddle around and only intervening when he’s going to really hurt himself. 

Am I so mature myself now?  Sadly, no.  I tend to be an obsessive, micromanaging, controlling leader.  I don’t know why; I can’t remember such dominance ever having good results.  I need to become more patient of letting people grow, the way lots of great people have let me grow.