The Savior’s Way of Leading

Principles of Gospel Leadership


Leading in the Savior's way allows us to help Primary children and leaders grow in their testimonies of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel. In doing so, they will feel Heavenly Father's love for them, learn and understand the gospel of Jesus Christ, feel and recognize the influence of the Holy Ghost, and prepare to make and keep sacred covenants.

Leaders can best teach others how to be “true followers” by their personal example. This pattern—being a faithful disciple in order to help others become faithful disciples—is the purpose behind every calling in the Church.

Prepare Spiritually

You have been called of God by revelation, and you are entitled to personal revelation in ministering to individual children and performing duties associated with your calling. Follow the example of Jesus Christ as you consider your own spiritual preparation. Before He began His ministry, the Savior retreated to the wilderness to fast and to pray (see Matthew 4). As a Primary leader, you should pray and ask Heavenly Father for strength and direction, and He will bless you.

Leaders prepare themselves spiritually as they keep the commandments, study the scriptures and the teachings of latter-day prophets, pray, fast, and humble themselves before the Lord. With this preparation, they are able to receive inspiration to guide them in their personal lives, their family responsibilities, and their callings.

Participate in Councils

“This is the miracle of Church councils: listening to each other and listening to the Spirit! When we support one another in Church councils, we begin to understand how God can take ordinary men and women and make of them extraordinary leaders. The best leaders are not those who work themselves to death trying to do everything single-handedly; the best leaders are those who follow God's plan and counsel with their councils” (M. Russell Ballard, “Counseling with Our Councils,” Ensign, May 1994, 26). 

Minister to Primary Children and Leaders

When Jesus Christ visited the Nephites in the Americas, He ministered to the children “one by one” and “blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.” Just as Jesus Christ ministered among the children then, Primary leaders and teachers have the sacred responsibility to minister to God's children individually today.

The purpose of ministering is to help others become true followers of Jesus Christ. Ministering to others includes:

  • Remembering their names and becoming acquainted with them (see Moroni 6:4).
  • Loving them without judging them (see John 13:34–35).
  • Watching over them and strengthening their faith “one by one,” as the Savior did (3 Nephi 11:1517:21).
  • Establishing sincere friendship with them and visiting them in their homes and elsewhere (see D&C 20:47).

Teach the Gospel to Primary Children

“It is a sacred responsibility to teach children the gospel of Jesus Christ and help them learn to live it” (Teaching, No Greater Call, 108). In Primary, children are taught the gospel through lessons, sharing time, and music.

Leaders’ most powerful teaching comes from their personal example. Leaders also teach by sharing their testimonies and conducting doctrinally based discussions in leadership meetings, classes, and activities. They teach from the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. They know that “the preaching of the word … [has] more powerful effect … than the sword, or anything else” (Alma 31:5).

In addition to teaching the gospel themselves, priesthood and auxiliary leaders are responsible for the quality of learning and teaching in their organizations. They ensure that teaching in their classes is meaningful, edifying, and doctrinally sound.

For additional guidance on teaching the gospel and overseeing efforts to improve learning and teaching, see Handbook 2, 5.5.

Administering the Primary Program

As you give your best effort, use the Primary program the Church has organized. This includes using the Primary manuals and the Outline for Sharing Time, overseeing the Faith in God and Scouting programs, helping plan and organize the children's sacrament meeting presentation and priesthood preview, overseeing and participating in Sunday instruction, and training Primary teachers and leaders.