“Skill and Drill,” Ensign, July 1975, 63
One of the very serious problems that confronts us in Church leadership is that we so frequently depend on our own desires or our testimonies or our faith or our good intentions to get the job done for us, whereas we need to be able to translate these good traits into great abilities and skills.
Skill comes from drill. There are many people who can think the most beautiful music or imagine the finest success or contrive the greatest wealth, but there is only one way to reach any accomplishment, and that is by developing skill or expertise in actual performance.
There are many Church members who are fine people and live good lives, but they are not as effective as they might be in building up the kingdom because they have not developed their abilities and skills to translate their faith into productivity. There are many people who never really understand that great truth: faith without works is dead.
There is an old axiom that says practice makes perfect, but sometimes we practice the wrong things. We go out on a home teaching assignment and talk about the weather or politics, and we become more and more effective in those weaknesses that do not have a constructive result. The Lord has said over and over again that he wants doers of his word and not hearers only. He has said that we should learn our duty and then act in our office in all diligence, but we pervert these great commandments by becoming hearers and thinkers and believers and talkers, but not doers.
Suppose that each Church worker would keep an accurate account of how many hours he spent per year in actually and effectively teaching the gospel to nonmembers or inactive members. Don’t count the time spent in bearing testimony to believers or saying your prayers. Don’t count the time spent in thinking about the job, but only that spent in actual performance. The Lord has appointed us to carry his message to the ends of the earth, but very frequently we have not yet gotten it over the fence to our next door neighbor. Someone has said that after all is said and done, there is usually much more said than done. It has frequently been pointed out that we are a very promising people, but the Lord wants someone who is not only long on promises but who has a performance record to match. Everyone wants to see our actual track record. And this ability to perform may be more valuable in our church work than in any other thing.
Elder Sterling W. Sill, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve