“Being Leaders Who Foster Growth,” Ensign, May 1995, 96
I am a stake Young Women leader, and like leaders in wards and stakes around the world, I’ve been looking for significant ways to nourish the word. Gratefully, we can turn to the formula Alma gives us in chapter 32, verse 41. He says: “But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life.”
Alma commends patience, great diligence, and faith to those who seek to nourish the word.
Our patience must come from humility; we can’t force this process. President Boyd K. Packer reminds us: “You can create a climate to foster growth, nourish, and protect; but you cannot force or compel: you must await the growth.
“Do not be impatient to gain great spiritual knowledge. Let it grow, help it grow, but do not force it or you will open the way to be misled” (Ensign, Jan. 1983, p. 53).
As we involve the young women in planning firesides, group reading, and creative ways to share their insights, we are fostering the growth they will surely feel as they experiment upon the word. We can create opportunities to read together, to record individual experiences, and to share through music, art, and the words of testimony. We can testify and be nearby.
One group of ward presidents lamented that they’d gotten off to a great start, but now, after being a few weeks into experimenting on the word, they needed a “shot in the arm.” This is where the “great diligence” part comes into play. We must continue to plan with a purpose activities that center on the scriptures. And even stay involved with the scriptures ourselves! Among one group of ward leaders who had committed themselves to read, a Young Women leader commented, “I hate to admit it, but you know, this really is hard for me.” Others in the group obviously appreciated her honesty as they then expressed some of their own struggles and need to set realistic goals. Surely the young women in that ward will find empathy and very practical helps from leaders who have wrestled to find patience and diligence themselves.
Finally, we must have faith that Jesus can and will touch young women’s hearts as we work together toward the worldwide celebration. Faith always has an element of doing. John 7:17 gives us hope that “if any [young woman] will do his will, [she] shall know of the doctrine.” (That may not be exactly the way you read that, but I feel sure Nephi would approve, since he, too, likened the scriptures to himself.) Service and personal progress projects are real nourishers of the word or doctrine. Our efforts to do really feed our efforts to know and to grow the word.
And surely our faith must involve prayers for and with our young women in their efforts. My father composed a piece which includes this prayer for all of us:
Oh Lord, I would hear Thy word, which Thou sendest me in Thy mercy.
Unseal my heart that I may lift it unto Thee.
Unlock my searching spirit that I may seek Thee.
Heal Thou my deafened ears; touch Thou my blinded eyes.
Increase my joy in Thee, that I may rejoice in Thee,
Thou Holy One of Israel, that I may sanctify Thy name.
(Merrill Bradshaw, “The Restoration”)
In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.