“Leading Like the Savior,” Liahona, July 2014, 12–13
There is a stark contrast between the worst leaders in the world and the perfect leader, the Savior of the world. President Spencer W. Kimball (1895–1985) explained: “Those leaders in history who have been most tragic in their impact on mankind were tragic precisely because they lacked to almost any degree the qualities of the Man of Galilee. Where Jesus was selfless, they were selfish. Where Jesus was concerned with freedom, they were concerned with control. Where Jesus was concerned with service, they were concerned with status. Where Jesus met the genuine needs of others, they were concerned only with their own needs and wants. Where Jesus was concerned with the development of his disciples, they sought to manipulate mortals. Where Jesus was filled with compassion balanced by justice, they have so often been filled with harshness and injustice.”1
To succeed as leaders in the Lord’s Church, we must follow His example. The following ideas can help us become more Christlike in our leadership.
Christlike leaders serve “with an eye single to the glory of God” (D&C 4:5), seeking to do the will of Heavenly Father. The Savior said, “I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38).
Christlike leaders do not rely on “the arm of flesh” (2 Nephi 4:34). They humbly pray for guidance. They wait upon the Lord and seek to do His work in His time and His way instead of depending on their own talents and abilities.
Christlike leaders do not seek for positions in the Church; they see callings as opportunities to serve, not as promotions. Nor do they see releases as demotions. A release is inherent with every calling.
Christlike leaders are servants; they help, teach, and encourage those they serve. They seek to bless others, as the Savior did: “He doeth not anything save it be for the benefit of the world” (2 Nephi 26:24). They see themselves as the Lord’s representatives to help others return to Him.
Christlike leaders seek to help others develop. President Kimball also taught:
“Jesus trusts his followers enough to share his work with them so that they can grow. That is one of the greatest lessons of his leadership. If we brush other people aside in order to see a task done more quickly and effectively, the task may get done all right, but without the growth and development in followers that is so important. …
“Jesus gave people truths and tasks that were matched to their capacity. He did not overwhelm them with more than they could manage, but gave them enough to stretch their souls.”2
The Prophet Joseph Smith described how he led the people so well: “I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.”3 This is the essence of the Lord’s approach to leadership.