“Should we ever aspire to leadership?” New Era, Apr. 1971, 37
Answer/President Paul H. Dunn
In determining whether or not it is right for an individual to aspire to leadership, it is necessary to first define just what is meant by the word aspire. Webster defines aspiration as the desire to achieve something high and great. It becomes essential, then, to discern the motive involved before deciding if the aspiration is legitimate. Hopefully, few would sanction a desire for power, fame, and recognition for these merits alone. However, I see nothing inconsistent with a genuine ambition to improve the existent self and eventually, our society.
The word aspire seems to carry, at times, a negative connotation. It is true that if one aspires to a position merely for self-gratification, with no ambition to serve his fellow beings, he is doing himself and his fellowmen a great disservice. I consider it worthwhile to aspire to something better than we are if it is done with the proper motives and purposes in mind.
It is certainly healthy to want to make something useful of your life. It is the object and design of the gospel for us as God’s children to become more like him. The Lord has admonished us to “be ye therefore perfect.” We are expected, then, to act upon and strive to obtain that objective.
The oft-quoted couplet, “As man is, God once was—as God is, man may become,” suggests that we develop a desire to achieve something high and great. I do not consider this wrong. In fact, it is our prime purpose in life. The various organizations and programs of the Church are designed and aimed at the realization and fulfillment of that divine injuncture.
Obviously, if we are aspiring to improve ourselves or a program, either in or out of the Church, we must prepare to be a leader. There is a principle in life that suggests “there is no all at once.” We should recognize and endeavor to develop good characteristics and qualities that are evident in our leaders today. I would hope that all young people would want to emulate the example of a wonderful parent, stimulating teacher, motivating missionary, spiritual stake patriarch, capable stake president, good bishop, or warm, wonderful home teacher.
One must seek out his motives and intentions in order to determine the validity of his endeavors to aspire to leadership.