June 10, 2019
Mothers. Fathers. Teachers. Church leaders. Historical figures. There’s no shortage of personal heroes that personify the term “leadership.” The thought of filling the same roles they have might seem impossible at times. It can be overwhelming to look at the achievements of those we admire if we feel we lack the leadership abilities they have. But we all have the potential to be great leaders. The question is how?
What is a leader?
First, what is the real meaning of leadership? Leadership can mean being a good example and influence to those around us. Bonnie L. Oscarson, of the former Young Women general presidency, shared in a recent devotional her desire to go back to college when she was 52 years old. She said, “The Lord was preparing me for what He had in store, and I was setting an example for my family.”1 She portrayed leadership by showing her family the importance of education and setting the example of pursuing it.
In the New Testament, Paul said, “[Be] thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.”2 Our example of faith in Christ and good moral standing gives us the chance to influence others for good.
But how can we develop the characteristics of a leader? Here are four things you can do to strengthen your leadership skills:
Preparation empowers leaders to convey their thoughts and communicate in a way that can help others. For example, if you’re in charge of leading your next PathwayConnect gathering, try reviewing the topic you’ll be discussing beforehand and prayerfully pondering what you want to communicate to your classmates.
The Lord told early Saints who were leaving to preach the gospel, “[T]reasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man.”3
Heavenly Father can help you lead with greater confidence as you prepare well.
2. Focus on service
Sheri Dew, a former counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, said, “True leaders understand that leadership is not about them but about those they serve. It is not about exalting themselves but about lifting others up.”4
Because service is integral to our eternal progression, we can pray for opportunities to practice our leadership skills by helping others.
3. Pray for guidance
When we consistently pray for something, we show Heavenly Father that we’re serious about changing and that we’ll do whatever it takes to reach our goals. If we pray for help to become a more effective leader, we will see improvements. However, it’s action that will lead to monumental changes.
4. Take action
Being a leader means making things happen, whether big or small. It requires humility and faith to be willing to change and develop new skills, but the efforts you make to lead with power and purpose now will greatly bless you and your posterity.
Elder Richard J. Maynes, a General Authority Seventy, said, “[M]any of you are pioneers in your family, blazing an education trail for future generations. Your children and loved ones will see your example and have a desire to follow in your pioneering footsteps, with an increased desire for advanced education.”5
Even if we don’t feel confident in a leadership role, we shouldn’t let that stop us from taking action. It’s okay to not feel 100% ready — no one ever really does! The important part is to keep taking small steps forward to pave the way for our loved ones to follow.
Lead like the Savior
“The most encompassing short course on leadership was given by the Savior himself: ‘And he saith unto them, Follow me.’ (Matt. 4:19),” said President James E. Faust. “A leader cannot ask of others what he is not willing to do himself. Our safest course is to follow the example of the Savior.”6
If we seek to follow the Savior, we will learn how to righteously lead and bring others unto Him through our actions. As you prepare, serve others, pray for guidance, and take action, the Savior will help you become the leading example He needs you to be.
How has BYU-Pathway Worldwide helped you develop leadership qualities? How have these helped you in your life?