Since joining the church, you’ve probably become aware that we have a great need for leaders. There are many positions which require leadership, and most people get a chance to be a leader sooner or later. When I joined the church, I was certain I would not be one of them. I was most definitely a follower. It didn’t work out that way, of course. I was eventually called into leadership positions and had to learn to become a leader.
You can begin this process now, even though you’re new to the church and probably don’t have a leadership position yet. Even if you have no leadership experience anywhere, you can be prepared when the time comes.
Watch the leaders in your ward (congregation.) Notice how they lead a meeting, so you’ll understand how it’s done. When you attend an event, try to figure out what the leaders might have had to do to prepare.
President Spencer W. Kimball, a former president of the church, had this advice for women on leadership: “Do you think of leadership as telling others what to do, or as making all the decisions? Not so. Leadership is the ability to encourage the best efforts of others in working toward a desirable goal. Who has more significant opportunities to lead than a mother who guides her children toward perfection, or the wife who daily counsels with her husband that they may grow together? The tremendous contribution in leadership made by women in the auxiliaries of the Church and in their communities is likewise beyond measure.” Spencer W. Kimball, “Relief Society—Its Promise and Potential,” Ensign, Mar 1976, 2
Anyone, male or female, can practice this type of leadership. We all know people who need encouragement. We all know people who need help managing a complicated project, or even a complicated life, and who would welcome a helping hand.
We can practice organizing our own lives as well. When you have a large project, take time to think it through and to decide what steps must be done in order to complete it. Be sure to spend time in evaluation later. This practice will help you later when you’re put in charge of something important.
Become a good listener. Leaders often spend much of their time listening to others, and being compassionate. Get to know people who are different from you, so you can understand other lives and cultures, making you a more effective leader of others.
Study how the Savior led and begin using those skills in your daily life. For more on this, read “Lesson 29: Developing Leadership,” The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part B, 247. This lesson includes an analysis of the Savior’s leadership style, with suggestions on how we can apply it to our own leadership.
Don’t expect perfection the first time you lead. Leadership takes time to develop, but over time, you will find many opportunities in the church to develop this skill.
Terrie Lynn Bittner
The late Terrie Lynn Bittner—beloved wife, mother, grandmother, and friend—was the author of two homeschooling books and numerous articles, including several that appeared in Latter-day Saint magazines. She became a member of the Church at the age of 17 and began sharing her faith online in 1992.