Sunday, June 7, 2015

Leadership for Saints and T.T.F.N.

By Rodger Dean Duncan

As reported earlier, we're assigned to the Waco Stake. In addition to supporting the stake leaders, we've been asked to work with three different congregations. We enjoy all of them and have made many good friends. The people here continue to go out of their way to say how grateful they are to have us here. It's more than Texas hospitality. They sense our love and appreciation for them, and they generously reciprocate.

Simon Dewey's wonderful painting of the Savior adorns the
cover of our book Leadership for Saints.
Teaching Opportunity

In the Waco 2nd Ward, I've been asked to teach the High Priest Group on the first Sunday of the next five months. They specifically asked me to teach from Leadership for Saints, the book I co-authored with Ed Pinegar more than a dozen years ago. I made it clear that I should not be regarded as an "expert" on leadership. But I am a careful observer, I've been blessed to work up-close-and-personal with some of the best leaders in the Church (ranging from local members to apostles and prophets), and I'm a pretty good reporter of what I observe. So with that caveat, I accepted the assignment.

When you think about it, virtually everything we do as covenant-keepers involves leadership. And of course really good leadership is less a function of position than of righteous influence.

Here's a small part of what I taught the high priests yesterday . . .

One of the great blessings of leadership is that we often draw strength and insight from the very people we're trying to serve. I love the story told by our friend Ardeth Kapp, former general Young Women president in the Church. Ardeth received a letter from a participant of a Young Women's conference attended by several hundred mothers and daughters: "Dear Sister Kapp. I waited in line after the meeting and you gave me a hug and said some wonderful things to me. I was the girl in the green jumper on the second row. Could you please write and tell me what you said? I forgot and I want to write it in my journal so I can read it when I'm feeling down."

Now that's the tenderness of youth because this young girl didn't fully understand what happened to her: she felt the Spirit distill upon the occasion and she wanted somehow to reach back to that spiritual moment. She wanted to recognize and enjoy, again and again, the tenderness of her brief time with a great leader.

Isn't that what leadership is all about? Oh, they may say, "Do you remember me? I was the one in the green dress." But what they really mean is, "Help me feel again what I felt when we were together. Help me feel good about myself. Help me know that I matter. Help me know that Heavenly Father knows who I am and that He loves me."

When we allow ourselves to serve as instruments for righteousness in the Lord's hands, others among Father's children are comforted and strengthened. Their loyalties are not to us. Their loyalties are to the God in heaven who allows us to be part of the miracle.

In our own small ways, Rean and I are blessed to be part of such miracles as we serve the great people of this area.

Yes, even baby sisters grow up.
Visit with Loved Ones

Last week we loved our visit with my sister Patricia and her husband Alan. They live in Terrell, east of Dallas. Being with them is always a treat, and staying at their place is like a trip to the spa. We hope to see them again soon. We share many fond memories with them.

While we were there, Rean and I visited my mother's gravesite. You'll notice that the bottom of her gravestone is inscribed "T. T. F. N." This was Mother's colloquial valediction "ta ta for now." The expression came to prominence during World War II, but Mother adopted it from Tigger in Winnie the Pooh. T. T. F. N. is a friendly goodbye, and for me it's a comforting reminder of the assurance of the resurrection. See, parents can continue teaching even after they've bid us a (temporary) farewell.

Thanks to you all who wrote to us last week. Just remember: Our operators are standing by.


  1. Thank you Elder and Sister Duncan. Your thoughts on leadership and how the Spirit works are a timely reminder and a balm to my soul on the day after my release from my 5+ years of service in a calling that changed my life forever. Hopefully others will feel that same sense of "Help me feel good about myself. Help me know that I matter" from the time we spent together in our ward.

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