Sunday, June 21, 2015

The Girl in the Green Jumper

By Rodger Dean Duncan

Much of our mission work involves leadership development.

We're providing leadership training to nonprofit organizations in the community. We've done training at a Young Single Adult Leadership Retreat and a stake Women's Conference. We've helped train bishops and other priesthood leaders. We coach the younger missionaries in their leadership activities. And we've offered our services to the Waco Stake presidency in organizing and delivering a stake LeaderSHOP in the autumn.

Effective leadership is a key to effective covenant-keeping.

In our teaching, we emphasize that one of the great blessings of leadership is that we often draw strength and insight from the very people we're trying to serve.

We love the story told by our dear friend Ardeth Kapp, former general Young Women president in the Church. She received a letter from a participant of a Young Women's conference attended by several hundred mothers and daughters. (Bear in mind that during her years of service Ardeth met literally tens of thousands of young women.) The letter went something like this: "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. What happened to her is 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 really what great 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 source that allows us to be part of the miracle. A great leader will always clarify that God is the true source of the love and light the people feel lest he (the leader) be guilty of holding himself up as the light.

During our nearly 48 years of marriage, Rean and I have been richly blessed to have served with and been served by some of the great leaders in the Church. We've learned so much by their examples. And of course because learning is a lifelong adventure, we continue to gain insights. Often from the very people we're trying to serve.

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