When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

When Nepotism Meets Callings, Can the Church Still Be True?

I was just reading my scriptures the other day when I found this passage of the calling of the twelve disciples in the Americas –

And it came to pass that on the morrow, when the multitude was gathered together, behold, Nephi and his brother whom he had raised from the dead, whose name was Timothy, and also his son, whose name was Jonas, and also Mathoni, and Mathonihah, his brother, and Kumen, and Kumenonhi, and Jeremiah, and Shemnon, and Jonas, and Zedekiah, and Isaiah—now these were the names of the disciples whom Jesus had chosen—and it came to pass that they went forth and stood in the midst of the multitude (3 Nephi 19:4).

And it occurred to me that this was the Savior himself choosing brothers and sons into the calling. He wasn’t worried about nepotism or being “fair”. Was I surprised? He did the same thing when He called His twelve at Jerusalem. Peter and Andrew were brothers as were James and John (see Matthew 10: 1-4). He did it with Moses, Aaron, and Miriam. Called Nephi and Lehi (both the father and son and then, years later,  the brothers). David was strengthened by his friendship with Jonathan. Ruth and Naomi. The Savior went often to pray to His Father.

Why might He allow close ties into the apostleship? Might they need to strengthen each other for the difficult days ahead? Might there be some truth to strong righteous familial lines? Do we need good and righteous friends to strengthen us?

I know that there are a lot of people who get upset because of close ties in callings. Some people have left the Church because fathers and sons, or cousins, or friends, or close colleagues have been called to work together. They leave because they think that there couldn’t possibly be inspiration at work. That it’s all a bunch of nepotism and cronyism in the leadership of the Church.

Maybe, instead of thinking there is “something fishy going on” we should take some time to ask Father if the callings were inspired. Then we can ask Him how we can better sustain our leaders. And finally we should look around and find those friends and family members that strengthen us in righteousness and cling to them.

Who has the Lord sent for you? Who is He asking you to uphold?

Don’t be surprised if you are together for a purpose, a mission of righteousness.

Father in Heaven understands that righteous people need righteous people. (See, Friends, in the Strength of Youth Pamphlet.) Please remember, as you see people all around you leaving the strength of the Gospel, their Covenants, and the Savior that there are five wise virgins as well as five foolish. We are looking for the five wise. We will stand with the five wise who take the Spirit to be their guide (see Doc. & Cov. 45: 56-57) and we will say to the five without oil – “go to them that sell … quickly!” But don’t worry, there are still five wise who also think and act as you. There are many who still believe. And if you find yourself alone, ask Father to raise up friends for you, as He has promised.

Yes, men and women who turn their lives over to God will discover that He can make a lot more out of their lives than they can. He will deepen their joys, expand their vision, quicken their minds, strengthen their muscles, lift their spirits, multiply their blessings, increase their opportunities, comfort their souls, raise up friends, and pour out peace. Whoever will lose his life in the service of God will find eternal life (President Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus Christ – Gifts and Expectations, December 1988). 

Jesus the Perfect Leader

A friend of mine sent a talk over for me to read.  It was entitled, Jesus the Perfect Leader by President Spencer W. Kimball to the Young Presidents organization, Sun Valley, Idaho, 15 January 1977.  It was so timely for me to read these very amazing thoughts.  I wanted to share a few here.  A full copy of the talk can be found here, the whole thing is worth a read.

President Kimball began by saying that if we wanted to be good leaders and examples we should follow that of the Savior, whose “attributes and skills he demonstrated so perfectly. These same skills and qualities are important for us all if we wish to succeed as leaders in any lasting way.”  By leaders, I think that roles as parents can be counted even as importantly as those leadership opportunities over vast congregations or employees.

He went on to say the following:

  • Jesus kept himself virtuous, and thus, when his closeness to the people permitted them to touch the hem of his garment, virtue could flow from him. (See Mark 5:24–34.)

I want to study the relationship between virtue and power.

The other day, I watched a show about people who hoard things, usually so much that it makes living in the home virtually impossible.   A woman on this particular episode had mountains of clothes and shoes in her home.  And I mean mountains – floor to ceiling with barely a hallway in-between to get to the next room of clothes.  She said that she was “high maintenance” and loved to have “lots of choices.”  The therapist on the show said something to the effect of, “haven’t you noticed that having too many choices, in reality, takes away all of your choices.”

It’s such an interesting (and seemingly opposite) idea that if you put limits on things, it actually gives you more power, more choices, more freedom.

So the connection between the Savior’s virtue and His ability to have that virtue flow out of Him that effectively heals others –  still working on that.  Any thoughts?  If that is true, then what conclusions can be drawn about a virtuous priesthood holder?

Another idea that I loved from the talk:

  • Jesus had perspective about problems and people. He was able to calculate carefully at long range the effect and impact of utterances, not only on those who were to hear them at the moment, but on those who would read them 2,000 years later. So often, secular leaders rush in to solve problems by seeking to stop the present pain, and thereby create even greater difficulty and pain later on.

I say way too much.  I need to calculate the impact of my utterances more – with my students, friends, family, spouse, and especially with my children.

There was a section on Responsibility, which I could spend hours on, but here’s the jist:

  • Jesus knew how to involve his disciples in the process of life. He gave them important and specific things to do for their development. Other leaders have sought to be so omnicompetent that they have tried to do everything themselves, which produces little growth in others. 
  • Jesus trusts his followers enough to share his work with them so that they can grow. That is one of the greatest lessons of his leadership. If we brush other people aside in order to see a task done more quickly and effectively, the task may get done all right, but without the growth and development in followers that is so important. Because Jesus knows that this life is purposeful and that we have been placed on this planet in order to perform and grow, growth then becomes one of the great ends of life as well as a means. We can give corrective feedback to others in a loving and helpful way when mistakes are made.
  • Jesus let people know that he believed in them and in their possibilities, and thus he was free to help them stretch their souls in fresh achievement.
  •  Jesus believed in his followers, not alone for what they were, but for what they had the possibilities to become. While others would have seen Peter as a fisherman, Jesus could see him as a powerful religious leader—courageous, strong—who would leave his mark upon much of mankind. In loving others, we can help them to grow by making reasonable but real demands of them.

I think that giving others responsibility is such a powerful idea, and can be life-changing – both mine and others.

Accountability was another section:

  •  A good leader will remember he is accountable to God as well as to those he leads. By demanding accountability of himself, he is in a better position, therefore, to see that others are accountable for their behavior and their performance. People tend to perform at a standard set by their leaders.

Taking honest responsibility for our actions, without blaming others or situations for our reactions is powerful.  Even better is training ourselves to react in more appropriate ways when life throws a curve ball.  For example, instead of swearing when your child knocks over a drink, perhaps comfort and a helping hand will go a long way to give the child a secure environment and a pattern to follow.

There is a section on the wise use of time, having time for leisure and structuring time without being “frantic or officious”:

  • Time cannot be recycled. When a moment has gone, it is really gone. The tyranny of trivia consists of its driving out the people and moments that really matter. Minutia holds momentous things hostage, and we let the tyranny continue all too often. Wise time management is really the wise management of ourselves.

I just keep reading and re-reading this last.  How can I train my children to understand this?  How can I teach myself to do this?

My final thought from this talk is so encouraging, it makes we want to be better, to do better:

  • One of the great teachings of the Man of Galilee, the Lord Jesus Christ, was that you and I carry within us immense possibilities. In urging us to be perfect as our Father in Heaven is perfect, Jesus was not taunting us or teasing us. He was telling us a powerful truth about our possibilities and about our potential. It is a truth almost too stunning to contemplate. Jesus, who could not lie, sought to beckon us to move further along the pathway to perfection.
That just gives me so much hope and courage about my life and abilities.  I’m going to go out and have a wonderful day – you?