Part 1: “Called to Lead”: The Influence of Young Women Class Presidencies
Contributed By Sister Carol F. McConkie of the Young Women general presidency
- Help youth leaders realize the trust and responsibility that come with leadership callings.
- Maintain high but loving expectations for youth in leadership positions.
- Take time with class presidencies to study the leadership principles in Handbook 2.
“Spiritual preparation for our service and loving those we teach are two principles that invite the Spirit of the Lord and bless the efforts of the young women to lead.” —Carol F. McConkie of the Young Women general presidency
• This article is the first in a series on class presidencies.
One of the most important attributes that a called leader in the Church can acquire is to serve others as the Savior did, with humility and with charity. The Savior taught, “Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant” (Matthew 20:26–27). With Christlike love and their example of discipleship, called leaders help others become “true followers of … Christ” (Moroni 7:48) by leading in the Savior’s way.
Young women who serve in class presidencies are called to lead and have certain responsibilities in connection with their calls. From Handbook 2: Administering the Church (2010), 10.3.5 we find this list of duties specific to class presidencies:
• Watch over all class members, especially new members, less active, and those with special needs. Pray for them, spend time with them, and become genuine friends.
• Help class members establish close friendships, learn leadership skills, and live the gospel.
• Help each young woman know that she is welcome.
• Support class members in Personal Progress.
• Hold regular class presidency meetings.
• Conduct Sunday meetings for their classes.
• Help plan activities, including Mutual.
• Class presidents serve on the bishopric youth committee.
Young Women leaders are called to teach class presidencies leadership skills and qualities that will enable them to fulfill these responsibilities. They may ask themselves, “What am I doing to empower the young women to fulfill their duties?” “Do they have significant opportunities to function fully in their callings?” Young Women leaders are called to help young women learn to lead in the Savior’s way.
A few years ago, Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president, taught that leaders could apply three basic principles to help youth develop Christlike leadership skills. (See “The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy,” Ensign, May 2013.) I would like to apply those same principles to young women.
1. We trust them
Recently, in a stake Young Women auxiliary training meeting, a leader was heard to say, “When we take over the responsibilities of our class presidencies, we are essentially releasing them, and we don’t have the right to do that.” That Young Women leader was right!
Young women who are called and set apart as members of class presidencies have been called by revelation. Under the direction of the bishop, who holds the keys of the priesthood for the ward, each young woman has had hands laid on her head to set her apart to perform specific duties in the work of salvation. Elder Dallin H. Oaks beautifully explained, “Whoever functions in an office or calling received from one who holds priesthood keys exercises priesthood authority in performing her or his assigned duties” (“The Keys and Authority of the Priesthood,” Ensign, May 2014). A young woman called and set apart to serve in a class presidency functions in her calling with delegated priesthood authority.
Leaders help young women understand the power, blessing, and responsibility of her authority. Each young woman is called of God by revelation. The Lord and the bishop have sustained her and have trusted her. Young Women leaders can ensure that every young woman who is called to serve knows and understands the source of her call and that she is trusted with great responsibility.
2. We have high but loving expectations of them
“[Youth leaders] generally rise or fall to [their leaders’] level of expectation. … If they are expected only to conduct in [opening exercises] and attend bishopric youth committee meetings, then that is all they will do. But you leaders can give them a greater vision—the Lord’s vision. And why is vision so critical? Because with increased vision comes increased motivation” (Tad R. Callister, “The Power of the Priesthood in the Boy,” Ensign, May 2013).
We must let them lead! That same stake Young Women president also taught, “No backup brownies!” We let them do hard things. We don’t cover for them. We love, encourage, and text a reminder about the brownies. We help them understand that they are entitled to revelation and that as they live close to the Spirit, they will receive promptings. As they recognize and act upon those promptings, they gain confidence and witness miracles in the work of salvation.
Sometimes they may fall short. We help them learn from experience and do better next time. But with mentoring along the way, parents and leaders will see them rise up and take their place in the kingdom of God as the presidencies of their classes.
3. We train and retrain young women to fulfill expectations with excellence
To help the girls become successful leaders, Young Women leaders help each class presidency member learn and practice leadership skills and qualities. The leadership lessons for class presidencies, called “Leading in the Savior’s Way,” teach the basic leadership principles found in Handbook 2, chapter 3: prepare spiritually, counsel together, minister to others, and teach the gospel. The 18 lessons are brief, about five minutes each, and may be taught as part of a regular class presidency meeting or in other settings by an adult leader or by a member of the class presidency.
The leadership lessons teach specific skills, like creating unity in a class presidency and making and using an agenda. Lessons about ministering to a young woman and her family and setting a Christlike example help the young women learn to strengthen every class member. Spiritual preparation for our service and loving those we teach are two principles that invite the Spirit of the Lord and bless the efforts of the young women to lead.
As Young Women leaders trust the young women, set high expectations, and train them to successfully fulfill their callings, they help young women become faithful leaders who will love others and bring them to Christ at church, in the community, and at home.
Other articles in the series