Sheri L. Dew Receives Pioneer in Leadership Award
By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer
- The BYU Management Society awarded Sheri L. Dew the Pioneer in Leadership Award.
- Sister Dew encouraged audience members to become moral and ethical leaders.
“God expects us to try to develop our capacity to lead; His principle of leadership is needed everywhere.” —Sheri L. Dew
“We were all born to lead,” said Sheri L. Dew, Deseret Book Company president and CEO, after being honored by the BYU Management Society’s Utah Valley Chapter during its sixth annual Pioneer in Leadership Award Gala on January 17.
“By virtue of who we are, what we know, the promises we made to our Heavenly Father, and the fact that we are living now and where we are living, I absolutely think we were all born to lead,” she said. “And because of that, God expects us to try to develop our capacity to lead; His principle of leadership is needed everywhere.”
The event, held in the Utah Valley Convention Center in Provo, brought many people together to honor Sister Dew’s many years of exemplifying the society’s charge—to become moral and ethical leaders throughout the world.
“She is a CEO of a big operation and big business who has to be in touch with business trends and make sure they are doing things that are successful, while at the same time keep those values—like strengthening families and living the gospel—in mind,” said Allen Arnoldsen, president of the Utah Valley Chapter. “She has led such an exemplary life, and her leadership abilities are a great example for the whole Church and beyond.”
Sister Dew served as a counselor in the Relief Society general presidency from 1997 to 2002.
If individuals are going to do what they came here to do, they are going to have to learn how to lead and stand up for what they believe, she said.
“[Moral and ethical leadership is] needed by those raising the next generation, for raising them in the home where the most profound leadership takes place, or raising them in the schools, or raising them any place where we are raising children and teaching teenagers. … Today, we need moral and ethical leaders in every sphere.”
During the evening event Sister Dew, a descendant of five generations of farmers, shared lessons she learned from her grandparents and life growing up “on the farm” in Ulysses, Kansas. She emphasized four points she learned from watching her grandparents and parents that help individuals to cultivate, nourish, and water their seeds in the vineyard.
“We are all farmers tending a little part of the Lord’s vineyard,” she said.
First, she said that understanding an individual’s heritage—both mortal and spiritual—is important to understanding who they are and who they can become.
“Think about what there is to learn from your heritage, good and bad, and about what you want to cultivate and not cultivate,” Sister Dew said.
She related experiences of her grandparents, whom she described as “rock solid good,” and said that their example of resilience, faith, and hard work despite difficulties is a great part of her heritage.
Individuals must also come to understand their spiritual heritage, which is just as important as mortal heritage. Remembering a time when she walked a Church history site with a friend, Sister Dew spoke of the spiritual strength she gained as she reflected on her spiritual heritage.
“The more we understand our mortal and spiritual heritage, the more we can know who we can become.”
Second, she said that if and when a person has success, “it isn’t about us.” Recognizing the need for humility and a complete reliance on the Lord, Sister Dew said that it is important to work as if everything depends on the individual, but recognize that it is through the Lord that anything happens.
Third, she said that individuals will reap only what they sow.
“Farmers can’t hide,” she said. “You either did it or you didn’t.”
Speaking of the work of a farmer, she said that either they did the planting, watering, and work that they needed to do, or they didn’t, and their harvest depends on it.
“We can’t fake it either,” she said.
Part of tending the Lord’s vineyard is planting seeds—especially for followers of Jesus Christ, she taught. “It involves elevating others more than elevating themselves. … The way we give is by helping others plant in their part of the vineyard.”
Fourth, she said that “it’s all about the water.”
“We prayed for rain every day of our lives,” she said. “There was never enough water, and crops depend on water. If we are to become the men and women the Lord wants, we have to partake of the living water.”
One’s faith, testimony, and character can shrivel up and die without water, she said. It is through hard work and relying on the Lord for help that individuals are able to tend their portion of the vineyard and help others to do the same.
Violinist Jenny Oaks Baker, accompanied by Warren Mueller on the cello, Lysa Rytting on the harp, Daron Bradford on woodwinds, Ricklin Nobis on the piano, and Kenny Hodges on percussion, performed several musical selections, concluding with “Amazing Grace.”
After one of the numbers, Sister Baker shared the story of how she, as a young college student wanting to become a performer, met Sister Dew.
“I’m so grateful for her, for taking me on,” she said.
The evening also included brief speeches from Michael Thompson, associate dean of BYU’s Marriott School of Management, and Brent Weston, a scholarship recipient.