Sister Carol F. McConkie: Working Together as One
Contributed By Sister Carol F. McConkie, Young Women General Presidency
- Successful Church leaders work together as one.
- Leaders should set an example of love and concern for the people they serve.
“Our youth must see faithful men and women working together with love and concern for those they serve. They can see and feel the love of the Lord in the dedicated devotion of leaders who are true disciples of Christ.” —Sister Carol F. McConkie of the Young Women General Presidency
The Lord has taught that among His people there are to be no disputations. Even unkind feelings toward one another will restrain the Holy Ghost. For leaders to be successful in the work of the Lord, they must work together as one. Jesus Christ taught His disciples, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). He also taught the promised blessings of unity in the work. “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:19–20).
A few years ago, stake Young Men and Young Women presidencies began planning a pioneer trek for youth. They counseled with the stake presidency, the high councilor over the youth, and with those serving on the stake youth council. As plans progressed, a couple of leaders brought forward a new idea. Along the trail, the youthful pioneers would stop and build a temple, requiring selfless work and sacrifice. Then that evening, a group of men, reenacting an armed mob, would enter the camp, terrorize the young pioneers, and destroy the temple. The leaders felt the experience would help the youth feel and understand both the overwhelming sacrifice and the unjust persecution that the early Saints experienced, so they presented the idea to the stake presidency.
The members of the stake presidency listened, shared their thoughts, and prayerfully considered the idea. But as they counseled together with the leaders, they could not feel good about carrying out such a plan. Building a temple was fine. But for a number of reasons, the nighttime marauders and destruction did not feel right.
Of course, the leaders who had proposed the idea were disappointed. But they were grateful to have sat in counsel, to have shared their views, heard different perspectives, and to receive broader understanding. Most important, they were humble, focused on the needs of the youth, and willing to sustain their priesthood leaders to work together in a spirit of unity and love.
Leaders and presidencies are called to seek the Spirit of the Lord and to work together in ways that represent Jesus Christ and His Church.
“Presiding officers encourage unity by seeking counsel from the men and women who serve with them. Members of presidencies and councils help establish unity by sharing their honest feelings and ideas, communicating clearly, and listening to one another. When leaders of Church organizations follow their priesthood leaders and when members of presidencies and councils are unified, they can receive guidance from the Holy Ghost and lead according to the Lord’s will” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 3.3.2).
Whether leaders work together with youth to plan and carry out combined Mutual activities, youth conferences, stake and multistake activities, other combined meetings, projects, or activities, their primary objective is to help strengthen the faith of the youth in Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and His Atonement. Activities, lessons, and events that glamorize, over-dramatize, or simply entertain will not have the converting power as simple lessons taught by the Spirit of the Lord.
In addition, our youth must see faithful men and women working together with love and concern for those they serve. They can see and feel the love of the Lord in the dedicated devotion of leaders who are true disciples of Christ.
Elder M. Russell Ballard wrote: “When Christlike love is evident in … presidencies, it has a captivating, engaging, healing effect on the entire organization. Almost without exception, bishoprics, stake presidencies, and auxiliary presidencies who clearly … respect one another have an almost magnetic effect on those within their reach. Love is contagious; acceptance is balm to the soul” (Counseling with Our Councils , 118).
The young men and young women who engaged in building a temple along the pioneer trail were richly blessed by participating in an activity planned and carried out by leaders who worked together as one and were led by the Spirit. As the youth worked, fitting together walls, making windows, painting and sewing, each doing their part, the wind began to blow and the rain began to fall. But they continued their efforts until the very last part of the edifice was completed before the angel Moroni could be raised. They waited to let the wind die down and the rain subside. Then as the youth gathered around the temple, the angel Moroni was put into place. In that moment, the clouds parted and golden shafts of light fell upon their handiwork. A double rainbow stretched across the sky and a spirit of reverence filled the heart of each young man and each young woman. Spontaneously, they began to sing, “The Spirit of God like a fire is burning” (“The Spirit of God,” Hymns, no. 2). Only by the Spirit could such an event have had such converting power.
As leaders engage in the work of the Lord, may we be one and “walk worthy of the vocation wherewith [we] are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1–3).
Sister Carol F. McConkie writes about a youth pioneer trek during which youth leaders and priesthood leaders, working together, had participants build a replica of the Nauvoo Temple. The event culminated in a spiritual experience for the youth as a double rainbow appeared. Photo courtesy of Sister Carol F. McConkie.