Handbook 2:
Administering the Church


3.3 Additional Instructions for Leaders


Represent the Lord and His Church

Because Church leaders have been called by the Lord through His appointed servants, they represent Him and His Church. As representatives of the Savior, leaders look to Him as their example. He said: “What manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am” (3 Nephi 27:27).


Build Unity and Harmony

The Lord has said, “Be one; and if ye are not one ye are not mine” (D&C 38:27). 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.


Prepare Others to Be Leaders and Teachers

In some wards, leaders rely repeatedly on a small group of people to give service in priesthood and auxiliary organizations. This can overburden the faithful few, and it can also deprive others of experiences that could help them learn and grow. Effective leaders give all members opportunities to serve.

As presiding officers prayerfully consider members to fill leadership and teaching positions, they should remember that the Lord will qualify those He calls. Members do not need to be highly experienced before serving as teachers and leaders. They can learn from experience, by exercising faith and working diligently, and by receiving instruction and support from their leaders.

Presiding officers look for ways to give service opportunities to new members, members who are returning to Church activity, and young single adults. New and returning members are excited about the restored gospel, and they are often ready for opportunities to serve others and learn about the Church. Young single adults need opportunities to contribute to the Lord’s work and grow spiritually.

For information about recommending members to serve in Church callings, see 19.1.1 and 19.1.2.


Delegate Responsibility and Ensure Accountability

Individual leaders cannot and should not do everything themselves. Leaders who try to do too much will “surely wear away” (Exodus 18:18), and so will the people they serve. Leaders should delegate service opportunities to others, such as counselors, clerks, and members of councils or committees.

    Delegation includes more than giving someone an assignment. It includes the following elements:
  • Explaining the purposes of the assignment, suggesting ways it could be done, and explaining when it should be completed. The assigned person should understand and accept accountability to perform the assignment and report on it.

  • Keeping a written record of the assignment and checking progress from time to time.

  • Respecting the assigned person’s efforts to develop plans and fulfill the assignment. Leaders provide encouragement and assistance as needed.

  • Asking the person to report back about the assignment. After receiving the report, the leader accepts the person’s best efforts and expresses appreciation for the good things the person has done.


Warn against Sin but Love the Sinner

Leaders need to be firm and unyielding in their warnings against sinful behavior but merciful and kind to those who sin. They treat others as the Savior would treat them. Doing so helps members feel the Lord’s love for them as they apply the Atonement in their lives.


Encourage Reverence

Reverence is a calm and peaceful attitude of worship and respect toward God. It leads to gospel learning and personal revelation. True reverence comes from within each individual.

Leaders can help cultivate a reverent atmosphere at Church gatherings. In sacrament meetings, stake conferences, and similar meetings, leaders set an example of reverence as they sit on the stand. Leaders also encourage reverence by arranging for worshipful music and inspiring talks. Teachers can encourage reverence in classrooms by preparing inspiring lessons, arranging the rooms in advance, using appropriate pictures and music, and greeting class members in a peaceful, loving way. Worship services and Church classes are enhanced when the entire ward makes an effort to be reverent.


Prepare Written Agendas for Meetings

Written agendas can serve as guides for leaders as they discuss ways to serve others. If agendas are distributed before council or planning meetings, leaders will be more prepared for the discussions. Guidelines for preparing agendas for different meetings are found in chapter 4 and chapters 7–12.


Plan with Purpose

Leaders plan activities, lessons, and other efforts to bless the lives of ward members. They always plan with a purpose in mind so their efforts will benefit those they serve. In planning activities, leaders follow the principles in 13.1 and 13.2. In planning training and gospel teaching, they follow the principles in 5.5.

Leaders also make long-term plans for their organizations. This includes keeping an annual calendar, setting goals, and periodically evaluating progress in reaching those goals.

With help from secretaries, leaders maintain a written record of their plans and keep track of progress in completing assignments. After carrying out their plans, they evaluate how well the plans accomplished their purposes. This evaluation helps in future planning.


Use Church Resources to Learn Duties

    Leaders use the following resources to help them learn and fulfill their duties:
  • This handbook. Stake presidencies and bishoprics should become familiar with this entire handbook. Other leaders should become familiar with chapters 1–6, the chapters about their organizations, and any other information that relates to their responsibilities. The handbook teaches principles and practices that can help them serve effectively.

  • Reports. Clerks and secretaries provide leaders with reports that show the progress of individuals and groups. This information helps leaders understand which people and organizations need their special attention.

  • Instruction from local leaders. Soon after being sustained, every new leader should receive an orientation about the calling. The leaders who give the orientation continue to provide instruction and support through leadership meetings and personal communication.

  • Church training materials. These materials are available in the Serving in the Church section of LDS.org or from Church headquarters or the assigned administrative office.

  • Church magazines and other Church publications.