All of Heavenly Father’s children are accountable for their effort and progress in developing their divine potential by improving performance, acquiring knowledge, perfecting attitude, and building character.
All people are children of Heavenly Father and have the potential to become like Him (see Acts 17:29; Ephesians 4:6; Hebrews 12:9). The great plan of happiness teaches that all people are of great worth (see D&C 18:10), have the Spirit of Christ to know good from evil (see Moroni 7:16), are free to choose between right and wrong (see 2 Nephi 2:27), and that God’s purpose in the plan is that His children have joy (see 2 Nephi 2:25). Understanding the great plan of happiness helps individuals develop their divine potential and promotes professional growth. An understanding of the worth and divine potential of each soul helps leaders and teachers guide others to Jesus Christ.
Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles posed the following question about analyzing and improving ourselves as teachers, “What finer study could we undertake than to analyze our ideals and goals and methods and compare them with those of Jesus Christ?” (Teach Ye Diligently, rev. ed. , 22). All assessment and training in CES should ultimately assist individuals to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him” (Moroni 10:32; see also D&C 20:59). Assessment and training are essential in personal development and professional growth for CES leaders and teachers.
Each individual is accountable to God for the effort and progress he or she makes in personal development. Elder Neal A. Maxwell of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles observed:
“Even when free of major transgression, we can develop self-contentment instead of seeking self-improvement. …
“Given the relevancy of repentance as a principle of progress for all, no wonder the Lord has said to His servants multiple times that the thing of greatest worth would be to cry repentance to this generation!” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1991, 42; or Ensign, Nov. 1991, 32).
The doctrine of accountability emphasizes that individuals are responsible to learn their duties, act in their assignments in all diligence, improve upon their talents, and seek to gain other talents (see D&C 107:99; see also D&C 82:18). Individuals are held accountable for their words, works, and thoughts (see Alma 12:14). As individuals come unto Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ, they become more like the Savior in knowledge, performance, attitude, and character.
Elder Henry B. Eyring of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught, “Those who have planted the good word of God and have served faithfully invariably have awakened in them a great desire for self-improvement” (Education for Real Life [CES fireside for young adults, 6 May 2001], 2). Personal development results from learning and applying gospel principles, acquiring desired skills, reflecting on current assignments, and trying new ideas.
As members of the Church, leaders and teachers in CES have a covenant relationship with the Lord. This covenant relationship includes a willingness to serve God, obey His commandments, sacrifice all that we have for the truth’s sake, and consecrate our time, talents, and means to build up God’s kingdom on earth. In addition, CES employees have a contractual obligation with the Church and with the Church Educational System. Part of this professional, contractual obligation is to develop professionally by becoming better teachers and leaders, by striving to meet the objective of religious education and fulfill their commission, and by following policies and guidelines established by the Church Board of Education (see “Priesthood Leaders,” p. 5).
As individuals perform well in basic duties and responsibilities in CES, they fulfill their commission and meet the objective of religious education. Basic duties and responsibilities are identified by Church and CES leaders and in CES materials, such as this handbook and Teaching the Gospel: A Handbook for CES Teachers and Leaders (2001; see appendix, pp. 39–40). Based on identified local needs and local priesthood direction, CES leaders may further define duties and expected levels of performance for those they lead.
Leaders primarily emphasize gospel principles relating to basic duties and responsibilities. Individuals should take initiative in applying to their current assignment the principles that are addressed in CES handbooks. Elder Gordon B. Hinckley, then a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, encouraged, “I would hope that all would seek to develop skills and abilities with which to make a contribution to the world in which they live” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1967, 53).
Seeking help from others and reporting to leaders are essential in personal development. Because the primary responsibility for personal development rests with the individual, leaders and teachers should routinely assess their own progress (see “Assess Teaching and Administering,” pp. 31–32). The Apostle Paul counseled individuals to “examine yourselves” (2 Corinthians 13:5). Although CES leaders should regularly provide assistance, leaders and teachers should also take initiative in seeking help by pursuing counsel, training, and feedback. Priesthood leaders, CES colleagues and supervisors, students, families, and others can also be invited to provide assessment and training. Some of the ways to seek help from others include the following:
Inservice training. An individual’s area director, supervisor, inservice leader, and local training council should be invited to direct inservice training to areas of needs expressed by the individual. In addition, CES sponsors professional development conferences, workshops, seminars, and courses.
Observations. An individual’s supervisor or colleagues should be invited to observe an individual’s teaching or leading to provide feedback and encouragement. Students’ observations should also be solicited in various ways. Teachers and leaders should also plan to observe others, enabling them to learn and acquire necessary knowledge and skills relevant to their assignments.
Formal assessment instruments. An individual’s supervisor, peers, and students should be invited to provide feedback through formal assessment instruments.
Interviews. Supervisors should be invited to conduct performance appraisal or other progress interviews to set goals, make plans, receive reports of assignments, and review progress with individuals.
Mentors and colleagues. All CES leaders and teachers have opportunities to be mentored by their colleagues. In some CES settings prospective or newly hired teachers are assigned a mentor from among their colleagues (see p. 34). Assigned mentors and other colleagues provide individuals with informal assessment, training, and support. Mentors can share personal insights, experiences, and ideas, review goals and progress, give appropriate feedback, and allow individuals to observe their leading or teaching.
Each CES leader and teacher should seek opportunities to report to and receive counsel from his or her leader. When individuals report on the CES programs and assignments they are appointed to, they should discuss their professional growth and personal development, where appropriate. They might share identified areas for improvement and humbly invite help, instruction, and counsel about plans for further growth and development. For CES leaders and teachers, reporting on accountability is an important part of developing toward divine potential and promoting professional growth.