Principles of Leadership Teachers Manual Religion 180R, (2001), 113–17

“I say unto you, can ye look up to God at that day with a pure heart and clean hands? I say unto you, can you look up, having the image of God engraven upon your countenances?” (Alma 5:19).

Principle of Leadership

Introspection helps leaders bring people to Jesus Christ.

Lesson Concepts

  1. 1.

    Introspection is important for family and Church leaders.

Concept 1. Introspection Is Important for Family and Church Leaders.


Leaders should reflect regularly on their worthiness to be guided by the Spirit and on how well they apply sound leadership principles. The scriptures teach the importance of introspection. Nephi reflected: “And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?” (2 Nephi 4:27). Alma asked the people of Zarahemla: “Have ye spiritually been born of God? Have ye received his image in your countenances? Have ye experienced this mighty change in your hearts? …

“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” (Alma 5:14, 26). The young Joseph Smith was reflecting on his “weaknesses and imperfections” and praying to the Lord for forgiveness when the Angel Moroni first appeared to him (see Joseph Smith—History 1:28–33).

Modern prophets and Church leaders have also taught the importance of introspection. President Gordon B. Hinckley, who was then a Counselor in the First Presidency, advised: “Every sacrament meeting ought to be a spiritual feast. It ought to be a time for meditation and introspection, a time for singing songs of praise to the Lord, a time of renewing one’s covenants with him and our Eternal Father, and a time for hearing the word of the Lord with reverence and appreciation” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1982, 66; or Ensign, Nov. 1982, 47).

Elder Russell M. Nelson, a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, taught: “The wise fisherman inspects his nets regularly. Should any flaw be detected, he repairs the defect without delay. An old saying teaches that ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’ Recorded revelation gives similar instruction. The Lord said, ‘Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works’ (Rev. 2:5).

“If we are wise, we assess personal cords of integrity on a daily basis. We identify any weakness, and we repair it. Indeed, we have an obligation to do so. …

“Private personal prayer is a good time for introspection. Morning prayer might include a petition for honesty, chastity, virtue, or for simply being of service to others. In the evening, there may be another quick checkup on all those attributes. We pray for the preservation of our spiritual integrity, then we work for it. Should any flaw be found, we will want to begin the process of prompt repair that will protect further disintegration of a threatened spiritual quality.

“Self-assessment is done best in many little steps, asking ourselves questions such as:

  • What do we do when we make a mistake? Do we admit our error and apologize, or do we deny it and blame others?

  • What do we do when we are in a group where wrong ideas or activities are promoted? Do we endorse error by our silence, or do we take a stand?

  • Are we totally true to our employers, or are we less than loyal?

  • Do we keep the Sabbath day, obey the Word of Wisdom, honor our father and mother?

  • … How do we react when we hear evil-speaking against the Lord’s anointed? Do we honor all [our covenants]? Or do we allow exceptions and rationalize our behavior to suit our preconceived preferences?

  • How do we honor our word? Can our promises be trusted? …

“… Proper diagnosis is essential to proper treatment. The Lord gave us this remarkable assurance: ‘Because thou hast seen thy weakness thou shalt be made strong’ (Ether 12:37). But wishing for strength won’t make us strong. It takes faith and work to shore up a weakened cord of integrity.

“We know the process of self-repair called repentance” (“Integrity of Heart,” Ensign, Aug. 1995, 21).

Teaching Idea

Explain what introspection means (“an examination of one’s own thoughts and feelings” Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. [1993], “introspection,” 615]). Discuss why introspection is important for church and family leaders.

Ask students to name instances of introspection in the scriptures (see 1 Kings 19:4–13; Matthew 4:1–11; and the examples in the commentary). Discuss how introspection is often followed by a blessing.

Share with students President Gordon B. Hinckley’s statement in the commentary about introspection in sacrament meetings. Discuss some of the questions Elder Russell M. Nelson suggested we ask ourselves during our introspection.

Tell students that it is important for leaders to reflect on their relationship with the Lord, their responsibilities, the people they serve, and so forth. Discuss with your students questions we might ask ourselves as we think about our worthiness and our callings as leaders. Suggest that they develop the habit of reflecting on questions like these.

Teacher Resources

Spencer W. Kimball