The Work of Leadership

Principles of Leadership Teachers Manual Religion 180R, (2001), 78–83

“Teach them to never be weary of good works, but to be meek and lowly in heart; for such shall find rest to their souls” (Alma 37:34).

Principle of Leadership

Family and Church leaders must work diligently to help bring souls to the Lord and establish His kingdom.

Lesson Concepts

  1. 1.

    Leaders must work diligently to bring souls to the Lord.

Concept 1. Leaders Must Work Diligently to Bring Souls to the Lord.


Elder Bruce R. McConkie, who was then a member of the Seventy, wrote: “Work is the great basic principle which makes all things possible both in time and in eternity” (Mormon Doctrine, 2nd ed. [1966], 847). President Gordon B. Hinckley taught: “Nothing of real substance comes without work. Nothing happens in this world until there is work. … There must be work” (Standing for Something: Ten Neglected Virtues That Will Heal Our Hearts and Homes [2000], 80).

Heavenly Father works to save and exalt His children (see Moses 1:39). Jesus Christ’s Atonement makes that possible, thus finishing the Father’s work (see John 4:34; 5:17; 9:4). He gives us the opportunity to help each other return to the Father. “Somebody has well said: ‘As it is the property of fire to burn, of snow to chill, so of God to work.’ And we are his children” (George Reynolds and Janne M. Sjodahl, Commentary on the Book of Mormon, ed. Philip C. Reynolds, 7 vols. [1955–61], 1:275).

The work of leaders not only helps others along their journey but also benefits the leader. “Dedicated work helps to develop attributes of godliness: self-discipline, perseverance, accountability, and integrity” (in Daniel H. Ludlow, ed., Encyclopedia of Mormonism, 5 vols. [1992], 4:1586).

The opportunity for work began for mankind when the Lord put Adam “into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15). The necessity of work continued when God cast Adam out of the garden (see Genesis 3:17–19).

If we expect to become profitable leaders, we must be willing to work hard. President Spencer W. Kimball explained: “We must do more than ask the Lord for excellence. Perspiration must precede inspiration; there must be effort before there is excellence. We must do more than pray for these outcomes … , though we must surely pray. We must take thought. We must make effort” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball [1982], 402).

Leaders should also keep in mind the counsel of King Benjamin: “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27).

Consider the following insights from Elder Neal A. Maxwell. While an Assistant to the Twelve, Elder Maxwell taught:

“God’s extraordinary work is most often done by ordinary people in the seeming obscurity of a home and family” (That My Family Should Partake [1974], 122).

“There is something holy about work; even in times of plenty, it is a necessity. While work is not all of life, it nevertheless can keep us mindful of our blessings” (Look Back at Sodom: A Timely Account from Imaginary Sodom Scrolls [1975], 10).

Later, as a member of the Presidency of the Seventy, Elder Maxwell wrote:

“God gives the picks and shovels to the ‘chosen’ because they are willing to go to work and get callouses on their hands. They may not be the best or most capable, but they are the most available” (Deposition of a Disciple [1976], 54).

After he became a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Elder Maxwell taught:

“If we ponder just what it is that will rise with us in the resurrection, it seems clear that our intelligence will rise with us, meaning not simply our IQ, but also our capacity to receive and apply truth. Our talents, attributes, and skills will rise with us; certainly also our capacity to learn, our degree of self-discipline, and our capacity to work. Our precise form of work here may have no counterpart there, but the capacity to work will never be obsolete” (We Will Prove Them Herewith [1982], 12).

“Though we rightly speak of ‘faith and works,’ faith by itself … is constant work! It is a work to be done and a process best pursued while being not only ‘anxiously engaged’ but also engaged with ‘fear and trembling.’ Otherwise we may lose our concentration on Christ” (Lord, Increase Our Faith [1994], 111–12).

“For us, the goal is clearly to make God’s work our own—not the other way around” (If Thou Endure It Well [1996], 101).

Teaching Idea

Sing or read a hymn related to work (for example, “I Have Work Enough to Do,” Hymns, no. 224; “Improve the Shining Moments,” no. 226; “Today, While the Sun Shines,” no. 229; “Let Us All Press On,” no. 243; and “Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel,” no. 252). Discuss the role of work in family and Church leadership.

Have students read Alma 26 looking for the work that Ammon and his fellow missionaries performed before they succeeded. Help students understand that with leadership, as well as missionary work, the fruits follow the labor.

Divide your class into small groups and give each group one or more of Elder Neal A. Maxwell’s statements from the commentary. Invite the groups to discuss the statements, and then have a member of each group report their observations to the class. Comment and discuss as appropriate.

Emphasize that the work we do in our families and callings is the most important work we will do in this life. Because it is the Lord’s work, we must rely on His Spirit to succeed.

Sing or read another hymn about the importance of work.

Teacher Resources

Mark E. Petersen