“Humility is a willingness to receive correction and counsel,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said. “If we are humble, if we can cultivate that attitude in ourselves, then we will be in a better position to receive correction. And if we can encourage humility in those we work with, they’ll be in a better position to absorb that kind of correction.”
Giving and Receiving Correction
Elder Oaks made this and other comments during training for Church employees sponsored by the Human Resources Department of the Church. At the training, held in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, he instructed Church administrators, managers, and other employees to not fear evaluation and constructive criticism.
“We should look for opportunities to have performance gaps identified,” he said. “Why? Because that’s part of the Lord’s plan for growth. The attitude of being satisfied with the current situation is negative toward our growth or the growth of those with whom we work and whom we supervise. So performance gap identification, communication, discussion, and so on, is an essential part of the growth that we’re put here to experience in mortality. It’s not our enemy.
Elder Oaks indicated that the Lord chastises us because He loves us (see D&C 95:1), and that counsel given by leaders in Church and other settings should be communicated in this same spirit of care. “We can think of chastening as scolding, or we can think of chastening as holding us up to the standards expected for the performance, and the chastisement is a challenge to use that vision of the difference between performance and the ideal as a way to grow.”
Though it may be difficult for supervisors and leaders to offer criticism to those with whom they work, Elder Oaks says that they must do it because “it’s essential to those with whom we work. It’s essential to the people whom you supervise. And you do them a favor if you do it.”
The Principle of Accountability
Elder Oaks taught that accountability to our duty is important in both Church and business settings. He said, “None of us will achieve perfection, but it’s quite clear that is . . . the ideal toward which we strive. . . . The principle of accountability is inherent in that. The scriptures are replete with teachings that we will be accountable for the use of our talents and the fulfillment of our responsibilities.”
He continued “If we apply that principle [of accountability] to a Church calling, and certainly to . . . employment, we should realize that anyone who performs anything for the Lord must do so “with all [his or her] heart, might, mind and strength” (D&C 4:2).
Elder Oaks encouraged each person to do their own duty to the best of their ability. He said, “Look to yourself, . . . and don’t try to act in someone else’s calling or dwell on somebody else’s duty—dwell on your own.”
Elder Oaks concluded, “Whatever we deliver in the way of these suggestions that I’ve made, it should be packaged in love, and it better be genuine! If it’s a genuine feeling of ‘I care for you,’ it’s going to magnify the effect of all the things that you do. . . . We’re in the service of the Lord, and if we’re His servants and His leaders, we better not be doing His work in our way; we better be doing it in His way. And His way is love.”