This article is the third in a series on Young Women class presidencies.
Are you looking for the best way to build confidence, solve problems, unify efforts and plan effectively? Elder M. Russell Ballard gives us direction: “There is no problem in the family, ward, or stake that cannot be solved if we look for solutions in the Lord’s way by counseling” (Counseling With Our Councils, p. 4).
“The Lord’s Church is governed through councils at the general, area, stake and ward levels. These councils are fundamental to the order of the Church” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church , 4.1).
We are a “gathering” people who need each other’s individual inspiration, support, attention and opinions to best navigate challenges, execute the Lord’s work and minister to each other.
The value of councils
Whether we are members of a Young Women class presidency or a family, following the Lord’s pattern of counseling brings the Spirit and greater inspiration to our responsibilities.
We hold to the promise of Jesus Christ: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Everyone has some wisdom or insight to offer and councils can be the most effective way to bring such collective wisdom together under the influence of the Lord’s Spirit. In his book, Elder Ballard writes that inviting council members to counsel together, “was like opening the floodgates of heaven: a reservoir of insight and inspiration suddenly began to flow between council members” (Counseling With Our Councils, 4).
Imagine a Laurel class president gathering with her counselors (note that they must be called “counselors” for a reason) and the Young Women adviser. They begin with a prayer, asking for spiritual guidance as they thoughtfully consider how to bring the blessings of the gospel into the life of a less-active young woman in the class. Each member of the presidency has a responsibility to share what insights they have toward a solution. How can they — the called and set-apart class leaders — serve this sister? Free and open discussion brings about good results as varied and inspired insights from individuals build upon each other and the best solution is created. Respectful listening and verbal skills grow too.
Obviously this pattern of a council will work in a family setting, a marital discussion, an event planning session and other groups, as well as in a class presidency.
The significant aspects of a Church or family council
Doctrine and Covenants 88:122 teaches: “Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man may have an equal privilege.”
Look at the five elements of this scripture which are necessary to conduct an effective council. First, a council has a leader; second, ALL have a responsibility to share his or her ideas, feelings, and insights; third, ALL are to listen to what is said; fourth, the content is to be edifying; and fifth, each member of the council is to have an EQUAL privilege. I believe that ‘equal privilege’ can mean equal voice and opportunity to share.
Effective councils in Zimbabwe, Africa
On a Church assignment to Africa, I learn that Young Women leaders felt a need for more understanding about how a council functions. With the support of a member of the Area Presidency, we decided to practice working in councils. Eight circles of chairs were formed in the cultural hall. A Young Women president was appointed as leader of each council and given a “problem” to solve. Each read and discussed what a true council is by studying Doctrine and Covenants 88:122 together. With that spiritual input, the sharing began.
A local stake leader noticed that some members were doing most of the talking and reminders were offered of the scriptural words “equal privilege.” Soon all members of these practice councils had spoken and decisions were reached in a spirit of unity and shared responsibility. As each council leader told the results of this counseling together, they recognized that action must follow the decisions that were made. The word “empowered” came to mind as I watched leaders follow scriptural guidance and Church Handbook direction about councils. These sisters felt enabled to teach their class presidencies how to counsel together. Such counseling illuminates the way to gospel solutions in classes, in families, and in Church units.
The healing effects of councils
Young Women class presidencies and adult leaders will learn that “a call to serve in a bishopric or presidency is a call to serve in one of the most important councils in the Church. This is where the tone is set for the entire organization over which the council presides. When Christlike love is evident in bishoprics and presidencies, it has a captivating, engaging, healing effect on the entire organization” (Counseling With Our Councils, 118). Councils are the Lord’s way of leading and doing the work of the Church. Young Women adult leaders and class presidencies can bring about greater faith, unity, love, and good works as they learn the skills of counseling and ministering in their callings by participating in councils.
• Leadership lessons for class presidencies, “Leading in the Savior’s Way,” can be found on the Young Women website at http://www.lds.org/callings/young-women/leader-resources/teaching-leadership-skills.