Listening to a recent Leading Saints podcast with host Kurt Francom and guest Jim Kasen, I was touched by several wise and heartfelt insights relating to the blessings of weaknesses and challenges. I also discovered some great leadership tips on how we can be a support and champion when we are striving to minister to those who are struggling.
In the podcast, Kasen was a master at defining ways in which we can allow our weaknesses or challenges to help us get closer to the Savior and apply His atoning sacrifice.
Our Earthly Experience
One of many benefits of mortality is obtaining a body and experiencing life with weaknesses. These weaknesses can be the building blocks of developing a deeper relationship with our Savior; have our nature softened and changed for good; create empathy, humility, and many Christ-like attributes. As we surrender our hearts to this journey laced with challenges, we discover we become a new creature in the Lord.
Kasen encouraged leaders to consider how they can best minister to people like him who experience same sex attraction There aren’t specific steps to consider or specific things you need to know or say. He advised,
“You don’t have to have the answers, you have to have love.”
The goal isn’t to “administer” to their needs, it’s to “minister” to their needs. Kasen opined that it’s so important to allow everyone with a willing heart to be considered for any calling they are willing and able to perform. He believes that the Savior would say,
“I don’t care what condition you are in; I’m going to use you.”
He reminded us of the power of using the approach in Moroni 10: 3-4 in receiving a revelation on the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. It is a formula we could be using while striving to discern who should be called to a specific calling. The ponder portion is key because that’s when revelation comes. We then take our best decision to the Lord to receive confirmation.
When Hard Things Happen
Brother Kasen explained an insight he received while struggling with a challenge related to his employment with the Church. As he was pondering, he felt a strong impression, as though it was a voice come to him saying:
“Jim, you have to remember that my Atonement also includes the sins of the Church.”
This experience helped him to realize that:
“Not all things that happen in the Church are the Savior’s will. The individuals you are leading belong to Jesus Christ, not the Church. Church leaders don’t always handle things how God wants but the Atonement of Jesus Christ covers those mistakes.”
Francom noted that in his recent review of the Church’s general handbook, it states in section1.3:
“The Purpose of the Church Jesus Christ established His Church to enable individuals and families to assist God in fulfilling His work of salvation and exaltation.”
From this we can extrapolate that God doesn’t need the Church; the Church is there to assist God in His work and glory. Francom explained:
“Does God need the Church? Does Jesus need the church? (the Church) It’s a framework we can all step into, and it is a sanctifying process. God does need the Church to sanctify His children.“
Being as Kind and Loving as Possible
Ideally, we need to strive to help those struggling with some aspect of their membership. The answer is not more scripture study, temple attendance or other activities that may support and strengthen them. We need to help them consider key elements that will help support them.
Kasen believes that there are three key elements that will help us return home to Heavenly Father. These elements, in conjunction with the covenants we will make, are critical:
- Change to become like the Son.
- Develop pure and perfect love.
- Be forgiving.
Yet, it is helpful for leaders to understand that there is sometimes a need for some people to “unplug” from the Church. There may be times when someone has an incorrect framing of the Church, and they need to step away to “reset” what their faith and Church experience looks like. As leaders, we need to have the faith in them that we can say, “If you need to step away for a period, we’ll be here when you are ready.”
While facing the challenge of experiencing life with same sex attraction, Kasen has discovered that through this and leadership experiences, he has learned that we need to be the best we can to love, support, forgive and make changes in our life. He has found that:
“We make the greatest changes, when we see the greatest paradoxes.”
Beth Young is a convert of 46 years; served a mission in North Carolina; has been married for 36 years to her sweetheart, Bob; has five adult children and two grandchildren. She raised her family in Texas for 25 years where she served in various capacities in church and in her community. She moved to Utah six years ago and loves writing, teaching, and inspiring others to make changes to their physical, mental, and spiritual health. Beth is the owner of 5 Pillars of Health, serves as the written content manager at Leading Saints, and is a master gardener.