Morgan Jones is the host of the All In podcast for LDS Living. She previously wrote for the Deseret News, where she published more than 480 stories and served as senior web producer. She is a passionate storyteller and loves having the opportunity to share stories that deserve to be told. Her new book, All In: Exploring What it Means to be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ, shares what she has learned from nearly three years of hosting the All In podcast. She has served as a ward Relief Society president, a counselor in a stake Relief Society presidency, Primary chorister, and is currently a Relief Society teacher.
2:40 Beginnings of Morgan becoming a podcaster: While working at Deseret News, discussions came up with Hal Boyd and hearing so much about why people leave the LDS Church; Bro. Boyd’s thought was to do a podcast about why people choose to stay. HB went on to say that the decision for people who choose to stay is “just as thoughtful and deliberate” and needed to be talked about. Bro. Boyd’s belief in Sis. Jones and her experience interviewing led to her being tapped for the role of host of a podcast when she later went to Deseret Book.
5:30 Evolution of the podcast “All In” discussion of content and the name; appreciation of the fact that reflecting on what it means to be “All In” the gospel of Jesus Christ lends itself to reflection and genuine feelings; also would help prevent pompous, self-righteous explanations. It would cause people to think. Also the benefit of having a consistent question that elicits thoughtful responses.
7:30 Guests-Kurt observes that Morgan has had some well known people on the program; while those can be wonderful episodes, the diversity of members can provide some amazing insights from unexpected, even obscure members of the church in far flung areas that really resonate. The benefit of talking to the everyday person; everyone has a story.
8:15 Things MJ has learned while interviewing and how to connect:
- Find common ground, establish a connection with that person (where are you from? Common acquaintances)
- Everybody wants to be heard-to listen to them, help them to feel important and be genuinely interested
- Beware of distractions; sometimes we may be thinking of our next question to ask or otherwise lose focus; listening to listen and not with the intention of forming a reply is very helpful. People then feel cared about and in a safe place. Cultivating a connection is an art
- MJ quotes her grandfather, a fan of Dale Carnegie. DC wrote that the most beautiful word in any language is the person’s own name; MJ experience with interviewing Thurl Bailey and how he repeatedly said her name-that got her attention.
11:00 Discussion of ministerial interviews and the pitfalls that can be faced. While the purpose of the interview is to ask “how are your families?” this can prevent an opportunity to allow the person you’re interviewing to share information about themselves; (we default to an administrative level of communication)
11:30 Ministering interviews vs. visiting teaching or home teaching interviews; Ministering provides us with an opportunity to also check on the person we’re talking to just as much as the families the person is assigned.
12:00 The beauty of the good question-in the case of the podcasts, having a well-chosen question can lead to having the Spirit. In the case of ministering interviews, a good question can leave people feeling that spirit and coming away with a positive vibe.
13:15 Importance of being prepared and being present. MJ quotes D&C 38:30 “If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear.” She testifies that the Lord will bless us if we have prepared to the best of our ability. He will make up the difference. The Spirit cannot call things to your remembrance if they were never there in the first place.
13:45 New project the book: “em>All In: Exploring What it Means to be All In to the gospel of Jesus Christ
The genesis of the book: audiences were taking bits of the final question; the problem was that the answer felt taken out of context. You need the other interview content to add substance to the answer.
15:15 MJ talks about the process of pitching the book idea and the work it entailed. She felt that even if it was not approved to go ahead, she benefited so much from working on this idea and capturing work that was so pivotal in her life. Discussion about a general struggle many dealing with in keeping a journal, and how this caused her to capture this work for her posterity.
16:30 Capturing what has been learned with regards to leadership principles: callings we may receive or jobs we hold, we don’t know if it will be for a short while or long term. Questions we may ask as to what is the long term benefit, or what are we really doing? Is it worthwhile? MJ feels if you look for the purpose in every calling, if you seek for it you will find it.
18:00 MJ learns lessons as she was called to be Primary chorister when she was a senior in high school. How this was a “game changer” for her and she felt loved and appreciated. If we look for the reason for callings we will find it. MJ uses the example of when she was called as a Primary chorister during a very vulnerable period in her life. How this situation evolved for her.
19:45 Tips for Primary chorister-MJ’s service to nursing homes with the Primary children; make it more of an experience.
20:30 All In as a Single Adult: “Nobody plans to be a SA”; MJ has a friend who describes it “you’re trying to be happy in a place where everyone says you shouldn’t be happy”; meaning you shouldn’t be satisfied to be there. Two of the most formative experiences of her life: 1) having siblings leave the church and 2) Being a single adult. She cherishes the time spent being single she would not change it nor take it back and is still learning from this unexpected time. In the broader sense, unexpected events in general provide us with great learning opportunities.
22:00 MJ’s experiences transitioning to attendance at a family ward; her first time attending in person while the pandemic was still going on, and how when it was discovered she wasn’t with a family she was relegated to an area “for singles”. Her seat in the back forced her view to all the families “looking at the goal in front of us” It left her feeling less, and she sees that for someone who is ambivalent about their church attendance, or looking to be offended and looking for a reason to stop attending church, this interaction “could have been it”.
24:10 Nobody intends to offend; MJ points out that there is a responsibility to recognize the motives of the person. Generally people do not intend to offend. However, we also must seek for understanding to be sensitive of others. MJ relates the story of a young man in a SA ward, asking about what he can do as a single young man, but really seeking validation and encouragement. However the answer he received was not as thoughtful as it could have been, missing the mark, because this young man was not really heard. Need to change the dialogue and listen more.
26:50 We can fall back and begin to question our worth and the path that we are on as a consequence of our circumstances. MJ shares the story of her working in the temple and how she was given to know that her efforts were good and satisfactory. Validating. Encouraging. If things are not going the way we want them to, it may be because they are not supposed to be going in that direction. She reiterates that the Lord knows what direction our lives are to go, and we need to trust that.
29:00 KF says an opportunity for YSA leaders is to affirm YSAs and encourage them. Points out that the adversary sees an opportunity and wants to get them (YSAs) “where it hurts”. This is a universal human experience-we ALL can feel “broken”.
29:20 MJ emphasizes we all still should seek for improvement, getting better day by day. If we examine ourselves and we are attending our meetings, fulfilling our callings we know we are doing well and to not so quick to belittle ourselves.
31:00 MJ was serving in a YSA stake RS presidency and observes that while a SA, she observes a “bubble”: everyone she interacts with is single as she is. Conversations revolve around “SA” subjects: dating, “woe is me”, commiserating. When you get out of that bubble, your view opens. As she interacted with the high council members and their wives, who served with her in other leadership positions, inviting her to be with their respective families, made a huge difference to her and her view. She is a huge proponent of making sure that people’s circle of those they interact with are not just of “your demographic”. Rather than being marginalized and identified as “one of those singles” she felt respected, included and was gratified when her opinion was actually sought out and valued.
34:00 People saying “oh you’re so selfish” or “you’re so focused on your career” “you don’t have to others. Contrasts a young mother, for example, who is compelled to serve her family, but MJ observes she’s been the recipient of so much service from other SAs, who step out of their comfort zone, seek out opportunities, even praying “who needs me today?” and do things that are not expected and may be uncomfortable for them.
34:50 Discussion of things that created an environment of helping, service, and awareness of others: MJ shares that the ward she was in previously, that she looks back on fondly, had a mindset of everyone being treated the same; there were no “haves vs. have nots” everyone showed up for others’ birthday parties, everyone was invited and included, no cliques.
36:20 advice regarding ministering (figuring out what people need) bringing it back to MJs own personal stewardship and the 2 sisters she ministered to; she took them to get gelato for Valentine’s Day. During the visit with one of her sisters, the visit was a bit awkward and stilted; however during the trip home, MJ asked about TV shows, the sister stated a program that Morgan also watched and that really opened a door for the two of them to text each other about the show, discuss it. That led to an increase in the comfort level and the sister later asking Morgan for a ride. Transformational change in their interaction. Although there may not be “needs” during a period of ministering to someone, it is huge if you can create an environment where the person feels if they DO need someone, they will call on you. This experience solidified her testimony of ministering. Her testimony of ministering, but also witnesses that it is inspired.
42:00 Other ideas to increase the effectiveness of ministering interviews: create a space that allows open and comfortable discussion. For SAs with roommates, don’t do the interview with roommates around; create a space where it is quiet, intimate and allows for sharing and candid communication. Emphasized the point made earlier that ministering interviews are just as much to check on the person you are interviewing as to see about those who are being ministered to. This provides the opportunity for the RS president to minister to those in your RS quorum. Recognition of layers of ministering, and it is a much deeper concept than we realize.
43:20 Discussion of being called “for a reason” the infusion of purpose; what we do in life. MJ recalls being a new RS pres and being so impressed by the previous sister and her talents: organization and the ability to remember names, greeting new people and helping them to feel welcome; her own struggles with organization and feeling she was not up to the standard of the previous president. After trying to “be like her (previous RS president) MJ realizes “I’m not supposed to be like her” “I was supposed to be like me” and the recognition that she was supposed to be called for that time, with her talents, to fill that calling. She needed to be herself.
46:00 Discussion of the perspective that SAs bring to the church membership as a whole. While people who are married and parents can identify as “I’m a mother” or their service in that vein, SAs have their unique identity and commitment to church participation based upon their arrival from a different point. How can we leverage the power, experience and the resource that they (SAs) are? MJ advises to seek SAs out; even if they do not attend your ward, have you realized you have that resource and used it? For example, do you have someone who has a really interesting job and having them come in and talk to your young women? SAs can experience feelings of being compartmentalized and not contributing? This helps SAs to feel they are not different nor separate; they feel valued as they are bing sought out and asked to contribute to the good of the whole. SAs want to feel useful and be of assistance; to be valued. This also helps encourage feelings of belonging and a part of the community. KF reminds of the previous general conference and a reoccurring theme was that there are a lot of SAs present and they need to be included. For those with good intentions, being super proactive helps to push through the missteps and alienation or failure to be inclusive that can occur. Leaders need to ask themselves “How are we REALLY going to push through and make SAs a part of what we do?” MJ emphasizes that SAs need to also do their part; reach out, extend themselves and get out of their comfort zone with engaging and interacting with their ward. Make it a pleasant experience.
49:15 Thoughts on the intention to create a good example for the youth; our default is to bring in (in the case of YW) women who are married, in the temple, with families; failing to put in women who are committed members of the church who don’t fit that demographic, not married, no children, but nonetheless great examples, participatory, and demonstrate women who are bright, successful, leading gospel centered lives from a different background. MJ had interviewed Mallory Everton, an actress currently on Studio C; ME had a YW leader who was single, working out her salvation and ME looks back on that example with gratitude for the illustration that leader provided for her (ME) as she currently found herself also single and navigating her life as an adult.
52:35 How has being a leader helped you to be a better follower of Jesus Christ? As a leader of a SA ward, MJ observes nothing has changed her more than being a single adult herself. She sees a deeper relation with God, desires to be better and more in tune. All of us desire to not be alone, desire companionship, and developing a closer relationship to God provides us with companionship. Seeking for Christ while in a SA ward was twofold: she wanted to experience that closer relationship herself, but also to be there for others as she (MJ) felt He would be. This knowledge informs how she reaches out, changes how she is kind to others (that she may not otherwise be), participate in ways that you may not have otherwise considered, all driven by a desire to be more like Christ. This also dovetails into a desire to truly fulfill your calling and be the person that God wants you to be and also what Christ would do for them.
All In podcast
All In: Exploring What it Means to be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Use code ALLIN6 for 15% off preorders before July 26)
TRANSCRIPT coming soon