Steve Russell, of Lehi Utah, practices law in Salt Lake City and is a graduate of the BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School. Steve completed an honorable mission in Bolivia and married a returned missionary. He and his wife Janice are the parents of eight children and he has served in many church callings: counselor, teacher, high councilor, youth choir/orchestra leader, family history consultant and as bishop in Tooele, Utah. Among the family traditions in the Russell household is the annual celebration of the Passover during the Easter season.
At the time of his conversion to the Church in 1982, Brother Russell was a 22-year old jazz musician in Southern California. He was experiencing a season of serious contemplation about influential people and the nature of God when missionaries knocked on his door. Through faithful study, prayer and participation he felt the light of the Lord enter his life, obtained a fervent testimony of the Book of Mormon and came to realize how someone can declare “I know” when speaking of spiritual convictions. When asked about milestones or turning points in his spiritual life, Steve references attending his first post-mission general conference where he was privileged to hear the stirring final testimony of the late Elder Bruce R. McConkie in 1985.(1) Brother Russell has an abiding testimony of the “commitment pattern.” He knows from personal experience and from serving as a bishop how vital it is to strive for personal purity by overcoming one’s sins, beginning with the most serious, and making definitive commitments to God through fervent prayer and “reporting back” to the Lord. This same pattern will help serious-minded Saints in dealing with a variety of challenges, including such things as compulsive behaviors (e.g. pornography, overeating, anger, etc.). He referenced pertinent and meaningful talks by President Spencer W. Kimball (2) and Elder David A. Bednar (3) on this same subject.
Brother Russell asserts that Church leaders at any level must study the relevant handbooks and learn to love, serve and lead with the help of God through mighty prayer. His experience is that there are many Church members who love deeply and desire to be valuable servants in the Kingdom. Serving and leading have helped Brother Russel appreciate the many blessings afforded by the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially the power of the Atonement.
Five Principle of Leadership:
- Assume the best in the people serving. Don’t judge people by outward appearances, be they youth or adults. Find ways to connect with them and allow them to experience growth. (29:05)
- Every person has a unique perspective. Build on their strengths and do not make them feel inadequate. (30:35)
- Every person has something to offer. Don’t try to control circumstances to the point of stifling contributions. This occasionally happens in gospel classes. Consider their various contributions seriously, even if the meaning is not clear on the surface. Appreciate their courage in contributing. (32:05)
- Remember to discover and create joy in church service. It’s counterproductive to be stressed in church work. Leaders should seek to make serving joyful and/or fun. (34:10)
- If you are not loving those you serve, repeat steps one through four, above. (36:44)