The following is the video transcript:
Today we are answering the question that came from the Leading Saints Helpers Facebook group. Now if you’re not a member of this Facebook group you’re missing out. This is the community of the community within the Leading Saints world where individuals can not only volunteer to help in the mission of Leading Saints, but also can ask leadership based questions. How this word is doing, or how that branch is doing it and we can all share ideas together. There’s hundreds of people and you should join, but I digress.
This question comes from a sister who’s married to a member of a bishopric and her question breaks my heart because I know there’s so many wives out there or spouses who are married to individuals in intense leadership callings in the Church. How do we balance family life, family obligations, work obligations with the demanding load of leadership callings in the church? Here’s what she asked:
My husband was recently called into the bishopric and so his responsibilities have increased especially with regards to word events and activities he’s expected to attend. It seems like church stuff always gets scheduled first and then family stuff gets squeezed out. I know he doesn’t want to shirk his priesthood responsibilities so I’m trying to be as understanding as possible, but I also don’t want to end up resenting the church for sucking up all of his time. How do those of you with leadership callings, and kids, and church activities find time for family things. How do you prioritize? Help.
I’m so grateful that she was willing to put herself out there and ask this question because whether you believe it or not, more families in leadership callings deal with this concern than you may think. When the calling comes to serve at a formal leadership calling comes to us, we want to be a valiant servant but we really don’t know what we’re walking into. We may understand on the surface the time commitment but once we get into it we may be surprised at the time commitment that is required of each leader serving. This goes for being in a bishopric, and a release society presidency. Any really auxiliary leadership calling is daunting and there’s even some callings outside of formal church leadership that are time consuming. To answer this question I relied on the many responses that came in on the Leading Saints helpers group and here are three suggestions for those entering a leadership calling or that are in a leadership calling to help create a healthy balance within your calling and your family life.
1. Set Clear Expectations With Those That You Serve With
Like I said before, we go into these leadership callings think, “I’ve got this! I’m fine. I’ll be able to balance this. Right?” We rarely take the time to talk with our bishop or Relief Society president, or if you are the bishop maybe we skip that step of really sitting down one-on-one, including the spouse, and laying out what is expected of them. Week to week, day to day. What can you say no to? What do you have to be to? That way, that couple can plan and expect what is expected of them. It is crucial to involve the spouse in these conversations.
One-on-one stewardship interviews are stressed a lot with our auxiliary leaders, but are you having them consistently with the counselors in your presidency, and setting and revisiting those clear expectations? Do so regularly and this will make the experience of serving in leadership so much better when we’re all on the same page and have the same expectations.
2. You Have to Learn to Say NO
I don’t necessarily mean say no to your bishop when he asks you to do something, but this message goes to the leader of wards and auxiliaries, bishops, Relief Society presidents, etc. This is something I call “the calling monster.” These callings will take as much time as you give it. If you want to be a bishop for 80 hours a week, you can probably be a bishop for 80 hours a week. At some point you’ve got to say no. President Hinckley said this, “Let me say that there’s never enough time to do it all. There is so much more than any of us can single handedly give attention to.” We’ve got to learn to say no.
This may be saying no to your grand vision as a leader. We get excited! We’ve been given this responsibility as a leader and we want to do remarkable things. When these meetings come, these programs and activities, we don’t realize how much time is going to be invested in these. Sometimes we have to say no to the grand vision and say what can we do while still maintaining that balance and following the expectations that you set with those you serve. This also involved understanding the 80/20 rule. No, it’s not Pareto’s Principle where 80% of your successes come from 20% of your efforts. The 80/20 rule that I’m referring to is when leaders spend 80% more time for 20% more results. Maybe your meeting goes 80% longer, but we only have 20% better results, or we spend 90% more time on our efforts and only see a 10% return.
Sometimes we just need to say no to that 80% more effort when it’s going to return a very minimal result that’s really not going to make a difference in the long run. Be happy with the effort that’s being put forth and take it for what it is, and keep going.
3. You Are Not an Indispensable Leader
Number three, a big leadership myth out there is that leaders are indispensable. We feel this sometime. We’ve been serving in a calling for so long we understand all the intricacies, the nuances, and we just think, “I’ve got to handle this. It’s got to be me. I’ve got to be at every activity or it just won’t go right.” Elder Spencer Condi gave one of my favorite leadership quotes. He said, “Cemeteries are filled with leader who thought they were indispensable.” You are not indispensable in your home.
Really step back and think about these three points. Are you setting clear expectations? Are you willing to say no to some things in order to simplify, and keep the show going without dominating everyone’s time? And three, do you really think you’re indispensable?
To everyone out there that’s maybe struggling as a leader, we’re praying for you. You are involved in remarkable work and for your spouses, we’re praying for you as well. You can do this, and that may involve the ball being dropped very time to time. Part of leadership is allowing natural conflicts to happen and aiming for success.