In April conference of 2009 Elder David A. Bednar shared an experience he had when he was called as a stake president. He talked with a friend who had already served as a stake president. What he learned changed his focus and ministry as a stake president.

“Strive to make temple preparation the center of all we did…”

Shortly after I was called to serve as a stake president in 1987, I talked with a good friend who recently had been released as a stake president. During our conversation I asked him what he would teach me about becoming an effective stake president. His answer to my question had a profound impact upon my subsequent service and ministry.

My friend indicated he had been called to serve as a temple worker soon after his release. He then said: “I wish I had been a temple worker before I was a stake president. If I had served in the temple before my call to serve as a stake president, I would have been a very different stake president.”

I was intrigued by his answer and asked him to explain further. He responded: “I believe I was a good stake president. The programs in our stake ran well, and our statistics were above average. But serving in the temple has expanded my vision. If I were called today to serve as a stake president, my primary focus would be on worthiness to receive and honor temple covenants. I would strive to make temple preparation the center of all that we did. I would do a better job of shepherding the Saints to the house of the Lord.”

That brief conversation with my friend helped me as a stake president to teach relentlessly about and testify of the eternal importance of temple ordinances, temple covenants, and temple worship. The deepest desire of our presidency was for every member of the stake to receive the blessings of the temple, to be worthy of and to use frequently a temple recommend.

Leader to Leader is a segment where we share what leaders of the church have learned from other leaders of the church. This might include stories from general conference, accounts of one leader attending a stake conference with another leader, or simply recollections one leader’s interaction with someone they respected. There are great leadership skills one can learn by pondering these interactions. Read other stories in this series HERE.

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