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Elder J. Devn Cornish is an Emeritus member of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He was sustained as a General Authority Seventy on April 2, 2011, and granted emeritus status on October 2, 2021. A newborn intensive care physician, he was a professor, chairman, and later vice chairman in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine. He was also president and chief executive officer of the pediatric practice plan at Emory Healthcare.
In the Church, Elder Cornish has served in numerous callings, including full-time missionary in the Guatemala–El Salvador Mission, bishop, stake president, area seventy, and president of the Dominican Republic Santiago Mission. During his tenure as a general authority, Elder Cornish served as a counselor and as president of the Caribbean Area, headquartered in the Dominican Republic, as a counselor in the North America Southwest area presidency, and as an assistant executive director of the Church History Department and of the Correlation Department, among other assignments at Church headquarters.
Elder Cornish and his wife Elaine are the parents of six children and 32 grandchildren. Elaine Cornish passed away from cancer in June of 2019. Elder Cornish married Rosanne Brown in May of 2021 and they live in Salt Lake City, Utah.
5:00 Elder Cornish’s first experience being an elders quorum president in inner-city Baltimore and what he learned
6:20 Elder Cornish’s “look in the mirror” principle
- Problems have an origin. Get to the root of the problem.
11:20 Creating a plan for your area, ward, or organization
- What is your purpose?
- What is your process?
- Who are your people?
- What are your fundamental principles?
12:20 6 key principles for leadership
- Keep the wheels on and the trains running
- Don’t do dumb things
- It’s not about you
- Take care of your people
- Mind the dollars
- Nurture purpose and joy
13:20 Principle of “keep the wheels on and trains running”
- You don’t need to make big changes in the first months. It’s a time to get to know your people and encourage them.
17:00 Principle of taking care of your people.
- The key to the ninety-nine is the one. Strengthening the outlier strengthens everyone in the ward.
18:45 Principle: It’s not about you.
- The only credible motivation is real love and the only effective method is ministering.
- Don’t do things to get credit.
- It doesn’t matter who is right but what is right.
27:00 Principle of “don’t do dumb things”
- Don’t try to be a one man show.
33:30 What do you do when you can’t trust your counselors?
- Treat them the way the Savior treated his disciples.
- Lean on his strengths and help him with his weaknesses.
39:00 Principle of “minding the dollars”
- Money should be used to build people and create meaningful experiences. It’s not to maintain traditions.
- The money of the church is not something that we are entitled to but something that we are responsible for.
40:00 Advice for minding the dollars when it comes to helping the poor and needy.
- Is this a relief situation or a development situation?
- How much responsibility does this person have for getting themselves into this situation?
- Are you doing something for them that they can and should do for themselves?
- Are you increasing their capacity to help themselves?
48:00 Nurture purpose and joy
- If people don’t feel purpose and joy in the church and in their callings then they will start to go elsewhere to look for it.
57:00 Elder Cornish’s advice on preparing and giving talks
1:00:00 The most dangerous thing that a Bishop can do is to want to be liked. Please the Lord, not the people.
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I love this man. He gets it. His conference talk “Will I Make It?” is one I recommend to members who struggle with fears of not being a “good member.”
I agree!–on all counts. I’ll reread the conference talk–I remember its message is timeless.
This episode, all by itself, is WELL worth the recurring donation I’m happy to give. This is a must-listen episode for leaders. Thank you!
Elder Cornish and his son were my home teachers for many years. During some very challenging times, when I wasn’t sure what Jesus would do, I would ask myself, “what would Elder Cornish do?”. His example has been life changing.
I was one of those people he had to use his theory with: “maximize the good and minimize the bad”.
He really does that- profoundly!
I’m still trying to learn his skill of presenting a solution to big problems in a single sentence.