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Sunday, March 31, 2019

LDS Church members Deserve Trained Leaders, With Background Checks.


We deserve trained leaders. Actually, we deserve trained leaders that have gone through a proper background check. 

I am just curious, when did the infallibility doctrine of Christ get applied to our church leaders. I am speaking specifically here about our stake and ward leaders, so please call off the strengthening the membership committee. 

My stake is taking all the kids 14-18 to Nauvoo this summer.  I was speaking to the stake Young Men’s president, and I asked what they were doing for Youth Protecting training for the fifty or so Adult chaperones going on the trip? The answer…. Nothing we are not in Texas there is no reason to. 

I had to bit my tongue from snapping back, “You mean there is no reason to besides, ya know, protecting the youth!” Instead, I shared with him that Illinois does indeed have laws like Texas requiring proper, training for all adults that are on overnight trips with kids longer than four days. 
To sum up his answer back…. “We really don’t need it; our leaders are so wonderful, they would never do anything wrong.”

In all honesty, when did this phase shift that our leaders can’t make mistakes happen? And it’s not just the members that view it that way; I have had frank conversations with several Priesthood leaders over the years where they are asking for advice when the leaders are claiming infallibility in anything they do as a leader.  Besides this being totally nuts. It leads to justification of completely inappropriate and often damaging behavior. So, let's dispel some common Mormon myths.

Myth #1
Leaders are called by God, so everything the leader does is intended by God.
Ok, let’s hit this one head on.  Yes, some leaders are called by revelations; however, many, most are not.  To quote my buddy, the Stake Patriarch “Leaders are called based on the perception of capacity” most of the time the leader that calls them sees the person being called as the right guy at the right moment.

Myth #2:
The Church does a background check on priesthood leaders before they are called.
So what you and I call a background check is NOT what the church views as a background check.  What the church does check your membership record for an annotation that might have been put on it by past leaders.  If a past leader put an annotation on your record, you are disqualified.  Annotations on records are not that uncommon, you may have one and not know it.  The church keeps this a quiet as possible in fact if you ask your ward clerk to print out your membership record, he can’t give it to you. Only bishops and stake presidents can get a printed-out membership record. What you will its is called the IOS “Information Ordnance Summary”. This omits a few items, annotations being one of them. This is a FAR cry from a real background check. 

Myth #3:
Leaders Receive standardized face to face training:
NO. There are some videos and basic online training. Besides that, the leader that calls them is responsible for training them; this includes what topics they get trained on.  Other than that, we get to the handbook od instructions, which has an “exception” for a leader on almost every topic. These escape clauses allow leaders to rationalize a lot of really bad decisions based on, you guessed it, their infallibility based on the office they hold. 

It’s time we as members start demanding more from our church.   Elder Maxwell said a few times that as a leader either stand with the lord and face the members or you stand with the members and face the lord.  This creates, in principle, a dividing line between the membership of the church and the lay leaders in it. What an unfortunate result that teaching can have. Where instead of standing with each other, we are more in a virtual face off.  It’s a sad state of affairs.  Leaders are often after members to give time to support their “program” or “effort” instead of spending that time and effort in actual support of the members. 

It’s time for a course correction. We are all in this together, and we should all stand together.  The basis of leadership in this church is not directing people what to do or judging them or making sure they do their calling, so the operation of the church is business smooth.  It's inspiring them, spending your time with them and loving them.  Right now, in this church we have that swapped around.
Unfortunately, the church has finished its migration from at the time of its founding a leadership principle approach to leading, to using management methods to try and maintain where we are at. This has lead to a mix-up of calling managers leaders.  We now value management principles as leadership principles, and they are not.  Right now, in the church managers are called, leaders are by a large part ignored. Nibley has a great talk on this by the way (I will put a link at the end of this) called leaders and managers, give it a listen.

I don’t know if we can ever change it back to leaders running the show exercising leadership principles.  I hope we can, and I wish we could. I think President Nelson is making great strides on that direction. But in the meantime, if we are going to keep the priority of judging a member rather than inspiring them, we can at least require our leaders to get consistent, standardized, face to face training before they begin their callings.  Besides if a potential bishop can’t find a few days in his schedule to attend a regional face to a face training class, does he really have enough time to properly serve the flock anyway?

Local Leaders are for the most part good guys, but they are far from infallible. Even worst some of them are not worthy of the calls that are extended to them.  For example, the Bishop in Utah counts a few weeks ago that was caught leading a human trafficking ring, complete with prostitution. He has a previous record from Southern Utah that would have eliminated him from the calling as Bishop, had the church done a proper background check. 

It time for us as members to start telling our leaders that we want to see these changes. We need to overcome the urban rumor that we as regular members should not suggest that meaningful changes should be made.  There is, of course, a line. Sam Young crossed it. The church is a large organization, and changes take time. We can, however,  speak up calmly to start conversations about these changes. After all, the purpose of the church is to support the members in their quest to grow towards God, Not for the members to give undying support to the earthly church. 

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