Excerpts from Elder M. Russell Ballard's talks on Councils

(Excerpts from two Conference talks given by Elder Ballard in Nov 1993 and May 1994 Ensigns. He is an apostle of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

"Nothing is more frustrating than a car engine that is not running properly. No matter how beautiful the paint or comfortable the furnishings inside are, a car with an engine that is not operating as it should is just a shell of unrealized potential.... Unfortunately, some wards in the Church are hitting on only a few cylinders." (One cylinder wards are where the bishop does everything.)

"Our Heavenly Father does not expect them (bishops and other leaders, including parents) to do everything by themselves....God, the Master Organizer, has inspired a creation of a system of committees and councils. If understood and put to proper use, this system will decrease the burden on all individual leaders and will extend the reach and impact of their ministry through the combined help of others." (God has councils on all levels, down to the family council.)

"President Stephen L. Richards said, ĎThe genius of our Church government is government through councils....I have no hesitancy in giving you the assurance, if you will confer in council, as you are expected to do, God will give you solutions to the problems that confront you.í"

"All councils should encourage free and open discussion by conferring with one another and striving to have clear and concise communication.... Discuss objectives and concerns, with mutual understanding being the ultimate goal."

"Brethren, please be sure you are seeking the vital input of the sisters in your council meetings. Encourage all council members to share their suggestions and ideas about how the stake or ward can be more effective in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints and redeeming the dead.... All members of any Church or family council should share their concerns and should suggest solutions based on gospel principles....Use council meetings for finding answers to questions...."

"When we act in a united effort, we create spiritual synergism, which is increased effectiveness or achievement as a result of combined action or cooperation, the result of which is greater than the sum of the individual parts....God never intended that his children should stand alone....This is not manís work nor womanís work; it is all Godís work, which is centered on the atonement of our Lord Jesus Christ."

"First, focus on Fundamentals: Those who teach must make sure the doctrine remains pure and that it is taught. Teach by the Spirit, using the scriptures and the approved curriculum...Study the teachings of this conference in family home evenings and in family discussions; they will strengthen your homes."

"Second, focus on People: Coordination and calendaring have their time and place, but...spend most of the time in council meetings reviewing the needs of individual members."

"Third, promote free and open discussion: Such expression is essential if we are to achieve the purpose of councils. Leaders and parents should establish a climate that is conducive to openness, where every person is important and every opinion valued. The Lord admonished: ĎLet one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified (D&C 88:122).í Leaders should provide adequate time for council meetings....councils are for leaders to listen at least as much as they speak."

"Fourth, participation is a privilege: With that privilege comes responsibility...to work within the parameters of the organization, to be prepared, to share to advocate vigorously the position you believe to be right. But just as important is the responsibility to support and sustain the final decision of the council leader, even if you do not agree fully.... When a council leader reaches a decision, the council members should sustain it wholeheartedly."

"Fifth, Lead with Love: Jesus taught ...íThou shalt love they neighbor as thyself'... (Matthew 22:37,39). Priesthood is for service, not servitude; compassion, not compulsion; caring, not control (see D&C 121:37-43).... Leadership based on love brings incredible power. It is real, and it generates lasting results in the lives of our Fatherís children."

"You bishops energize your ward leaders by giving them a chance to offer suggestions and to be heard....Let us remember that the basic council of the Church is the family council....People who feel ownership of a problem are more willing to help find a solution, greatly improving the possibility of success....This is the miracle of Church councils: listening to each other and listening to the Spirit!...The best leaders are not those who work themselves to death trying to do everything single-handedly; the best leaders are those who follow Godís plan and counsel with their councils."