Elder Russell M. Nelson on Leadership . . . I Don’t Get It!

In his 2014 October General Conference talk, Elder Russell M. Nelson made several statements concerning the leadership of the LDS Church that I just don’t get:

The ways of the Lord are different from the ways of man.  Man’s way is to remove people from office or business when they grow old or become disabled.  But man’s ways are not and never will be the Lord’s ways.

The word “remove” here is pejorative, and unnecessarily harsh.  Why would a prophet who is “disabled” want to continue in a position where he is unable to function?  And are we really sure that life-time appointments are “the Lord’s way”?

The calling of 15 men to the holy apostleship provides great protection for us as members of the Church.  Why?  Because the decisions of these leaders must be unanimous.  Can you imagine how the Spirit needs to move upon 15 men to bring about unanimity?

The problem with this statement is that it is a recipe for disaster during these times of escalating change.  For example, just think how long it took the LDS leadership to deal with the issue of the priesthood ban for blacks?  Can we always wait for a unanimous opinion?

The Apostle with the longest seniority in the office of Apostle presides.  That system of seniority will usually bring older men to the office of President of the Church.  It provides continuity, seasoned maturity, experience, and extensive preparation . . .

Here Elder Ballard misspoke.  He didn’t mean usually, he meant “seniority will always bring older men to the office.”  It means you bring someone to the head of the Church who is at least 3 generations removed from the youth of the Church.  It almost guarantees that the Church will be run by someone with serious health problems.  But never fear:

[The] system provides for prophetic leadership even when the inevitable illnesses and incapacities may come with advancing age.  Counterbalances and safeguards abound so that no one can ever lead the Church astray.

I don’t think members worry so much about being “lead astray;” they worry about a leadership that is in capable of action particularly in an age of rapid scientific and technological change.

If we should have learned anything in the last few years, it is that sometimes problems need immediate action.  The LDS Church will not always have the luxury of waiting decades to make important decisions.  And how can one do that with “disabled leaders” and a required unanimity.  The leadership model that Elder Nelson espouses looks like a continued recipe for disaster.

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One Response to Elder Russell M. Nelson on Leadership . . . I Don’t Get It!

  1. Parker says:

    This reminds me of something that happen a number of years ago. The brethren decided that having a 70’s quorum at the stake level would facilitate missionary work. It turned out that it didn’t quite work out the way they had anticipated. At one point I had an exchange with a GA and asked him about the program. He candidly agreed that it should be discontinued, but added, “Until Elder so-and-so (a senior member of the 12) passes away, don’t expect to see any changes.” Within months of Elder so-and-so’s passing the program was discontinued.

    I don’t know for sure, but I am led to believe that while members of the 12 can freely express their opinion in their meetings, when it comes to a vote, younger members are not going to vote against senior members–thus guaranteed unanimity.

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