Elder Eyring on Decision Making

Go to BYU.tv and set the date to Saturday Oct. 6th. Then click on LDS General Conference 10am. Go to 2:55 (that’s two hours and 55 minutes) into the program and listen to Elder Eyring talk about decision making by the Quorum of the Twelve.

My thought: I wish this kind of thing were discussed more among the general membership. So often our discussions about church (and family) leadership are about who has the right to make decisions and who has to put up with it. In that context, President Lee’s actions here are very significant (and obviously had a big effect on President Eyring). Another message that I think is often lost is that unity among leaders comes after discussion and prayer, not automatically.

Your thoughts?

17 comments for “Elder Eyring on Decision Making

  1. queuno
    October 8, 2007 at 8:41 am

    Couple of thoughts:

    1) Let’s say you heard that from a Sunday School president recounting his first meeting at Ward Council (and talking about the bishop and his counselors). Would it have been celebrated or would have ward members clucked and kvetched at the impertinent ward members? Yet, when it comes from an apostle, we sit in awe.

    2) Anyone who has served with an enlightened bishop heard that and said, “Yup”.

    3) So at the time, did he feel that years of his own research had been invalidated?

    4) Reason #45763 why Church government and standard corporate culture are not, I repeat, NOT, *NOT* the same. At the same time I was serving in a stake calling and attending regional meetings (where there was a lot of give and take with other people from other stakes), I was starting a new job at a company with a typical corporate suit manager who didn’t like open discussion.

  2. Matt W.
    October 8, 2007 at 8:55 am

    I liked this, and the optimist in me pointed out that this followed the paradigms set for in the five dysfunctions books. The pesimist pointed out that this is easy in the 12 as no one is afraid of being fired…

  3. queuno
    October 8, 2007 at 9:10 am

    The pay and benefits in the 12 (or any Church calling) are different from corporate America. That, and the product is better. And so is the Chairman of the Board.

  4. terceiro
    October 8, 2007 at 10:17 am

    It actually makes me kinda sad for the times I’ve sat in meetings and the discussion hasn’t been open and honest with vigorous discourse. Sometimes it’s my own fault — I have feelings but choose to keep them quiet — and other times when I’ve been exasperated at counselors who won’t do anything but agree.

    It takes intelligence and committment to disagree. I’m going to show this to my (current, new) counselors now and hope they get the message that thoughtless agreement sometimes stiffles the Spirit.

  5. Ray
    October 8, 2007 at 10:26 am

    The best situation in which I ever served was exactly as outlined – a Bishop who asked for and expected honest input and other leaders who gave it – understanding and accepting the Bishop’s ultimate decision even when it didn’t follow their individual input. Generally, a consensus was reached, but even when it wasn’t reached it was reached. Anyone who has experienced it knows exactly what I mean.

  6. Adam Greenwood
    October 8, 2007 at 11:33 am

    A lot of food for thought there. Church governance isn’t just a question of effective practice but has a lot of theological significance (and, as Julie S. points out, significance for how things are done in families) so I appreciate this insight into how the brethren do it.

  7. October 8, 2007 at 1:20 pm

    I wish we bloggers would take a lesson from this talk, too. Too often, discussion is not about learning or understanding, but only about winning.

  8. kevinf
    October 8, 2007 at 1:57 pm

    That part of the press conference was one of the high points for me of the entire General Conference. I serve on the HC of a Stake President who works exactly like that. I’ve seen this in action, and it is really amazing when it happens.

    On the other hand, I’ve also sat in ward council/PEC meetings that were not the same, so I have to say that this is the standard to shoot for, or as Elder Oaks said, “best”, practice to try and achieve. Not the rule yet, but good to hear Elder (excuse me, President!) Eyring verbalize it.

    Just a side note, I am glad to see Pres,. Eyring in the Presidency. He is always one of my favorite speakers, and now we will get to hear him more often.

  9. Sonny
    October 8, 2007 at 2:09 pm

    I loved this part of the press conference. President Eyring’s answer was totally unexpected and spontaneous.

    It brought to my mind something I had read about the Twelve and the FP taking up some issues concerning evolution, back in the time of James Talmadge and Joseph F. Smith. Deep differences were expressed and nothing even resembling a consensus emerged on the issue.

    Note: I’m not trying to start an evolution threadjack!

  10. October 8, 2007 at 2:43 pm

    This was awesome. I love President Eyring. He is so spontaneous and enthusiastic and genuinely good. I feel really privileged to have him as a leader.

  11. Alan
    October 8, 2007 at 3:03 pm

    I read selections from President Eyring’s press conference in the Deseret News yesterday morning and instantly thought that this insight into the workings of the Twelve, or other church bodies, was very significant. It is a model of leadership that we should flesh out a little more. Rather than mindless puppets following the lead of the presiding authority, and placing all the responsibility of revelation on that single person, we see an example of group work and input in creating the best answer to the problem. Rather than a situation where a counselor might think to himself months after a decision was made, “I always knew this wouldn’t work,” this is a model where honest input and disagreement was encouraged, and where individuals in the group were given the time to either bring themselves around to the point of the majority, or voice a strong dissenting opinion.

  12. Alan
    October 8, 2007 at 3:30 pm

    A selection from the SLTribune about President Beck’s selection of her counselors seems appropriate:

    “Beck knew the way Allred, who was raised Catholic in El Salvador and came to the LDS Church in her teens, worked and wanted a counselor who would disagree with and challenge her, tactfully.” (Oct. 8, 2007, RS leaders mesh fast).

    There’s something useful about not surrounding yourself with “yes” people. Too bad President Bush never figured this out.

    [Editors: please avoid drive-by political snarking in this thread. Thank you.]

  13. kevinf
    October 8, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Alan, re # 12,

    That’s the whole point, though. The institutions of politics and business are not run the way that Elder Eyring described. It’s a lot easier for them to run afoul of personalities, pre-determined agendas, and subterfuge, and for managers/leaders to try and position outcomes, regardless of what they see and hear. It’s not only the current administration in the White House, but Enron, WorldCom, and countless other creations of the human mind work this way. Pres. Eyring said that it was a group of individuals not seeking their own fulfillment, but seeking the truth, a rare commodity in politics and business these days.

  14. October 8, 2007 at 5:02 pm

    FWIW, I’ve heard Elder Scott give the same description of the deliberations of the 12, but in the context of using that as a model in marriage (i.e. total unity).

  15. Charles Sakai
    October 8, 2007 at 6:09 pm

    President Eyring phrased it so perfectly! I have seen that principle at work on the ward level, and it helps ensure that the decision-maker does not operate in a vacuum, that all possibilities have been explored, and that the parties involved understand how and why the church unit decides on a certain course of action.

  16. jose
    October 8, 2007 at 6:24 pm


    thankyou for directing me to that insight into Eyring’s experience of church government at work. It is the hidden gem of conference. Too often, from the outside of church councils we get a misperception of authority and sustaining–confusing blind agreement with sustaining.

  17. October 10, 2007 at 6:20 am

    Julie, thanks for emphasizing the unity-after-the-decision point, I think that’s very important. This kind of unity is, I think, like how love should be viewed—more of a promise that points us toward something to work for, and not so much a declaration of something that is already in place or established….

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