A Closer Look At The ‘Natural’ Leader


We have all heard this phrase, “He’s a natural born leader!” It is usually given as a compliment. However, a few years ago I was reading an article written by H. Wallace Goddard, entitled, “The Natural Leader is an Enemy to God.” This title caught my attention as I had never thought of a “natural” leader being an enemy to Heavenly Father. By the end of the article I understood where he was coming from. He wrote this:

“It is hard to imagine Jesus nagging the apostles: “You guys need to get out there and spread the word. My ministry is half over and we haven’t reached our goals. I don’t know what I’m going to do with you!”
Yet when we want to “inspire” better performance in any church or family endeavor, we commonly scold, chide, admonish, chasten, and lecture. It is only natural. “Natural.” It is good to remember that our instinctive or natural actions make us enemies to God (Mosiah 3:19). Maybe we chide and scold because such methods seem to work, at least in the short run. But the Lord suggests that they are not effective. And they are not right. He instructs us to use persuasion, gentleness, kindness, and love.”

I know that over the course of my life it is this “natural” leadership style that has oft-times left me with hard or hurt feelings. For the most part I have been treated by those “in authority,” with dignity, respect, gentleness and love. However, on isolated occasions, I have felt the wrath of a “natural” leader who seems to care more about numbers, charts and reports. Again quoting from Goddard:

“The first principle of leadership is love. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). During His mortal ministry, many people responded to Jesus because He reached out to the blind, He touched the leper, He wiped away tears from the sorrowing, and He saw beyond sin in the confused. If we want to motivate better performance, we must first love. Love for God, His work and His children, is both contagious and energizing.”

All of us know of well intending members who seem to be constantly “chiding and reproving” others to do their duty. It never goes over well. Instead the spirit of dissension sets in and the business of the Lord becomes dreary and burdensome. I have always felt that the gospel was joyous and, while reminding people of their duty is the role of a leader, it needn’t be sharp or pointed. Most of us know where we are falling short. A loving friendly reminder is all that is ever needed. Twice a year we have the opportunity of listening to General Conference. I have always felt “uplifted” and inspired by our leadership. They don’t condemn and criticize, rather, they teach correct principles and then “let us govern ourselves.” They are the models of “spiritual” leadership while holding off the “natural” man. They lead with humility and love. After listening to them, I feel that they are men and women I want to follow. They make me feel like being a better person. Let us always remember, both in our homes and in the church, to put off the “natural” leader and replace it with the “spiritual” leadership that the Savior taught.

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