I have been privileged to serve in many local leadership callings in the church. I have served as a Young Men’s President, Ward Mission Leader, and Elder’s Quorum President. I certainly did not aspire to any such callings, and don’t particularly care to in the future. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad to serve in the church. But I would much rather be a councilor than a president of an organization. Or better yet a faithful member. There is something I find distasteful about being ‘in charge’ of people.

I made a post about this from a career perspective at Small and Simple here.

One of the things I don’t like about leadership positions in the church is the notion that you will be held accountable for the behavior of those in your stewardship. I imagine to myself being blamed for all the shortcomings within the organization I am asked to lead.

When I was the Young Men’s President I worried about parents who may blame me if their son does not earn his Eagle Scout award. Or if he doesn’t serve a mission it my fault. I was once at a ward potluck, with my four young children (all boys) when a sister in our ward came up to the table I was sitting at and asked, ‘Do you know where you’re young men are?’ I pointed at my young children and said, ‘right here’. She told me that some of the young men in the ward had taken their dinner plates into one of the classrooms and were eating in there instead of in the gym. This was a ward activity. The parents of these boys were in attendance. And I was asked where my young men were.

Elder’s Quorum President was perhaps the worst of the bunch. There is probably no aspect of the church, as it applied to families or individuals, that could not be thought of as part of the EQP’s responsibility. A divorce happens – where was the EQP and the home teachers? Someone loses a job – call the EQP. Moving or roofing, you can’t beat our prices.

There is a scripture that perhaps illustrates this:

For I, Jacob, and my brother Joseph had been consecrated priests and teachers of this people, by the hand of Nephi. And we did magnify our office unto the Lord, taking upon us the responsibility, answering the sins of the people upon our own heads if we did not teach them the word of God with all diligence; wherefore, by laboring with our might their blood might not come upon our garments; otherwise their blood would come upon our garments, and would not be found spotless at the last day. (Jacob 1:18-19)

Do we really believe this in a literal way? When we accept a leadership calling in the church, particularly if it is a priesthood one, do we take the responsibility for the behavior of those whom we lead? Do their sins come upon us? I realize there is an out by serving diligently, but how far do we take this? Can we be held accountable for the sins of another? Is this not in some way a violation of the second article of faith.

I don’t expect to ever get away with blaming my home teachers, EQP, bishop, parents, or anyone else for my problems when I take the stand at judgment day. But I also don’t expect to be blamed for the sins of those that were in an organization that I was asked to lead in the church.

What am I missing?

In my defense I might use D&C 101:78-79 which reads:

That every man may act in doctrine and principle pertaining to futurity, according to the moral agency which I have given unto him, that every man may be accountable for his own sins in the day of judgment. Therefore, it is not right that any man should be in bondage one to another.

Where does stewardship end and personal accountability begin?


6 Responses to “Stewardship”

  1. 1 Mogget June 6, 2006 at 5:14 am

    Nice post, Eric.

    While I’m sure some of the legal folks on this site could tell you all about different levels of responsibility and corresponding levels of negligence, my $0.02 is this:

    Did I respond appropriately to the facts as I understood them at the time?

    Love? Common sense? Laughter?

    If so, then all is well, or as “well” as it can be.

  2. 2 Eric June 6, 2006 at 5:34 am

    Thanks Mogget. I think you are right about this.

  3. 3 annegb June 6, 2006 at 6:27 am

    I think the best callings would be Sunday School secretary and Relief Society chorister. For sheer lack of stress and work ethic, plus you can be absent without anybody really caring.

    I used to want every calling and be pathetically grateful. Now I avoid the bishop like the plague.

  4. 4 Eric Nielson June 6, 2006 at 8:49 am

    Thanks Annegb. I was thinking also about our own children. We are told that until they reach the age of accountability the sins are on the parents. But after that they are on their own!

    If even children reach the age of accountability at 8, then would not this continue to adulthood? Does all sin transfer stop at 8?

  5. 5 john scherer June 6, 2006 at 9:15 am

    Mt problem is balancing stewardships. I’m an Elder’s Quorum President and father of four. There is never a time where I coudn’t be doing something to magnify each of these callings. Obviously I’m a father and husband first and I work most diligently at magnifyinmg these callings for my families eternal welfare.

    However, I often feel as I could be doing better for the quorum. I think that in these times we need to ensure that we are available to quorum members and that we are teaching correct doctrine. I rely heavily on the atonement.

  6. 6 Eric Nielson June 6, 2006 at 11:36 am


    We all rely on that John. Thanks for your comment. You have a difficult balance going. I was in the same spot a year ago. May God bless you for your service and help you find the right balance.

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