We had new leadership training today with our new district leaders and sister training leaders. We always have this every six weeks, a few days after transfers, after our new leaders have been called.
I remember my first new district leader training when we first came into the mission. We had been on a whirlwind for a few weeks and our assistants, Kyle Smith and Kyston Manuirriangi had been dragging us all over the mission telling us where to go and what to do and we just followed them and tried to keep up.
(Something that was really hard for me up to that point was to always come into a meeting and have to sit in the front. All the places were always full of missionaries and our places were always there at a table -right in the front. It was bugging me that I always had to sit there.)
The first new district leader meeting we went too, we were early and not a lot of the leaders were there yet. I remember walking into the room and to my delight all of the seats were empty around the room. I thought to myself, “YES, look at all these nice empty places; I am going to sit in the back.” I put my bag on the table in the back to sit down and there was eagle eye, Elder Smith saying, “NO Sister Mullen, you don’t sit there, you sit up here.” I’ll never forget the look in his eye or the sound of his voice, like a patient parent.
I’ll also never forget the feeling I had, like a disappointed child who doesn’t get what they want. I felt like stomping my foot and saying, “I just want to sit in the back.” “I’m tired of speaking and everyone looking at me, and being in the front, and being the only girl in the room. I just want to be an observer, sit in the back, and not say anything, pleeeeeease.” I have to laugh at myself and that feeling whenever I think of it.
Anyway, during this meeting I am in charge of training the elders on how to interact with the sisters. We try to help them understand the boundaries of elder, sister relations, but I also try to teach them about their role as men and women. It is one of my favorite training's.
We talk about their role as a man defined by the “The family: A proclamation to the world” as a provider, protector and leader of their home. We talk about how the world is attacking their role. I try to help them see that if they pay attention to movies, men are portrayed a lot as the violent, aggressive, kill everyone type, or the indecisive, incapable, weak type. Satan is always pulling us to the edges. When we are balanced in the middle that is where Christ and the spirit exist. Men functioning in the middle are strong and capable as leaders, providers and protectors with Christ like attributes.
One comment Sister Tisdale made today was eye opening. She brought out the point that even in the church there is also an attack on men’s roles going on. It’s the often heard comment of, “Give the job to a woman and then it will get done.” It’s that attitude that men are irresponsible or incapable, and don’t follow through. Absolutely I think that is a valid comment and an attitude we feel at times in the church.
The world is weakening men’s roles by portraying them as weak and incapable, or violent and irresponsible. As men fulfill their divine role and see their divinity as a provider, protector and leader and embrace that they are able to fulfill their divine potential they will become the man God wants them to be. I have the feeling we need to be teaching them while they are young to embrace their divine role and not be afraid of it.
I also talk to the sisters about their divine role. They are the nurturers of the family; helping, teaching and loving children in a healthy environment. The world’s message is that there is no meaning or fulfillment in that role. The worlds women are tough, aggressive, dominate and smarter than men, or just physical objects whose value comes from being thin and beautiful.
The world pulls us to the edges, where the pendulum swings. In movies we see woman fighting women and women fighting men. It really bugs me when I see a movie where a woman is beating the crap out of a man or another woman. When I see it, I say to myself, (sometimes out loud even), “That is an attack on my divine nature.” I know it sounds funny but it is!
My role is extremely valuable. I gained a testimony of that when I was raising my young children. I know there is nothing more valuable or no better way to spend my time than raising and influencing my children to be healthy happy children who will then raise and influence their children. That is my posterity. It is extremely valuable to me.
Christ exists in the balance. I know God’s plan is perfect and good enough for each one of us. As we fulfill our divine roles we will be able to give a life of service and leadership to the Lord and are able to achieve our divine potential.