Today’s Reading: Alma 52
Alma 52:19 And in the commencement of the twenty and eighth year, Moroni and Teancum and many of the chief captains held a council of war—what they should do to cause the Lamanites to come out against them to battle; or that they might by some means flatter them out of their strongholds, that they might gain advantage over them and take again the city of Mulek.
After Teancum’s famous successful move at the end of the previous chapter, surprisingly it is another two long years before the Nephites see a similar success. So what is it that helps the next glorious victory happen?
Drum roll please….
Simply, a council of war was held.
The ingenious decoy strategy that culminates in retaking a the fortified city of Mulek is a powerful example of the good that can happen when leaders are not looking for their personal glory but are willing to work together for a higher cause. Synergy is a term to describe this process when 1+1=3 or more.
Whether it is family councils, ward councils, or husband and wife councils simply holding a council doesn’t guarantee a successful council. One thing that may have made the council of war in Alma 52 successful is that all the members of the council had a common outside enemy and a clear objective. Likely, their council included brainstorming ideas, listening to the less-senior leaders first, really seeking to understand every person’s differing point of view, and a positive can-do attitude.
I don’t feel like every council I participate in has been successful, but I have seen great things come out of councils. At a family reunion this past week my brother-in-law shared one question we can ask in our family councils:“What is your rose, thorn and bud?” Rose meaning what is the thing you have liked most? Thorn meaning one thing that you haven not fully enjoyed? Bud meaning what is something you are looking forward to? The question can target a specific day, activity, or event.
This “Rose, Thorn and Bud” discussion can create an open, non-judgmental environment and get family members or other council members in the mode of sharing open and honest feelings.
Elder Ballard taught, “I believe councils are the most effective way to get real results.” [i]
He devoted an entire conference talk specific direction for the family council that is worth reviewing.
Please remember that family councils are different from family home evening held on Mondays. Home evenings focus primarily on gospel instruction and family activities. Family councils, on the other hand, can be held on any day of the week, and they are primarily a meeting at which parents listen—to each other and to their children.
I believe there are at least four types of family councils:
First, a general family council consisting of the entire family.
Second, an executive family council consisting of a mother and father.
Third, a limited family council consisting of parents and one child.
Fourth, a one-on-one family council consisting of one parent and one child.
[find Elder Ballard’s full talk here]
As school is beginning again soon for my children I hope to find better success in our family councils. The simple question of “what is your rose, thorn and bud?” can be an opener for optimistic discussions and possibly super synergistic outcomes like Lehi, Moroni and Teancum found in Alma 52.