Bishop Anderson of the Pleasant Grove North Field Stake recently participated as a staff member for a stake-sponsored Wood Badge course put on by the stake presidency. His situation was unique; he had the chance to be the troop guide for a patrol made up entirely of members of his own ward. In an interview just before the end of the course, he shared how this experience has helped bring his ward together and give them a new purpose and vision.
One of the biggest benefits Bishop Anderson saw from this course was the opportunity to have so many ward leaders come to training and be on the same page:
“I encouraged people to come in my ward and we had a good turnout; we had nine ward members on staff and eleven participants. To see the difference between that first day and today, it’s like night and day. It’s not that they didn’t like each other before, it’s just that a much deeper foundation has been laid. It’s like that scripture, Helaman 5:12. I believe that solid foundations have been cemented in over the last two weeks. It’s not that these people didn’t have testimonies, their testimonies are just stronger. It’s pretty awesome. It’s been a privilege for me.”
“I’ve had lots of feeling and impressions. One of the big ones is how can we create an environment where people have a desire to participate. And I think with twenty people in the ward having this experience, the chances of that are a lot higher. You know, you go to a typical ward, there are probably five or six people who’ve been to Wood Badge. But twenty? And nine of them were on staff this time? I think we’ve got plenty of buy-in. There’s a lot of strength in the numbers that we have. One of my goals within the next couple weeks is to have everyone who came to this course come see me, both staff and participants, and ask, ‘So what do we do now?’”
There is great benefit to having the bishop know what the leaders’ goals are and have the shared experience of Wood Badge to help them accomplish those goals:
“Some have spiritual goals and family goals, and all have stewardship goals. As their bishop, how could it be bad that I know all about those goals? If they had gone to another typical Wood Badge, they’ve have these goals but there’d be no meeting or counseling with me, no celebration of success. Because I’m with them on activity nights and on Sundays, we can talk about these things. I didn’t physically see my troop guide after I went to Wood Badge. That kind of stinks. It was a real blessing for me to be the troop guide so I could follow the ward members through this process.”
He and the other ward leaders left with several goals and insights into what they could do differently in the ward:
“Some thoughts that I’ve had are just little simple things. Like BYC. BYC gives me an opportunity to sit down with the youth and talk. These are the leaders, class presidencies and quorum presidencies. We need to talk about some of the things we did here. We need to have training. We’re going to give these young people an opportunity to get an understanding of what we’ve done here and then let them go back and practice. That’s how we develop them as leaders.”
“I know in ward council, the feeling that I had was to have a reflection moment at the end of the meeting. I know often in ward council meetings we say a prayer and we walk out. So my thoughts are, let’s take the last 3-5 minutes to think about what we discussed and the impressions we had. Most importantly, let’s write them down and act on them. Reflection time gives opportunity for the spirit to whisper, and then people go out and act. And that’s the only way that people can come unto Christ.”
He closed with some advice for other bishops who are looking to unify their wards and strengthen youth programs:
“My advice would be, bishops, go to Wood Badge. I think that’s the start. You’ve got to go and experience it. The real key is to make the commitment to go so that you can participate and be on staff afterward. In this course, there have been three bishops that were participants. Next time they’ll be able to serve as troop guides. Now the beautiful thing about it is, they weren’t troop guides, but they were still with their wards. So they’ll still create accountability and an interest in each one of those members of their ward who were part of that group, that patrol.”
Interested in participating in or hosting your own stake-sponsored Wood Badge course? Contact John Gailey.
Author: Bishop Anderson, Pleasant Grove North Field Stake