Tag Archive for: unity


I love this picture of Isaac Greene and Gilbert Staepels. (Twins!๐Ÿ˜‰)
Side by side.
Elbow to shoulder.
Toe to toe.
The tall and the short of it is, physically, they may be different in stature, hairstyle and shoe size, speak a different language and grew up in distant parts of the world, but spiritually, they have much in common.
In our mission conference last week, a diverse group of missionaries from around the globe gathered in Breda. From far flung northern Canada, to New Zealandโ€™s South Island and everything in between.


Together, they share the same set of beliefs, a common gospel vocabulary, and a joint effort to care for, respect and love one another.
Regardless of outward appearances, or ethnicities, every Church member is united in the knowledge that we are all a child of God.
โ€œFor as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.โ€ 1 Corinthians 12:12


Being unified in Christ doesnโ€™t mean we all must be the same, we embrace our differences.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that โ€œthe diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.โ€
By July this year, 72,000 + missionaries from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will serve in 450 missions worldwide.
Church publications are now printed in 188 languages.
Over 31,000 congregations meet each Sunday in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, and throughout the Pacific.


โ€œNow therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.โ€ Ephesians 2:19
Our faith is becoming increasingly diverse, mirroring a wide range of cultures and experiences.
Singing one hymn in several languages together, is a unifying experience.
The message of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is for all people, everywhere around the world.
Our missionaries share an inclusive message of God’s love for all of His children, of a restored New Testament Christianity, of continuous revelation, and of additional scripture testifying of Jesus Christ, through the Book of Mormon.
Speak with Isaac today, he is currently serving in Den Haag โ€“ you canโ€™t miss him! ๐Ÿ˜Š


Over the course of the last 10 days, I have met face to face with each of the Stake Presidents serving in Belgium and the Netherlands.
I’ve travelled from the most southerly, to the most northerly part of the mission, meeting…
Angelo Leman in Gent
Eelco Scheltinga in Den Haag
and Jerry Bletterman in Groningen
What is the role of a Stake President?
A stake president is the lay leader of a stake, which is a geographic subdivision similar to a Catholic diocese. A stake president is a man who is asked to serve as a volunteer in this position. He oversees Church programmes in a defined geographic area composed of individual congregations called wards and is responsible to help the members of his stake in their efforts to follow Jesus Christ. He also oversees the activities of the bishops or ward leaders, counselling them as needed.
As I met with each of them, I discovered something.
Frequently, in our discussions together, we used the word ๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’๐’†๐’…, or ๐’‚๐’๐’Š๐’ˆ๐’๐’Ž๐’†๐’๐’•.
๐€๐ฅ๐ข๐ ๐ง๐ž๐: โ€œsupporting or agreeing with another person, to match behaviours, thoughts or views, harmonize the aims or practicesโ€
It was a marvel.
Whilst living here, in two countries where bicycles are everywhere, Iโ€™ve learned the importance of wheel alignment.
To keep your bike running smoothly, truing a wheel involves tightening and adjusting spokes from time to time to keep your wheels aligned.
Similarly meeting together from time to time with each Stake President, ensures that we are in full alignment.

Staying aligned

We are spiritually aligned through our faith in God, our testimonies of the truth, plus the knowledge and wisdom that each of us have gathered, as we study the holy scriptures and follow living prophets.
Quentin L. Cook recently said โ€œOur Heavenly Fatherโ€™s plan for safely gathering His children to our heavenly home is not based on worldly success, economic status, education, race, or gender. Fatherโ€™s plan is based on righteousness, keeping His commandments, and receiving sacred ordinances and honouring the covenants we make.โ€
I love these men.
They have become true friends.
I feel united and aligned with each of them as together, we boldly declare the message of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and invite all to come unto Him.

The Power of Purpose

โ€œIโ€™m exhausted!โ€ – is a phrase I hear regularly.

Do you feel like you are sometimes swimming upstream?

At times, all of us can find ourselves physically and emotionally depleted as we resolutely seek to meet the demands of our daily routines.

Recently, I came across a quote from poet and philosopher David Whyte, which really made me stop and think.

David states that there is a potent remedy to exhaustion – and it isnโ€™t taking a nap.

He statedโ€ฆ โ€œThe antidote to exhaustion is wholeheartednessโ€.


  • completely and sincerely devoted, determined, or enthusiastic, marked by complete earnest commitment: free from all reserve or hesitation.

Years ago, I worked with a consultancy who focused a lot of their thinking on being a whole leader, using our head, our heart, and our gut. I learned that when they are all aligned in complete harmony, we feel more committed and invigorated to do our very best work.

What strikes me about being surrounded by 130 missionaries of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that they really believe in what they do, they truly embody their purpose, โ€œTo invite others to come unto Christโ€.ย  They are purpose led. It unifies them all.

Each of them knows their purpose, are aligned with it, and can articulate it clearly and simply.

The Bigger Picture

In 1962, President John F. Kennedy visited NASA for the first time. During his tour of the facility, he met a janitor who was carrying a broom down the corridor. The President then casually asked the janitor what he did for NASA, and the janitor replied, โ€œIโ€™m helping put a man on the moon.โ€

Think about that for a moment.

To many, the janitor was simply cleaning the building.

But, in the bigger picture, the janitor ensured that the building was clean, so that NASA engineers, scientists and astronauts could focus on their purpose and put a man on the moon.ย  He connected his purpose with theirs.

When we lack purpose, we become drained and disengaged.

Quite the opposite is true when we wholeheartedly engage with the power and sense of a greater purpose.

It stirs us into action to achieve a greater cause, experiencing a revived sense of energy and in turn we discover greater meaning.

By focussing wholeheartedly on their purpose, our missionaries have truly found themselves.

Are you lacking purpose?ย  Then missionaries can help!

United we stand, divided we fall

โ€œ๐”๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ž๐ ๐ฐ๐ž ๐ฌ๐ญ๐š๐ง๐, ๐๐ข๐ฏ๐ข๐๐ž๐ ๐ฐ๐ž ๐Ÿ๐š๐ฅ๐ฅโ€
It is a familiar phrase, used to express unity and collaboration.
Meaning โ€“ if we donโ€™t stand together, ultimately, we will not succeed.
It is a phrase that has been used throughout history to inspire and lift couples, groups, teams, political parties, countries and many more.
Biblically, in Matthew 12:25 and also in Luke 11:17, the scriptures convey the common message that a house divided against itself will not stand.
In modern culture, J.K. Rowling uses a variation of the phrase in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, when Albus Dumbledore says, โ€œWe are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.โ€
The Bundle of Sticks
I love the moral of this story.
โ€œAN OLD man on the point of death summoned his sons around him to give them some parting advice. He ordered his servants to bring in a bundle of sticks and said to his eldest son: โ€œBreak it.โ€ The son strained and strained, but with all his efforts was unable to break the bundle. The other sons also tried, but none of them was successful. โ€œUntie the bundle,โ€ said the father, โ€œand each of you take a stick.โ€ When they had done so, he called out to them: โ€œNow, break it,โ€ and each stick was easily broken. โ€œYou see my meaning,โ€ said their father.โ€
๐‘ผ๐’๐’Š๐’•๐’†๐’… ๐’˜๐’† ๐’”๐’•๐’‚๐’๐’…, ๐’…๐’Š๐’—๐’Š๐’…๐’†๐’… ๐’˜๐’† ๐’‡๐’‚๐’๐’.
Recently D. Todd Christofferson said regarding unity, that โ€œโ€ฆwe cannot be one unless we all bend our efforts to the common cause.โ€
The common cause could be in the home, in our marriages, in our missionary companionships, in our workplaces, or in our teams.
He went on to say that โ€œโ€ฆ unity does not require sameness, but it does require harmony.โ€
David O. McKay taught โ€œUnity, harmony, goodwill are virtues to be fostered and cherished in every home.โ€
I accept that unity of ideals and purpose is often hard to achieve.
So how do we build that unity, that harmony with one another?
My favourite piece of counsel and direction comes from Gordon B. Hinckley, he said โ€œsomehow forgiveness, with love and tolerance, accomplishes miracles that can happen in no other way.โ€
For all of us in life, there comes a time to confront ourselves with ourselves โ€“ it is a compulsory part of learning and growing.
A time when each of us may have to concede the error of our ways and pride gives ways to humility.
We move forward by standing together, talking together, listening together, working together, serving together, sharing together and by doing good together.
Amid all the hardships of human life, if we can understand a little more of the principle of unity and establish it in our heartsโ€ฆ then our homes, our marriages, our communities and our workplaces, will be much more harmonious.
If you were to explain unity to someone, what would you say?

Counselling Together

โ€œIn the abundance of council, there is wisdomโ€ โ€“ Dallin H. Oaks.
Yesterday, we met in our mission leadership council. It was a wonderful opportunity to discuss and counsel together.
Not everyone gets the chance to lead in the mission, so it is a privilege for each of the young missionaries assigned, to serve in a leadership role.
We discussed behaviours of a good leader, including self-awareness, collaboration, respect and influence.
Then, we posed the question…”๐–๐จ๐ฎ๐ฅ๐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ ๐Ÿ๐จ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฐ ๐ฒ๐จ๐ฎ?”
With a leadership role there is a responsibility, to come prepared and be ready to share.
โ€œWhen we can work together cooperativelyโ€ฆ, we can accomplish anything. When we do so, we eliminate the weakness of one person standing alone and substitute the strength of many serving together.โ€ โ€“ Thomas S. Monson
In our counselling together we discussed objectives and concerns of the mission, with mutual understanding and a shared vision being the ultimate goal.
Encouraging everyone to express their feelings was key.
It was clear that counselling together required everyone to listen as much as they spoke.

What is a SWOT Analysis?

We introduced everyone in the council session to a SWOT analysis and we used the model to address some of the challenges we face.
In essence, we are the problem-solving team of the mission.
The active participation of missionary zone leaders and sister trainer leaders, broadens the base of their leadership experience and understanding, which in turn leads to better solutions and improves communication throughout the mission.
As Russell M. Ballard said; โ€œPeople who feel ownership of a problem are more willing to help find a solution, greatly improving the possibility of success.โ€
He also taught that it was important to โ€œLean upon them. Learn from them. Love them. Listen to them.โ€
In the Old Testament, the Prophet Isaiah said; โ€œCome now, and let us reason togetherโ€ (Isaiah 1:18). And in our day, we read in Doctrine & Covenants 50:10; โ€œLet us reason together, that ye may understand.โ€
Ultimately, we came to some conclusions that everyone agreed with, and then noted some appropriate actions that they had to follow through on.
Russell M Ballard said that he has maintained all his adult life, (stemming from his background in business,) that โ€œif you want to improve something, youโ€™ve got to counsel about it.โ€
What do you counsel about?

Strength in unity

Why should less be more?

A few days ago, we received a letter indicating the Belgium Netherlands Mission had been chosen to pilot a programme to integrate service missionaries into the traditional mission structure.

It is an exciting opportunity to reduce duplication of effort, have more aligned reporting structures and to be more unified in our missionary labours โ€“ together, as one.

As we unite, we will create an even stronger missionary force to spread the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

As we read in Ephesians 4:13; โ€œTill we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.โ€

The Forth Road Bridge

As I considered the transition over the last few days, my thoughts returned to Scotland and the Forth Road Bridge, which is only a short distance from our home.

It was opened in 1964 and at the time was the longest suspension bridge in Europe, spanning 1005 metres across the Firth of Forth.

Suspension bridges have to be strong and tough enough to overcome a number of extreme obstacles โ€“ long distances, high winds, and water.

A suspension bridge is held up by individual wires, which when spun together make strands.


Several strands are then combined into giant wire cables that can hold thousands of tonnes of weight.

In a like manner, speaking figuratively, this principle is evident in our new mission structure, allowing us an opportunity to discover new strength in unity.

Unity grows when we serve together, teach each other, and encourage one another. Our hearts can be โ€œknit together in unity and in love one towards anotherโ€ โ€“ Mosiah 18:21

When it comes to structure, less, frequently is much more.

There is beauty in simplicity.

What blessings have you seen by being unified?


Being one.

Manchester, Dundee, Leeds, Newcastle, Carlisle, Torquay and even West Ham all have something in common….. do you know what it is?
The answer…
……Football teams with the word “๐ฎ๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ž๐” in their title.
Historically, football teams were often amalgamated from more than one smaller club, and then became united.
United – made into or caused to act as a single entity, agreed, in harmony, when people are united, they agree about it and act together.
How united are you – at home, with your neighbours, in your community or in your workplace?
Being united, does not mean being the same.
I know that listening closely to and learning from the perspectives and experiences of others can sometimes be very uncomfortable.
Yet doing so, helps us recognise just how much we see the world as we are rather than as it is.
It may require a change in attitude, building on our many shared common interests, but we must learn to appreciate the differences in others.
Our differences enhance our ability to work together in harmony to accomplish the most difficult of challenges.

Being United…

I have learned that we must constantly work hard at creating unity in diversity.
Working to achieve your goals all alone can be difficult, frequently you need the support of people around you to help – that is what diversity and unity is all about.
Staying united can provide us with a sense of security, support and inner strength in times of difficulty and can allow us to achieve great things.
If ever there was a time for people to stand together it is now.
There is a great power that comes as we work together with others as one.
United we stand, divided we fall.
Unity, harmony and goodwill are virtues that we can all foster in our homes, communities and business organisations. It is essential for any family, community or organisation to thrive.
J.K. Rowling said “We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.”
What can you do to build unity?


โ€œLeadership is influence – nothing more, nothing lessโ€โ€“ John Maxwell.
Yesterday, I used this quote in a pre-conference short leadership team meeting.
Influence – โ€œthe power to have an effect on people or things, or a person or thing that is able to do this.โ€
Then we started our mission conference.
We shared articles, beliefs, doctrines, ideas, music, principles, quotes, scriptures, standards, stories, and many truths were told.
Then, we laughed together, we cried together, we spoke in English and in Dutch together, we prayed together, we bore testimony together.
We influenced one another.
We were united, we were ๐’๐’๐’†.
In my own mindโ€™s eye, all day long I had another definition of leadership running through my head.
“Leadership is communicating to people their worth and potential so clearly that they are inspired to see it in themselves.” Stephen Covey
Yes โ€“ we even inspired one other.
Serving as mission leaders is one of the most arduous, challenging, rewarding, and uplifting (all at the same time) things that we have ever, ever done.
But it is truly majestic to see, hear and witness the development of the rising generation.


Joe Biden spoke last week onย #unity. We all know that in society today, you donโ€™t have to look very far to find disunity, disharmony and distrust.

Consider this story, shared by Barbara Lewis…

โ€œA young boy visited his uncle, a lumberjack. At the lumber camp, the boy saw a huge tree standing alone on the top of a hill. He enthusiastically pointed the tree out to his uncle, saying, โ€œLook at that big tree! It will make a lot of good lumber, wonโ€™t it?โ€ His uncle looked down at the boy and shook his head. โ€œNo, son, that tree will not make a lot of good lumber. It might make a lot of lumber but not a lot of good lumber. When a tree grows off by itself, too many branches grow on it. Those branches produce knots when the tree is cut into lumber. The best lumber comes from trees that grow together in groves. The trees also grow taller and straighter when they grow together.โ€

Similarly, so it is with all of us.

We are better individuals, more useful timber, when we grow together, unified, rather than alone. Unity begins with you! With a common goal it is the glue that holds us all together.

We build unity when we serve others, showing that we genuinely care. Unity is a critical ingredient for harmony and success.

Letโ€™s build unity and live without disputes among us.

What holds your team together?

Evidence in the garden suggested the storm had been a rough one.

There was damage in the garden, including one of the ceramic pots which had been blown over and was broken into several pieces. My wife and I discussed our options. We determined to visit our local garden centre to purchase a replacement. However, we couldn’t settle on a new pot and instead a little later we decided to repair the broken pot and bought some glue instead. A few days later, the pot, showing its age a little, plus with some wear and tear, was repaired and functional once more, adding to the surroundings of the garden.

In a like manner, it struck me how powerful cohesion is and the importance of glue in many aspects of life, especially through this year. I considered my family, teams I’ve worked in through my career, then subsequently groups and organisations I have worked with in 2020. What is the glue, the cohesion, the bond that unites us, that keeps us sticking together and from falling apart? In life, we can choose – out with the old, in with the new or repair.

Unity, love, purpose, meaning, joy, happiness, a sense of belonging are all indicators of cohesive teams.

In your family, community, teams and organisations what is the glue that holds you together?