Thursday, July 16, 2009

Nature or Nurture

I have often said it is a small world. Especially in the church. We have all played the Mormon 'do you know?' game with success. This week I was emailing several friends about the Denver area and another connection was found. This connection though got me thinking about something completely different.

The thought provoking connection was this. Skip (by bro) and Laurene's family were in a ward with a bishop who grew up in Durango. His name was Rex J. At this same time, his older brother Vaughn J. happened to be our bishop here in Durango-he is now our Stake President. Their dad Vaughn J Senior was previously our Stake President, then the Patriarch, and was just called as the Temple President in our district. They also have a brother Jay J that recently moved back home with his family and their ward wasted no time putting him in the bishopric. They have other kids whose callings I don't know, but I would be willing to wager they have had their fair share of leadership callings. I would be interested to know if the spouses they have all chosen come from similar families with similar leadership vibes.

I think many areas have families like this. The ones that are 'Rocks' in the ward. They quietly go about fulfilling their responsibilites and magnifying their callings. They are the ones you know you can count on and they seem almost by their very nature to be suited to serve in those types of callings. So my musing was this: is it Nature or Nurture? Are families like the J's good leaders because they saw their father serve and therefore were socialized or conditioned to accomplish callings that take a great deal of time and dedication? Or is it just in their natures-something in their DNA that makes them more adept at handling the stresses of such things with seeming ease (like a natural athlete or mucsician).

We see a similar phenomenon in our General Authorities of the Church. They are all seemingly related. A large number of them can trace their ancestory to a handful of Pioneer Stock. I know this has bothered some people who feel like some GA's are called simply because of who they know or who they are related to. I think this is an idea that in the United States we have bristled at since 1776. We rejected soundly the notion that blood lines are what make a man and we became a unique place that doesn't have an Aristocracy. The rugged individual is the one that writes their own destiny in our culture.

So what is it that matters most? Pedigree? Culture? Foreordination? Agency? Location?

When it comes to making leaders, I think it's a combination of Nature and Nurture...and a strong dose of free will.

It makes sense to me that certain personality types would be more likely to thrive in leadership callings. These type of traits are often hard wired from birth. So logically, these favorable leadership traits would naturally be passed on by Nature.

it also makes sense that children of Bishops see first hand, every day, how many hours it takes to accomplish such a calling. To them, it would seem normal to spend countless, thankless hours serving the members of a ward. It would be part of their culture to fulfill and magnify callings while attending all church functions. They would be socialized or Nurtured to serve.

Then of course there is Foreordination. We believe that before we were even born, all of us agreed to serve in certain capacities. What better way to ensure the fulfillment of that potential than to place certain souls in families where they will have inborn drive and the right training to help them fulfill these sacred trusts?

Even with Nature and Nurture, we all know people that seem to break the mold. We've all seen the sadness created when someone with 'so much potential' walks away from the church, or worse, just idles under the radar. And on the flip side of that, we've all seen the joy created when someone whom we would never suspect embraces the gospel and thrives as an unlikely though successful leader. This is the tragedy and triumph of free will.

Of course, all of these same principles can apply to any attribute. I am only using leadership because it is an obvious one. Compassion, cruelty, spirituality, pride, and innumerable traits can be influenced by the same mixture of factors.

The moral of this post: All of my big kids are gone. I have too much free time to think about such things! Still-I do like to chew on things like this now and then. When I get all of the kids out of the house, I will sit down and write out some more specific ideas I have about what it means to be 'bound' to an Eternal Family. Thanks for indulging me.


Josh, Kristin, and Taylin said...

Very interesting! I have also wondered about this!

Mimi said...

Your welcome and thanks for sharing your thoughts. I personally think that alot of inspiration from existing leaders (those who call you) goes into other becoming leaders too. And you know who that comes from!

George and Eva Ross said...

Great post! I have contemplated similar things on many occasions and I have come to the same conclusion. Sometimes nature rules and others nurture.The big challenge is that we take care of the nurture part. I know we can make a difference.