Elder Clark received a bachelor of arts, a master of arts, and a PhD, all in economics, from Harvard University. He became a faculty member at the Harvard Business School in 1978 and was named dean of that school in 1995. He served in that capacity until the summer of 2005, when he was named the president of Brigham Young University–Idaho.
Elder Clark has served in a number of Church callings, including full-time missionary in the South German Mission, elders quorum president, ward executive secretary, counselor in a bishopric, bishop, high councilor, and counselor in a stake mission presidency.
Kim Bryce Clark was born in Salt Lake City, Utah, on March 20, 1949. He married Sue Lorraine Hunt in June 1971. They are the parents of seven children.
Becoming a Disciple-Leader
My dear brothers and sisters, it is a joy to be with you today. I feel great love for you and great hope for the good you will do in your lives.
You are in the early years of your adult lives and of your college education. It is the year 2020, and it is a time of turmoil and uncertainty. A worldwide pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people, disrupted lives and caused misery and sorrow and pain all across the earth. We have experienced a turbulent and difficult economy, and terrible wildfires and hurricanes. It is a time of heartache and uncertainty, of contention and anger.
I am not at the beginning of my college education, but I remember it vividly. I know how you feel because I began my college education in the late 1960s. It also was a time of turmoil and uncertainty. It was the height of the Vietnam War, a time of upheaval in moral values and a time heartache, contention and anger.
In that time of my early college education, I felt fear, uncertainty and worry. I remember wondering if I would ever have a family, ever have children, ever play with my children in the backyard. Here I am, more than 50 years later, blessed by the Lord with a remarkable eternal companion, seven children with whom I have played a lot, and 26 grandchildren. I declare my witness, brothers and sisters, that we live in a day of miracles, a day of great light and spiritual power. There is hope, joy, happiness and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is divine direction and guidance. In these tumultuous times, we are blessed to have the scriptures, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and living prophets and Apostles who lead and guide the Lord’s true and living Church under His direction.
In this day of miracles, President Nelson has invited us to transform our homes into “sanctuar[ies] of faith” and “center[s] of Gospel learning.” 1. He has urged us to “…stretch beyond [our] current spiritual ability to receive personal revelation,” warning us that in the days ahead “…it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost.”2. He has called us “…to do better and be better,”3. and to “…become more valiant disciples of the Lord, standing up for Him, and speaking up for Him, wherever we are.”4.
I believe this is a call to become true disciples of Jesus Christ and leaders in our families, in the Church, in our work, and in our communities. It is a call to become disciple-leaders. This is the focus of my talk today.
I begin with discipleship. A disciple of Jesus Christ acts with faith in Him to repent of sin and to follow Him into the waters of baptism. A true disciple receives the Gift of the Holy Ghost and all the covenants of salvation and exaltation through sacred ordinances. A true disciple keeps those covenants, takes on the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, seeks to always remember Him, obey His commandments, repent, and endure whatever comes with faith in Him.
I love the images the Savior used to teach about what it means to be a true disciple. Please consider with me the following images:
The first image is a tree with a trunk, branches and fruit:
The Savior said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.”5.
The second image is a Rock and a House:
The Savior used this image to describe a true disciple: “He is like a man which built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock.”6.
The third image is a yoke:
The Savior invites us to come unto Him and become His true disciples by taking upon ourselves His yoke: “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”7.
The last image is birth:
Jesus taught that His true disciples must experience a spiritual re-birth: “Except a man be born of the water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”8.
These images underscore the depth of the connection between Jesus Christ and His true disciples.
In the branch and the trunk the connection is deep at the cellular level. Cells, tissues, and fibers grow out of the trunk, creating the wood of the branch, its bark, and its channels. Like the branch, disciples of Christ abide in Christ. They stay with Him and in Him. Their obedience to His commandments opens the spiritual channels through which His life-giving light, power and love flow into them. They grow and bear fruit.
Likewise, disciples of Christ dig deep and build their lives on a foundation of covenants that are anchored deep in the bedrock of the Savior and His Gospel. They connect their daily lives to the Rock of our Redeemer by keeping their covenants and doing what the Lord Jesus Christ asks them to do with all their heart and soul.
The Lord invites His true disciples to be yoked together with Him in His work, to learn from Him, and about Him. True disciples work with the Lord in tandem, totally in synch with Him, united with Him. They come to know Him, and He knows them because they have been yoked together with Him in His work.
When true disciples come unto Jesus Christ, act with faith in Him to repent, and make and keep sacred covenants, they experience a mighty change of heart. Through His redeeming power and the ministry of the Holy Ghost, they become His daughters and His sons, spiritually born of Him. 9.
Brothers and sisters, the Lord Jesus Christ invites us to become His true disciples and more and more like Him. He wants His gospel to go down deep into our hearts. He wants to change our very nature, so that His power, light, and love will be in us. I know He can do this. I know He can change our hearts and our deepest desires. Let me share an experience with you.
When Elder Bednar was sustained as a member of the Quorum of the Twelve, Sue and I were watching General Conference in our family room with our son Jonathan and his wife Deborah. After we sustained Elder Bednar, Jonathan said, “Dad, you’re going to be the next president of BYU-Idaho!” At the time I was serving as the dean of the Harvard Business School. I looked at him in surprise and said, “What? I don’t think so.”
Two days later one of my friends asked me if I would be interested in the job at BYU-Idaho. I said, “Well, if President Hinckley called me to do it, I would do it. But I don’t think it makes sense professionally.” I was right. It did not make any sense professionally, but as soon as I said those words I got a sick feeling in my stomach, and the Spirit whispered to me, “Wrong answer.” I went home and told Sue what had happened. We decided that we better learn more about BYU-Idaho.
Over the next seven months, the Lord educated our desires. He changed our hearts, so that we would want what He wanted. Little by little, we learned more. We talked with people the Lord put in our path who had experience at BYU-Idaho. We prayed for guidance and insight and the desire to go to BYU-Idaho grew in us. By the time President Hinckley called me to be the president of BYU-Idaho, I really wanted to go there. I was so grateful for that change of heart, because President Hinckley asked me if I would be interested in presiding over BYU-Idaho. I was happy to be able to say, “I would.”
Well, as you can see, Sue and I went to BYU-Idaho in 2005, and we had a marvelous experience. And the Lord kept on changing my heart, and that is still happening.
It is my prayer that we all will seek to become true disciples of Jesus Christ, with a deep, abiding love for Him. I know as we act with faith and hope in Him, yielding our hearts to Him, we will become more and more like Him. His light, power and love will grow in us and in our lives.
I now turn to leadership, the second part of becoming a disciple-leader. Through many years of experience, and through much study and prayer, I have come to embrace this definition of leadership:10
Leadership is the work that mobilizes people in a process of action, learning and change to improve the long-term viability and vitality of the organization in three ways:
•Purpose is realized more effectively
•People experience increased personal growth, meaning and purpose in their work and lives
•Productivity is strengthened
This definition of leadership has profound implications for all who seek to lead, including you, the rising generation of disciple-leaders. I focus today on just one of those implications: leadership has significant moral consequences.
Leadership seeks to do good. It seeks to mobilize people to take action to make things better, to create a flourishing, vibrant organization that meets deep human needs. It seeks to lift and strengthen people and help them thrive. The implication is clear: leaders hold the lives of people in their hands. Leadership is everywhere and always a moral act.
This means that a central, essential part of leadership is to generate light in the organization and to drive out darkness from it.
Darkness refers to behaviors, attitudes, and practices that damage people, destroy value, and bring destruction great and small. Examples include Arrogance, Abuse, Corruption, Mediocrity, Harassment, Discrimination, and many others. Light refers to behaviors, attitudes, and practices that lift people, enhance value, and create conditions for growth and increased strength. Examples include Kindness and Generosity, Integrity, Trust, Love, Community, High Standards of Excellence, and many others. Darkness is like a giant tax on the organization, reducing its performance and limiting its potential. Light is like an energy source that fuels a growing, vibrant, flourishing organization. Generating light and driving out darkness is a critical part of the work of leadership. Indeed, it is essential to achieving its objectives. The organization cannot flourish, unless leaders do that work.
Yet, that work can only be done by people who choose to make light a central part of their lives, and their identity. These are people who abhor deception and fraud and seek to be honest and trustworthy. These are people who deplore mediocrity and the waste of talent, who seek to live by high standards of excellence and who have integrity and moral discipline – doing the right thing because it is right, even when it is hard.
This definition of leadership, its implications and the principles that underly it, work in any organization and in any part of an organization. They work in the family, in the Church, at work, and in the community.
So, what does this mean for you, in your lives, right now? You are in school at Ensign College. This is a truly remarkable school, and you are blessed to be here. You are pursuing certificates and degrees in many fields. Yet, what you are learning in your studies is only part of why you are here. Your experiences in this school will help you become true disciples of Jesus Christ, and leaders in your families, the Church, your work, and your communities. You are here to become disciple-leaders. The very best way to become a disciple-leader is to do the work of a disciple-leader now, during your years at Ensign College, in your spheres of responsibility and influence.
As members of this school, in your classes, in the groups you are part of, in your work, you should ask yourselves three questions:
1. What is my purpose?
2. How can I lift, strengthen, and build the people around me?
3. How can I add value?
My dear brothers and sisters, these are the questions of the disciple-leader, and they are the objectives of leadership. No matter where you are, whether at home, in the Church, at school or work, in the community, and no matter what roles you are asked to play, you should always ask yourselves these questions. And you should always take these questions to your Heavenly Father. I promise you, if you will ask and listen, you will get answers.
As you act on these questions, you will generate light and drive out darkness wherever you are. I know that is true. You have been called to be disciple-leaders. You should approach the work of leadership in any of these settings as a disciple of Christ. He is your guide and your example, and He has blessed you with tremendous resources to help you do the work of discipleship and leadership.
I want to highlight four of the resources the Lord has given you. They come from the Lord Jesus Christ through the ministry of the Holy Ghost to you. They are interactive, working together to bless your life.
First is identity.
You know who you are! You know that you are a spirit daughter or son of Heavenly Parents. You have a divine nature; there is divinity within you. You have a divine destiny; if you are true and faithful, you will be an heir of eternal life. You are a child of God, and He will bless you!
Second is truth.
You know the truth. You know the great plan of salvation, with the Atonement of Jesus Christ at its center. You know the doctrine of Christ, the fullness of His gospel, and His blessings of forgiveness, mercy, and grace. You know priceless eternal principles. You know that when you act according to truth, power flows into your life.
Third is eternal perspective.
You see yourself and the world around you through the lens of the Father’s plan of salvation. You see yourself and others as spirit children of God having a mortal experience. With the eye of faith, you see the Lord Jesus Christ working in your life, and the lives of others, and you see His promises to you fulfilled. You see Him and love Him, and through Him you have hope and strength beyond your own.
Fourth is spiritual power.
You have the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He teaches you, comforts you, guides you, purifies your heart and blesses you with spiritual gifts. You have priesthood power and authority – the power and authority of God - in your life. In due time you will be endowed in the temple of the Lord. You will be, “…armed with [His] power, His name [will] be upon [you], [His] glory…round about [you], and [His] angels [will] have charge over [you].”11
If you are true and faithful to your covenants, these marvelous resources will be in your life, in your discipleship, and your leadership. You will find powerful answers to the questions of the disciple-leader.
What is my purpose?
The Holy Ghost will be your companion; you will have the spirit of revelation, spiritual gifts like discernment and the ability to teach, and the pure love of Christ. Through sincere and faithful prayer, your Father in Heaven will teach you about His purposes, so that His purpose can become your purpose. You will know your eternal identity and purpose, and you will know your specific purpose in your family, the Church, your work, and your community.
How can I lift and strengthen the people around me?
You will become more and more like the Savior, and His light, power, and love will be in you. As you develop Christ-like attributes, especially His love, you will turn outward to the Savior, and focus on doing His work, the work of the disciple-leader, with the people around you. The Lord will bless you with gifts and talents, with experiences and insights and with the capacity to love and support His children. You will establish trust with other people, and you will connect with them and know how to lift and strengthen them.
How can I add value?
You will know and live true principles that drive out darkness, and bring light and power to the work of leadership. It does not matter whether you are at school, in class, in a small group, in your family, in the Church, at work, or in your community, you can always find ways to make things better. Through the inspiration of the Lord you will know what to do to add value wherever you are. And the Lord will bless you with the capacity to do it.
These are true promises of the Lord, summarized in this remarkable revelation given to the Prophet Joseph Smith in 1831:
"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day."
"And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you…"12
Brother and sisters, we live in a day of miracles. You are a miracle. This school is a miracle. Miracles are all around us. I testify of our loving Heavenly Father, whose great plan of redemption, salvation and happiness is perfect. I testify of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer. His atoning sacrifice is complete, infinite and eternal. Through the love of our Heavenly Father, and the grace and redeeming power of Jesus Christ, you will become His true disciples and leaders in your families, in the Kingdom of God, in your work, and your communities. I know that is true. You will become the Lord’s disciple-leaders. I so testify, and leave you with my love, in the sacred name of Jesus Christ, amen.
1. Russell M. Nelson, “Becoming Exemplary Latter-day Saints”, Ensign, November 2018
2. Russel M. Nelson, “Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives”, May 2018
3. Russell M. Nelson, “We Can Do Better and Be Better”, Ensign, May 2019
4. Russell M. Nelson, “Go Forward in Faith”, Ensign, May 2020
5. John 15
6. Luke 6:48
7. Matthew 11:28-30
8. John 3
9. Mosiah 5
10. This definition is based on ongoing research with Erin E. Clark, and Jonathan R. Clark. It may be helpful to note the following about the definition:
Leadership is work. It is a particular kind of work, but it is work. Indeed, it can be hard work. Leadership requires sustained physical, mental and emotional effort.
Leadership is a process. It is a series of activities with a sequence and phases focused on making things better.
Third, the word mobilize underscores the central role of encouraging, inspiring, motivating and empowering people to take appropriate action to accomplish the objectives and to learn from their experience.
Viability means that the organization is capable of continued growth, development and success. Adding vitality means that the organization is moving forward with energy and vigor, and an animating spirit of inspiring purpose.
The objectives of purpose, people and productivity address the ultimate ends of the organization; the well-being of its people; and the growth of productivity of all the resources that are critical to long term viability and vitality.
11. Doctrine and Covenants 109:22
12. Doctrine and Covenants 50:24-25