What I Learned From Governor Jeb Bush

“Matt, how does the President of the LDS church become the President of the LDS church?” – Governor Jeb Bush

I explained that we believe he was called by God, and that the practice is that the man with the most seniority among the highest council of the church becames the new President of the LDS church.

Governor Bush looked at me and replied, “Ok, then when an opening occurs on that council, how is the newest member selected?”

Several years ago while I was working for Zions Bank, I had the opportunity to host Governor Bush and accompany him to several public and private events for a day.  We met separately with a couple leaders of the LDS church, Governor Herbert, and our CEO.  He gave a public speech to some of our clients.

I came away totally impressed with Governor Bush, supported him in the last election, and continue to wish that he would have won.

However, my strongest memory from that day is the exchange we had above while walking from the church administration building to the Zions Bank building downtown.  I thought about it again yesterday when heard that Elder Hales passed away and there is now an opening in that quorum.

Governor Bush had clearly done his homework.  We had a few idle minutes to chat while waiting for various meetings.  He told me about some private reading he had done about the relationship between church Presidents and Presidents of the United States (obviously, his sources are better than mine).  He talked about Utah as a state.  He told me about the political climate and the difficulties associated with seeking public office – things he would be powerless to overcome in the coming years.

I learned a lot that day.

However, the biggest lessons I learned from him were about how he behaved:

  1. Humility – Governor Bush was humble and treated everyone with respect.
  2. Be Inquisitive – He asked questions about the church, banking, Utah, architecture, and probably other things I have long since forgotten.
  3. Understand the Playing Field – I saw Governor Bush work in public and private that day.  I saw him meet with businessmen, politicians, and ecclesiastical leaders.  I was shocked at how easily he moved from one group to another.  The conversation, vocabulary, tone, etc was perfectly suited to each situation.

It wasn’t until later that I realized the brief exchange above demonstrated all three of these attributes.  He was showing respect, asking about something he didn’t understand, and trying to understand the playing field all at the same time.

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