Monday, February 8, 2010

Power or Influence: Which Would You Choose?

I've been working on a project for our church's Relief Society Birthday Party next month (to be announced later) and in my research I stumbled across this quote from Belle Spafford (pictured below), the 9th General President of the Relief Society.

It has really intrigued me and I'm curious to know your thoughts on it.

This is what she said:
"I recall at one time when I first served in a Relief Society presidency the ward had built a new meetinghouse. They had to raise a few thousand dollars in order to have done and dedicated on time. The R.S. was called upon to prepare a turkey dinner to a large group. It was the first dinner in the new building. We found the kitchen to be insufferably small, the women were in each other's way, slowing up the service. One woman fainted from the heat.
The next day, distressed about this circumstance, I went to see the bishop. I explained the situation and requested we knock out one wall and extend the kitchen to include the adjoining space which ad been allocated for a classroom. He responded with sharpness, 'Certainly not,' he said. "We aren't going to start remodeling this building before it is dedicated.' 
On my way home, discouraged and feeling somewhat reprimanded, I called at the home of one of the older sisters and I poured forth my troubles. I concluded by saying, "In this church men have all the power, the women are helpless." To this she replied, 'Oh no, my dear, the women are not helpless. If someone came to you, Sister Spafford, and had a great but different gift in each hand and one was power and the other was influence, which gift would you choose?' 
I thought seriously for a moment and then I said, 'I think I would choose influence.' "You probably did, my dear." she said. 'Influence is a great gift of God to women." Then she said, 'Appreciate it and use it right. Do not envy that which has been given to the brethren.'"  
(Belle S. Spafford, “Woman in Today’s World,” BYU Speeches of the Year, March 3, 1970, p.5)

So which would you choose-- power or influence? Why?

Do you think Belle Spafford's friend was right? Is that a fair statement? Do men have power and women influence, or the other way around?

What has been your experience?


  1. Doctrine and Covenants 121:41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

    I suppose I choose both.

  2. Heatherlady,

    I love your blog, I don’t always agree with your point of view, but your research and presentation is fantastic.

    I would choose influence, but when those in power do not consider the ideas of others there is no influencing only power. I see this too often in the Church.

    “Power corrupts not only those that wield it, but those that submit to it.” ~Louis L'amour

    Keep Blogging!
    Jennifer in Boise

  3. Thanks In the Doghouse-- That is a great scriptural insight! and Jennifer, I'm glad that you enjoy my blog! I would LOVE to know how your opinion differs from mine. Sharing differing opinions and viewpoints is what makes blogging so wonderful--- please feel free to share your thoughts even if they are totally different than mine, I'd love to hear them.

  4. Heavenly Father has all power, but uses his influence persuade his children. Satan wanted all power. So I guess influence, but it stinks when your influence doesn't get you want you want!

  5. No one has more influence over boys and girls, young men and young women, and the families of the Church and even the world than do you, my sisters, whose influence because of your mothering and mentoring nature is unparalleled. -M. Russell Ballard

    I choose influence.

  6. I think I'm with Doghouse. Priesthood holders are very clearly taught to use priesthood authority carefully--as if it were influence.

  7. Influence:
    the capacity or power of persons or things to be a compelling force on or produce effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of others: He used family influence to get the contract.
    the action or process of producing effects on the actions, behavior, opinions, etc., of another or others: Her mother's influence made her stay.
    a person or thing that exerts influence: He is an influence for the good.
    the radiation of an ethereal fluid from the stars, regarded as affecting human actions and destinies.
    the exercise of occult power by the stars, or such power as exercised.
    the exercise of similar power by human beings. exercise influence on; affect; sway: to influence a person.
    to move or impel (a person) to some action: Outside factors influenced her to resign.

    2. sway, rule. See authority. 7. impress, bias, direct, control. 8. incite, rouse, arouse, instigate, induce, persuade.

    Yeah, I choose influence.