Friday, November 11, 2011

Using Skills for Service -- Kris Anne Gustavson's Remarks

Kris Anne Gustavson was on the "Using Skills for Service: Serving in the Church and Community" panel of the Women in Business Conference. Kris Anne and her husband, Paul, have a company called Organizational Planning & Design, founded in 1985. From 2007-2009, they used their professional skills as service missionaries for the Church. Below, Kris Anne summarizes some of her experiences and thoughts she shared on the panel. 

I went to BYU and majored in Recreation Education. While some were in their accounting classes, I was learning how to canoe. I’ve used my degree every day of my life since then. My husband and I got married after we both graduated. He went on to grad school, majoring in Organization Design, while I supported us financially. I regret that I didn’t enroll in the program and get my masters as well.

In 1985, we started our own company, Organization Planning and Design, Inc. I work part-time, using my recreation degree to create team building sessions and initiatives with some of our clients.

I also got certified in the Herrmann Brain Dominance Theory so I could do workshops helping organizations understand learning preferences and how to use that in communication, teaching, learning and problem solving effectively.

My husband and I were approached by the church Human Resource Department about using our skills to benefit the church. We suggested that we do it as a church service mission. We started in May 2007 and committed for 2 years. My husband committed half of his working time to give to the church. I did almost that much but not quite. He would go to Utah often, and I was able to do most of my work wherever I was at the time. He worked on redesigning some of the core services that the Temporal Affairs provides for the church, such as accounting, materials management, humanitarian, etc. I was involved in interviewing individuals who were applying for paying jobs at the church. It was a standardized telephone interview, so I could do it from anywhere. I also conducted Brain Dominance Workshops for organizations within Temporal Affairs. We traveled to Hawaii, England, Germany and Russia in our mission, but most of it was done in Utah. Our mission lasted for 2 years.

This is an example of my history in serving. I haven’t often gone out searching for service, but instead service opportunities have come to me.

One year at my children’s school, I went to the Room Mother’s meeting, thinking I would sign up for a small job for the year and discovered that I was the only mother that showed up, so I ended up heading all the Room Mothers.

Service seems to be in the DNA of women and we seem to be prone to serve. We relate more to the words, “compassionate service” than men do. When we serve we are doing that which comes natural for a lot of women. Even when service occurs that would not be described as “compassionate service” most people feel good when they serve. That is why I serve. It makes me feel good.

Once I was called to be the Stake Camp Director. I thought, now here is a chance to use my education to serve in the church. What I discovered is that although my recreation education certainly helped me in that calling, the most significant skill that was needed in that calling was the ability to deal with the adults in the stake. So, you may not think that you have the skills necessary for the service required, and may discover that a completely different set of skills are actually needed.

When asked what my advice would be to those who have young children in the home without much spare time, how they can serve I will tell you this. There is no greater service than what you can give to your family members. If that is all you have time to do, then you are providing the best service you can. Unfortunately, some individuals would say that caring and raising children is not as noble as working for pay. But if a person owned a daycare center or a laundromat or a chauffeur service for pay, they would be considered a professional. Just because we don’t get paid to do such things for our family, we might think that it is not important work. I would say to you, that it is a mistake to think that. It is the most important service you can ever do.

There are service opportunities right at your computer. The church has a site called Helping in the Vineyard. Quoting the website:
Helping in the Vineyard provides service opportunities that can be completed in minutes. Participants from around the world spend as much or as little time as they like completing the activities online. As a result of the thousands of acts of service, the Church is able to publish and share more resources worldwide. (
There is also the name extraction program [Family Search Indexing] that one can do on the computer in little bits of time.

And of course, if we are active members of the church, then we have a church calling that would be considered service. Whether it be a primary teacher, a position in Young Women or Relief Society or in the nursery, we are serving.

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