Responsibilities of Zone Leaders, Ranked

Steve and I would like to formally apologize for our previous list. In retrospect, we should have been more sensitive to the possibi- OH FORGET IT I can’t even keep a straight face long enough to type this. On with the rankings!

Like a Boss
As before, these rankings are authoritative. Don’t kick against the pricks.[1]

  1. Reminding your junior companion that he is not the Zone Leader
  2. Correcting doctrinal falsehoods taught by District Leaders
  3. Figuring out how to explain why you weren’t chosen as the new AP after dropping subtle hints to the Zone for weeks that you were totally being groomed
  4. Getting the mail
  5. Informing the Mission President that you expressed disappointment to the elders for their low numbers last month
  6. Being corrected by APs on the doctrinal falsehoods you recently corrected District Leaders on
  7. Pondering the Zone boundaries, and long for the day when you can finally take over the neighboring Zones in one fell sweep swoop swipe
  8. Receiving revelations on behalf of your Zone regarding the correct method of scripture marking and annotation
  9. Instructing the local Bishop and Ward Mission Leader on things “as they really are”
  10. Structuring Zone Conferences to coincide with most personally convenient transportation options, or for when your buddy is in the district
  11. Telling people after your mission that you were a Zone Leader

[1] Additional Duties, to be Performed Only as Moved Upon by the Need to Feel Important:

  • Holding companionship study until your companion gets it right
  • Sending detailed letters to the mission president explaining why Elder Stapley is a bad egg and cannot be trusted with a new greenie
  • Rubbing your companion’s shoulders in sacrament meeting, but totally not in a gay way


  1. The MOST important immediate duty: Dibs on talking with the cute girls in the ward. For referrals, of course.

  2. How could I narked on myself?

  3. You forgot a big one: kissing up to the mission president.

  4. In my mission, each zone had two ZLs over it and they were companions, so #11 wasn’t an issue.

  5. 12. Breaking up P-day basketball fights
    13. Representing mission president to the missionaries, not the other way around
    14. Taking baptismal photos with especially choice converts regardless of whether you taught them
    15. Introducing “deep doctrine” (e.g., no sex organs in the terrestrial kingdom) during late night (10:15-10:30) study sessions

  6. Honestly, though, this list is awesome. I had some really first-rate zone leaders–and then I had ones who were verbally and emotionally abusive to other missionaries, ones who changed area boundaries so that they could include their favorite member family in their area (ie–the family that threw parties for the missionaries), ones who got pissed off because they weren’t made a zone leader before Elder so-and-so, and ones who put socializing with other missionaries above the work.

  7. If this isn’t speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed than I don’t know what is. You should be ashamed of yourselves. My mission was the most powerful two years of my life and changed me forever, and it saddens me to see it mocked with such frivolity.

    “But behold, there are many that harden their hearts against the Holy Spirit, that it hath no place in them; wherefore, they cast many things away which are written and esteem them as things of naught.”

    “Evil speaking of the Lord’s anointed is in a class by itself. It is one thing to depreciate a person who exercises corporate power or even government power. It is quite another thing to criticize or depreciate a person for the performance of an office to which he or she has been called of God.” – Dallin H. Oaks.

    I support our leaders, even young missionary leaders, who have indeed been called by The Lord, and hope those who find this funny repent.

  8. Casey, don’t worry — nobody will find this funny.

  9. Number six made me BUST UP.

  10. Casey is probably even funnier than the actual post (which is also hilarious). Don’t forget the additional duties of “Correcting native elders’ Spanish” and “Telling greenies not to study the Book of Mormon and study Preach My Gospel instead if we aren’t preparing for a lesson,” both of which happened to me!

  11. If anyone does I have an exhaustive list of scriptures and general authority quotes for to chastise them.

  12. These two guys weren’t called to be Zone Leader so that’s the way they whine about it…maybe they didn’t go on a mission or maybe they served as Zone leaders and that’s why they remember from that service or they served a mish but that’s some of the bad stuff they focus on nowadays.I would admit mission leaders sometimes say some crazy stuff, these are a bunch of 19 years old kids trying to do the best they can and ignoring many things… having said that , I love my two years ( I got 99 problems but remembering my mission with love ain’t one)

  13. The same thing with my mission #GuatemalaCityNorthMission

  14. “These two guys weren’t called to be Zone Leader so that’s the way they whine about it…maybe they didn’t go on a mission or maybe they served as Zone leaders and that’s why they remember from that service or they served a mish but that’s some of the bad stuff they focus on nowadays”

    Yes, I’d say you’ve got us pegged, in the three possibilities you outline:
    1. We weren’t called to be ZL;
    2. We didn’t go on missions; or
    3. Maybe we served as ZLs.

    I can confirm that some combination of those three is true for both me and Scott.

  15. Casey’s going on and on about depreciation like this is some kind of post about tax accounting. Save it for Sam’s posts, yo.

  16. Xander Harris says:

    The comment thread is not complete until a boner reference is made.

  17. JManuelCamposN:
    In accordance with #1, I shall declare that I was, in fact, a zone leader. I also loved my mission. It was great.

  18. If speaking bad about Zone Leaders is “speaking evil of the Lord’s anointed,” then many missionaries are guilty as charged.

    16. Enjoy the strongest area/unit/branch in the zone, and treat the other missionaries in the zone with utter disdain when their numbers aren’t as good as yours.

  19. greg:

    Taking baptismal photos with especially choice converts regardless of whether you taught them

    Yea, verily.

  20. This attempt at humor is ham-fisted, and furthermore, it is precisely this kind of teasing, or bullying, to put it bluntly, that can make life so difficult for young zone leaders of this age. When many zone leaders are already carrying heavy and often silent burdens, how unfortunate to pile on and mock and make fun.

  21. Anonymous, etc. says:

    Lol, anonymouse. I assume most missionaries are of an age to be able to speak up for themselves and hopefully they aren’t still going through puberty! But here’s to more kindness and charity all-around. : )

  22. I barely remember we even had Zone Leaders — can’t recall a single name or a single face. I hope they enjoyed their glory as pictured in their own minds, ’cause in mine they have gone down “to the vile dust from whence [they] sprung, unwept, unhonored , and unsung.”

  23. Nothing about spending all night Saturday night on the phone with all your DL friends shooting the shit and then collecting numbers in the last 10 seconds of the call?

  24. Glad to see I’m not missing out on anything by not having the priesthood, then.

  25. In the mouths of two or three witnesses . . .

    It’s official, I guess. Scott and Steve are bullies – and not bullies, as well.

    I’m looking forward to the next list about responsibilities of internet trolls.

  26. I tell people I was a zone leader even though it’s a lie. Which means I get the most important benefit of being a zone leader without having actually endured the suck.

  27. LOLOL @ “Holding companionship study until your companion gets it right.” That, my friends, is the responsibility of every companion everywhere, junior or senior. Much eye-rolling should be involved.

    Who are you going to get to do the post on sister missionary responsibilities? Lo and behold, they are many.

  28. i thought this was a place for open and honest spiritual discussion but obviously believers are no longer welcome instead I am piled on by mods and admins truly this has become a “nest of vipers” as the scriptures foretold the latter days would bring oh by the way your “jokes” forgot to mention that Zone leaders as all Missionaries have the charge to spread the gospel which bcc so clearly shows disdain for

  29. Zone Leaders are also for pointing out horrible run-on sentences.

  30. Ardis, same here. I guess it’s hard to get too worked up about a power structure occupied by a bunch of young punks, and from which you’re excluded anyway.

  31. Well, I’m with Casey.

  32. racerxisalive says:

    Bonus: Relief at not having to deal with the crushing inferiority complex you would have gotten since all of your older brothers were ZLs.
    New issue to panic about: All of your older brothers also made AP.

  33. I did not tell my family I was a zone leader (though my mom sort of figured it out with some help from my sister). I did not want my mom to be “that mom” who bragged to everybody that her son was a zone leader. So I told her nothing about my positions. Just told her about the work. I think that perhaps I went overboard, and if I had to do it again I would tell her, but I’d ask her to not say anything to other people about it. I don’t recall telling anybody how to read/mark their scriptures,or attempting to correct local leaders, etc. But I certainly knew people who were thrilled to be given positions, even aspired. I thought that was nuts, but more power to them.

  34. Wait . . . is Casey being serious?

  35. He is being super serious.

  36. A “key” part of being a ZL in my mission was having keys to all the missionaries’ apartments in your zone. You know, for important stuff, like spot-checking their P-Day cleaning or putting food coloring in their ranch dressing. Also, we had to take the sisters a fistful of quarters after they decided not to go out on Tuesday because they hadn’t done their laundry on Monday because of, obviously, having no quarters.

  37. Also, ZL’s got the largest monthly mileage allotment (save the APs) and it was their solemn duty to lord it over their zones while still requiring DLs to drive them places (to save their miles).

  38. Please tell me APs are next. Please please please. Also, sister missionaries unless I’m going to want to punch you guys in the face after. Wait, revise that. Only do it IF I will want to punch you in the face after.

  39. I double-dog – nay, TRIPLE-dog – dare you and Steve to rank a list for OW.

  40. Our next list will be the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Feminists.

  41. Whether I am serious or not is between me and the Lord, but as it is decreed that every lighthearted bcc post must have a “that guy”, I determined it might as well be me this time. Sinners.

  42. “Our next list will be the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Feminists”

    Reminds me of cruising with friends through the center of town, windows rolled-down to the warm night air, and my buddy announces he’s about to throw his 32 oz drink through the open window of the pickup we’re about to pass. No you won’t, you crazy-talker.

    Besides, I remember the beating you took last time when you just looked at them funny.

  43. Scott and I have discussed the matter and we definitely won’t be posting a ranked list of things you need to know about feminists.

  44. “A “key” part of being a ZL in my mission was having keys to all the missionaries’ apartments in your zone.” Uhm yeah, primarily used to eat all my expensive imported sugar-free jam and to use our bathroom for nefarious purposes during the day rather than going up the stairs to their third-floor walk up. I’m pretty sure missionaries in leadership roles are why I question authority.

  45. My ZLs ridiculous 10-10-10* plan took on a whole new level of humor when Herman Cain showed up on the political scene years later. Once bitten, twice shy!

    *10 contacts a day, 10 discussions a week, 10 baptisms a month–mind you we were normally on about a 1-1-0 plan in the real world. Too bad we had so little faith! Or maybe it was that I used the oven to make toast. He chewed me out about that too.

    Mind you, I actually kid of loved the guy, but being ZL didn’t work out so well.

  46. What a List….we’d get shot if this was espoused throughout the Glorious Australia Melbourne Mission!….hoping not….lol

  47. My favorite ZL responsibility:

    Appointing yourself to go on splits with the “trunky” missionary in the Zone so your junior companions can go do “real” missionary work (hours of street contacting!). Then “being forced” to take an extended lunch in the apartment, visit the pastry shop and then do some ice cream contacting to boost his morale. Oh the sacrifices I made.

  48. Man…I only made DL, never realised ZL’s had so many responsibilities

  49. I see nothing in here about calling to repentance the wife of the person you are interviewing for baptism, for not making the baptism a prerequisite for the marriage in the first place. I know it’s there, because it happened when each of my husband’s joined the church. (No, I am not getting divorced again as part of the area mission plan.)

    I have also been called to repentance for a sunburn that required me to wear a tank top when the missionaries came to have dinner and teach a discussion.

    It took them 3 months to be invited back. New ZL asked my husband what it would take to get things “back on track,” and the newly minted AP, (former ZL who did the chastising) got some quality time with the mission president on their way to deliver the apology and help teach the next lesson. Mission president also had same AP come with him to the baptismal interview, but brought his wife, and not the AP, to the baptism and the barbecue afterward.

    Rumor was that during the baptism and party, the AP got to do inventory on a missionary apartment, (whose lease was up) before helping with box and pack the items that needed to be moved. The next week he then was given the honor of helping unpack and inventory everything going into the new apartment. I am sure his parents were proud to have their youngest son become an AP, since only one other had risen to that level of “annointedness. ”

    (Casey, I have not served a traditional mission, but here is the “success in my un-traditional mission:
    All 3 men I married active, as are my 4 children
    2 online friends have joined the church; one in Edmonton and one in Virginia, both active in leadership callings,
    My sister-in-law joined the church, and is now sealed to my friend in Edmonton,
    9 people who are rape and/or incest survivors,
    5 adult spouses or family members of those survivors
    13 children who are 8 or older and have been baptized and are children or grandchildren of those survivors, and 11 children under 8 (this may be off, since i have not checked in with everyone to get all the new babies and birthdays, so the numbers may be higher)
    I honestly don’t know how many Mormon women and men I have been an initial contact for, a group leader, a peer mentor, or who I have been the “safe person” for, when they need a safety plan.

    I often have people refer those who are, or were, LDS to me. I wish I could send those with broken hearts and souls to the missionaries, confident that they would find peace, love and hope. I wish I didn’t have to be so careful, but since lives are at stake, I have served a mission to the community of survivors that many wish to ignore, or even deny their existence.

    I think the last 20 years of my life have been fairly well spent, even if most of I was never a ZL or AP, and I also have the audacity to identify as both a “liberal,” and a “feminist,” Mormons.

  50. A Turtle Named Mack says:

    Casey was surely a ZL. “Once a ZL, always a ZL.”

  51. The Bard would roll in his grave reading #5. The phrase is “one fell swoop”.

  52. I’d be happy to help you write one about responsibilities of sister missionaries. We were obviously so much more righteous than the elders that our responsibilities were nearly endless. ;)

  53. Offending the sensibilities of Shakespeare aficionados is an unintended bonus!

  54. I’m with Angela: I’m pretty sure missionaries in leadership roles are why I question authority. Honestly, the only ZL I really remember from my mission is the one I reamed out over the phone in my last city when he had the temerity to question my numbers. I seem to remember telling him he was a little too focused on numbers. I remember my companion’s eyes getting big as he listened to my side of the conversation. Heck, I had two weeks left in the mission; what were they going to do? Send me home?

  55. John Mansfield says:

    In my second area, the zone leaders lived 400 miles away, and the letters they wrote my companion and me every month or two were very nice. It kind of spoils the rest of the mission to have that kind of relationship with the leaders so early.

  56. *snickering about Sister so-and-so wanting to be the ZL – then declaring that she can be ZL – of the sisters…*

  57. Being a Zone Leader in my mission meant that they and their companions got to see Elder Holland when he visited our mission. Oh, and all district leaders and their companions got to go too…travel hundreds of miles to hear him and spend the day with him….

    Which meant that my companion and I (and all the other sisters and low-totem elders) had to tract all day long, get rejected over and over, in the rain, and on my birthday to boot!

    No, I’m not bitter. ;)

  58. Can I just say, when Ardis speaks, she wins.

  59. If Scott and Steve as separate entities are too chicken to make the list, “Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Feminists”, perhaps Stott Evansworth has the guts?

  60. Kristine A, pretty sure that Ardis was never a ZL, so pretty sure she doesn’t win.

  61. No, I think it’s firmly settled that we will NOT be writing about the Top 10 Things You Need to Know About Feminists. Noooooooope.

  62. The list is already done, Steve. You know this. Why are you being like this?

  63. *reminding your companion – “Elder, you’re an AZL now – you’re being groomed for District Leader.”

  64. I was a zone leader–over myself. There wasn’t another full-time missionary in my zone. Even my companion was a local who had been called to sub in because we couldn’t get missionaries into the country. What a rip off.

  65. Rigel Hawthorne says:

    16. Incorporating the personal mannerisms, postures and gestures that the mission president demonstrates with praying or giving talks.

  66. Dealing with the hate and complaints of missionaries no matter what you do.

  67. The only zone leader that I remember is the guy who looked me up after we were both home, and tried to convince me to join Amway.

  68. I’m reminded of an adventurous baptismal interview from my days as a zone leader in the northern part of Auckland, New Zealand:

    I had been ZL in a dual-ZL companionship the previous transfer, then my companion was being used by the mission office (which was in our boundaries) for some extra help during daytime hours. At night, he was with me and another companion, who was not a ZL.

    I had to interview a girl set for baptism in a ward about 30 minutes north of where we were. We had important appointments set for that night that the other two missionaries would have to keep, so I called a senior missionary from the office and we agreed to drive up together while his wife stayed in their apartment (BTW, nobody has cellphones).

    We drove up to the chapel, and here’s where it gets crazy. The candidate had forgotten about the interview and wasn’t there. The sister missionaries who were teaching her called her, and we had to make it to her house.

    We ended up at the wrong house, and for some reason the sisters insisted on running to the right house (about a half-mile away, in the rain). We made it to the house which was about three levels. I had to interview the candidate outside on the lowest level, still raining.

    By the way, at this point (when the interview started), it was 9:20 p.m. and we were 30+ minutes away from our area. The senior missionary had no way of getting in touch with his wife and I had no way of letting my companions where I was. They even made a Matrix-like video of their search for me.

    Our return home wasn’t received well that night, but the baptism went off without a hitch.

  69. Vernal4Ever says:

    My big responsibility as ZL was collecting the free cases of Root Beer and distributing it to the zone. #Utah

  70. Vernal4ever? Is that screen name sarcastic. ;)

  71. Vernal4Ever says:

    Home Girl,

    The area where I served as a ZL was my last and final area – Vernal. More specifically, Naples/Jensen. We would pick up the root beer “freeby” at a Beer distributor down a dirt road near our apartment, then dole it out to the elders in the zone (including Roosevelt, Maeser, Duchesne and the Vernal stakes). I love that place.

  72. Another one: In writing home, referring to the new ZL calling in deliberately vague ways. “So, it’s been a good week. I’ve felt an increase in the Spirit this week as I was asked to help do some new things for the mission. I’m so grateful for this opportunity to continue to serve just like I did before this new change.” In other words, the ubiquitous “humblebrag.”

  73. “When many zone leaders are already carrying heavy and often silent burdens, how unfortunate to pile on and mock and make fun.”

    My sister mentioned that on her mission that one of her first ZL’s when she entered the field was missing at their All Mission Christmas Meeting. It turned out that the ZL’s girlfriend was carrying the ZL’s child, so, back home he went…

    *snickering about Sister so-and-so wanting to be the ZL – then declaring that she can be ZL – of the sisters…*

    This is all over the map, I don’t know why the Missionary Dept. has not said anything about it. Some missions allow Sisters to be DL’s over other Sisters. But, when my mission absorbed part of another Mission as part of a Stake reorganization, my MP flipped about Sister being Dl’s, for he felt DL was a Priesthood Office.

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