Dennis - I know darn well that's happened in some of my bishoprics as
Brave Sir Robin - be forgiving of toosmartforyou: although the article states
the SOURCE as the bishop's blog, there is no indication to know if the
HEADLINE to this reprint comes from his blog, or perhaps more likely, the DN
editor. I would have assumed the latter myself as well. However, after linking
over to the bishop's blog, it is indeed self-titled
@ Vonkalicious - I believe I understand what you're trying to say, and,
having sat at my bishop's elbow for about 18 months now, my appreciation
for you and for all bishops who serve has only deepened. Yes, your ward and its
members will benefit as you inspire their trust by following Christ, but I would
suggest a small modification in your thinking: Teach THEM to trust CHRIST.
(Perhaps that goes without saying, but ...)
Tyler D: One thing to remember there is only one leader per congregation. If
the Bishop is receiving guidance and someone else is at the same time going in a
different direction will cause chaos, confusion and divicivness in the
congregation. As Twin Lights put it only the Bishop receives revelation for the
whole ward and the Branch President for the Branch. Each has two counselors, a
ward/branch clerk and an excecutive secretary. This makes up the
Bishopric/Branch Presidency. Counselors may receive revelation and inspiration
that is necessary for the ward/branch to function. When decisions are necessary
the counselors should counsil with the Bishop/Branch President on these issues.
If even one of them is not unified with the discussion; prayer is taken and the
one offering the prayer is the one who isn't unified. Once the Bishopric
is unified then it is generally brought before the entire Ward Council. Again a
discussion is said, the Bishop listening to all discussion. If the
Bishop/Branch President feels that the guidance to the bishopric/branch
president needs further discussion then it is tabled.
loneliest calling in the church. I am glad they serve. Wouldn't wish it
Tyler D, Dennis, and Bill in Nebraska,No, we won’t receive
inspiration contrary to that of the bishop. My own experience is that
inspiration comes to the various members of the bishopric and the ward council,
but the bishop has the keys to discern from these the way forward.None of my bishops have been perfect. But none have ever been anything but
dedicated men trying to move in close tandem with the Holy Ghost. I think they
succeeded most of the time.Do they ever delegate? All the time.
Those closest to those being served/led should receive the inspiration and
communicate that to the bishop. In fact, bishops often require this (as they
are busy enough).Lastly, do they ever just “wing it”.
Sure. Why? Because not every decision requires a divinely inspired answer to
follow. Just a decision and follow through. What is the best night for blue
and gold banquet? How many of this or that should we order? Sometimes even
who can preside at the baptism on Saturday (though that one could swing both
ways)?Not every question requires the heavens to open to the bishop.
@Bill in Nebraska – “You will not nor will anyone but the Bishop
receive inspiration and guidance for the WHOLE ward. You will only receive
confirmation that what he is doing is correct. You won't receive
inspiration or anything contrary to his inspiration. NEVER! The same is said of
anyone who is in authority over you.”Wow, did this send a
chill down my spine. I wonder how much evil has been done in the world because
enough people believed exactly this regarding “God inspired”
authority figures. Scary!
@Bill in Nebraska....you're wrong.
"I have learned that the strongest among us are those with the cleanest
mirrors." I have learned that the strongest among us are also
the humblest and probably because they have the cleanest mirrors.
Bishop (All Bishops, especially my Bishop), thank you for accepting the call. I
really appreciate your service and the lessons learned.
Dennis: I've served under too many Bishop's to even think anything
you've said to be anything but fabricated to benefit your own pride. When
you say you were intuned with the spirit always then basically you're
saying you received this inspiration to do this for your ward but the Bishop did
it differently from what you would have done. That unfortunately will never be
the case. You will not nor will anyone but the Bishop receive inspiration and
guidance for the WHOLE ward. You will only receive confirmation that what he is
doing is correct. You won't receive inspiration or anything contrary to
his inspiration. NEVER! The same is said of anyone who is in authority over
you. They are open to that revelation not you. You only receive confirmation.
Failure to listen or follow that confirmation puts you squarley on the side of
receiving light from the adversary and only the adversary.The
Bishop's and Branch President's are told to delegate, delegate,
delegate by their Stake Presidents and Area Authorities. They can't do it
all otherwise they will not be able to function.
Hutterite:Great question. I am a bishop and I'll give you my
answer. One of the first things that you learn as a bishop is that the answers
to most people's problems lie within themselves. I try very hard not to
dispense advice but to get people to be honest with themselves and to do the
hard things that will make their lives better but which they don't want to
do simply because they are difficult.In most parts of the US, LDS
Family Services offers professionally trained LDS counselors who can help with
the situations which are beyond the person's ability to find their own
Well Dennis, whether or not intended, you kind of implied that the Bishops you
worked with never followed the necessary "inspiration" to make
decisions, but just went ahead and made decisions as if they were managing a
baseball team. As far as delegation goes, sometimes that in itself is the
inspiration for a calling or decision. Bishops can't do it all, and need
Someone you can talk to and feel comfortable with, be it just a friend,
sometimes a complete stranger is just as effective as the overrated
professional. The only thing the profressionly trained person can do different
is prescribe drugs, which they do to often
This is very interesting. Apparently I wasn't "faithful",
didn't "listen to the spirit", didn't "recognize" the
spirit etc. etc. etc.You're all wrong.I've been "in
tune" for my entire life. What surprised me as a member of the bishopric
for these 3 different bishops was how often they had no clue as to what to do
and simply delegated decisions to others hoping the task would go away. They
were nice men, two of them relatives and one a good friend. Not all good
ideas come from "inspiration" and not all bad ideas come from "not
listening".We learn a lot just living life, making mistakes and moving
Dear Dennis, It sounds like you may have missed the opportunity to learn from
men who most likely were consistently seeking to do God's will. Bishops are
not perfect. I clearly know of so many mistakes that I feel I made during my
term as bishop. Like many other learning experiences they shine brightly in my
memory and could easily be depressing if I allowed them to overwhelm me. You
will never really know the weight until you are asked to fill those shoes; It is
a deeply humbling experience, but not typically frightening if approached
I appreciate this Bishop's sentiments: that he did not ask for this
opportunity. Perhaps if it had been up to him, he would have refused the
calling.And a few less than positive experiences with Bishops over
the years reminds me that neither did the Ward members ask for any particular
Bishop to be given the opportunity, as well. Perhaps if it is really up to Ward
members, they would frequently refuse some of the Bishops who are called, too.
What an insightful rendering of your experiences. The only thing to make it
better would be a little proofreading and a punctuation check. Helpfully Yours,
Contribute A Verse
The experiences are different, but the feelings are very much the same. Nothing
prepares you for the inadaquacies and the crushing burdens. Nothing can take
the place of the divine confirmation that your sacrifices are acceptable, or
when The Lord lets you participate in His miracles in the lives of His precious
children. In this respect, I've grown increasingly tender and
found of Elder Packer's painting, "the Bishop's horse."
Tyler D,Perhaps an overgeneralization. But I don’t think he
is talking about normal everyday life either. I think he is talking about the
most difficult things in our lives and that for those, often one of those four
outlets is chosen.We believe that those of us who “have the
gospel” are under a greater obligation and that going against what the
Holy Ghost has once witnessed to us leads us to an often destructive path. It
is not a matter of the world being wicked, but of what we do with the
information put in our charge.PatriotAgreed. Stake
Presidents tell me their jobs are easier than those of a bishop.Dennis,I can only say that has not been my experience. The more
important the question, the more I have seen the spirit move a bishopric to one
opinion on a topic.Hutterite,Yes, there is that
potential but the bishops I have known knew the difference between spiritual
counseling and psychological counseling and used church resources to access the
latter when necessary.
Dennis: I served as a branch president, served in 2 bishoprics, and served as a
branch president again. In those 9 years, I saw and felt heavenly guidance.
Often, however, you don't know how well your inspiration has served others.
Honestly, as someone sitting in the other chair in various bishops'
offices, I can testify that they were inspired to say what they said to me.
Sitting in branch council with our stake presidency, I saw as the president,
then his 1st counselor, and then his 2nd counselor each took a shot at a
difficult problem. Yes they were winging it. But we all knew when the 2nd
counselor spoke that inspiration had been received. Getting guidance from God
is not simple or easy, but it happens in the Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints frequently enough that if we aren't seeing it, either we
aren't looking or aren't in tune.
RE: Confessions of a Mormon bishop Bishop, I have learned that many know about
Jesus Christ but more of us could make an effort to know him. True,"Jesus said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye
believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins".(John 8:24).for if believe not that I am he; the everlasting and unchangeable I am, the
true God, God over all, blessed forever; the eternal Son of God, God manifest in
the flesh, really made flesh, and become incarnate; the true Messiah, the only
Savior of sinners; the one and only Mediator between God and man. Not an
“I have learned that to deal with life's pain most of us choose one
of the following: alcohol, drugs, pornography, or spirituality.”This comment seemed odd. There are all sorts of ways people escape from normal
day-to-day life, including the painful stuff. How about work, sports, hobbies,
video games, books, music… just to name a few? It’s
almost like he is saying, “either be active in the church or engage in
destructive acts to cope.” Whether this is his real experience
or not (perhaps only the ones who engage in destructive forms of escape come to
see him in the first place), it seems to stem from a very “us/them”
mindset – “them”=the wicked world, while “us”=the
Bishop is the most difficult job in the church no question. Great respect for
all bishops. They have to somehow find the time and energy to work their job and
their calling as a bishop and there is only 24 hrs in a day...and add to that
their family....and then try to figure out how to find a moment or two of
'down time away'.
Quote attributed to LeGrand Richards: "God cannot make an unwilling man
qualified, but he Can make a willing man qualified." I have certainly
witnessed this miraculous principle. As a professional clinical therapist, I
have come to the conclusion that any person, a Professional or a Bishop, who
'leans to his/her own understanding' robs his client of the ultimate
source of help. I have have been astonished on many occasions at what has come
out of my mouth, knowing full well I was not that wise.
@DennisThe mantle of authority rests only on the Bishop. You could
not, and would not have known the feelings in his heart. You also would not
have been in the office with him when he spoke with members of the congregation
who came to him privately...If you are not feeling the spirit...then
that is you "winging it". Think what you like, but you can't
"know" the intent of anothers heart. Did he ask for your counsel? I am
sure he did! And you no doubt "winged it"!
Our bishop is a young guy with six young kids, a beautiful wife and he works as
an ER MD. I don't know how he and his wife do it! Many men in our ward
with less family responsibilities could have filled that role. I had no idea
who he was until he was called. Yet, he has stepped up to the plate. and his
wife stepped up to the plate. They inspire in me a desire to pitch in, to not
add to burdens. Maybe that's partly why Bishops are often called from that
demographic - so we will all pitch in... Keeping the congregation going is an
"all hands on deck" situation. I've often heard bishops say they
appreciate the help from the Lord, their counselors, other ward leadership -and
even us rank and file folks who just try to fill our callings without being a
pain in the behind. "Let us all press on"!
While I appreciate the experiences and insight shared by this good Bishop, a
part of me felt awkward first reading this on his blog as he currently serves as
a Bishop. I wondered after reading his blog, are his Ward members now more
likely or less likely to share their confessions with him? Are his Ward members
really looking to him for wisdom as he has stated? or are they looking to the
Lord and go to him because he’s the one filling the position at this time?
It is true, we expect so much from our Bishops and they do so much in their
service for us and we are so grateful for their overwhelming service. The best
ones protect our confessions as sacred and serve the Lord with the deepest and
Though I often disagree with Hutterite, I think his question is legitimate,
though it does appear tainted by an agenda.I am an active LDS male.
I think many of us are aware of situations where a Bishop fell short. Mostly it
is human frailty, bad habits or personality quirks that rub us the wrong way and
make it difficult to work with a Bishop. But if we humble ourselves and go to
the Lord, we can get past that, honor the call and recognize that "he did
not ask for the job".However, the Bishop of my youth, who sent
me and my best friend to our missions let pride enter into his life, acted on a
base impulse when a female ward member confided in him, and was a large part of
ruining two marriages. Later the same pride got him involved in shady business
deals, got him excommunicated, and got him assassinated in a hotel bathtub in
Vegas.I can't say that this did not impact me and my best
friend. But for every one of these stories, there are literally
20,000 stories of selfless men who serve long hours righteously for God and His
Quite often when a person acknowledged his/her sins to me as their Bishop, they
would add the comment, "You must really think poorly of me now!" - or
words to that effect. In actuality, I admired them for their
courage. It was amazing the confidence they would place in me. I
don't know if they realized it or not, but their confidence was placed in
God who called me to His service. He is the healer; I was his servant. My
advice was His message that was whispered to my mind.
@Hutterite. That is a great question, and one that worries all Bishops in their
early days. Having served two terms as an LDS Bishop, I can promise you that I
did not feel any more prepared the second time than the first time. There was a
more than twenty year gap between the terms, and the world had changed so much
in the interim. One "Lesson Learned" that is not mentioned
in the article is one I learned very early. It was simply, "Whom the Lord
calls, He qualifies." I recall a Sunday very early in my first tenure where
everything that could go wrong did so. I prayed in my room, and poured out my
soul as to my inadequacies, and told the Lord that I felt He had the wrong man,
and I was letting him down. There followed a sweet, sweet moment where I felt
hugged, and heard a voice inside me say, "But I love you, and your
sacrifices are acceptable to Me." I doubted myself several times after that
experience, but I knew who had called me, and I did not doubt Him.He carried me
to places I did not know existed.
@ John C.C.....I've been in three bishoprics and have yet to witness Gods
"guidance" in a single decision or action from the Bishops involved.
They were all winging it.
Hutterite: You look in the mirror and see wisdom. The truly wise, however, see
wisdom from the reflection of others. Instead of asking a self-serving
question, perhaps another question could be asked: is there something the
Bishop said that strikes me as being particularly insightful for my own
situation? Maybe that train of thought will lead to a valuable and useful
insight. Your question, on the other hand, seems to reflect an agenda.
Awesome. Thank you.We should be grateful to those who invest so
much in our service. Further, we should cut them a break - knowing that they
are not perfect and need our support.
@Hutterite,Yes, if they don't rely on God's guidance. If
they do rely on it I prefer their guidance to those who are only
Is there any potential for problems arising when the untrained or unqualified
are placed in positions where they have access to 'the darkest
corners' of peoples' lives?
As a released Bishop, I found the confessions in this adage: The highest form of
SPENDING is spending self for others." As the LDS number 237 hymnal says,
"And with stout hearts look ye forth till tomorrrow" Bishop.
@toosmartforyouThis article is a reprint from this bishop's
blog which went viral over the weekend. The bishop himself chose the
"Confessions" title for the post. It's awfully presumptuous to
tell this man what he should call his writing.
Bishop Hill is spot on. Lessons learned while helping others learn how to
overcome are priceless. I'd never exchange those 5-plus years for any other
opportunity in my life, outside of being a husband, father and grandfather.
Thanks for sharing this article. It was thought-provoking and insightful. Thanks
to all the bishops of the world.
This was powerful and deeply insightful. Thank you.
I respectfully request the editors to change the title from
"Confessions" to "Lessons." That would be more accuraste and
not make it look like sensational reading of a bishop that messed up. I
honestly think the calling deserves that much dignity.Thanks to all
the Bishop's I've had over the years. Their dedicated service can
hardly be counted in terms we would understand. And others are helping them,
too, such as their counsellors, stake presidents, and relief society presidents.
Those who are willing to receive help may certainly obtain it.
Living on the other side of being in a clergy, I am grateful for bishops,
priests and ministers. They do a great service to our communities. I see these
clergy, as a whole, trying to guide us to a path of happiness. I admire
these people but I am extremely glad that I don't have to be one of them.
It's the best call that can come to a man. Thanks for allowing me to
I have learned that trying to change someone else is futile.When you
change yourself, you can profoundly impact the lives of others.Bishops
encourage us to make those changes and persevere.
Thank you Bishop. I've only been experiencing these same feelings for 7
months. It is reassuring to know that I am not alone. I echo your words in that
I had no idea the world was so dark and so beautiful. I don't feel sorry
for me but instead for my flock; I can only hope and pray that their trust in me
continues as I seek counsel from His spirit.
Bishop Hill. What are some ways in which the uniquely Mormon views of atonement
have revealed additional light on how to convert weakness into strength, stress
into faith, despair into hope, anger into love, and criticism into a desire to
clothe with the "garment of praise" Isaiah 61:3?
Amen and amen!
Yes, you're learning well. :) And thanks for serving others - we
appreciate it most in our quiet moments. My bishop in Texas literally saved my
life one night by just dropping in to see how I was doing and I count him as my
deepest friend on earth years after his release.