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Comments about ‘'I did not ask for this opportunity:' Confessions of a Mormon bishop’

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Published: Monday, March 25 2013 11:00 a.m. MDT

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J-TX
Allen, TX

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 children.

JohnSA
Sandy, UT

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 sincerest humility.

dotGone
Puyallup, WA

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"!

Southernmiss
kaysville, UT

@Dennis

The 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"!

mcrowley
SALT LAKE CITY, UT

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.

patriot
Cedar Hills, UT

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'.

Tyler D
Meridian, ID

“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 faithful.

Too cynical?

donn
layton, UT

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 exalted man

DR Hampton
Portage, MI

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.

Twin Lights
Louisville, KY

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.

Patriot

Agreed. 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.

Y Grad / Y Dad
Richland, WA

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."

Contribute A Verse
Livermore, CA

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

Y-Ask-Y?
Provo, UT

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.

PMaloy
Salt Lake City, UT

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 faithfully.

Dennis
Harwich, MA

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 forward.

War dog
Taylorsville, UT

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

m.g. scott
LAYTON, UT

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 help.

sgcannon
Medford, OR

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 solutions.

Bill in Nebraska
Maryville, MO

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.

mdgalbraithjr
South Riding, VA

Bishop (All Bishops, especially my Bishop), thank you for accepting the call. I really appreciate your service and the lessons learned.

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