Thursday, January 24, 2013

A New Bishop

It was an eventful weekend in my ward. Not only did we have ward conference, a favorite meeting for me because I love to be taught by my bishop and stake president, but our good bishop was released, together with his counselors.

I felt an unusual tenderness that day. Part of it is knowing a bit how the newly released bishop feels, having been there twice myself. The closeness one feels to his counselors and to ward members changes with the release in a way that is difficult to describe. The passing of the mantle of bishop is very real, and being without it is something one has to get used to.

Part of it is the release of this particular bishop – a man we’ve known for years. He served as ward clerk when I was bishop. Our sons have been in the same classes in church for fourteen years. His wife has taught our daughters piano. They are good friends of ours. And he was an awesome bishop. He humbly faced his responsibilities as bishop and worked tirelessly to meet the needs of the members of his ward.

All bishops work harder than anyone realizes. Even harder than they themselves realize. I can remember hearing him talk about meetings and visits and service and phone calls from a particular weekend and thinking, “How could one person do all that?” And then realizing that I’d done the same thing when I sat in that chair. Just as any bishop would. And every bishop does.

No, he wasn’t perfect, I suppose. But don’t ask me how. I could not tell you. What I do know is he was a humble servant of the Lord and servant to our ward. He was firm in his testimony, firm in his command of the gospel and its principles, firm in defense of truth, and firm in his leadership. At the same time, he was kind and compassionate. When I served on the ward council with him for a time, I observed that he actively sought the views of all the council members. He regularly led out praising ward members for the good work they did.

We live in one of those wards with lots of leadership experience and potential. I have joked that you can’t swing a dead cat in our ward without hitting an ex-bishop, and it’s true. Our ward contributes its membership to many stake callings, as well. I’m sure that there are probably many men who could serve as bishop.

I’m glad to know our stake president is careful enough to listen for whom the Lord has called to serve as our new bishop. As soon as his name was read, it was easy to see the Lord’s hand in his call. He will certainly be different from our former bishop, and that is just how it should be – different gifts for different times. But there is no doubt in my mind that he also will serve faithfully and carefully. He is thoughtful, prayerful and faithful. He’s also a friend, and our home teacher (or was, anyway; I suppose maybe that will change).

Of course these changes are now well institutionalized in the church. We have processes to follow, forms to file, permissions to receive. And still I know that at the heart of that effort is the revelation to properly authorized servants to call others to serve. And I’m grateful for that organization, and for the service that results from it.

By the way, if you like, you can check out my latest post at Real Intent, "In the Tunnel" here.


  1. "Of course these changes are now well institutionalized in the church." Oh, how I wish it were so. The previous Branch President here has still not let go and causes trouble all the time, not to mention that half the branch went inactive when he was released and his first counselor wasn't put in as the next president, after telling all and sundry that he was next in line. That was over four years ago! Will you please send some of those ex-bishops and their families down here to strengthen our branch and help us struggling few to teach these people about the Atonement and get them fully converted to Christ? I've never been in a place like this and sometimes long for the 99% activity rate of our ward in Provo! Thanks for sharing, it's good to know that there really are places in the midwest where the church functions as it should.

  2. Rozy, it always makes me sad to hear of situations like yours. My sister-in-law, who lives in an area with lots of converts, and therefore lots of less experienced members, points out that we do face some instability and uncertainty in church leadership because we are a missionary church and an-all volunteer organization at the local level.

    I agree it's tough when personalities grab hold and supercede principles.

  3. I like your post. It helps me to appreciate the work leaders do. I think you're right and that Bishops and Stake Presidents have to do a lot more than folds realise.