I love Mormon Bishops. I happen to think they don’t get enough credit for all their hard work. Really, does anyone though? People should get acknowledged for all the hard work that they do each day. So here is my praise to the hard working Bishop. (Though really, it could probably go for most clergy!)
First of all, let me explain to you what a Bishop is. Not everyone knows. Especially since we share the term with other faiths. The BIshop, for those of you out there needing to know, is the man that heads up our congregations. (We call those wards.) So if you think “priest” or “pastor” you start to get the idea. Here’s the biggest difference… our guy has a day job. Or maybe a night job, depending on the job I suppose. I’ve had Bishops that were doctors, detectives, small business owners, and were active duty military.
So you could probably say: A Bishop is busy. You would be accurate. Between family, work, and a more then full time church job? Yeah. Busy would be an understatement.
Why have I been thinking about my love of Bishops? Mostly because the tragic news of the slaying of Bishop Sannar in Visalia, California really upset me. No, I’ve never lived there and I didn’t know this Bishop. However it was so senseless and one of those random acts of violence that could happen anywhere. I cried at the mere thought of it.
I heard once that you are Bishop until half the ward hates you. (I’ve heard the same about the Relief Society President, a very involved and vital role that women hold.) I would hope not, but I’m sure that some men feel that way. Sometimes the Bishop just has to make really tough choices and sometimes those tough choices get people riled up. Such is the burden of leadership. Which leads me to think that really, the Bishop’s hear a lot of whining and not a lot of thanks.
I know my Bishop has to listen to a bunch of whining. Really. I try not to whine so much, but I’m sure he’s sometimes like, “Good grief, grow up and get a life!” He’s a great Bishop and has yet to tell me that. Which I appreciate. But, I know I think that of myself, so hey… I couldn’t fault him for thinking it about me. Right? Ok, seriously, I know there’s a lot of grumbling because someone always wants money for some activity or someone is having health issues or there is someone moving in or out… you get the idea. Basically there’s a lotta “I want…” or “I need…” going on instead of “Thank you” or “How can I help lighten your load, Bishop?”
So here’s my way of saying thanks and giving the big kudos to my Bishop. And to Bishops everywhere. Just a nice little list of ten things that Bishops have been known to do. (Just so you know, to protect my current Bishop and keep him humble I’m including things from all my Bishops. My current Bishop will know what relates to him!):
1. Spent his day off on the phone trying to help families in need during a local crisis instead of relaxing with his family or dealing with what is going on at his own house. (I suppose that’s when a Bishop can see how well he has learned to delegate and how well his kids will do as they are told! HA!)
2. Put up a family of strangers from the other side of a country when they just showed up on the busiest weekend in town and there was quite literally “no room in the inns”. Just so they didn’t have to sleep in the parking lot of the church building they found. (Seriously, this happened to me.)
3. About 85,000 hours of counseling with messed up people like me. Yes, previous Bishops, you know who you are. If my current Bishop is reading this… uh… sorry. Make that for the 85,000 hours to come? Do I need to make you a plate of brownies now to make up for this distressing figure? 🙂
4. Emailing out a copy of the awesome address you gave to the congregation. (OK, seriously, I’ve seen this happen several times! It’s pretty awesome!)
5. Skipping lunch to go to the hospital to give a blessing to a poor kid with cancer who’s struggling in a bad way. FYI, I’m pretty sure that blessing was what carried him…
6. Counseling with my parents to help them understand more why I wanted to get married in the Temple. Because of you, my parents finally accepted my decision about my faith and became more tolerant. You were the greatest influence on their lives in this regard and I appreciate it. (Yeah that’s an old one… since I’ve been married for 16 years now.)
7. Greeting me in the Temple years after you were no longer Bishop and giving me a hug because you were so happy to see me there since I had so many issues as a teenager. I can’t believe you even remembered me!
8. Expressing your thanks in serving people like me. Hello? You deserve the thanks and yet you are thanking all of us?
9. Giving out candy or letting kids cut up your tie or whatever other cute gimmick that has been used out there that boils down to getting on a kid’s level and having fun with them. I was always kind of intimidated by some of the preachers out there as a kid. Our Bishops meet with kids before they are baptized at 8, as well as when they are teenagers and it is always great to hear the Bishop talk about getting to know one of the kids in the Ward. I’m pretty sure some of the clergy I had growing up wouldn’t have known me from Eve. Most likely as much my fault as theirs, I’m definitely not blaming them!
And the biggest reason I love Mormon Bishops and think they need thanks a bazillion times over:
10. Having flat as a pancake knees. I don’t know about other Bishops, I don’t know about other faith leaders, but I have had Bishops that I know spent copious hours on their knees praying for my family alone, let alone anyone else. I know sometimes they’ve lost sleep praying for people. I know it meant shortened meal times or skipped meals. Just knowing that you are taking time out of your already far too busy life to spend even a second in prayer for any one of us members of the ward is humbling. Also, thanks for coming into my home and flattening your knees even more. (FYI: I’m pretty sure this goes for just about any clergy person worth their salt. Next time you need something from your clergy? Ask if they’d like a pillow to make that knee time a little easier! Seriously!)
I told you that most of these would probably go for any ecclesiastical leader, and feel free to consider this towards those in your faith. It is a sentiment that I think probably does cross denomination lines. I just happen to be Mormon so I deal with our Bishops the most.
Bishop, thank you. For everything. You don’t know how much we all need you. You are truly a hero in your own right. Know that you and your family (and your counselors and their families) are often in my prayers. I know you probably think I’m failing in about a thousand different ways, but I am trying. Maybe one day I’ll get it right.
I know I’m not alone in that sentiment. I’m just the person putting it out there for the world to see right now.
PS I tried to include only things I’ve been guilty of demanding of a Bishop and his time. Some of it is pretty universal though. Hence the thought of the journal entry. If my sons ever become a Bishop, I hope they can read this and feel good, even when it seems like half the ward hates them.