When You Are ‘The Bishop’


It had been a long day! I had been set apart as Bishop earlier that afternoon. I had been in meetings all day with numerous leaders and members. It was now 10:00 PM. Meetings that began at 6:30 am were now over and I had just walked into the door and sat down. What a day I thought! Then….the phone rang. I answered it to find one of the sisters of the ward hysterically calling my name and asking that I come to her home to help.  I yelled to my wife that I had to go, jumped into the car and drove as fast as I could over to the house. As I pulled up, there were several police cars, and an ambulance on the scene. Lights were flashing! There was so much commotion!  Within a few minutes the Stake President showed up and helped out with the situation.  I finally got home around 2am.

Years have gone by since that first day of “on the job” training.  Prior to being called as a Bishop I had served in various priesthood callings,  yet I never knew. I never really understood the important role that a Bishop plays in the lives of its members. I never really knew the kind of situations that a Bishop is often placed in. I never really knew anything!

I have since looked at the role of Bishop in a different light, and at the men who hold that calling. I remember back to my days as a Bishop. I was trying so hard to do the right thing. I was trying so hard to not offend. I was trying so hard to serve the people. I was trying so hard to be everything to everyone. I was trying so hard to succeed in the eyes of the Lord. I was just trying…so hard! When I remember this, I try to overlook the imperfections of the men who hold that office. I try to look for the good that they do. I try to be supportive and kind to them. When I see them, I see myself, and I know I should give them slack, and compliment them on the job they are doing. I try to remember that they might have been up all night at a hospital or talking to some one late into the night. I try to remember how it was to feel that burden.

So I hope you have compassion on your Bishop. Pray for him!Tell him nice things. Overlook his faults, because someday you might find yourself in his position and you will want all the compassion of your members that they can give.  Gordon B. Hinckley told a story which captures the remarkable service given by Bishops. The story is typical, but often not told.

“Dear Bishop:

“It has been almost two years since I desperately called you asking for help. At that time I was ready to kill myself. I had no one else to turn to—no money, no job, no friends. My house had been taken, and I had no place to live. The Church was my last hope.

“As you know, I had left the Church at the age of 17 and had broken just about every rule and commandment that there was in my search for happiness and fulfillment. Instead of happiness, my life was filled with misery, anguish, and despair. There was no hope or future for me. I even pleaded with God to let me die, to take me out of my misery. Not even He wanted me. I felt that He had rejected me, too.

“That’s when I turned to you and the Church. …

“You listened with understanding, you counseled, you guided, you helped.

“I began to grow and develop in understanding and knowledge of the gospel. I found that I had to make certain basic changes in my life that were terribly difficult, but that within me I had the worth and strength to do so.

“I learned that as I lived the gospel and repented, I had no more fear. I was filled with an inner peace. The clouds of anguish and despair were gone. Because of the Atonement, my weaknesses and sins were forgiven through Jesus Christ and His love for me.

“He has blessed and strengthened me. He has opened pathways for me, given me direction, and kept me from harm. I have found that as I overcame each obstacle, my business began to grow, enabling my family to benefit and making me feel as though I had accomplished something.

“Bishop, you have given me understanding and support through these past two years. I never would have reached this point if not for your love and patience. Thank you for being what you are as the servant of the Lord to help me, His wandering child.”

I know people have varied experiences when it come to Bishop’s and I’m sure that they are not always perfect; probably not even close. However, when the Lord instructed us to forgive, I think Bishops were included in that charge.  In fact, they might just need to be at the top of the list.

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