Making a list and remembering them twice…or even many many times.

Whitaker, Tucker, Stutz, Warner, Kimmel,, Mickel, Barnes, ME,  Losee, King, Price, Cash, Smith, Smith, Adamson, Wilson, Whicherly, Thomas …In my 50+ years I have had 18 bishops, and been affiliated for very short periods of time in another 11 wards where I could, as a missionary, a building caretaker, or part time attendee, watch the Bishops or Branch Presidents do their Jobs. One thing I can say for certain was that those who were MINISTERS first and Administrators second were the best by light years…This past week, Bishop Stutz passed on, and I had the time to review in my mind thirty or so men who I got to see up close and personal do the job we Mormons call "being a Bishop".  In the same time I have had 9 Stake or MISSION presidents and watched another 4 or 5 from close range, as they dealt with my Parents or close friends. 

There are as many types of WARDS, Student Wards,  Branches, Missions, or "TWIGS" as I called WILDWOOD and FOGGIA,  the DEPENDENT branchs were I served as a Branch President for a few years.   Likewise there are as many types of Bishops MISSION P’s or Branch P’s as there are men.  This month my WARD(akin to a Parish or Congregation)  got a New Bishop.  Will he be a GOOD bishop or just a run of the mill administrator who runs a Ward, but hasn’t a clue about the members of his Flock, or will he be someone who elevates the souls of each and every person he serves while acting as a local shepherd.  Will he drive the sheep with his staff, or will he do as Christ admonished when he said…FEED MY SHEEP…?  Will he be a PREACHER, or a kind and patient TEACHER…and LISTENER?  Will he make each of  us feel as though we are the most important person in God’s eyes, or just the tiniest cog in the big machine some call God’s Kingdom?  

Having been exposed to so many GREAT Latter-day Saints in my life, I have noticed that there is a spectrum of men whose talents for being exactly what each Lamb needs range from perfectly attuned to the spirits of their ward members to those who never quite make those critical connections.  Some become so SERIOUS that they would be better served if they were renamed something like "cancer". Others glide through life with a knack for blessing everyone they encounter as if it is simply a part of their personality which is replete with an enthusiasm for spreading joy and happiness that is simply contagious. 

I can just about tell, how a bishop is going to be… by just watching them and listening to them  for two months.  I can tell if they are focused on themselves and their position or if they are first and foremost a servant of those they are called to "watch over"… How and where they sit in  relationship to their desk and those they interview…for example if they sit directly across the desk from the person they are interviewing… or if they are sitting in chairs next to, or across the corner of the desk from the person they are TALKING to…in either case a certain distance is established. One bishop I knew removed his desk and replaced it with an small oval table…next to it was a box of  tissues covered by a small  yarn case made by a ward member who had MD.  Another had a small round table…I can tell a lot about a Bishop from other traits too…  Do they have a lot of slogans, scriptures or sayings on the walls or on their desk that refer to themselves, or do they have pictures or hand made items which represent Christ’s love for his Lambs?  Do they acknowledge each and every person in a group, or only the men..or those with higher educational or financial status?…  Does a Bishop IMPOSE… HIS personal views on his flock or does he learn from them and teach them as they dialogue…discuss…or even debate certain issues?   Does he VISIT his flock and enjoy their love of life..their LAUGHTER and their goodness, or does he delegate all that personal stuff, and give admonitions about being sober toward life… leaving for himself more time to keep his congregation well on the pathway to heaven?. 

Does he follow the letter of the law or does he radiate the spirit of the law…is he more concerned with JUSTICE or with MERCY?  Is he happy with ANY effort to do good or is what his ward members offer NEVER ENOUGH?  Does he seek first to be understood or does he seek first to UNDERSTAND?  If you ask him what his favorite scripture is will he cite one off by heart with great authority or will he ask you what YOURS is first before asking you what you think of the one he says he loves? 

Does he believe that members should be more concerned with UNIFORMITY of thoughts and beliefs or UNITY in love?  Is he more concerned with FALSE DOCTRINE or with helping FALSE PEOPLE become genuine?  When he tells you what he REALLY thinks, does he do it with tact and an attitude which allows you to "SAVE FACE" or does he think calling someone to repentance requires being shamed?   Does he see himself as someone to be honored or someone who would wash YOUR feet?   Are his motives in any way to meet GOALS and make good STATS, or are his motives totally related to his unmitigated love for each person he is called to serve?  Are his talks fear filled, goal oriented SERMONS or are they righteous, loving, reflections of his heart?   Does he pray for OUTCOMES or for WISDOM to affect outcomes? …and when he MUST judge our actions, does he do so with humility and a deep sense of HUMANITY, or does he focus on what HE PERCEIVES as God’s will and his need to ENFORCE IT?

I am just getting to know our new bishop, and so far I have seen a mix of characteristics…I hope by year end I will see a man whose love trumps his sense of being called to preside.    

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5 Responses to Making a list and remembering them twice…or even many many times.

  1. Nelgin says:

    Very good analysis. I wish there were more of the human-type bishops and fewer of the self-serving actors. I think Thotman would make an excellent bishop, but not likely to happen because he can\’t hide his humanist nature.Glenn

  2. Thot says:

    ahhhh, but what you see as HUMANIST, is not that at all..but rather an emphasis on our HUMANITY…something all together different. That you may have fallen prey to the common lie that HUMANISM, is anything like an emphisis on our HUMANITY and the potential goodness of the soul….might be because it is so easy to think about life in stereotypical ways. I am afraid that if one believes in a HUMANIST nature, they MAY be a victim

  3. Thot says:

    of "christian" talking points. Every man is unlike any other…and the fact that I will not be a bishop is much more related to my desires than anyone else\’s assessment of my nature. I am simply amazed that any church can get anyone to fill a position that consumes that much time, emotions and focus. I do appreciate however, those GOOD men who are willing to think of anyone besides themselves…and those who have learned that simple lesson found in the NT…that God is indeed LOVE.

  4. Nelgin says:

    Yes there are many slants on humanism. Here is the Wiki definition – "Humanism is an approach in study, philosophy, or practice that focuses on human values and concerns." I thought it was a good description for you – maybe not.

  5. Thot says:

    One of the slants that many of the self proclaimed religious folks take about Humanism is that it is a GODLESS philosophy and the Humanist manifesto probably supports that view. I would suggest that Wikipedia\’s definition is correct in its use of the word FOCUS…for those of us who find God in the mix maybe that focus has multiple foci.

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