Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Bishops and Scouting

I have now been the bishop of my ward for almost four months. It has been a rather eye-opening experience. During that time I have had the privilege of interviewing many of my ward members regarding a wide range of topics. I've done many temple recommend interviews, several priesthood advancement interviews, and baptismal interviews. I can't count how many times I have extended a calling to someone to serve in a certain position in the church, and I have occasionally been turned down. I've met with people who, through various circumstances, find themselves deciding if they should pay rent or buy food. I've seen cupboards and refrigerators so bare you'd think there was no way they could survive another day or two. I have been surprised at the number of people who have come to me for help in overcoming addictive behavior, and wonder how many more need help but haven't come forward. I have even been to the county jail to visit people incarcerated there.

I also know very well that there are challenges still to come. So far I have not conducted any funerals, although a couple people had me worried for a while. Nor have I performed any weddings. I have also not yet had anyone come to me for marital advice or counseling.

Through all this, I am regularly reminded that my priority should be the youth. And while I feel strongly that I need to do all I can to help them, I must confess that I haven't done a great job of it. My wife has reminded me on more than one occasion about the frustrations that I had as the Young Mens president, in regards to what I hoped the bishop would be doing.

It has been a struggle to figure out how to schedule everything in and focus on what is most important. It seems like everything that comes up has to be done now. We need a ward mission plan. We have a financial audit coming up an need to watch these training videos. We need a new president for (fill-in-the-blank) auxiliary. So-and-so will be turning 12 this month and needs to be interviewed. This young man needs to get to the temple before he goes on his mission. That young woman needs an interview to finish her personal progress. The person who is currently serving as (fill-in-the-blank calling) will be moving soon and needs to be replaced. And on and on and on.

I know that some of these things can and should be delegated to others, but many of them can not be. I realize I have counselors, clerks, and a secretary who can help out with some of these things, and I do rely on them, but there still seems to be so much for me to do.

Scouting is still a priority for me, but I find that having been in a different position for a while that I don't have the focus I used to. I have forgotten much of what I struggled with and what I needed help with, but I still feel that it is vitally important. I help my wife with her Webelos den as much as I can. I will be on staff at Wood Badge again this fall, with my wife attending as a participant. I am trying to make sure we have all the leaders we need for each of our programs, but haven't gotten there yet. And then there are the committees. We are making progress, but I still have a long way to go.

I'm not sure what my purpose is in this post. I guess what I'm trying to say is be patient with your bishop. There is so much to do, and so much to think about. Even knowing and feeling that the youth are a priority I still struggle with how to actually do it.

Maybe your bishop is more capable than I am. Maybe he has figured out better how to get everything accomplished and still give the youth the focus they deserve. Maybe he is doing everything you think he needs. Then again, maybe he isn't. Keep providing gentle reminders about what you need. Help him fulfill his responsibilities by being the best that you can be. And please be patient. I'm sure he is trying. 


  1. This is only going to help a little bit, but the audit requirement that the bishopric review the financial training has been removed. At least this time around. Not saying you shouldn't get trained, just that you can take it off your plate for now.

    1. I hadn't heard that. In fact, my stake president told me just a couple weeks ago I needed to do that training for our upcoming audit.

    2. Yeah, it used to be question 3. For the midyear audit, that question was replaced by one that requires the auditor to check if the ward's computer is behind the church's firewall. No telling whether the training question will make an appearance for the February audit, just saying that it isn't a requirement for the August audit.

  2. Wives are awesome to keep us grounded. I do not envy you at all as a Bishop. I will pass.

  3. This is very good, and I appreciate hearing about the other side of the coin. All I ask from a bishop is the authority and freedom to carry out my responsibility, and the top-cover to back me up. It ought to be kind of like a Scoutmaster-Scout relationship in that way: train 'em, trust 'em and let 'em lead.

    Because of your previous experience, you also know what standard to hold your YM/YW leaders to (both adult and adult-in-training).