On Sunday, my husband became our ward’s bishop. We have known for two weeks, but didn’t tell our children until the night before. Bruce and I read about a bishop’s duties, and he summarized them thus:
1) Care for the poor
2) Help people repent
3) Work with the youth
There are other responsibilities, of course, but these comprise his summary.
As I attended Church on Sunday, I found myself noticing all my ward members in new ways. Since Bruce and I have been serving in the MTC for the past two years, we simply don’t know a lot of the young couples who’ve moved in. I noticed who wasn’t in the congregation, as well as who was. Had they moved? Was there a divorce? Did they die? We will find out everything we need to know.
I told a friend of mine, a Presbyterian pastor, of Bruce’s new calling. He responded, “I know he will be a faithful servant.” That’s a beautiful response. I find it much easier to take than the standard one: “Congratulations.” (What is my husband being congratulated for?)
I will never know all of the weights my husband is carrying during her term of service, but I have found that my love for him has been magnified over the past while. Is it a gift? A preparation for the service I will be asked to give? My portion of his calling? I don’t know. I do know that I feel called just as he does, though nobody set me apart.
Our children remembered past bishops, and urged Bruce to be really understanding and patient. Our oldest remembered one of our bishops who had scolded him for some typically hyper activity, and then returned to apologize. “I never want you to feel like you can’t talk to me about anything,” that bishop had said. “You always need to know I’m your friend.”
Our youngest son said, “So if I do something really bad, do I have to talk to you about it?”
“Well,” Bruce answered, “if it’s something you’re embarrassed about, you can talk to the stake president.”
Our daughter said, “I could talk to you. You’ve always been understanding, even if I’ve been bad.”
I’ve been thinking about the many bishops I’ve had during my lifetime. I’ve also been thinking about their wives. I’m still thinking. I am glad we had our time at the MTC, where our primary directive was to prepare missionaries to “bring souls to Christ.” I find no ego boost in the fact that my husband is now our ward’s bishop. I saw his rather pale face after he had met with our former bishop to discuss the ward’s needs. Bruce’s acceptance of this calling is heroic, not a step up any kind of ladder. We both feel a need to have our own home in order (meaning spiritual order) so that we’re positioneed to help those we’ve been called to serve. Sometimes a cliche is the best description: We’re humbled.