Sitting on the stand

I’m in the bishopric, and have been for six years. Every Sunday, I sit on the stand, and it often feels ridiculous. I can see my wife and four sons in the congregation, and she is in constant motion, never really listening to a talk, doing a stellar job of keeping everybody happy and reasonably reverent. And I sit.

My most important job on the stand is to do nothing. I find that every time I move, everybody looks at me to see what I’m doing. So I sit still and wear an expression of interest in the speaker, occasionally doing something that looks like taking notes or reading a sacred text. And I wear a suit. Wearing a suit is an important part of sitting on the stand. 

There are, of course, some practical aspects to sitting on the stand. Looking out (or really down) at the congregation, I get a sense of who is available or a possibility for a specific calling or perhaps who needs a calling more generally. We can also scope out visitors, seldom-comers and obvious investigators and target them for a between-meetings chat. I know that some bishopric-types will claim they can see how members are doing based on their body language and whatnot, but this is rubbish. Judging anybody’s spirituality on their attitude on a blizzardy Sunday morning after managing public transport or parking on the snowbanked street with a clutch of kids is obvious folly.

Sitting on the stand has to do with presiding, but the actual task of presiding, which is minimal, requires one person, not three. And so my role as a presider in sacrament meeting is to sit there, in my suit, and give a sense of gravitas: ‘presidiness’ if you will. The Handbook recommends that bishopric should be sitting on the stand five minutes before the meeting starts to set a reverent tone for the meeting. From my vantage point — perch, if you like — I can see all sorts of things need to be done to get the meeting together and get one’s kids in the right place in those critical five minutes, but three guys in suits need to be up there. Presiding.

I got a unique insight into the nature of presiding when the Helsinki Temple was dedicated. I was asked to preside at a chapel where a session of the dedication was being broadcast. (It was being broadcast in English, hence my presence.) I was a little nervous as I thought I ought to know something about what was happening or my responsibilities, but I was told by a member of the stake presidency that all I needed to do was sit on the stand (in front of the projection screen) until the broadcast started, and then I could sit with my wife. The purpose was to give everyone a sense that this was a church meeting that had a priesthood member presiding. And so I did. I sat there by myself, on the podium in the dark, feeling like a right fool, watching the ushers do their job. But doing nothing — being a figurehead in a suit in the front — was the most significant element of presiding.

I need to admit that I come off of the stand at least once during every meeting: someone needs the headphones for the translation of the meeting, or I need to get someone to translate if the member with the calling has not arrived; the audio system  or room temperature needs some adjustment; more often, my wife goes to breastfeed or deal with a recalcitrant child, and I go to fill in. In case of a fraternal fight, I sometimes wave one of the combatants to join me on the stand. I am aware that this is considered inappropriate. A visiting authority pointed this out to me and recommended having someone else do these sorts of things. I should delegate.

My experiences with formal presiding has helped me understand why the language of the Proclamation on the Family might be problematic. To summarize: in their primary roles within the home, fathers should preside, mothers should nurture. Nurturing means doing stuff, lots of stuff, which President Beck has made clear in several talks. Presiding, in my experience, means doing nothing: benignly overseeing, giving a sense that someone is in charge, making clarifying statements, but not really doing. Yes, we are to assist each other as equal partners, but the father’s primary role in the home — when not out providing and protecting — is defined by inactivity.

So here’s the thing: I’m going to keep coming off the stand when I can see a need, and sometimes, when I’m not conducting and things are a little rough, I will tell the bishop I’m sitting with my family. I suppose symbolic presiding is fine if nothing else needs to be done. But sitting on the stand, literally or metaphorically, when others have needs, in meetings or at home, is foolish and inconsistent with the example of Christ. And I’m not going to do it.

Comments

  1. Wow. This put a big ole lump in my throat. Thank you, Norbert.

  2. Christopher Bradford (Grasshopper) says:

    Is there ever a time when nothing else needs to be done?

  3. Excellent.

  4. Steve Evans says:

    Well said.

  5. I’ve been thinking about the same thing lately. Well put.

    In my home ward growing up, the bishopric did something pretty cool: after the sacrament, when whoever is conducting allowed the Aaronic priesthood to go join their families, he would also dismiss the other two members of the bishopric to sit with their families as well. For the rest of the meeting, only the person conducting would remain on the stand.

    I wish more stakes would allow this.

  6. Norbert says:

    Ben, that is excellent.

  7. “I sometimes wave one of the combatants to join me on the stand. I am aware that this is considered inappropriate.”

    What?!

    When I see your child coming to you, I think of Jesus:
    “Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me.”

  8. Norbert says:

    Niklas, when I was in California, a bishopric member had a son sitting with him almost every week. He was told by the stake president that it was distracting and the family should find other possibilities.

  9. I have served on the bishopric for 6 1/2 years and was called as the bishop only 3 months after our first child was born. Now over 2 years later, one of the most difficult things for me is to see my wife struggle with our squirming toddler from the stand. A number times when he has been having a tantrum or my wife has been struggling with something I have left the stand during sacrament meeting to help. He also knows that he must have been naughty if daddy comes down to tell him off. I’m “presiding” on the stand when I need to be and hopefully with my family when I need to be, but finding the exact balance can be difficult. I’ve also had my son on the stand with me. At a meeting a little while ago he ran up onto the stand and sat between me and the stake president while eating a fruit snack. Neither I nor the stake president thought it would be right to pick him up and put him back down with my wife.

    My 1st counselor takes a different view and comes from a different generation of church leadership. Many years ago when he was serving as a bishop, he was giving a sacrament talk when his wife collapsed in the congregation. Instead of rushing to her aid, he continued with his talk while two Elders dragged her out of the room. He then finished his talk, waited until the end of the closing hymn and prayer, shook a few hands before finally checking on his wife. He is very big on reverence and won’t let anything distract from that. He feels that if he is seen to be distracted by something it will ruin the meeting for others. Something I disagree with big-time – sometimes I think by concentrating too much on reverence can be a distraction in itself.

    On a related note, recently a member who has struggled with paranoia on and off over the years was the concluding speaker . He also thinks I don’t like him very much. Anyway, his talk started well enough and about 5 minutes in I leant over an whispered something to one of my counselors. The speaker then stopped, turned around and said, “Are you mocking me?”
    I said, “Um, no…” at which point he went back to the microphone and said, “I can’t do this anymore” and walked off.
    The meeting finished early that day.
    Since then, his wife has been going around saying that it wouldn’t have happened if the bishopric were *more* reverent on the stand. Apparently the other week my 2nd counselor “took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes!”
    The horror!
    I watch people have picnics, detailed conversations and make-out sessions from the stand every week. Rubbing eyes and a quick whispered conversation does not strike me as an act of rebellious irreverence in my opinion.

    Maybe if all people want is someone to give off an air of ‘presidiness’ we should just have a mannequin of President Monson installed at the front of every chapel in the church.

  10. britt k says:

    I’m going to assume I didn’t read that it’s innappropriate to come down and serve. I told my husband when he was called into the bishopric that the key part of presiding was to see who needed service and HELP. If the person most frequently needing service was the lady he married with the 8 children…he was to help. (others in the ward said they would sit with me but it never happened) Our 2yo went up on the stand almost every sunday. He came down and sometimes was the one to take children out, or sit with children. There were some times he went to help others as well.

    I can understand seeing who comes and thinking about who you might need to speak with…but if you aren’t there to see who needs help, how sad.

  11. Such a good post, Norbert. I experience exactly the same conflicted feelings every week as I sit on the stand watching my wife struggle with our four children. I am going to suggest the approach taken by Ben’s past ward about having non-conducting Bishopric members dismissed to join their families after the sacrament — hopefully that will be acceptable. It will improve the church experience for my wife and family and, I believe, for everyone else in the ward as they see how important family truly is to the local leaders.

    Instead of having two non-conducting bishopric members sitting on the stand during meetings, the conducting bishopric member should just have a young man or young woman sit on the stand somewhere behind him as a messenger so that if the conducting bishopric member does need something, he can send a message to one of the other non-conducting bishopric members sitting among the congregation and that person can deal with whatever the issue is.

  12. Norbert says:

    he can send a message to one of the other non-conducting bishopric members

    or send a text.

  13. #9 ldsbishop, my son has paranoia too, and always thinks everything anyone does or says is criticism of him. I can tell you find that frustrating or upsetting, which it is, but I wanted to reassure you that there isn’t anything you can do to *not* be giving a paranoid person that impression. The complaint is unreasonable, of course, and you shouldn’t feel it’s incumbent upon you to change your behavior in any way. It’s hard not to feel like that, but I guess the kindest thing you can do is just to reassure the paranoid person that no you weren’t thinking of them at all, and continue to be friendly and not let the complaint upset you.

    It’s really hard not to take mental illnesses like that personally, and to still love the person and not dislike them or get defensive about their actions and feelings they can’t help. I’m still learning that myself. But if you learn how, you can be a great blessing in this person’s life, who alienates almost everyone around them and does come in for a lot of anger and annoyance from others because of their odd and inappropriate behavior.

  14. re # 12, I often find myself sending a text to the YM president, for example, to iron out an issue or two but the problem is whether they are actually going to look at their mobiles during the meeting. I routinely ask people to turn their mobiles on silent mode when it’s my turn to conduct.

  15. John Taber says:

    One of the counselors in our stake presidency encourages bringing a child along on to the stand, if that’s what it takes. He did it many times himself as branch president.

  16. conducting bishopric member should just have a young man or young woman sit on the stand somewhere behind him as a messenger err, they are already supposed to do that, though it is perfectly ok for the deacon to sit on the same row with the bishopric as long as they aren’t getting in the way of the speaker.

  17. Marjorie Conder says:

    A member of our bishopric frequently comes and sits with his wife and 3 lively little boys. I know that I and others always give him kudos for doing so. We have mentioned Jesus and the children to him. I also like seeing kids sitting with their dad on the stand.

    As to the self-righteous bishopric member, we have a former stake president (from another state) who is always sitting in judgement of our ward, from the bishop to ordinary members. He has actually driven some people away. Very Christlike–Not.

    The guy who didn’t immediately check on his wife–just unbelievable. I don’t think Pres. Monson would behave like that, even in General Conference.

  18. #13 Tatiana – I more than agree and I love this guy and his family to bits. I wasn’t personally upset but felt embarrassed for him. What upset me was the subsequent behaviour of his wife in attempting to justify his actions.
    The evening after his talk I went to visit with him and reassured him that while I DO love him, I will not be treading on eggshells around him.
    I might be more aware of what I am doing the next time he gives a sacrament talk, however.

  19. Love this post! I have seen a number of bishopric members fall asleep on the stand which is embarrasing, the cause of this may have something to dow ith them not having anything to do. They aren’t keeping a family entertained, they aren’t holding hands with their spouse and they are not presiding. It is a pointless exercise that is founded in protocol, procedure and stuffed white shirtism. It is not part of the gospel!

  20. Stephanie says:

    You know what really bugs me? We have a member of the high council in our ward who has 5 young kids. Whenever he attends our ward (on official business or not), he sits on the stand – even if there is another high councilman already there on business. Meanwhile, his wife gets to deal with all the kids. Drives me nuts.

    I usually make sure I position myself behind an adult in front of me so noone in the Bishopric can see what I am doing. :)

    Beyond that, this is a great post to show why the word “preside” is hard to take in a family context.

  21. I very much enjoyed this post — much to consider and think about. The spirit of the post definitely has many great take-aways for me.

    A small protest regarding the “letter” of the post: I think it presents what is (usually) a false choice between “doing” and “being a figurehead.” My weekly time on the stand in a bishopric developed into a very valuable aspect of the “doing” part of my calling.

    Perhaps it was because of the bishop I served under. He would occasionally turn to me and say, “Don’t look at sister So-and-So right now, but doesn’t she look like her burdens are a little heavier than usual?” Those kinds of things trained me to use that time on the stand more actively.

    I got some really important inspiration while sitting on the stand where I could see the faces of almost everyone in the congregation. Sometimes one face would just stand out, and the spirit would prompt me to think about them for a while. Sometimes a flash of understanding would come, sometimes their countenance would reveal something. The casual interactions between family members would sometimes cause me to ponder on other things I knew about them, giving me insight into the counsel I might need to give them or to someone closer to them than me.

    The point is, my day and week was often different as a result of the time I spent on the stand — due to the ideas I got because I could see faces. Because I could see how someone reacted to something said on the stand. Because I could see who was supporting who, who was avoiding who, who was riveted to which talk and who seemed to be present but not “present.”

    Again, I’m not trying to take anything away from the spirit of the post. Actions matter more than appearances. I’m just saying that being on the stand changed my actions in ways I don’t believe could have happened had I not been in a position to quietly ponder the faces of the people who were facing me.

  22. nat kelly says:

    Brilliantly said, Norbert.

  23. CS Eric says:

    I am the ward organist, so the only thing I “preside” over is a big wood box. But I also get to spend a chunk of every meeting sitting on the stand behind the bishopric. It is not only interesting to watch the congregation, but also to watch the bishopric as they watch the congregation. Sometimes I can tell they are doing what Lorin describes, and sometimes they just share personal jokes.

    But I get a sense of caring from them from my position above and behind them that I don’t get from my position in the congregation below and in front of them. More than anything else, I can tell that these are good men who are doing the best they can. Maybe it helps that this bishop is fine with kids coming up and sitting with them on the stand–and it doesn’t always have to be their own kids, either.

  24. I’ll just throw this out there: the thing I hate most about sitting on the stand is not being able to read. So, there’s that.

  25. Brilliant!

  26. I like the guy who proceeds stone-facedly as his dear old wife crumples. It’s like the Buckingham Palace Guard approach to conducting a sacrament meeting.

    When I was a young boy my dad used to take me with him on his high council assignments. I was old enough to sit quietly by myself, but he always took me up on the stand with him. If he was speaking he would acknowledge me. I think that one of the best things that I can say about my dad is that I never met another faithful priesthood holder who cared less about what his priesthood leaders thought of him.

  27. Mark Brown says:

    Well done, Kilmer. The part about waving a combatant to the stand made me laugh. When I was a little boy my dad was a presiderer and for several years I spent most Sundays on the stand, on his lap.

  28. Well done.

  29. Norbert says:

    Lorin, I cannot disagree with you. It does create more tension than the spirit of the post wanted to recognize.

    the thing I hate most about sitting on the stand is not being able to read.

    1. Some years ago, a student gave me black leather book covers designed for paperbacks. I have found them an invaluable gift.
    2. Nowadays reading the scriptures off a phone is standard practice. Be creative.

  30. #28: Also, kindles fit comfortably within my large scriptures, so that’s a plus.

  31. Norbert says:

    You could even carve a space out in the Concordance!

  32. Chris Gordon says:

    Regarding the “doing” aspect of presiding, I can remember a lesson from a YM leader regarding passing the sacrament (another realm of much expectation based in little doctrine). He reminded us that while we did have a priority not to distract, we also were there to serve. For 12 year olds, it was a lesson in picking up the dropped toy or distracting the child with a silly face so that the mother might have a half-second to reflect on the purpose of the sacrament.

    My wife’s an awesome example of supporting others during sacrament meeting. We’ve got our little mob row ourselves, but she’s always looking for the mom with a newborn either to sweep the baby away so that parents can pay attention to their unruly row, or borrowing part of their mob to join ours.

    How great a lesson would it be for all those who sit in their same seat every week, who don’t look for investigators or seldom-actives to sit with or those whose body language cries “Hug me!,” who look with disgust at the family struggling with reverence, if a member of the bishopric were to model what to do by leaving the stand and going to help that person!

  33. Wonderful post, Norbert. I’m sending the link to my Bishop – who is a very good man and whom I think will appreciate it as much as I do.

  34. Researcher says:

    if a member of the bishopric were to model what to do by leaving the stand and going to help that person (31)

    Nice in theory, but many mothers (and perhaps some fathers as well) would undoubtedly see such a move as an attack on their parenting and on the behavior and character of their children. They already know their child’s behavior is reprehensible for a meeting which is ideally (but not realistically) as silent as temple services. To have that reinforced by having an authority figure move out of his usual place and come down into the congregation would be a public shaming. You might as well put that mother in the stocks.

    I was recently released as ward organist after a number of years, so I had plenty of experience sitting on the stand. I didn’t care for it. I didn’t like inadvertently catching peoples’ eyes when I glanced at the congregation and I didn’t like having to strike that perfect balance of looking pleasantly interested but not bored, so I would try, as much as possible, to leave the stand after the sacrament to sit with my husband and young children.

  35. I think if you genuinely love the people you serve then they will feel that love and anything else you do won’t matter much when it’s all said and done.

  36. Julie M. Smith says:

    Great post.

  37. Indiana says:

    Norbert, amen and amen! I appreciate your particular breakdown of why some people have a problem with the word “preside” when it seems like preside = sit and watch whilst nuture = run and do and keep doing and smile the entire time.

    I think your last few lines summed it all up nicely and like Ray @32, I’m sending this to my father-in-law, who’s a Bishop. After hearing him give a talk on how the purpose of life (and the Atonement) is to enable us to become like Christ, I think he’d heartily second the sentiments you’ve raised.

    Thanks for that.

  38. #33 – I agree in spirit, but I wish it were that easy in practice.

  39. Sorry, Researcher, that last comment was about #34, not #33.

  40. At first read, I didn’t entirely agree with Norbert; I feel the role of presiding is important (as detailed in #21). However, after reading the story in #9, if that’s the ideal some are striving for, I totally agree that is not being representatives of Christ.

    I have seen a few times where the bishop had to get up after a speaker/testimony-bearer to clarify a point of doctrine, so it is important that they are listening carefully. And that can be a heavy burden for one person, so I can see why there is supposed to be more than one. With three, it does seem that someone is usually going to be superfluous, but the back-up for the back-up (and the number three) seems to be a common thread in the gospel. If Christ were by himself at the front of a meeting, I’m sure He would constantly be pulled away to help someone. With three on the stand, I think Norbert should be comfortable going to help whoever needs it.

    As organist and primary pianist, I will say that, if there is not a member of the bishopric on the stand five minutes before the meeting starts, my tithing doesn’t get paid that week, because I won’t have a chance to get it to any of them again that day. Though one bishopric I played for always made a point of coming up and personally thanking me after the meeting (while I was playing postlude), so that made it easy to pay my tithing.

  41. Chris Gordon says:

    Good point, Researcher. Hadn’t thought of that. I guess someone on the stand would really have to already cultivated a reputation of doing such things out of love, but how do you get to that point?. I guess the bottom line is that what someone on the stand does carries different weight than an action from someone in the congregation and that needs to be taken into account.

  42. Great post. Really. This hits close to home as we have the double whammy of me 1) serving in a different ward (YSA bishopric) at the same time as our family sacrament meeting and 2) having to watch my wife handle two ADHD children when she comes to visit the YSA ward for sacrament meeting. We’re definitely having a formative experience as a family, but it makes for an exhausting day each week.

    Like Norbert, I’m responsible for translation issues in the ward where I serve so I’m constantly up and down during the meeting as well. I’m okay with that. Keeps the blood from pooling

  43. I also am stunned by #9’s remarks about the former Bishop who continued to speak despite what happened to his wife. I wonder how she felt about thiat incident!

    I am sure some feel uncomfortable w/novel situations such as what happened in that situation. Once in my ward a man had a health problem that occurred during Sacrament while one of the young women was at the stand. She was calm during the man’s episode, people helped him out and just sat quietly until given the go ahead to resume sacrament meeting.

    Good for you Norbet for doing what makes sense. I recall a former Stake Pres tearfully sharing how hard it was to see his wife sit alone w/the younger kids. But these are informal church culture things that perhaps can be changed overtime.

    In a calling as a counselor in a stake relief society presidency, we have to sit on the stand in the dark during the annual satellite of the General Relief Society broadcast. Thus we will watch the broadcast on a small tv “facing” the sisters (that we can’t truly see) in the dark while everyone else sits and faces forward to watch the broadcast on the Big Screen. Kind of silly! (And you’ve made me feel bad that on one occasion when I had a loved one visiting my stake, I left that person alone while I sat on the stand)

  44. BTW in the incident I mentionned, 911 did have to be summoned, our wrd just sat quietly for several minutes, one of the Bishopric left the stand to be with the family (as did several othe ward members) until paramedics and the ward member left. Someone also spoke calming wards that the person was ok and had been given a blessing

  45. Elouise says:

    As to reverence and carrying on come chaos or high water,
    I cherish the story (whether totally accurate or embellished) about Brigham conducting conference when word came about the Handcart Companies stranded out on the prairie.
    At that news, he immediately ended conference and instructed those present to get their wagons loaded and
    “Go bring them in!” The women in the congregation (so Patty Bartlett Sessions records in her famous journals)
    made a big circle, and one by one, inside that circle, they stripped off warm petticoats and stockings and who knows what else and piled it all in a wagon that sped off eastward.

    Of course, in the ordinary course of things, such as women fainting and all, Brigham must have drawn the line somewhere–perhaps at #15 or so.

  46. I’m now a five year veteran of sitting on the stand, and I could not agree more with the sentiment of this post. The suit, the five minutes before the meeting starts, the looking at the congregation, the watching the wife struggle with the kids, all a perfect fit for me.

    I miss sitting with my family, playing with the kids, taking them out when they needed a break (or I needed a break). I don’t like wearing that blasted suit when it’s 85 degrees up on the stand, and doing nothing. Oh, occasionally the bishop will bounce an idea off of me, or I will be able to catch something the other two don’t, so I suppose that makes the five years of elevation worth it.

    A member of our stake presidency often visits, which means I slide down a seat, since he has to sit next to the person that is conducting (an unwritten order, I think), which puts me smack dab behind the person speaking. This leaves me with a few options, 1) get an awful kink in my neck while looking interested in what the speaker is saying (I don’t think I’ve heard a talk in the last five years…too many distractions for this borderline ADD man), by focusing on the back of their head, 2) scan the crowd to see who we could burden with the bear scouts for the next five years, or 3) let my head rest at a comfortable level, allowing me to get a good long look at the speakers bum… awkward!

    The best part? When my wife releases my three year old daughter to come and sit with me during the closing hymn and prayer.

  47. Having the bishopric on the stand serves an important purpose I don’t see mentioned: It lets those who attend identify who the members of the bishopric are. RS presidencies sitting in front during RS meeting (at least opening exercises) serves the same purpose. Since we have no priestly robes or other regalia to identify leaders, it’s important to use such placement as a method of identifying ourselves for those who are new or uncertain. The purpose isn’t to glorify them; its just a practical one: to help those who may need help know who they can ask. Or to whom to give donation envelopes, as someone mentioned.

    Now that I think about it, maybe the high priest group leadership in my ward should try something like that. Who are they, anyway? I’m seldom in my own ward, and can never remember who the group leaders’ assistants are — assuming they haven’t changed since I was last there. I guess I could check LDS Tools, but I already know it’s not accurate/current as to many callings in my ward and others.

  48. John Mansfield says:

    For me, the main thing the First Presidency in the course of a year is preside General Conference. Sure, they’re probably doing lots of things the other six months, but those things don’t involve me or 95% of the Church’s members. I see a lot more of my ward’s bishopric than that, but sacrament meeting is still the main time that they spent with most members most weeks.

    Also, as the child-wrangling husband of an organist, I think bishopric wives’ are generally made of tougher stuff than to need rescuing by their husbands.

  49. JrL, why couldn’t they do that for the opening/ward business, and then disband? That’s what the RS presidency does in every ward I’ve been in. They go sit in the audience during the lesson.

  50. Yup. I am a stand-sitter-presider. The suit really is the most important part, in fact I think the only thing more important may be a white shirt. I miss sitting with my wife, and having an excuse to tune out when the kids crawl on me. Instead I have to look so in-tune all the time. And oh! the fun when it is a woman speaking. Basically I get to pick a spot on the wall at the back of the chapel and stare at it lest my roving eyes accidentally fall upon her backside and the members get the impression that I am checking her out. Fun!

  51. charlene says:

    “Sitting on the stand” disturbed me when I moved into a ward where an apostle lived. I got to know and love his wife first, because he was often traveling. When he returned home he sat on the stand. I asked why he couldn’t sit with his wife on the rare occasions when he was there, and was told that as the highest ranking priesthood member, he was the one to preside at meetings. So who was presiding, the bishop or the apostle? And, if it’s both (or all three of the members of the bishopric) then could this correspond in the POF that both parents preside?

  52. I believe that there is one person that presides at a meeting, and that is the highest ranking authority.

  53. Ah, Cynthia L, the sisters are all there and have had the chance to see the RS presidency by the time opening is over. Members (and visitors) wander into sacrament meeting until, well, near the very end. At least in the wards where I’ve had “sit on the stand” callings.

  54. Michael says:

    I was once in a ward where a visiting GA remarked how he’d visited a ward where the bishop had a number of unruly children. Once, during a bad fight where the mom was clearly losing the battle, that bishop had left the stand and gone to assist his wife by taking children out of the meeting. Said GA also remarked how he’d never had more respect and admiration for a bishop than he did at that time.

  55. Stephanie says:

    Also, as the child-wrangling husband of an organist, I think bishopric wives’ are generally made of tougher stuff than to need rescuing by their husbands.

    I don’t think that’s fair. It puts too much pressure on women. It’s too close to putting the bishopric wives on a pedastal. They are people, too, who sometimes might need a hand.

    Lorin 21, that is exactly why I sit behind someone else during Sacrament meeting. I am not interested in the Bishopric assessing me. (unless, of course, my countenance screams “Get me out of scouts now!!!!!” Then I will glady sit in the front row.)

  56. Cynthia,
    Our stake takes a stern stand on RS Presidency sitting in front the entire time. Actually, the last two stakes I was in have been that way.

  57. I like to sit in full view of the bishopric so that they may behold my beatific visage, and marvel as I am transfigured into the form, voice, and countenance of Joseph Smith, and thereby validate my claims to the leadership of the church.

  58. I’m gonna disagree on a couple things here, but certainly my intent is not to make a personal attack. I realize we’re all in this together. However, what kind of place would this be without a little dissent, right?

    First, I sometimes struggle to understand how the Proclamation can be interpreted so negatively by so many people. I see it as a beautiful document that teaches everyone (moms, dads, married, single, gay, straight, whatever) a little bit more about the Christ-like qualities and behaviors that will help us in our journey home to Father in heaven. It only uses the word “preside” once, and in the word’s context it challenges men to do so in love and righteousness. I hardly see it as a call to “doing nothing: benignly overseeing, giving a sense that someone is in charge”.

    Second, I kinda feel like the whole feel of the OP is much ado about nothing. It’s true that in some wards and stakes, priesthood leaders would frown on a bishopric member leaving the stand to help out with his family or inviting a child to sit with him up front. Honestly, I don’t think it’s as big a deal as some of the responses here have indicated. I realize they’ve shared actual personal experiences, and I don’t mean to diminish them, but the reality is it’s just not a big deal. Aren’t there bigger fish to fry than whether or not Brother or Sister Smith is the type of person who does/doesn’t mind sitting on the stand or whether they personally are humble or demonstrative about their church callings?

    Instead of writing a post about how your actions are not “foolish and inconsistent with the example of Christ” like those of your bishop (which is implied in your last paragraph), why not just sit down and have a chat with your bishop and let him know how you feel? Clearly you feel strongly enough about this issue and other priesthood issues (i.e. preside) that if for some reason your priesthood leaders are unwilling to allow you to leave the stand, you’d probably be better off asking to be released. Are you worse off or in less of a position to serve your family and ward members if you no longer sit on the stand? I think the whole point of your post is to state that you can serve them better while not on the stand. Do you need the “bishopric member” tag to do that?

  59. Mossbloom says:

    My husband got called to the bishopric shortly after he returned from a deployment to Iraq and it was pretty devastating. We were in a new ward and he was only 30 at the time so I thought that we were safe and that I would finally be able to sit next to my husband during sacrament meeting and get some help with the kids after 8 months of going it alone. Nope. He had to go sit on the stand and send me apologetic grins.

    I’ve been the organist several times and have always gone to sit with my family during the talks. I used to wait until after the sacrament was passed and the young men were going to sit with their families, but once we had more than one kid, I thought it would be better for me to hurry down there and help keep my kids reverent. It just seems to me that it is way more important to help create a peaceful, reverent atmosphere during that sacred ordinance than to sit there looking official.

  60. Mommie Dearest says:

    Well Darren you actually supported the main idea of the OP regarding presiding with your paragraph that started with this theme: “…much ado about nothing.”

    Once we had an Apostle visit our ward. His wife sat on the stand with him. He was invited to speak. She did, too.

  61. Oh come on, Norbert. Haven’t you ever seen the little kid in the front of the primary with folded arms and satisfied smirk as the happy children file in and bounce into their seats?

    That’s you, man. Carry your cross. Bring order with your baleful stare.

  62. Great post. I wish more bishoprics felt like you do, and I actually suspect that some do feel similar, but are too steeped in tradition to do anything.

    What I’d love to see is the Relief Society President sitting on the stand too. She could probably bring a different perspective on the needs on the ward from the stand. Having both a man and woman looking for needs in that way would be an incredible thing. Pipe dreams, I know.

  63. Maybe if all people want is someone to give off an air of ‘presidiness’ we should just have a mannequin of President Monson installed at the front of every chapel in the church.

    Best. Idea. EVER.

  64. Mommie Dearest

    I’m not certain I know what you mean when you note that I was supporting the OP, but I think you’re trying to say that sometimes in the church much ado about nothing is made in a lot of areas, i.e. your example of a visiting authority. Maybe you meant too much “ado” is made about sitting on the stand. I can certainly appreciate that thought, and I don’t disagree.

    I guess my main point is that if we let them, arguing over these types of concerns have the potential to overshadow all the great stuff about our beliefs and our meetings (not that our meetings are perfect!). As a small example, some people might think the sister being invited to speak in your ward along with her GA husband is a good example of giving equal time to women as to men. Additionally, some have suggested in the comments here that inviting the RS president to sit on the stand would be a good idea. I don’t necessarily disagree with that comment, but isn’t it kinda contradictory to the original OP which seemed to indicate it’d be better to sit together as a family rather than require one parent to sit up front? Which is more important, sitting together as a family or demonstrating equality? I’m not sure there’s a perfect answer to that question.

    As a parent, I can totally appreciate the desire to help out and sit with my family. If for some people, this is one of the difining issues of their church membership, then we should be sensitive to that and help out as necessary. I guess I’m just not convinced this issue rises to that level for most folks. In my experience, most folks with this issue try to find a solution that works with everyone, and in the process they find a way to not implicate the bishop as foolish. That kind of rhetoric bugs me a little.

  65. Kevin Barney says:

    Loved the post. (Thankfully it’s not a problem I’ll ever have.)

    When I first moved to the Chicago area, I regularly sat behind a woman and her four kids. It took me two months to figure out she wasn’t a widow but was married to a counselor in the bishopric.

  66. Love it. As a single mom, I have a hard time feeling sorry for the mates of people who sit up front–it is temporary for you, and when you go on vacation, you can sit together. Single parents get no reprieve. Ever.

    Yeah, single parents are a total downer.

  67. Aaron B says:

    Awesome.

  68. Mommie Dearest says:

    Oh dear, sorry about the misunderstanding. This thread is about lighthearted chat, not arguing. I was just making an idle observation, and reporting what happened in my ward once. No unspoken meanings intended, except for anything anyone wants to read into it.

    It’s probably a good thing when the presiders don’t have a lot to do other than sit reverently. Maybe we should share the times when we saw the presiding authority keep the meeting from going south. (as it were)

  69. namakemono says:

    re ESO #66 – or if your spouse is a non-member!

  70. Fairchild says:

    Re: #48:

    It might be easy for you to wrangle the kids while your wife plays organ because, presumably, you’ve been away at work all week and enjoy that time with your kids. But, the Bishop’s wife might want a break from them if she’s been wrangling them all week!

    When my husband was in the Bishopric right after our fourth child was born, my best Sunday was the one where I was asked to give a talk and he sat with the kids the whole meeting. I even remarked at the beginning of my talk how peaceful and quiet it was up there and that I was willing to give a talk every week if they wanted!

  71. my bishop brother-in-law texts teenagers from the stand to tell them to put their phones away or whatever. i should ask if he ever texts his wife too; just a sympathetic “sorry you’re there with 4 kids LOL” might be appreciated :-)

  72. donald fair says:

    Years ago I was a ward clerk. I sat on the stand and counted noses. I didn’t get it then, and don’t get it now

  73. Michelle says:

    I am impressed that you didn’t mention you accidentally slept on the stand. My dad occasionally did catch a wink or two in his bishoprick experience x3. The other presiders’ elbows were not as sharp as my mom’s or they were also sleeping.

  74. I’m totally waiting for the bishopric member who takes “delegate” to mean: Delegate the sitting quietly and reverently on the stand to your wife (who’s been wrestling kids all week and likely got them ready for church without your help and who will spend another afternoon alone while you’re in leadership meetings); and go be Daddy for an hour.

  75. Josh B. says:

    Awesome. Sounds great to me.

  76. Why is it that the Bishopric generally consists of married men with families of small children? The demographics are changing, smaller families, earlier retirement and longer life. Presiding in meetings is not the most demanding part of that calling. It seems that in most wards, experienced men who have raised their families could be called to the Bishopric. Alternatively having the most elderly High Priests conduct meetings, maybe with their wives at their side while the younger men in the Bishopric sit with their families.

    One way to make this happen would be for young fathers to say no when they are called to positions that would interfere with their family responsibilities. Who are we kidding if we think we can do it all and do it well? Are there any studies that document the common observations about the wickedness of their offspring, the SOB’s and DOB’s? (Sons of Bishops and daughters of Bishops). If I had younger children in my care and was called to the Bishopric I would hope that I had the humility to realize that I am not capable of doing both decently. I would suggest they go back and pray some more about other men who have grown children taking my place.

  77. Whoa there, Mike. Having been one of those fathers with young children in the bishopric, I can look back and say that I did far better at the “father” part than the “bishopric” part, but I had plenty of time for both most of the time. And I had a demanding job as well. Had to give up a lot of leisure time, but that’s called “consecration.” Yes, it was demanding for both me and my wife, but we were extremely blessed in ways that would not have been possible had we not accepted the call.

    Where do these older “experienced” men get their prior experience? I believe I’m a better father because of my demanding church callings (and a better time manager). Wouldn’t have it any other way.

    The bishop needs to call whomever he is inspired to call. Period.

  78. Don’t agree with the tone of this post or the comments. However, I want to give props to the single sisters out there who help young families. This has happened to us in multiple wards. We have a young single women who brings her own goody bag for my daughter. She is like part of the family and we save seats for eachother depending on who arrives first. A true angel!

  79. Josh B. says:

    Have a look at 48:00

  80. Lorin;

    I hope you forgive my bluntness and I have been wrong before.
    I don’t believe you.

    I want to talk to your kids. I want to know if you took them camping enough or played ball with them enough and a hundred other things.

    I have two children both out of high school now. I have only a moderately time consuming job. I have no hobbies except what involves my kids. I am an excellent time manager. I had no difficult callings after the kids were about 6 years old. I spent more time with them than anybody I know in or out of my ward and I regret not spending even more.

    I camped over 300 nights and hiked over 2000 miles with my son. This is not that difficult when you go on treks of over 100 miles every year. We made most of his 80 merit badges as hard as possible as father and son projects in the spirit of that part of the scout oath that says do your best. Three months was not that long to work on each one of them. I read the entire Iiand and then the Odyssey out loud to him before he could read and more books than I could carry out of the house in a day. I went to most of his running events and ran every day with him as long as he would put up with my stiffening pace.

    I listened to my daughter practice her music almost every day and attended hundreds of her performances. i didn’t even like classical music before raising her. Some years she performed every day of December and many times every month of the rest of the year. Now she is at a top 10 private college on a music scholarship. I only took her camping about 50 times and I have started taking her and assorted college friends camping and hiking. She loves to chat and I could talk to her for hours.

    I did some teaching and I robbed my employer at work of the time to prepare for that. I do not see how I could have done any church calling that required 10 or 20 or 40 hours a week and have it not cut significantly into the time I spent with my kids. Mathematically impossible. Not enough hours in a day and days in a year.

    I have a brother with 4 children and he has served continually in demanding callings, currently as 1st C. in the Bishopric. He has a more difficult job than I, and diabetes since he was a youth. He does try to spend quite a bit of time with his kids. He is 40 pounds overweight and not even capable of doing anything very physically demanding with his 15 year old son. He plays the same song, I hear Lorin singing. I wouldn’t have it any other way, I’m so blessed. So much a better father for all the time I spent not being a father. Ask his boys.
    Pure bullshit.

    I do agree that calling should come by inspiration. I don’t think it is inspiration to call young fathers with small children to positions that don’t directly involve their children when plenty of people populate our wards without child raising responsibilities. Telling bear stories over a pot of stew in the Dutch oven simmering in the coals with your kids and their friends after a hard day of hiking? Or sitting around a table in the ward house worrying and fussing about a whole lot of what seems to me to turn out to be not much of anything in the end? We make our choices and we live with them.

  81. Norbert says:

    Mike: Your enthusiasm for fathering is admirable, but your accusatory tone is unwelcome. Please show more respect for the experiences of others.

    Many of us live in places in the church where there are fewer people to choose from as leaders. What’s more, the work I do in the bishopric, the real work, not the symbolic stuff, does make a difference in people’s lives, without any doubt, as has my wife’s work with the young women. The fact that we have small children does not preclude my wife nor I from sharing our time with others.

  82. John Mansfield says:

    Mike, you left out telling us about the time you’ve also devoted to your wife and to continuing the relationship with your aging parents.

  83. Mike,
    Congratulations on spending so much time with your kids. Sorry to hear that I sound like your brother in law, but I do not relate to this man you describe. And sorry you don’ t believe me. I’m also sorry you haven’t had the growth opportunities affording by a more challenging calling, and the opportunity to find out that the Lord can make more of your time than you can. (O ye of little faith.)
    Here’s the math:
    168 = Hours in a week
    49 = Hours sleeping
    60 = Hours working or commuting (I use public transit and do both concurrently. Includes 30 minutes for scripture study and prayer on the way in to work.)
    5 = Hours exercising (I bike at lunch hour and eat at my desk.)
    94 = Hours left for everything else

    Now, let’s factor in the bishopric part.
    20 = Hours spent on a particularly busy week as a bishopric counselor. (12-15 was more typical)
    74 = Hours left for everything else

    Yes, there’s a lot of “everything else” to put in that 74 hours a week. Cut out TV, wasted Internet time and so forth, and there’s more left than most people think, especially if you learn to manage the“fillers” and “transitions.” You don’t even have to rush around or be hyper-organized – you just have to develop better personal rituals and better habits. Somehow, I can wake up and walk out the door 20 minutes later without feeling rushed, get the lawn mowed, help with the dishes, and raise kids all at the same time. These are the kinds of blessings I’ve received as a result of accepting challenging callings.
    Yes, I’ve given up some activities that I don’t have time for, but the more I consecrate my time to the Lord, the more I see what to leave out, and the more unrushed “free time” seems to materialize.
    Maybe your brother in law can’t do as much with 74 hours as he could with 94, but if the 20 hours he’s cutting out of other parts of his life include time with his kids, that’s not the church’s fault.
    (And I haven’t even gotten into the methods for doing your church calling well in the least amount of time possible!)
    Sorry you see all this as B.S., but I HAVE been more calm and a more effective father while as a EQP, bishop’s counselor, Stake Exec. Sec, and HPGL than I have after I’ve been released from these callings. Doesn’t make sense, but it’s true.
    Sorry, but maybe I’m calling B.S. on you – you wouldn’t know, because you admit you haven’t tried it. Sounds like you’ve been spending your time away from challenging callings well, but you don’t know for a fact that you couldn’t have done both. Maybe my family will be singing a different tune if I’m ever called to be bishop, but till then, we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

  84. Stephanie says:

    Lorin, not to be argumentative, but your schedule sounds a lot like my husband’s, and he wasn’t getting that much time spent with his family. He gets up at 4 to go to work and gets home at 5:30 (on a good day). He typically goes to bed at 10 (so he actually sleeps a little less than you). This is how often we got to see him when he was in the Bishopric:

    Mondays – 4.5 hours (from 5:30-10 p.m.)
    Tuesdays – 4.5 hours
    Wednesdays – maybe one (from 5:30-6:30)
    Thursdays – maybe one (same deal as Wed – this wasn’t every week, but I am accounting for church responsibilities taking him out of the home for a second evening a week)
    Fridays – 4.5 hours
    Saturdays – 16 hours
    Sundays – 5 hours

    That’s about half of what you got. And it is every spare second of his day to fit in everything that is not work, commute, church. With his new calling, we get him about 15 more hours a week (all day Sunday and Thursdays, too). That 15 hours makes a HUGE difference in my life.

    I would like to say that our family was so blessed for his 3 years of service, but it honestly didn’t feel that way. Maybe my heart is too hard or something, but I am just glad we survived it. Actually, he loved the experience. Me not so much.

  85. This seems like a fun game everyone is playing!

    168 = Hours in a week
    35 = Hours sleeping
    7 = Hours pretending to be asleep so my kids will go away
    7= Hours arguing with my wife over whose turn it is to get up and make breakfast
    65 = Hours dinking around on the blogs working (I live 5 minutes from my office, which is fantastic, as it allows me to make a quick trip home when I forget to put deodorant on in the morning).
    0.333 = Hours spent exercising.
    12.667 = Hour spent thinking about the need to get more exercise
    101 41 = Hours left for everything else

    Actually, that wasn’t as much fun as I thought it was going to be.

  86. Stephanie says:

    Oh, ha ha. I didn’t realize Lorin messed up on his math. No wonder it looks like so much time. Yeah, the 34 hours of free time you have to spend with your family each week is about the same as what DH got.

    So now my other comment looks really dumb (what else is new?). My point still stands that it was hard and I am glad it is over. I certainly don’t want my kids’ whole childhoods to be spent that way.

  87. Oops on the math — 54 hours for everything else, or 34 hours with a busy week for the calling. (Hint: I am not an accountant.)

    The rest, I don’t take back. Stephanie, I realize that it was probably harder for my wife than it was for me. She can write her own comment about that if she wants.

  88. Ah crap. And since I trusted Lorin, now my math is screwed up, too. Nice going, Lorin.

  89. Yes, I know — all credibility shot to Hades. I work in publishing — when I make mistakes they are always conspicuous doozies. What else is new?

  90. Of course, one reason why some callings are so time-consuming is that so many people are unwilling to volunteer their free time to church service, leaving a small number of people to pick up a large amount of slack. And some people spend more time on their church callings than is really necessary. But this has nothing to do with sitting on the stand or not.

  91. Thomas Parkin says:

    How I figure it:

    Time present and time past
    Are both perhaps present in time future,
    And time future contained in time past.
    If all time is eternally present
    All time is unredeemable.

    Just as an aside, I saw a movie where Eliot had a real trouble with the way his wife washed his socks.

  92. britt k says:

    In our last ward there were at most 12 temple going active priesthood holders. How was that supposed to work with not calling young fathers ever?

    A reading of scripture doesn’t support God himself avoiding young fathers or asking us to make huge sacrifices that are hard on our children. I’m pretty sure Lehi had a tough time watching his wife eat raw meat, pregnancy and birth while traveling in the wilderness… It’s not like God is known for asking easy things of us.

    My husband is a teacher and coach. his hours range from 6am-7pm if he doesn’t have a game that day. It leaves very little time for family as weekend are frequently taken (even Sundays when he coached football in texas). So adding Bishopric on to that was extremely difficult. Adding a 9th child at that time was a challenge .

    He came down from the stands as needed. I still spent a ton of time in the hall, wrestling children-mostly the twin 4yos and the 2yo. This post is about sacrament meeting but one thing that made that so tough was getting everyone ready myself. I was frequently tired before the meeting started, having just used every ounce of energy to cajole the 6yo boy into clothes and find THE perfect dress for the 2yo…while navigating the twins-one of whom wanted to match and one of whom didn’t….
    I’m not one of those amazing bishopric wives that could gracefully do it all herself while smiling-what a ridiculous expectation that so freely exempts us from serving.

  93. :::Young liberal dual income perspective:::
    1. If a man sits more than 50 feet from his family for more than 60 minutes during a church meeting it will ruin the family and be impossible for the wife to bear.
    2. A young mom voluntarily working out of the home 40+ hours a week (i.e., high earning dual income) to pursue her passions, while putting her kids in day care will have no adverse impact on the children or family.

  94. Lorin:

    Congradulations on your excellent time management. I could no more come up with such an accounting of my time as fly off my house. The demanding callings teach these skills. I was not offered them and I am glad that I mostly stumbled into my path, which now seems like the high road.

    Here is my point. During that weekly 74 hours or 34 hours for everything else (however you add it up) you spent X hours with your children and you spent 12 or more hours doing church work. You could have spent X +12 hours with your children. Or you could have spent X +6 hours with them and only 6 hours on church work. Or any other combination. Now, my math is at about the level of Dr Seuss (one fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish) but even I can guess that X + 12 is greater than X. That is my point: X + 12 > X.

    The next question is how much is enough? Is X enough for Lorin? He thinks so. Do his kids? Is it ever enough? How much of X is too much? Don’t give me any of this balance crap until you can give me some substantial units of weight (pounds for example) on rearing children.

    Since I have really no ability to do anything to Lorin beyond insulting him on a blog (or giving him a easy chance to insult me) these questions are not important to us personally. But my brother in the Bishopric is another matter. How do I get him to see that he needs to exercise more and he needs to spend even more time with his sons because now at the preteen stage he can tell that two of them appear to be heading for troubled waters. In spite of Lorin’s objections, my brother is a hell of a lot more like him than me.

    *********
    Another warning. I came up in the late 1960’s in a ward with 250 + youth in the MIA. Enough for observations to be beyond a mere statistical accident. (Yep, that would be 40 deacons, I served as the deacons president for 3 weeks. We passed the sacrament once a month except when older boys bullied me into it more often). I can not begin to describe what the Bishop’s sons did since I was often at least an instigator and the statue of limitations may not have run out on some of these acts. But a description of one area of common iniquity of the Bishop’s daughters will suffice to make my point. Of note, they were all too “good” for me.

    My first Bishop of my days in MIA had 7 daughters. The oldest was shacking up in her own parents basement with a college boy during high school. The second was gorgeous and had moral problems and repented and became sort of a friend in college. She was the source of much of this information. The third was promiscuous to the point of doing gang bangs after school and church dances. The fourth got pregant twice and had abortions because she was not as smart as her sisters and didn’t use contraception. The fifth was wild like her sisters, the sixth not much better according to her sister. The seventh was the least attractive which protected her to a degree, until college when she really cut loose.

    The next Bishop with 4 daughters lived next door to me and he served only for a few months before his integrity and small town politics that involved corruption in church leaders’ relatives pushed him out. His oldest daughter became a good friend in college, we double dated frequently. She told me what I already knew that she was as wild as a March hare from the 7th to 11th grade before she repented. She lost count of her sexual partners after about 50. Her next sister was rather strange, we called her the foreign spy. She was decent if not odd until college but went through a stretch of being a hippie and sleeping around. Her third sister had a chronic disease and was not healthy enough to act up. The fourth seemed to learn from observing her older sisters and was a good decent girl.

    My third Bishop had 8 gorgeous daughters and 6 sons. I don’t know where to begin to describe this chaotic family. My brother dated the fifth daughter, the least attractive physically but the nicest one. She told him once that he didn’t even know what real peer pressure was because she had 7 sisters trying anything and everything to get her to lose it and 3 were younger than her.

    The fourth Bishop was called after I left home but my dad served with him and he was a neighbor with 6 daughters. His oldest daughter organized keg parties at her parents house where all manner of abominations occurred. The second ran away in high school with the Hells Angels to be a street tramp. The third and fourth both got pregnant, one she claims after only doing it once. The other two were too young for me to know what happened to them but probably not any different than the rest.

    I have no way of knowing but based on gossip I would guess that about half of the girls in that ward were sexually active and about 70% of the boys. Around 90% of the Bishops daughters were immoral. (N=30). The second Bishop’s daughter with over 50 partners repented for an entire year before going in to confess to the third Bishop with the 8 daughters. She told me that the Bishop fell asleep during her confession, he was so shell-shocked by the behavior of the youth including his own.

    These four men were among the best church leaders I have ever known. I see a pattern here. Large families. Overly strict discipline, if anything. Fathers letting church callings allow them to avoid responsibility. Mothers distracted by too many younger siblings and not being able to deal with older kids during the teenage years. High social status based on absent father’s church position creating more opportunities for iniquity. Older siblings leading younger ones astray.

    Today, smaller families, smaller problems. Similar dynamics?

  95. Britt :

    Only 12 temple attenders? That automatically forces younger men into the Bishopric? It doesn’t have to.

    How about bigger wards?

    Or perhaps fewer restrictive requirements?

    J. Golden Kimball once dragged a totally inactive drunk out of an irrigation ditch and made him the Bishop, or so the story goes.

    Just thinking outside of the box.

  96. Mike, I’m sorry for your experiences, but they aren’t mine and lots of others’ – and I believe they aren’t typical.

    Since this is all anecdotal and unverifiable, that’s probably all that can be said.

    #93 – *sigh*

  97. #95 – I assume, based on your description, that you grew up in Utah. Bigger wards isn’t possible when the geography is as spread out as it is in lots of places.

  98. Brit (again):

    Why eat raw meat when you have a free pass to Chuck-a-rama next door?

    The Lord doesn’t ask us to do hard things unless we actually have to do them. So by reverse logic, if we don’t have to do it (because there is a better way), then the Lord is probably not the one doing the asking?

  99. it's a series of tubes says:

    I love how #94 uses his personal experience in one ward 4 decades ago as a broad brush to paint the world. Good for the chuckles.

  100. Jacob M says:

    I like that all of the examples in 94 involve the bishop’s daughters. A son’s immorality, not worth mentioning I guess.

  101. Ray:

    How much of the church is that spread out?

    Years ago the missionary department discovered that the baptism rate was higher in established wards than in places where we had no members. Since that time missionary work has generally been concentrated where we are already present. The proportion of number of wards to branches has increased.

    Much of the Mormon diaspora in North America is driven by better jobs in certain fields frequently chosen by Mormon college students (business, engineering, law, etc) with certain mid levels of pay. Large families and tithing have prevented the accumulation of wealth in most Mormon families. Strict adherence to the basic expectations of the church have kept many out of the dregs of society. This results in the Mormons tending to live in the same suburbs. This is already happening and it could easily be encouraged further by building Mormon community centers in certain places.

    What I see is wards being divided too often just about when critical mass for good youth programs is nearly achieved. In other words this observation of the ward being too small might be artificial in many cases.

    In places where the density of Mormons is really too low, we could simplify down to a 30 minute Sacrament meeting only. We could attend sunday school at the local big box church and help them with their youth ministeries and their various out reaches. I had a back sliding Mormon friend who was attending a rather free-wheeling small Methodist church and he used the Book of Mormon as his text in his Sunday school class with mixed success.

    I understand years ago that out in the sparcely populated praire states in Canada where there wasn’t near enough population to support more than one church, that several Protestant churches put aside doctrinal differences and combined their efforts and formed the Church of Canada.

    From my perspective any of these options would be better than taking fathers out of the home as much as we currently do in many instances.

  102. Ok Jacob.
    The sons were doing things like rape and arson and seances… along with banging the girls every chance they got. I sort of skipped over the drug abuse, the suicides, traffic deaths, and more. Are you satisfied or do I need to name names and dates and etc? Do I still have my 5th ammendment rights?

    The sons were worse. I thought this was a tame blog.

  103. Mark Brown says:

    5th amendment, Lol.

  104. John Mansfield says:

    Mike’s experiences may not be typical, but his telling of them has a certain lyrical quality, like the style of a fairy tale where the players don’t have names, but just positions: the first pig, the second pig, the third pig. Or a parable: “Then goeth he, and taketh to him seven other spirits more wicked than himself; and they enter in, and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”

  105. #99

    Do you read any newspapers?

    My experience is so isolated and remote that it is unlikely to ever be repeated? I recall that the term SOB and DOB were widely understood to refer to this tendency and that they were in wide usage all across Utah. What was unique was that one could know that much about that many young people because we didn’t have anything else to do then but stick our long noses into other people’s lives. Otherwise the same thing is going on today. My current Stake Presidency has about a 80% rate of offspring “making poor choices.” I just don’t live close enough to them to know the details.

    If someone quotes boring statistics, it just doesn’t have the same bite as the close up observation of a very wild ward in a wild time. You will laugh less when it hits your family and you can’t hide with your head in the sand. I could post a similar account of the upstanding behavior of my dozens of cousins. Lower numbers. Lower percents. Same principles.

  106. Jacob M says:

    So, all of these terrible experiences happened because the Bishop sat up on the stand?

  107. Mark Brown says:

    Mike, something I’ve noticed about jokes is that they get less and less funny them more you repeat them. Your schtick was funny at first, but you probably need to think about wrapping up your act quickly.

  108. Yep Jacob, it appears so. (Black and white thinking).

    Too much church- not enough family. Sitting on the stand has a certain lyrical quality, symbolic of it. I think I have made my point. This is too much fun rabble rousting with y’all. I gotta stop. Move away from the computer. Else I am going to miss my appointment with my parole officer.

    I concede all further points.

  109. britt k says:

    Why eat raw meat when you have a free pass to Chuck-a-rama next door?

    huh? really ?

    I grew up in CA, lived in UT, went on a mission, now live in TX and never heard the terms DOB and SOB. I find it funny in a very sad sort of way that although the sons were equally bad in that mythical land of Mike, he chose to give them a senence in review, while the gals get center stage. If I understand immorality right it seems some sons of nonbishops must have been involved there somewhere…unless there is some sort of secret DOB SOB handshake to keep it all in the family.

    I always wonder if the spotlight is on the bishops family so we are more aware of the youth’s indescretions.

    I’m pretty sure there is a direct correlation between a booty in the seat on the stand and time of his daughter spent in the sack…but I’m not clear on the statistics. ;)

  110. it's a series of tubes says:

    #99
    Do you read any newspapers?

    I heard about them once, but I was informed they are a tool of Satan. As such, to keep me up to date I prefer plugging my ears and repeatedly chanting “all is well, yea, Zion prospereth…”

    Otherwise the same thing is going on today.

    Wait, kids make mistakes? If only their parents had taken them camping many, many, many times! That one-size-fits-all remedy would have reduced the shagging about 83%, so I’m told.

    *********************
    One of the best parts of leaving Utah was the lower proportion of insufferable LDS buffoons and blowhards, and one of the greatest things about the bloggernacle is the entertainment value of seeing them appear from time to time – without the downside of having to actually share a ward with them.

  111. it's a series of tubes says:

    Repeated blockquotes appear to be a skill I have yet to master.

  112. The sons were doing things like rape and arson and seances

    That’s not the most common trifecta of sin, is it?

  113. This has officially become my most favoritest thread ever.

  114. #101 – Um, most of it is that spread out. If you don’t realize that . . .

    Shortening from one hour to thirty minutes will cure the world of the horrors in your comments?!?!

    End of discussion. How can I compete with that conclusion?

  115. Chris Gordon says:

    Best. Thread. Ever.

    Seriously, SO spiritual.

  116. Ray (114),
    Horror in his comments? Or horror of his comments?

  117. One of Mike's Former Bishops says:

    Wait, Mike, come back! We need to talk!

  118. Yeah, Scott, there is that.

  119. Mike, you have totally made my day. I don’t care if you are real or not, please continue to comment.

  120. Josh B. says:

    Seems this thread is changing subjects fast. I think we need a new post:
    “How Church Leadership affects our Children.”

    There, a nice ring to that one. Now, back to the subject…

    What are the advantages of 3 people on a stand, over just 1?

  121. Been there says:

    I’ve been in 9 bishoprics and 4 times on the high council and been on the stand or away all those times while my wife wrestled 6 kids in the ‘trenches’.
    If I had to do it all again, I would invite at least one child to sit on the stand more often (as long as they didn’t disturb the meeting) and I like the idea of excusing bishopric members with young children to sit with their families when needed.
    Good discussion

  122. anonforthis says:

    It seems that in most wards, experienced men who have raised their families could be called to the Bishopric.

    Consider that the bishop is the president of the priests’ quorum. I can tell you that young men respond better to bishopric members who are within 3x their age.

  123. I am waaaaayyyy too late in reading this post & replying, but I can’t let this one go. I am in my mid 40’s. My dad was called as Bishop, (here in NC), 6 mths after i was born (youngest of 3). When I was 11, he was called to the Stk Presidency from the bishopric – no break. He traveled a lot for his full-time non-church job, too, until I was in high school @ which point, our new stake was formed & he became the new stk pres. Stayed in the Stake Presidency until the early or mid 90’s when he retired from his full-time job, went on a mission w/ my mom & then was called to a temple job. SO. If you (Mike) do the math, he NEVER sat w/ the family (except during Gen Conf – lol !), until I was 30/35 y.o. After his 1st grandchild was born, he expressed great regret 1 day to me that he had not been physically present in our lives or @ our events to his liking. I was so very shocked that he felt that way. I hope he believed me when I told him that I felt the complete opposite was true. He was so very emotionally present in our lives @ all times that it seemed, I guess, that he was physically present. I never felt his absence as he was so completely involved in everything about us. I know that he would agree w/ Lorin’s comments in #21 & 77. My parents sacrificed their leisure time & hobbies in order to give so much to the Church. When ppl would ask us what my dad’s hobbies were, we would tell them semi-jokingly, Church (w/ a few Duke games thrown into the mix) ! We kind of considered him to have 2 full-time jobs. And don’t forget much of that service in the bishopric occurred in the 60’s & 70’s when we went to church twice on Sundays, w/ a mid-day break. Dad never came home on Sundays before 9pm. He has testified many times of the blessings he & my mom received due to their service & many sacrifices. I know that dad was complimented by his boss many times @ his ability to manage his responsibilities concerning church & family while doing well @ work. He didn’t know how Dad could do it ! My family is incredibly grateful for his example & for my paternal grandfather’s example as well, who showed my dad the same sacrifices & blessings while travelling the state constantly as an early church leader. And now that my sister & BIL are in the exact same boat w/ their family & 4 kids, they are filling the family shoes well. Sorry for the lengthy post, but I feel strongly that it CAN be a wonderful experience for a family – especially when behaving in Sacrament mtg meant we got to sit on the stand w/ Dad the following Sunday as a reward. One kid per week. That was such a big deal as those seats on the stand were very cushy & the masses had wooden benches w/ NO cushions ! :)

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,591 other followers