Thursday, April 22, 2010

On problems, worldviews, and bishops

I’ve held a number of callings over the past decade and a half that have given me the opportunity to closely observe several bishops and their counselors, while never having to be one myself. One thing that i’ve noticed is that bishops and (to a lesser extent) their counselors tend to really intensely believe in the church vs. world contrast i wrote about recently, with the world being a scary, dangerous, sinful place, and one that we in the church need to keep ourselves removed from.

I’ve wondered about this for a while—what is it that makes bishops have such a jaundiced (that may be a bit too strong) opinion of the world around us?

One contributing reason has recently occurred to me: If there’s some sort of major problem going on in a ward, it goes through the bishop.

→Someone committed a major sin? The bishop has to deal with it.
→A couple’s going through marital stresses, maybe even planning to divorce? The bishop has to deal with it.
→Someone has decided they aren’t going to fulfill a calling in any sort of reasonable way? The bishop has to deal with it.
→The youth are carrying on in high-risk ways? The bishop has to deal with it.
→Someone’s having financial problems, maybe not even having any food to eat? The bishop has to deal with it.

Really, this can’t be emotionally healthy for him.


Michelle said...

I've always wondered how even the First Presidency must feel, having to read through everything involved with temple divorces. I guess when you are always hearing about the bad things in the world, you are well aware of how prevalent they are.

My bishop in San Antonio and I once talked about this (he, his wife and I got to be good friends - I think they viewed me as a stand-in granddaughter because all of their grandkids lived far away). He had been a Bishop once years before and said that he discovered a unique, wonderful blessing. After helping someone through a repentance process, once a few months had passed by, he could remember counseling someone about the particular problem (and even remember the details involved), but he was no longer sure who he had counseled. If someone came to him with a repeat offense, he would remember everything from the prior time, but for those who repented and moved on, he couldn't remember the bad things about them.

I don't know if this was unique to him, and it still meant that he remembered all the sad/bad things that people were doing/going through, but I thought this was pretty cool.

Heather the Mama Duk said...

I can see how they'd get jaded.

I have heard three or four past bishops describe the same thing, Michelle.