On Being Released From the Bishopric

Today at church our bishopric was released.  After 2 ½ years of being a counselor, I find myself with a huge drop in responsibility, a drastic rise in free time, and a bittersweet ache in my heart.  It’s sentimental and it’s melancholy.  Call it sentimentacholy. 

I didn’t see this coming.  My first reaction when I found out about this last night was profound sadness.  As I explained in church this morning, I deeply loved serving with everybody in my church and I’ll miss it terribly.  And of course, I feel that I left too much undone. 

Here’s what I’ll miss: doing temple recommend interviews, hanging around joint activities at Mutual, being the first person to bring a welcome spiritual message to the home of someone who hasn’t been to church for years, giving priesthood blessings to people with no other access to the priesthood, powerful monthly meetings with the stake presidency, taking the youth to the temple for baptisms, giving the bishopric message in Primary, giving treats to the youth for catching me without my scriptures and having their copies of For the Strength of Youth, trying to set a visible example of obedience to our leaders, sitting in on disciplinary councils (a surprisingly spiritual experience–always positive for everyone involved), being able to give useful information to auxiliary leaders about their work, and just getting to know the real lives of dozens of the best families anybody could ever meet–especially the overwhelming acts of service and sacrifice for each other that I never would have known about were I not in this position.

Here’s what I won’t miss: planning sacrament meetings (a tedious pain in the neck, and by far the most thankless part of the job), planning callings and releases (inspiration for this is very real, but I often didn’t feel in tune enough with the Spirit to be as confident about it as I should have), extending callings (surprisingly often a negative experience–very sad), counting tithes and offerings (this was actually the other counselor’s job, but the half dozen or so times I filled in were still too many–what an irritating job), and did I mention planning sacrament meetings?  Just thinking about it now still gives me shivers. 

What did I get out of this calling?  More than anything else, I have a solid witness that God knows, loves, and watches over his children.  Leaps of faith are rewarded, and usually very quickly.  He will heal broken hearts that are brought to his feet.  Most of us will never know just how much quiet suffering is going on inside the homes of our friends, but it’s everywhere, and it does pass.  Miracles happen when we have faith.  Most of us are doing the best we know how to do. 

So now what?  I can’t help but think that this release is timed as it is for a reason–the day before school starts.  I want to use my new “freedom” to do my best teaching ever this year, and to raise my family the best I can.  I want to enjoy all the little things I haven’t made time for–I’m already planning to re-draft an old essay that’s been almost ready for publication for years.  I want to go back to my own spiritual basics and study more on Sunday, and build my discipleship outside of assignments. 

And, of course, I look forward to actually seeing my family on Sundays–no more ten hour Sunday shifts!  Woo hoo!  Suddenly, I feel a lot better.

3 comments on “On Being Released From the Bishopric

  1. I was asked to sustain a new High Councilor and release myself as High Councilor yesterday. I started off by stating that I had been sustained as Seminary teacher three weeks ago and that that had given the members enough time to speculate about who was going to be the new High Councilor. I then asked for the newbie’s sustaining vote. Then I asked that the members join the Stake Presidency in giving me a vote of thanks for having served. I then announced that having been just released as High Councilor, I was now allowed to joke again. I announced that any opposing my release could meet me behind the building for arm wrestling.

    I had two people take me up on that. I easily beat them both and was thereby released.

  2. Thanks for the thoughts. I was a similar position earlier this year. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I was kicked out of the Bishopric to take a Stake calling, so I didn’t really take the time to ponder how I felt about the change.

    My experiences mirror your own, although I didn’t really mind counting tithes and offerings since I had been a Ward Clerk for a number of years, so I was used to it.

    For me, the Bishopric calling really brought to the forefront how the Lord prepares and blesses those called to lead. I’d sat in Bishopric meetings for about 7 years before that call, through 2 other Bishops and I saw the change come over our new Bishop as he stepped into that position. He was a good man when he was a Counselor, but he was a better man after he became Bishop. It wasn’t simply him trying to be better because of the calling, because I was with him too often for it to be a surface change. He was a better and more spiritual man after the call. I really learned a lot from him.

    Now, as the Stake Executive Secretary, I really enjoy the opportunity to spend time with the President and his counselors. As I watch and listen to these men, I learn much about becoming the kind of man that I want to be. I have no doubt that they are called of God and are inspired by His Spirit.

    I’m grateful for both of these callings. They give me plenty of opportunities to see just how much I have to learn and how far I need to go.

    Enjoy the extra time, but don’t get used to it. I doubt you’ll be without a calling very long. :-)

  3. Floyd, where you and your witty ideas a few days ago? It’s too late for me to crack funny now. Oh well, I wasn’t conducting anyway, so it wouldn’t have mattered. Thanks for the perspective, though.

    Dave, I’ve always liked our new bishop, always thought he was a great guy. But already since being called as Bishop, I’ve seen what a spiritual giant he is. Some of that is just him being able to shine more, and some of that is the mantle of authority. I look forward to learning from him for a long time.

    As for the extra time, you’re right of course. I’m sure it won’t be long before I’m a Primary teacher again. Hint, hint, Lord. :)

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