My experience as a member of the Bishopric

I served as a member of the Canning Ward Bishopric for a week in 2009. Well, actually, I was called and released all inside six weeks. The first week, all I did was sit on the stand and look pretty. The second week was General Conference. The third week I was working. The fourth week we had a family vacation. The fifth week is the only time I actually did anything useful. I conducted the meeting, I gave a talk, I did a few interviews. Then on the sixth week I was released. In between was the usual PEC, Ward Council, YM/YW meeting attendances but I’m not counting those.

Why was I released? Let me explain. We sold our house at the end of September and that weekend made plans and organised finances to move and buy a block outside Mandurah in a place called South Yunderup. We signed the papers to buy a block and everything.

As we were leaving the estate, who should call but our Stake President. It started out as a “Hi, how you doing” to which I replied, “All my plans are coming together. We just sold our house and bought another block and we plan on moving down here while we build”.

“Oh, well that changes things, then.” I knew at this point that he probably had some calling for me. In fact, in the few weeks leading up to this we’d had discussions on me being something of a “tech dogsbody”, who would assist in setting up computers, organising video conferences with cameras and projectors and such. He excused himself from the call. Not abruptly, just rather quickly.

President called back later that evening and said he wanted to meet me at the Temple the next night, on Wednesday night. OK, fair enough, it’s been a few months since I attended so I should probably go. He also wanted Suzanne there. Curiouser and curiouser, and something I alluded to in a previous post.

So we met in one of the Temple rooms and that’s where he sprung it on me that he was releasing me as Clerk and wanted to extend the calling as Second Counselor in the Bishopric. I looked at him and said, “You know we have sold and are moving, right?”. He knew this, and had discussed it with my Bishop but they felt that they needed to extend the call anyhow. I said I wasn’t going to accept anything without talking with Bishop, who also happened to be in the Temple that night. So President left, and Bishop came in.

“Are you out of your mind?” I asked. He said that as soon as he had called me to serve as Clerk he knew he wanted me as a Counselor. He’d been grooming me this whole time. “Geez,” I thought. “I should have been paying more attention in all those meetings.” WTF could I possibly offer as a Counselor? I was a good Clerk. In fact, I was an awesome Clerk, if I don’t say so myself. I had no idea on being a Counselor.

He convinced me that this was what the Lord wanted, and that even though I had plans on relocating I should still accept the calling, which I did. He even offered to buy me a suit, but the goatee and moutee had to go. I tell ya, that almost broke the deal right there. Nobody in 20 years had seen me without facial hair, even my wife. Last time I tried to shave I had annoying skin irritations until it grew back. But, still, I agreed and it was settled. I spoke again briefly to Stake President, who said that I’d benefit greatly from the calling no matter how long or how short it was. It was all sorted. In 4 days I was going to be in the Bishopric.

On Saturday night I had a ritual shaving of my beloved facial hair with the whole family involved. I somehow managed to cut my ears doing this, and as the photos we took attest I do look more handsome with facial hair. The more the better, too.

So I was called and sustained that Sunday, clean shaven and dressed to the nines. Some people honestly didn’t recognise me and wondered who the new guy was and why he was all of a sudden sitting on the stand.

Over the next week or so Suzanne and I talked and planned how we might find ways to avoid having to move out of the area. We found that the buyer of our house was willing to rent it back to us for a while. If the rent was reasonable we might manage it. It would be difficult because we’d also have the liability of the block we just bought. The buyer wanted about 40% more in rent that what we were paying in mortgage, so we’d have to go without a lot of stuff and make some sacrifices but this is what serving is all about.

So we agreed that we could make it work for a few more months, at least until the end of the year. But a couple weeks later the buyer reneged on the offer. We were unable to find any rentals in the same area we could afford. At the same time, a rental turned up around the corner from the block we had bought in South Yunderup at an unbelievably affordable price so even though it meant that we needed to move and that I would no longer be able to serve in the Bishopric, we took it. The advantages were that we could afford it, and that the kids would be settled for their new school in the new year.

It wasn’t easy breaking it to Bishop, that I would be moving and my term of service would be cut short. He was pretty disappointed, I think. I can understand that. He didn’t speak much to me while I remained at Canning and we haven’t spoken since.  I don’t think he’d hold a grudge; he’s above all that but I still am not sure that he’s all that happy with me. I might have expected a call to see how we were doing in our new Ward, but nothing.

So ended my days as service in the Bishopric. Maybe later I’ll get to serve again and come closer to meeting my potential, whatever that is. In releasing me, Stake President said that it had been the shortest Bishopric service he’d heard of, but there was a reason for it and he hoped I figured out the reason and that it was rewarding. Objectively, I see that everything had been driving me to where I am now: we sold our house when we did for a good price, we secured the block we wanted at the same time, we picked up the rental when we needed it. In addition, we have been fortunate enough to enroll the kids in the Baptist College being built near us for 2011. Why then was I called into the Bishopric? Surely the Lord had a hand in all the fortunate series of events we had been praying for and had up to this point been fulfilled. This whole calling thing seemed a bit of a curve ball. I’m sure there was a reason for it, but I still have not figured it out.

I’ve been working on this post for a few weeks, but decided to git ‘er done because of Stake Conference today. The Bishop of Canning Ward under whom I served for 6 weeks was sustained as 2nd Counselor in the Stake Presidency. He is a great man, and someone I admire and respect a lot. I don’t admire and respect many people, so you can be sure that this is a great compliment from me. He did a lot of good work for a lot of good people in our ward when the general membership was experiencing some very difficult times. This isn’t something I’ll elaborate on, suffice to say that anyone in our Ward will know what I’m talking about and how well Bishop served the people. Besides all that, he brought out the best in people by holding them to oaths and covenants they previously made, where in a lot of cases people were just cruising in their callings. I wish him all the best, and I know that he will have a great influence for good in our Stake.