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Friday, January 4, 2013

MMM Library: In Character, Bishopric Edition

by Topher Clark (bio)

This post was originally published on May 4, 2011.

As some of you might know, I am a counselor in a bishopric. Please do not let this sway or alter your testimony in any way. I didn't ask to do it, and I barely voted for myself. God calls in mysterious ways, and I've always been taught that you never say no to a calling (except working at the cannery.) In this first year of of my bishopric I have learned three important things:

1. Everyone sustains the bishop once a year at ward conference, and then the rest of the year three quarters of the ward complain about him.

2. The best part of my job is class hopping. Is sunday school boring today? How about a visit to the Primary! Is today a Deacon's Quorum kinda day? Or do I feel more like hanging out with the membership clerks? I love that.

3. You do NOT grow a beard in a bishopric. Despite there being nothing said about this in any current manual or ecclesiastical degree, THERE WILL BE NO BEARDS. Don't even imagine the possibility of a beard on your face. If your face is even a little bit scratchy you have irrevocably changed the face of the gospel for every old lady in your ward.

But one of the most important lessons I've learned is the "bishopric face." You learn this very quickly, because you have to. You must never show unrestrained emotion on the stand. Because 500 people are staring at you, and they want to know what you think. Almost all the time, someone is staring at you. Don't dispute this! I see you doing it. You take turns. You want to see if we like something, or don't like something, or are in any way super uncomfortable. And guess what? We're not going to break. You cannot break our faces. But if you are patient, and acutely observant, you'll see little cracks of emotion peeking through.

Herewith, then, is a little how-to pictorial to let you know what we are really feeling up there. Watch closely. These pictures are almost indistinguishable:

Ope! Someone just made a "Brother Clark is bald" joke! My favorite. I support your "jokes" and I hope they really kickstart your talk. Just remember, your bum is in my face and I could make "jokes" about that! (I won't.)

Mmm! That's very interesting doctrine you just made up and shared with the whole ward.

Oh, yikes! Time to take that screaming baby out!

Dear singing lady. Was that high note a mistake or a choice? Because if it was a choice, it might have been a mistake.

Oh hey, Lisa. Yeah, I'm lookin' at you. Thas' right. You like what you're seein' up here? Every gurl's crazy about a sharp dressed man, uh wha?

Oops! Did you forget that testimony meeting ends at five minutes past? When you decided to come up at six minutes past, did you remember to check the clock? Why is this microphone not working? Oh, well! Try again next month!

Hey Talk Giver, you seem so confident at the pulpit. But your feet are telling a different story! Twisting, arching, fidgeting - take a deep breath, Sister McNervouspants!

Well, there you have it. This sunday, see if you can crack the code! I bet you can. It's not that hard. And one more tip: when you are wondering what we are thinking up there, nine times out of ten we are thinking about donuts.

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