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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Once Had a Bishop Who ...

by Eliana (bio)

Weird bishops via the New York, New York South Mission blog.

Up front, I'd like to be clear: I have had great bishops. This post isn't about them. This is about the weird ones I've had. I hope these men were more helpful to others than they were to me.

I was 16 when we moved to a new ward. The first time the bishop called me in for a chat, he asked me the last time I kissed someone. As a very shy, non- dating teenage stranger, I felt ridiculous. So I lied. Told him it had been a year. Not that I'd never kissed anyone. Not that he was creeping me out. It was a long year before I left home and his ward.

Or my college bishop who told me I was the weirdest person he'd ever met. How does one respond to that? He also wrote cowboy poetry (not a sin) and recited it in sacrament meeting (perhaps a sin).

How about the bishop obsessed with shorts? The day I moved to his congregation it was 120 degrees. He spent hours, year round, devoted to railing against shorts, of any length, at any time, on any person. I can admit it now, years later, that I started wearing shorts to ward functions just to annoy him.

I have a fraught relationship with my father which I know leads to some of my problems with church authority figures. A lot of bishops and stake presidents are like my pop—a certain managerial style that is off-putting to me. I feel bad to come into relationships with such a bias, but I'm hoping that my awareness of the issue is half the battle.

What am I hoping for from a bishop? Someone who follows the spirit and invites it into meetings. Someone who takes the time to get to know individuals. I'm not sure precisely. I just know what doesn't work: bishops of the 'my way or the highway' variety.

I'm grateful for those willing to serve in our church. It is hard, so hard, and I try to remember that when I'm frustrated. I appreciate those who recognize that they need God's help to do this job, as well as the benevolence and faith of their congregation.

Aside from good mission and testimony meeting stories, I think crazy bishop stories might be one of the next big categories of shared suffering. Am I alone here or do you have tales of your own to share?

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