When the Scout Master and I were first married, my father-in-law was our Bishop. I thought then, and realize more and more as I get older, that there couldn't have been a more ideal situation than the one we were in. Everything for me was new...new husband, new apartment, new member of the Church. I didn't have a lot of confidence in anything I was doing at the time. So to have a man I already loved and trusted as my first Bishop was the perfect, safe place to start finding my wings.
At the time, I didn't have a very complete understanding of the great responsibility that it is to be a Bishop. (I still don't.) But, at this point in my life with a very lively family, and a husband who is extremely busy with work and a demanding calling, I feel like I have a BETTER understanding of the enormous sacrifice and commitment it is for those men who are called to be Bishops.
Once, when we were having dinner at my in-laws' house, my father-in-law received a call from a woman in the ward who didn't realize the answering machine was audible to everyone in the house. She left a frantic message about a crisis in their family and a request for my father-in-law to call her back as soon as possible. Dinner was barely on the table. We had just said a prayer. And my father-in-law had already finished a long day of Sunday responsibilities and meetings. But he didn't call her back. He got up from the table and went to that family's house...without saying a word to any of us. My mother-in-law made him a plate of food and set it aside for him to eat when he returned home and the rest of us had a relaxing, comfortable, delicious dinner. My father-in-law returned home hours later, thanked her for dinner, and jumped right into a Deep Doctrinal Discussion that we had started without him. (We indulged in lots of those before we had little children to remind us to go home.)
Our current Bishop is about our age, has a demanding job, and 5 kids. I know his Sundays and several other days during the week are filled with meetings, visits, blessings, and countless hours spent in prayer on behalf of the members of this ward. And I'm sure he's missed his share of dinners going to handle impromptu crises. He's a busy guy! So, when I was preparing the joint YM/YW activity earlier this week, and having a little trouble with it, the LAST person I wanted to call for help was the Bishop.
This activity was scheduled without me, but the Beehives and Deacons were in charge of the planning and set up, which means the Scout Master and I had to help plan and set up...and the Scout Master was supposed to be out of town. The BYC (Bishop's Youth Council) had planned a service activity where the youth would be divided into a few groups and sent to do service projects at the homes of various ward members. I had received a list of potential homes where we might be able to help do a few things, but when I called them, I was only able to get two families to agree to let us come. I needed 6! So, on Monday night, with only 48 hours left to pull this activity together, and the Scout Master still out of town, I panicked and called for help. I actually didn't call because I didn't want to be that voicemail during dinner for the Bishop. Instead, I sent an email that I hoped he would read and respond to when it was convenient for him...and secretly hoped that would be SOON! And guess what! He responded that night to my email. I called one additional person on Tuesday which increased our families to 3. I sent out an update email to the other youth leaders and copied the Bishop on it and then talked to him at 6:00 on his way home from work and we made a plan. At 9:30 Tuesday night, he called again with 4 other families to add to our list! He gave me all the details that he had talked to them about and we worked out the logistics of food, drivers, and randomly dividing youth. And last night, the activity was AMAZING!
I could not have done that by myself. Only the Bishop had the perspective to know who would most appreciate our help, and the words to convince them to let us. I am so grateful that he dropped everything to help me pull that activity together. And I am overwhelmed at that little glimpse I had of the immense love he has for ALL of the members of this ward...even the ones who don't come to church, even the ones who are sometimes grumpy, even the ones who don't always make the best choices. I am grateful for the office of Bishop that turns ordinary men into extraordinary leaders. And I am grateful to have this one to work with at this time.