All bishops have the same authority and responsibilities when it comes to the members of their wards. unfortunately, not all of them have the same level of being able to talk to their ward members, and not all of them have the same ability to convey Gods love to them. That is something that I think they learn over time, though I think that some of them never do. I’ve had some of each. As I mentioned in an earlier post, the first bishop I went and talked to after spending time with my best friend was not one of the ones with a particular talent for expressing divine love well. He actually really sucked at it. (He suggested that if I had the pain of being hit in the head with a frying pan each time I masturbated, that I would be much less likely to continue. He was not suggesting such masochistic measures, he was only trying to illustrate the damage done spiritually. I didn’t find this in any way helpful, as I already understood the spiritual damage, I simply was unable to control myself at that time.)
I never got a chance to know the bishop in the ward I lived in my last semester. I only went to church twice, in four months. After moving in with my new roommates, I started going to church again. While there, I started to observe the bishop. He was ex-military. That seems like an insignificant thing. Some might think that an ex-military man would even be a counter-intuitive choice, when looking for someone from whom compassion is sought. I felt comfortable with him though. His background and his manner seemed to give me comfort.
I think the reason I felt comfortable was that I knew a military man was going to go by the book. I knew he would not go off on some tangent about hitting myself in the head with cookware. Even if he were to be weirded out, he would not let it show. He would be professional. Caring, but professional. I was not wrong.
The first time I went to talk to him about my situation, I was scared. I didn’t know what was going to happen. I had only a vague idea of what might happen, but nothing concrete. I started by telling him that the reason I turned down the calling to be an FHE leader was not because my schedule didn’t allow it, but because I didn’t feel I should have any calling. I then went on to explain to him about the things that had happened on study abroad, and in salt lake. Bishop Davis reacted as I had thought. He was kind. He turned to doctrine. He turned to scripture. He went to where he knew he would have a strong footing, as this was unfamiliar territory for him. (It is for a lot of people.)
He and I met pretty much every week. He would provide me with things to read, and I would come back with about a page of written thoughts and questions each time. My analytical brain was running like crazy. I was trying to use the skills I learned in my liberal arts training to understand the chaos that my life had become. (at least the part of my life that I kept hidden from everyone else…)
I actually looked forward to talking to the bishop every week. Our meetings gave me something to hold onto. It came with an assignment to occupy my mind, and it always conveyed his concern for me. He never scolded, he never condemned. He told me he was glad I came to him. He told me that we would do whatever it took to get things back to where they needed to be. Most of all, he gave me confidence that it could get back to where it needed to be.
I don’t know if he knows how much he helped me, but I do, and the Lord does.
There are probably some out there thinking, “yeah, but I don’t have a wonderful bishop like yours was.” I feel for them. Its a bit tougher with a less wonderful bishop. I had an experience with that a little later. That doesn’t mean you should not go see him. Even the less tactful bishops can and will help. If yours is unsure of how to proceed, he’ll seek guidance. If you want to send him to this site, please do. If you want him to talk to me, give him my email address. (email@example.com)
I’m not saying this to suggest “steadying the ark” (biblical reference…) Instead, I only wish to offer information. From there, your bishop will seek the will of the Lord, as is his right and responsibility. He’s there to help. That’s his only job. Let him do his job.