As you know, my husband is serving as the bishop of our ward at the moment (to learn a bit more about what a bishop does click here).
This calling has put Josh in a position to try to help many people in our area to grow. Sometimes he is called on to help them spiritually, sometimes physically, and sometimes in other ways. He has a very deep love for the members of the church in our ward. He honestly wants to help them in any way that he can.
Over the past 15 months as he has served in this capacity I have gained a more complete understanding of why they call bishops "the father of the ward." His concern and care for these wonderful people can only be compared to fatherly love. He worries about them. He prays for them. He loves them.
Sometimes Josh gets a distant look while we are driving in the car or sitting on the couch and I know that he is in "bishop mode." He is pondering over a problem or a family and is searching for ways to help them progress. He wants to support and aid people as they grow closer to their Heavenly Father.
And those efforts take time.
Those beautiful functions require Josh to attend meetings, hold interviews, make visits, spend hours on the phone and seek regular guidance and training. He gives blessings, gives instruction, gives comfort, gives counsel, gives hugs and everything in between. He tries to attend youth meetings each week, does interviews at least one night a week, and spends all day Sunday at church. He often locks himself in our bedroom for extended periods so that he can talk to members who need him.
And we knew that would happen when he was called. We had a very frank discussion with our children about the fact that our dad was going to need to share his time with not just our family, but also our ward family. Overall, they (the kids) have been great about it, especially since most of them are quite young. We just say, "Dad is bishoping tonight," and they (mostly) accept that answer and move on.
This last few weeks has been particularly rough on Josh as a bishop. I don't know exactly what is going on, but I know there are some issues that are causing him struggle and heartache for the families involved (whoever they are). I know there is a great weight on his shoulders as he tries to help them move forward. I know he is greatly concerned about their welfare and wants to succor and support them in any way he can.
And that translates to many meetings, many phone calls, lots of texts, and much prayer. He is heartily worried about these particular families for whatever reason. He knows their needs and wants to guide them in a good direction, but it isn't easy.
Which means that even though last night was Halloween, Josh was in the midst of receiving texts and calls about some issues. So we ended up deciding to leave him at home to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters rather than having him take the youngest kids out into the neighborhood as we had planned. That way he would be available to answer questions and give comfort and advice. Sometimes it gets hard when the bishop is needed and that means our dad can't be with us as much as we would like.
However, I am forever grateful for the chance he has to learn and grow and rejoice as he watches from the front row of the cheering section as families rely more fully on their Heavenly Father and begin to receive the blessings of obedience and faith. We all, as a family, feel the peace and love of our Savior as our dad tries to help further His precious work.
I guess mostly what I want to say today is whoever you are, wherever you are, member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints or not, you have a bishop who loves and cares for you. You have a bishop who prays and hopes for the best for you. You have a bishop who wants to help and serve you. (If you don't know who your bishop is, click here to find him.)
I hope that we will all give our bishop respect for the love and dedication he shows through hours of selfless service. I hope we will reverence his time and value the guidance he receives through the Holy Ghost. I hope we will remember that our bishop is a person, that he isn't always perfect, that he doesn't always know the answer, but that he is doing his best and that his desire is to do the will of God. I hope we will give kind regard to his responsibilities as a husband and father and realize that that means sometimes he can't be available right at this moment.
I am grateful for my bishop. He is a good man. I know because I have a front row seat in his cheering section. He makes mistakes, he has struggles, but he earnestly desires to do what is right and to bless the lives of the people he serves.
I am also grateful for my husband. He is a good man. In fact, a great man. In fact, the best man I have ever known. I'm forever thankful that he didn't give up on me when we were dating and I wasn't particularly interested in him. He was persistent, and I am reaping the benefits of that. I love that guy, best of all.