I was released as bishop over seven months ago. In some ways, the experience of being a bishop seems like it happened a long time ago; in other ways, it seems like it was just yesterday that I would be getting ready to head out to bishopric meeting at this very hour on a Sunday morning. Now I am just sitting on my bed writing this blog.
One thing that has not changed (and you may have heard me say this already) is that I still think about ward members every day. I wonder about their struggles and triumphs. I worry about their health. I wonder if they are overcoming their personal challenges. It seems that the Lord’s Spirit still keeps me mindful of them. I still care a great deal and wonder what I, a rank and file ward member, can do for them now that I don’t have the priesthood keys, the mantle a bishop.
Something that happened to me daily when I was bishop was that I would receive revelation about ward members—not revelation for them, but revelation about them. There is a difference.
I wouldn’t receive a revelation that someone should go to school at a certain college in a different state, marry their old high school sweetheart, go on a mission to Bolivia, or do anything like that. (I think a prophet can receive revelation like that, though you don’t hear about that much, except calls to serve missions.) I did however receive many spiritual insights about why a person was feeling and acting a certain way and what I could do and say to help and encourage them.
Often I was prompted to make a phone call or to pay a visit to a home and ask them to come in for a visit. Sometimes I felt inspired to share the insight I received and sometimes the Spirit restrained me. The majority of people I shared these revelations with received the spiritual messages eagerly, often with tears. I knew where those promptings came from and so did they, and we enjoyed sweet communion together in the presence of the Lord and His Spirit.
I think this is thing I miss the most.
A few did not receive such revelations well. A few rebuffed me. Not many, but a few. That was sad and it still is. But I am not ashamed to have said what I said, though I still feel embarrassed by the tears I shed in their presence.
I still feel insight come to me about people—probably because I still care about them—but it is different. I don’t have the opportunity or place to share it, nor, without priesthood keys, do such impressions have the same bearing as they once did. But those feelings and insights and impressions have not left me. I did not expect this.
Now I must be satisfied with foyer friendships and handshakes in the hall. With most ward members, this is the connection I have with them. That’s all I’ve got, though in the not so distant past, I was in their homes, I presided at their blessings and baptisms and ordinations and funerals. I went to the temple to plead before the Lord for them. I prayed with them and wept with them.
I think this is the hardest thing about being released as a bishop.