Monday, July 27, 2015

What it's like to be a Mormon bishop

In Lloyd Alexander's story The Black Cauldron, the protagonist, Taran, embarked on a quest with several companions. The leader of the quest, Adaon, was a quiet young man, a little older than Taran. Taran often chafed under Adaon's leadership, because Adaon was more skillful, more competent, and more wise than Taran.

The source of Adaon's enhanced abilities was an iron amulet, or brooch, that he wore around his neck. This brooch gave him "uncanny insight and enhanced sensory perception, as well as prophetic dreams." (That's from Taran didn't know any of this. He was simply envious of Adaon's abilities.

In the course of their quest, Adaon was mortally wounded, and he gave the iron brooch to Taran and told Taran that he must lead the quest. Taran became aware of his increased skills, perception, and wisdom. He didn't let it go to his head; he was simply aware of it, but he clearly enjoyed it.

At a certain point in the story, Taran had to relinquish the iron brooch. He immediately lost all of his enhanced skills, and went back to being the clumsy young man he had been before he had the brooch.

That's what it's like to be a Mormon bishop. You are only a bishop for a short period of time - say between three and ten years. During that time, you are blessed with increased insight, wisdom, and perception, far beyond your natural abilities. People will constantly tell you how wise you are, or how far-seeing you are, but you can't let it go to your head. It is a gift that comes with the calling, That's all. You must enjoy it for as long as it lasts, and use it to help others and to lift them up.

Eventually you will be released from your calling as a bishop. When you are released, all of that wisdom and insight disappears, and you go back to being the same dumb guy you were before you were called.

Okay, you do get to keep some wisdom - but it's the wisdom earned the hard way, from trials borne and struggles overcome and tears shed and souls saved. And I hope you get to keep the love that has grown between you and the people whom you get to serve, and who mean so much to you for those few short years.

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