Called to Serve
Today was the culmination of a process that has taken seven weeks to accomplish. On March 16th and March 23rd I wrote about some promptings that came the evening of February 23rd. I talked about recognizing and responding to the promptings of the Holy Ghost. I wondered at the time I received those promptings if they were my thoughts or if indeed they were from the Lord. Today I was sustained as a Bishop for a married student ward here in Logan, Utah.
After going to bed on Sunday February 23rd I woke with the thought that I was going to be called as a bishop for one of the student wards. The married student stake that I serve in had a new stake presidency sustained earlier that day and two of the bishops were called to the new presidency, which meant they needed to find new bishops for those wards. My first thought when I woke with this feeling was that there was no way that they would call me to be a bishop in this stake because most of the bishops there had been a bishop before and I had not. I tried to dismiss the thoughts but they did not leave. Needless to say, I spent the rest of the night without sleep but in prayer and meditation to know if I was worthy and up to the calling.
A few days later while attending the Logan Temple, the spirit confirmed again the call was coming. I also had another experience that confirmed the calling would be soon. That night I talked to my wife about my feelings and if we were ready to serve as a bishop. Her comment was that if it came we would accept it and give all we have to the calling.
The call was extended on Sunday, March 16th and they told me that I would be sustained on April 13th, which was a month away. I was reminded that we were to tell no one other than family members until it happened (and a couple of people that I was given permission to talk to). That was difficult to not say anything and admit that it did slip a couple of times (I guess I am still human after all). The 5th Article of Faith says:
We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy,and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.
Participating in the process that the visiting general authorities went through to call and sustain a new stake presidency was a great spiritual experience. I have a personal testimony that the new stake presidency was called of God by revelation and they then were setup apart to their callings by the laying on of hands by authorized representative of the First Presidency and the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. I also participated with this new presidency as they sought to know who they should call to fill one of the bishop’s positions (not my call but the other bishop).
For those who are not familiar with the position of a Bishop in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints it is similar to a minister of other Christian Churches. A ward is a local congregation of members. Some wards are like the one that I will preside over that covers a small geographic area; others in areas that there are not many members the ward covers several square miles. Here in Logan, Utah we have student stakes (which are comprised of several wards) where only students at Utah State University that are married attend.
The Church of Jesus Chris of Latter-day saints do not pay their leaders we willingly serve in these callings for a period of time (three years for those called to serve in student stakes and wards). The call to serve comes from the Lord, who is at the head of his church, to the presiding authority. To serve as a bishop in our church the person has to be approved by the 1st Presidency of the church. The Stake President issued the call to me to service as the Bishop of the Logan Married Student 4th Ward and my two counselors and I were presented to the members of the ward for a sustaining vote. After being sustained, the stake president ordained me to the Office of Bishop and set me apart to serve as the Bishop with all the keys of the priesthood needed to perform the duties of my calling. Elder Dallin H. Oaks, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, made this comment about those who are called to serve in the church:
“We have a great tradition of unselfish service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Indeed, one of the distinguishing characteristics of this Church is the fact that we have no paid or professional clergy in our thousands of local congregations and in the regional stakes, districts, and missions that oversee them. As an essential part of God’s plan for His children, the leadership and work of His Church is provided by His children who give their time freely for the service of God and their fellowmen. They obey the Lord’s command to love Him and to serve Him (see John 14:15; D&C 20:19; D&C 42:29; D&C 59:5). This is the way men and women prepare for the ultimate blessing of eternal life.” (I’ll Go Where You Want ME To Go”, General Conference, October 2002)
Elder Robert D. Hales speaking on when is the right time to serve said:
“For every one of you the question will come in life, ‘When is the time to serve?’ The best answer I can give you is, ‘When you are asked.’” (“When Is the Time to Serve?”, Robert D. Hales, Ensign, February 2010)
King Benjamin in his final address reminded us the true reason for our service in the Lord’s Church:
And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. (Mosiah 2:17)
On of my favorite scripture dealing with priesthood leadership is found in the Doctrine and Covenants section 121. It says:
39 We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
40 Hence many are called, but few are chosen.
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
43 Reproving betimes with sharpness, when moved upon by the Holy Ghost; and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved, lest he esteem thee to be his enemy;
44 That he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death.
45 Let thy bowels also be full of charity towards all men, and to the household of faith, and let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distil upon thy soul as the dews from heaven.
46 The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever.
It is with a hope in my heart that I will be able to rise up to the stature the Lord expects of me as I take on this new calling as a Bishop over one of his flocks. It is my prayer that I will be able to follow the example of the Good Shepherd and truly be able to feed his sheep and his lambs.
Knowing that this call comes from him, I know that I will be able to call on him when I need his help and inspiration to know what he expects of me and how to best serve the members of the ward. I know he will continue to answer my prayers because he has done so in the past. I am grateful to know revelation continues to flow from the Lord to the Prophet and his other servants. I know that as one of the Lord’s “Watchman on the Tower” I have a great responsibility to watch for the enemy that would break down the walls and scatter the flock and warn the members of those who would destroy their faith.
I also know that I have been called of God, by prophecy and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority and that I have been given priesthood keys which will enable me to rise up and magnify the calling to which I have been entrusted.
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