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One side of my family has a long history in the LDS or Mormon church dating back to the early 1800’s.  I have ancestors who were pioneers leaving their families in Denmark to follow a prophet’s counsel to “come to Zion” in Salt Lake City.  Two of my ancestors married Joseph Smith.  One ancestor, Edward Partridge, was the first Mormon Bishop of the church and was killed by mobs who tarred and feathered him for his beliefs.

I have a special place in my heart for those who went before me and I thank the Lord for their sacrifice.

Below is an excerpt from a movie that depicts the early Mormon pioneers traveling across the plains to heed the call of their prophet.  I hope you feel the Spirit as I do when I reflect on all they sacrificed to serve the Lord.

I recently was on a business trip where all of the reps from around the country came together and had a sales training for a few days.  As usual, there was alcohol and going out after dinner each night.

Everyone knows I don’t drink and they don’t expect me to go hitting the clubs, which is great!  I do spend time with them sometimes in the restaurants/bars with them as they drink.  However, when it starts getting a little later,  I usually decide to leave the restaurant.  What I do instead is head back to the hotel and call my little daughter and tell her stories over the phone and chat with my wife for a few minutes before heading to bed.

I was surprised though with some married people who went out to the bar/dance club scantily clad and then came back the next day bragging on the people who were hitting on them.  The crazy thing was that most of them have spouses and children at home.

I have absolutely no desire to do those types of things and most of the people I hang out with in the Mormon church wouldn’t do stuff like that (I hope).  It got me wondering though if this is something that is normally done for people  outside of the Mormon church, or even within the Church.

What are your views?  Is it o.k. to hit the clubs if you’re married (without your spouse)?  Feel free to vote and/or leave a comment.

It seems to me that people in the early Mormon church talked about visions and heavenly visitations much more than they do today.  I’m not sure if that means there are less visions from God, or if people just don’t talk about it as much.

In the early church, it wasn’t uncommon to have a prophet get up and talk about a vision or dream he’d had for the church as a whole.  In modern times, I’ve only occasionally heard a prophet or apostle get up and discuss a heavenly dream or vision they had.  The main one that comes to mind for me is when an apostle, David B Haight, gave a talk in General Conference about a vision he had of Jesus Christ.

With this in mind, I found the most recent quote from Elder Holland interesting.  The following quote is from the article:

Elder Holland said that because many Africans are spiritually in tune, they experience spiritual privileges “not always seen in this day and age elsewhere in the world.” As an example, he mentioned a woman of another faith at a press conference in Sierra Leone who explained that she had seen his face in a dream. Having such an experience “isn’t a common experience in my life,” Elder Holland said, “but I think it’s quite a common one in theirs.” He said that people like her, guided by the Spirit, will identify and cling to the Church. “This is one way that God responds to their faith. It’s intuitive; it is fundamental. I’ve said repeatedly that it seems to me what life hasn’t been able to give them materially, heaven has more than made up for spiritually.”

This quote implies that if we don’t experience the gift of heavenly visions that we are not as spiritually in tune with God.

I don’t remember reading anywhere that one spiritual gift is better than another.  I do remember reading that God gives the gifts out how and to whom He wants to and the Church benefits as a whole as members utilize their gifts they’ve been given.  Although one gift isn’t better than the other, a person needs to be spiritually in tune to receive the gift, which is what Elder Holland is talking about, I think.

I believe that if we seek a gift humbly, and if it is God’s will to give the gift, that we can experience visions.  Personally, I’ve had a couple times in my life where certain events of the future have been shown to me by God.  One was at a very young age warning me that I needed to change direction in my life.  The other was a vision when I was seeking guidance on marrying my wife.  In both of these situations, I didn’t just sit down and pray and God granted me a vision.  I needed to humble myself through fasting, worship, scripture study, and prayer.  I wasn’t expecting a vision in either instance, but that is how God chose to answer me and it came unexpectedly.

As I reflect on my personal experiences, I agree with Elder Holland that the gift of having a vision is something uncommon, or at best not discussed today like it was before.  Perhaps modern technology and medical advancement have clouded our spiritual senses and we don’t rely on God as we once did.  Perhaps we are more materialistic and hence less likely to receive a vision.  Perhaps we rely more on our own knowledge and less on God.

The more I reflect on the subject, the more I agree with Elder Holland that one must be more spiritually in tune with God to receive a vision.

What are your thoughts?

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) functions primarily as a lay ministery.  This means that members within the congregation are not paid, including the clergy. 

Mormon congregations are divided geographically into “wards”.   Every 5 years or so a new pastor (called a Bishop) is called from within the ward by the general authorities of the church.

In typical Christian denominations, I have seen that people tend to bounce around a lot until they find the “right” pastor for them.  They search for a pastor with the right personality, charisma, preaching style, and leadership style that fits their needs and if the pastor isn’t working or them, as Donald Trump would say, he’s fired! 

Although members of a ward ultimately can choose to attend a different ward outside of their boundaries, it is typically frowned upon to do that.  Mormon leaders encourage members to stay in their assigned ward in order to help build it up, regardless of who is called to be their leader.

This can be great when a “good” bishop is called to lead the ward.  However, if a bishop is called that clashes with members it can be a significant challenge. 

I’ve seen people quit coming to church altogether based on a new Mormon Bishop that was called.

A Micr0manger as a Mormon Bishop

One of the greatest conflicts I’ve seen is having a Mormon Bishop who is a micro-manager.  Since virtually all members of the ward are called to have a church job, this can lead to challenges for members if the bishop has a heavy hand in all the decisions.

For example, within a ward (usually consisting of 200-400 people) there are leaders called by revelation by the bishop to lead many areas such as Young Men, Young Women, Sunday School, Primary (children’s sunday school), Elder’s Quorum (Men’s Group), High Priests (Typically the older men), and Relief Society (Women’s group).  Each of the leaders within each of those groups are in charge of selecting people from within the ward to help carry out tasks as well.

According to a recent regional conference in Asia led by Mormon Apostle, Dallin Oaks, members who are called are “entitled to receive inspiration and revelation for [their] respective stewardships”.  This gives members of the ward flexibility to pray and select people to help run their group as they feel inspired to.

The conflict arises if a bishop (who ultimately makes the final decision) doesn’t accept the decisions made by leaders of the various groups.  This can be very frustrating for the group leaders. 

What is the best way to deal with a micro-managing Mormon Bishop?

I’m definitely not the expert on this and welcome any feedback, but I will give a few suggestions that have helped me along the way.

Dealing Effectively with a Micro-managing Mormon Bishop

1. Pray

When things happen that a leader does that I don’t like it is very easy in the heat of the moment to say or do something I will regret later.  If I choose to pray for guidance the Lord usually calms me down and guides me.

2. Remove the beam from my own eye

It’s hard to do, but it is essential to look at myself and what things I’m doing wrong possibly first and not judge my leader.  This is what Jesus taught and it’s easy to talk about, but not always easy to do.  When I choose to do this things are a lot better and I have the Lord’s Spirit with me.

3. Try to see the Bishop’s perspective

The Bishop has a tremendous responsibility and is privy to many people’s challenges and needs.  He also has ultimate stewardship for the ward.  Since bishops are untrained and simply rely on their life experience and their faith in the Lord, it is crucial that members of the congregation rally around him and support him even if he’s not the most personable or a micro-manager. 

4. Trust in the Lord

I’ve heard President Monson say on many occasions “Whom the Lord calls, the Lord Qualifies”.  Try and remember that the Lord called the bishop and to pray to see things from His perspective as to why the bishop was called.  Pray again to see what you can do to support the bishop and lighten the load.  The church is the Lord’s church and He had faith in the bishop that was chosen, pray to see why.

5. Let Go

If I let go of my feelings and turn them over to the Lord, I feel much better.  I share my desires and reasons for why I want to do something and my frustrations of being micro-managed, or having a personality conflict, or whatever it is, and the Lord takes the burden for me. 

 

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