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
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.