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The Dignity and Blessings of the Office of Bishop
Reading Assignments for the course
REL 480 - Church Organization and Leadership
Prof.  Marcus H. Martins, Ph.D.

General Handbook (2020)

        chapter 4 - Leadership in the Church of Jesus Christ

       chapter 6 - Ward Leadership
Author Title

Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley
To the Bishops of the Church  (1988)
The Shepherds of Israel  (2003)
The Loneliness of Leadership (1969)
Pres. Boyd K. Packer The Bishop and His Counselors  (1999)
Elder L. Tom Perry For a Bishop Must be Blameless  (1982)
Elder Robert D. Hales The Mantle of a Bishop (1985)
Readings on this page:

The Prophet Joseph Smith
The Duty of a High Priest
The Source of a Leader’s Influence
Elder LeGrand Richards Bishops are Key to Action
Pres. Brigham Young #1 and #2
Daily Affairs of a Bishop
Bishops are Sustained by the Prayers of the Members
Pres. Spencer W. Kimball Solving the Problems of the World
Elder David A. Bednar The Pattern of Revelation is the Same for Everybody
Diversity of Views in Discussions of the Quorum of the Twelve
Pres. Brigham Young #3 Reaching Perfection in Mortality
Pres. Lorenzo Snow Lack of Vision Prevents Perfection in Mortality
Optional Article

Dr. Marcus Martins Insights from a "Former" Bishop
Questions for Review  

The Prophet Joseph Smith
The Duty of a High Priest

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p.21

The duty of a High Priest is to administer in spiritual and holy things, and to hold communion with God; but not to exercise monarchial government ... to be better qualified to teach principles and doctrines, than the Elders; for the office of Elder is an appendage to the High Priesthood, and it concentrates and centers in one.

The Prophet Joseph Smith
The Source of a Leader’s Influence
History of the Church 6:273

In relation to the power over the minds of mankind which I hold, I would say, It is in consequence of the power of truth in the doctrines which I have been an instrument in the hands of God of presenting unto them, and not because of any compulsion on my part.

Elder LeGrand Richards
The Bishops are Key to Action
Quoted by Bishop Robert D. Hales, in "The Mantle of a Bishop," Ensign, May 1985, p.28

After a weighty discussion in the temple with all the General Authorities, Elder LeGrand Richards said: "Now, Brethren, I understand all that we discussed, but until the bishops move, nothing will happen. Everything above the bishop is all talk."

President Brigham Young - #1
Daily Affairs of a Bishop
Discourses of Brigham Young, p.144

Let each Bishop attend faithfully to his Ward, and see that every man and woman is well and faithfully and profitably employed; that the sick and aged are properly cared for that none suffer. Let each Bishop be a tender and indulgent father to his Ward, administering a word of comfort and encouragement here, a word of advice and counsel there, and a word of chastisement in another place, where needed, without partiality, wisely judging between man and man, caring for and seeking earnestly the welfare of all, watching over the flock of God with the eye of a true shepherd, that wolves and dogs may not enter among the flock to rend them.

President Brigham Young - #2
Bishops are Sustained by the Prayers of the Members
Discourses of Brigham Young, p.145; Journal of Discourses, Vol.7, p.278

You have often heard me and my brethren say that if the people in the capacity of a Ward, for instance, would let their faith be perfectly united, and their whole desires rise to the Father, through the name of Jesus Christ, and hold their Bishop in his calling between God and them, it would hardly be possible for that Bishop to do wrong, for he would be filled with wisdom. ...

Any Bishop, under the influence of the prayers and confidence of his brethren and sisters, with a faithful and holy life on his part, will increase in faith and good works, and the rich fruits of his mind will manifest from day to day increased wisdom and intelligence.

President Spencer W. Kimball
Solving the Problems of the World
"Lengthening Our Stride", Regional Representatives Seminar, 3 October 1974 [brackets added]
Paraphrasing George Bernard Shaw

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men [and women] who can dream of things that never were and ask, Why not?

Elder David A. Bednar
The Pattern of Revelation is the Same for Everybody
Religious Educator - vol. 12 no. 2 (2011)

Some people also may imagine that Church leaders obtain revelation in ways that are fundamentally different from others--receiving direct, immediate, and specific answers, and then going forward easily to lead and do what is required. The true pattern for leaders and for members basically is the same—pressing steadfastly forward with faith in the Lord Jesus Christ--and as one does so, guidance and answers typically come “line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little” (2 Nephi 28:30).

Remember, Nephi went to Jerusalem to obtain the plates of brass not knowing beforehand the things that he should do (see 1 Nephi 4:6). Following the example of Nephi and the leaders of the Church, it is requisite that members face the complex, demanding challenges in the world today, always striving to do their very best. President Hinckley counseled, “If you do your best, it will all work out” (Ensign, October 2000, 73). That is the pattern. Summarized in my own words: “Be good, honor your covenants, keep the commandments, and your steps will be guided, your utterances will be inspired, yet the majority of the time you will not necessarily know in the moment that you are being guided and inspired.”

Elder David A. Bednar
Diversity of Views in Discussions of the Quorum of the Twelve
Religious Educator - vol. 12 no. 2 (2011)

Seniority is key, but the senior Brethren employ patterns that invite those who are junior to actively and completely participate in councils. Everyone is invited and expected to express opinions and share observations. For example, when I was the junior member, I frequently would be called upon to speak first in meetings of the Council of the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve. When an Apostle who has served decades longer than I speaks first, I certainly am willing to express a different perspective or propose an alternative course of action, but I would be foolish not to recognize that he knows much more than I do about the matter before the council. I might, therefore, be strongly influenced by his opinion; thus the presiding officer often chooses not to call on a senior member to speak first. By using that simple pattern in council, all can be edified of all. ...

The First Presidency presides. The Twelve would not overstep the bounds of their respective authority. Yet the First Presidency would almost always seek the counsel of and input from the Twelve. Thus the Twelve would never seek to impose a point of view or decision, and the First Presidency would invite the views of the Twelve. This aspect of our interaction is quite remarkable. ...

I have had the opportunity many times to observe the Lord’s patterns of revelation. In my judgment, the most prevalent pattern is line upon line, precept upon precept. In meetings, different members of the council make observations that contribute incrementally to an ultimate decision or solution. Rarely is an issue ever introduced, discussed, and resolved in only one meeting. Not only does each person contribute line upon line in a specific meeting but across multiple meetings. In each successive council session, elements are added to the totality that could not have come in a previous session.

As we each individually ponder and pray and then continue to counsel together under the direction of the Spirit, we are benefitted by the perspective and inspiration of everyone in the council. We take the next step forward and then another step. As long as our feet are moving and we are pressing forward, the way is always illuminated. …

In the presiding councils of the Church, ego and self-centeredness are absent. No one is concerned about being right or receiving recognition; everyone simply wants to get it right, whatever the issue. One can participate in those councils fully and without apprehension because the focus is on discerning the will and timing of the Lord and moving forward the work of the kingdom. When proposals are presented or ideas discussed, it is not abrupt; it is direct. It is not harsh; it is bold. With unity in purpose and absence of personal agendas, the council can get to the heart of an issue and have candid conversations that invite the Spirit of the Lord. It is remarkable.

President Brigham Young - #3
Reaching Perfection in Mortality
Discourses of Brigham Young, p.89; brackets added

It may appear strange to some of you ... to say it is possible for a man or woman to become perfect on this earth. ... [The Lord] cannot be any more perfect than he knows how ...

When we are doing as well as we know how in the sphere and station which we occupy here, we are ... as justified as the angels who are before the throne of God. The sin that will cleave to all the posterity of Adam and Eve is, that they have not done [or acted] as well as they knew how.

President Lorenzo Snow
Lack of Vision Prevents Perfection in Mortality
Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, p.33, 36-37
Teachings of the Presidents of the Church--Lorenzo Snow, pp.98-99, 101-103

A person may be perfect in regard to some things and not others. ... if we could read in detail the life of …great and holy men, we would doubtless find that their efforts to be righteous were not always crowned with success. Hence we should not be discouraged if we should be overcome in a weak moment; but, on the contrary, straightway repent of the error or the wrong we may have committed, and as far as possible repair it, and then seek to God for renewed strength to go on and do better. ...

One of the chief difficulties that many suffer from is, that we are too apt to forget the great object of life, the motive of our Heavenly Father in sending us here to put on mortality, as well as the holy calling with which we have been called ...

Hence, instead of rising above the little transitory things of time, we too often allow ourselves to come down to the level of the world without availing ourselves of the divine help which God has instituted ...

Do not expect to become perfect at once. If you do, you will be disappointed.

Be better today than you were yesterday, and be better tomorrow than you are today. The temptations that perhaps partially overcome us today, let them not overcome us so far tomorrow. Thus continue to be a little better day by day; and do not let your life wear away without accomplishing good to others as well as to ourselves.

Questions for Review:

1. What are the duties of a High Priest? (The Prophet Joseph Smith)

2. What is the real source of a Church leader's influence? (The Prophet Joseph Smith)

3. According to President Brigham Young, how can a person reach perfection in this life?  (Pres. Brigham Young)

4. What is a person supposed to do when he/she makes a mistake?  (Pres. Lorenzo Snow)

5. How does a Bishop benefit from the home teaching [since 2018, "Ministering"] program?  (Elder L. Tom Perry, "For a Bishop Must be Blameless")

This web page was published only as a support for classroom discussion.
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