Serving in the Church is a learning experience for all, much like our sojourn through life in general. Everything we face is designed to shape us, give us experience, and ultimately sanctify us that we may be stand before the Lord. Callings we accept in the Church are a blessing and they give us a chance to lose ourselves in service, but they also carry with it a certain amount of burden and responsibility. It is all for our good, but the Lord is using imperfect instruments in order to bring about His work and glory.
I’ve had a calling where I was required to be at the church several nights a week. I’ve worked with the youth on several occasions. I’ve run a successful missionary program and spent countless nights in the homes of prospective and new members. All of these opportunities gave me perspective and experience, some hardships, and many blessings.
A few years ago, I was called to serve as a counselor to a new bishop. Within a couple of months, I was faced with a traumatic experience at work that ultimately cost me my job. I fell ill for several weeks while at the same time I searched for new employment. My bishop was also facing some difficulties and problems with his employer and had some scary health issues. Nobody ever knew what was going on outside of our bishopric meetings and we continued to serve to the best of our ability. We supported each other and lost ourselves in the work. It is crazy looking back at all the opposition we faced – the enemy is absolutely real. We are human, and we continued to have our failings while facing increased attacks from both sides of the veil. Besides our personal issues which never go away, volunteer lay leadership still have the added burden of an nurturing an entire congregation. Everyone knows it’s not easy but at the same time it’s easy to forget what a difficult job it is.
This week a story came out from the Associated Press regarding a local bishop who faced a devastating and tragic situation in his ward where a father confessed to sexually abusing his children. The father continued to engage in this horrific activity for years, until he was caught and jailed by authorities. He had been long since excommunicated, but the fact that he was allowed to continue abusing children is a hard pill to swallow. The Church released a statement, reinforcing that our position that all abuse is intolerable while reiterating the guidelines that are in place in order to curtail and stop abusers.
Having recently dealt with journalists – I gave a 20 minute interview where one line was published while enemies of the Church were given 95% of the column, in addition to two other poorly managed interviews – you can count me as skeptical at best of any news reporting, particularly when one case is used to make a blanket accusation over an entire institution. The enemy is very real, and the War in Heaven literally continues to this day. A third part of heaven leaving and engaging in warfare against the Saints isn’t just ancient pre-mortal history. It’s a story that has repeated itself and will continue to repeat itself in our lifetimes. Every time a person proudly proclaims their new faith – the religion of ex-Mormonism – prophecy is fulfilled.
All of this is to say that our leaders have a microscope on them like never before. They lay members, just like you and me, with problems and trials and temptations. The fiery darts of Satan are targeted directly at them. Dissatisfied members and former members lay in wait to complain and tell their story. The world is terrible and our leaders are hearing confessed more intense sin than those of prior generations. Many bishops have fallen and will fall away. Pray for them. They need it more than you’ll ever know.
- “Watch Ye Therefore, and Pray Always” -President M. Russell Ballard, October 2020
- “Power of Evil” -Elder David B. Haight, April 1973
- “Behold, the Enemy Is Combined” -Elder Neal A. Maxwell, April 1993
You can follow Dustin on Twitter at @11xphd.