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"delegate Until They Breathe For You"


rongo

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What are people's thoughts about the (in my opinion) inordinate emphasis on delegation in the Church on the part of leaders? The title quote was from Elder Anderson in a meeting with area bishops and stake presidencies, and it was for me the latest in a long chain of counsel for bishops and other priesthood leaders to delegate more and more. It was given during a Q&A when a bishop asked for a concrete list of things he must do, and things he could delegate.

 

I enjoyed doing my bishop duties, both mandatory and "traditional." I interviewed every child of record, attended every baptism, attended every sealing except one (both my wife and I had pneumonia and still were thinking of going, but the doctor absolutely forbade it. We were on IV antibiotics), attended the entire week of Scout and girls camp, etc. This was all of my own free will, but I really enjoyed doing it. My stake president and I used to joke about my lack of delegation, but in a good way (he was concerned about me getting burned out). Most other bishops took the counsel fully to heart, and the counselors and others perform most of the duties a bishop used to, with the bishops only doing the "required" things as they currently stand (i.e., common judge items, tithing settlement, living ordinance recommends, etc.).

 

I see this trend as a response to "softer," more "milquetoast-esque" men complaining about the time and family demands of being a bishop, and the Church responding with relief. I personally think that it means more to wards when they have strong men who can shoulder great burdens essentially "carrying the ward on their backs" for a time, than for most bishop functions to be carried out "by committee" (or by council, if you will). Elder Anderson even suggested that bishops divest much of their counseling function to EQP/HPGL, even for pornography addictions, while being diplomatic and sensitive when doing so (some may not do well with the prospect of meeting regularly with someone not the bishop).

 

Interested in others' thoughts about this! ;)

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It spreads training around so that more can learn what makes a good ward function so that if called to be in leadership, there is less of a learning curve.

 

Not all members of a ward will feel comfortable with the bishop (personality, history, etc.), it could really help to have other options they believe they can turn to.

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What are people's thoughts about the (in my opinion) inordinate emphasis on delegation in the Church on the part of leaders?

 

Interested in others' thoughts about this! ;)

My attitude is, "Try it, you might like it." Of course delegation takes a lot of work to get folks into a postion where they can accept delegation, and it doesn't releive the bishop from any responsibility. He still has to make sure the work gets done, and done well. And he still has to make sure his essenitaI, non-delegatory duties are understood and accessed by the members. I think expanded delegation is an opportunity for the bishop to exercise his gifts to recognize and harness the spiritual talents in others, and for his ward members to develop spiritual talents. Kind of a positive application of D&C 46:27. The more people that are involved face-to-face with others, especially in a technologically media-laden society, the more unity we might develop in building Zion.

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Early Bishops, 1940's etc. would serve sometimes for decades. I wonder how much delegating they did.

Not very much. Only recently did the handbook allow counselors to interview children of record for baptism, or youth for patriarchal blessings. I'm sure guidelines in the 1940s, etc. had the bishop doing everything.

 

I never saw it as a burden, and enjoyed it, but I think most modern men feel overburdened ---- hence, the dramatic lightening of the load.

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I wouldn't feel obligated to do all that you did but I would want to and try, for the most part, to accomplish it.  I have lots of kids and so must at least help with some of their activities.  We speak of not having our kids be too busy but if each one of mine has just one extracurricular activity, that's multiple actives on many days.  My wife certainly can't handle it alone.  So I would be missing some camps, endowments/sealings, and baptisms.

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I see this trend as a response to "softer," more "milquetoast-esque" men complaining about the time and family demands of being a bishop, and the Church responding with relief. I personally think that it means more to wards when they have strong men who can shoulder great burdens essentially "carrying the ward on their backs" for a time, than for most bishop functions to be carried out "by committee" (or by council, if you will). Elder Anderson even suggested that bishops divest much of their counseling function to EQP/HPGL, even for pornography addictions, while being diplomatic and sensitive when doing so (some may not do well with the prospect of meeting regularly with someone not the bishop).

 

Interested in others' thoughts about this! ;)

 

Why is it considered 'milquetoast' for men to want to spend more time with their families? Some church service callings demand many hours per week from some men, and I think it's an entirely reasonable expectation for those men to want more time with their families instead of sitting in meeting after meeting.

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What are people's thoughts about the (in my opinion) inordinate emphasis on delegation in the Church on the part of leaders? The title quote was from Elder Anderson in a meeting with area bishops and stake presidencies, and it was for me the latest in a long chain of counsel for bishops and other priesthood leaders to delegate more and more. It was given during a Q&A when a bishop asked for a concrete list of things he must do, and things he could delegate.

 

I enjoyed doing my bishop duties, both mandatory and "traditional." I interviewed every child of record, attended every baptism, attended every sealing except one (both my wife and I had pneumonia and still were thinking of going, but the doctor absolutely forbade it. We were on IV antibiotics), attended the entire week of Scout and girls camp, etc. This was all of my own free will, but I really enjoyed doing it. My stake president and I used to joke about my lack of delegation, but in a good way (he was concerned about me getting burned out). Most other bishops took the counsel fully to heart, and the counselors and others perform most of the duties a bishop used to, with the bishops only doing the "required" things as they currently stand (i.e., common judge items, tithing settlement, living ordinance recommends, etc.).

 

I see this trend as a response to "softer," more "milquetoast-esque" men complaining about the time and family demands of being a bishop, and the Church responding with relief. I personally think that it means more to wards when they have strong men who can shoulder great burdens essentially "carrying the ward on their backs" for a time, than for most bishop functions to be carried out "by committee" (or by council, if you will). Elder Anderson even suggested that bishops divest much of their counseling function to EQP/HPGL, even for pornography addictions, while being diplomatic and sensitive when doing so (some may not do well with the prospect of meeting regularly with someone not the bishop).

 

Interested in others' thoughts about this! ;)

While there are certainly many functions which a bishop truly must fulfill personally, micromanagement is his worst enemy in some respects -- always the bane of leaders of large, complex organizations (I can think of one U.S. President who foolishly tried to micromanage and it destroyed his presidency and did great harm to the USA, even though this guy was a very smart man).

 

I recently went to my meeting house for regular ward cleanup and found the stake pres along with the bishop and his wife anxiously engaged in ordinary cleanup.  While I appreciate such humility, it actually left me with less to do and made me wonder whether they really have that much extra time on their hands?  

 

The LDS Church has had a long-term policy of decentralization of authority and function.  In fact that was the mode of governance of the Church under Joseph Smith -- government by local priesthood leaders and councils.  It strengthens members and gives them the leadership skills which make all the difference in hard times.  Thus, when people assassinated Joseph Smith, he was succeeded by very capable leaders.  He had taught them how to govern themselves.

 

Just so, a wise bishop will depend heavily on his relief society and priesthood leaders in regular ward councils and in priesthood executive meetings.  If he trains his people correctly, he can go on vacation and expect things to function without a hiccup.

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My wife's dad was in a bishopric, then was the bishop for 5 years, then a high councilor, and then in the bishopric again, all from the time she was 9 years old. She said he was never around, always away from home at meetings or doing things for other people.

 

She said it was not a blessing for her or her family for him to be away so much, and was jealous of kids who had fathers at home.

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My wife's dad was in a bishopric, then was the bishop for 5 years, then a high councilor, and then in the bishopric again, all from the time she was 9 years old. She said he was never around, always away from home at meetings or doing things for other people.

 

She said it was not a blessing for her or her family for him to be away so much, and was jealous of kids who had fathers at home.

 

 

definately a balance needs to happen, I know a guy who's dad was in stake pres. and yeah gonzo all the time. I know a Bishop years ago who's marriage was in the toilet and so to avoid his wife he spend inordinate amount of hours at the church and helping the members and the marriage grew worse because he wasn't around to deal with it and so they pulled apart and it was awful to see, it was a downward spiral. They are still together but I heard it isn't a great union

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Why is it considered 'milquetoast' for men to want to spend more time with their families? Some church service callings demand many hours per week from some men, and I think it's an entirely reasonable expectation for those men to want more time with their families instead of sitting in meeting after meeting.

 

I like what one Bishop said. Unless a meeting generates more man-hours of action spent in positive ways then the meeting consumed in man-hours it was a waste of time.

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I wouldn't feel obligated to do all that you did but I would want to and try, for the most part, to accomplish it.  I have lots of kids and so must at least help with some of their activities.  We speak of not having our kids be too busy but if each one of mine has just one extracurricular activity, that's multiple actives on many days.  My wife certainly can't handle it alone.  So I would be missing some camps, endowments/sealings, and baptisms.

My commitment was/is between me and God, and I don't look down on those whose consciences dictate otherwise. Definitely, most bishops (rightly) just went up on bishop's night to camps. While a bishop doesn't have to be at every baptism and temple ordinance, it was something I personally wanted to be at. The other extreme in some wards right now is that the bishop is never at any of these things (sending a counselor instead) because he is not required to be there by the handbook. I don't think that's good, either.

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Why is it considered 'milquetoast' for men to want to spend more time with their families? Some church service callings demand many hours per week from some men, and I think it's an entirely reasonable expectation for those men to want more time with their families instead of sitting in meeting after meeting.

There's nothing wrong with wanting to spend more time with the family --- it's just that some callings need the general in the field. Sometimes even when he would rather be with the family. I'm more referring to men who feel constantly burdened by the time commitment and delegate more than they should, putting this burden on others who don't have the keys or mandate. Which is the current counsel . . .

 

Totally agree about meetings. I reduced my meetings well before the worldwide training meeting instructed us to (I didn't hold a separate PEC meeting, since the PEC is always at ward council. I held ward council twice a month and dealt with welfare and any PEC issues there or privately as needed).

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When I was elders quorum president, I thought things wouldn't get done unless I did them personally, so I tended to do way too much. With time, I learned that the best way, at least for me, was to assign one of the 3 quorum committees to those activities that fit their mission. So, I would assign my counselor (or myself), who would then talk to the committee chairman and then, in committee meetings, discuss how to make it happen.

 

This wasn't about being a milquetoast, as you put it, but about not only getting things done but giving people an opportunity to serve and participate. In my opinion, the best way to keep people committed to the church is to help them feel like they're a part of it, and the best way to do that is to find ways for them to serve and participate. I discovered that, when given such an opportunity, most people will step up and come through. If nothing else, I learned that most members of the church really do want to do the right thing and help out, as long as you can find ways to make that happen.

 

Did this result in less time away from my family than before? Yes, somewhat, but that wasn't the point. Giving other people an opportunity to serve also freed time for me to do the things I needed to do in person, such as visit families and hold quarterly PPIs.

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My wife's dad was in a bishopric, then was the bishop for 5 years, then a high councilor, and then in the bishopric again, all from the time she was 9 years old. She said he was never around, always away from home at meetings or doing things for other people.

 

She said it was not a blessing for her or her family for him to be away so much, and was jealous of kids who had fathers at home.

Part of this sounds a lot like me. I was called into a bishopric at 28, served in another one as a counselor, then served five years as a bishop. At the time of my first call as a counselor, my children were 6, 4, 2, and newborn. My children and wife wouldn't say I was never around, though, and we were heavily blessed over those years. My soon-to-be 8 year-old is sad that he is the only one I didn't interview for baptism as a bishop. 

 

I guess people's temperaments are different, it's just that there seems to be a lot more men/families now who cannot cope with a heavy load and have to have a lot more of the load lightened. I think it's related to the disproportionaley-high level of anti-depressant use among Mormons ---- many defend this as responsibly seeking medical help, but to me it's an indication that we are much less resilient as a people, in general (not that there aren't people who legitimately need medication, but I don't think this number is anywhere near what the number actually is).

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Part of this sounds a lot like me. I was called into a bishopric at 28, served in another one as a counselor, then served five years as a bishop. At the time of my first call as a counselor, my children were 6, 4, 2, and newborn. My children and wife wouldn't say I was never around, though, and we were heavily blessed over those years.

How were you 'heavily blessed'? My wife and her siblings can't name how having an absentee father blessed them. My mother-in-law says they were blessed, but my wife says her mom was always stressed because she had six kids to care for.

My wife's dad endured job loss and poor health during and after his service.

So I am interested in hearing what blessings you traded for time with your wife and kids.

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My ward is fairly large, and with the number of people with issues, youth with morality problems, welfare concerns, priesthood advancements, youth interviews, etc., I have to delegate quite a bit.  I haven't set foot in Sunday School for almost 4 years.  I'm able to be with the Priests' quorum during 3rd hour most of the time.  My Sundays are typically 9 or 10 hour days.  I'm most grateful to have 2 outstanding counselors who communicate with the auxiliaries (except RS, and the ward mission; those are mine), extend most of the calls and releases, and handle the financial tallies/deposits at the end of meetings.  My executive secretary tells me where I need to be and with whom I am meeting, usually well ahead of time, so I can prepare for whomever it is that I will be speaking with.  Mutual nights usually mean interviews with youth and some adults with issues (usually financial) that can't wait until Sunday.  Other evenings I set aside for very personal matters when I think the individual may not wish to have others know that he/she is visiting with me, or for going and visiting families in their homes.

 

Delegation can be a good thing.

Edited by ERMD
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How were you 'heavily blessed'? My wife and her siblings can't name how having an absentee father blessed them. My mother-in-law says they were blessed, but my wife says her mom was always stressed because she had six kids to care for.

 

I think it boils down to there being two types of people: those who will not be able to get past the resentment of inconvenience, and those who don’t remember there being much of any. Memory is selective, but *which* memories are selected and which are repressed is instructive.

 

I asked the family tonight for Family Home Evening (just a small part --- my daughter had the lesson, and she taught what she wanted to) for their thoughts on being “heavily blessed” during the years when dad was gone a lot. My wife said that she is a different person now than she was nine years ago --- much more patient. Before, the thought of having to take care of the kids without me would have been a big burden. But, as we lived it, she felt that she was enabled and empowered by God to bear her burdens and the burdens melted away. It helped that my two oldest (now 13 and 11) were superb babysitters at an early age (we started going on five hour temple trips when our oldest was eight, and he was a better parent than we are ---- kids all in bed by 7:30, everything cleaned up, dinner made, etc.) My nine year-old said that the time they had with dad was “really good time,” and this goes along with my experience. The time we did spend together was better than the “more time” many other families’ had/have, and I attribute this to God blessing us.

 

In short, I wasn't an "absentee father," and my wife wasn't "always stressed because she had four kids to care for." I think it's interesting that your mother-in-law, the one who had to care for the six kids, insists that she and they were blessed.

 

My wife's dad endured job loss and poor health during and after his service.

 

I relate to that ---- in spades.

 

When I was called, a new ward was formed. The first week, our bishopric was gone almost every night, because we had six days to call every presidency and all the teachers and have them ready to go by Sunday.  A couple of months later, my wife was hospitalized for months and nearly died twice (rare clotting disorder, an ileectomy and colectomy due to dead intestinal tissue from hundreds of clots). We had four small children at the time, and I ended up exhausting my paid leave and taking about two months of FMLA time to be with her and to care for the kids. I still continued to perform my bishop's duties, with a lot of help from my counselors and others.

 

Four years after that (two years ago), my wife was again hospitalized when her blood became toxically thin. For the second time, mom was in the hospital for two of our children's birthdays. This came at a time of an especially heavy bishop work load. 

 

I am a school teacher, and my wife doesn't work. Summers are lean for us, and I do day labor construction to augment our savings for the summer. We had many a t-i-g-h-t summer and beyond getting back on track coming out of the summer. We had some tangible, bona fide miracles that happened, including a direct deposited disbursement from the state retirement fund that had no explanation and they wouldn’t undo or take back. Several things like that.

 

Interestingly, my wife feels that she is alive today because I was a bishop (I don’t necessarily think that bishops’ families get special life-saving help in this regard). Unknown to us at the time, one of our small children told his primary teacher when she asked about mom in the hospital that mom would get better “because dad is the bishop” (she shared this in fast and testimony meeting a couple of months ago).

 

So I am interested in hearing what blessings you traded for time with your wife and kids.

 

 

I don't think it was a zero-sum game, where we "trade time with your wife and kids" for blessings.

There are promises made in Journal of Discourses to men with families who were called on long, extended missions to Europe that their families would not lack or suffer spiritually or emotionally from their fathers being gone for years. They would prosper as if or more than if they had been home the whole time. There are other talks (especially from Heber C. Kimball and Orson Hyde) that stress that God's blessings don't operate on the principle of 1+1=2 (i.e., the logic behind the blessings cannot be concretely laid out on paper). By all accounts, someone reading what had happened to our family would think that we were terribly burdened with dad being gone to work and then often on church business at night and on the weekends, plus having mom in the hospital for lengthy periods of time. That isn't at all what the effect was, at the time or in hindsight. 

 

To come full circle, we often hear about bishops and stake presidents with wayward or "messed up" kids, or families who resent the time sacrifice of the calling. That isn't my family's experience at all. As I've expressed, I think more and more men and families are much less resilient about burdens, demands, and things that need to get done, and I think something is wistfully lost in the experience that wards have under the delegated, shared load --- compared to a "round up your shoulders and minister" bishop.

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