Office of bishop sacred, responsibilities are heavy

Includes many duties

Requires help to fulfill- Is inspired by His Spirit

A bishop looks after old and young, married and single, rich and poor, and active and less-active members, hoping to unify the flock and follow the Savior's commandment to "be one," said Elder Dallin H. Oaks.

"There are times in the lives of all of us when we must reach out to our bishop or his counselors for help," said Elder Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve in his Saturday afternoon address.

"Thank heaven for faithful and inspired bishops and branch presidents and their counselors!"

Elder Oaks outlined the many duties of a bishop within the ward, which include being president of the Aaronic Priesthood, being the presiding high priest, monitoring the Church service of all ward members - which includes being mindful of increased family time on Sunday allowed by the consolidated meeting schedule. The bishop is also in charge of ward finances. He is the judge of worthiness, and administers formal and informal discipline.

"A bishop needs to be a skillful delegator or he will be crushed under the burden of his responsibilities or frustrated at seeing so many of them unfulfilled," said Elder Oaks.

He said that early in the Church, the Lord told members that "the voice of His servants is the voice of the Lord, and the hand of His servants is the hand of the Lord." (See D&C 1:38, 36:2.)

"I testify to the truthfulness of that principle, which imposes a solemn duty upon members of this Church to be loyal to their leaders and faithful in following their direction," he said.

Great responsibility rests upon the holders of office in the Church, who must exercise their sacred authority by "persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned." (D&C 121:41.)

In the Church today are about 15,000 bishops and 8,000 branch presidents, who serve with counselors, bringing the total to more than 65,000 in bishoprics and branch presidencies, said Elder Oaks.

"God bless these good men! And God bless their faithful wives, whose loyalty and support make their service possible."

He counseled members to help relieve the burdens of bishops, who also have work and family responsibilities. "The burden is a heavy one that cannot be fulfilled without the supportive efforts of ward officers and members," said Elder Oaks. He suggested that auxiliary presidencies and Melchizedek Priesthood quorum presidencies exercise initiative and fully function in the "great responsibilities of their callings."

"All of us should accept the callings we are given and serve in all diligence," he said. "The most common calling received for men is home teacher and for women is Relief Society visiting teacher. Home teachers are the eyes and ears and hands of the bishop.

"Each of us should do all that we can, in the spirit of gospel self-reliance, to provide for ourselves and our families in a temporal and spiritual way."

The offices of bishop and branch president and counselors are sacred in the Church, said Elder Oaks.

"The men who hold these offices are respected by the Lord, inspired by His Spirit, and given the powers of discernment necessary to their office. We honor and love them, and we show this by our consideration for them."

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