No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned …. — Doctrine and Covenants 121:41
The inspiration and guiding love of our good bishops have brought forth many blessings. Many tender moments are experienced by the ward as a whole, but most are quietly accomplished with little notice from the congregation.
It is the tradition in our ward that when a young man blesses the sacrament for the first time, his father assists him as he performs this sacred responsibility. For Paul, a new priest in our ward, the comfort of having his father beside him allowed him to have a relatively low-stress initial experience.
However, the next week as Paul knelt before the bread and water, panic set in. The first time through, the words were not in the correct order and the bishop indicated that it would need to be repeated. The second time was worse as Paul's voice became softer and more tentative. By now the chapel was filled with silent prayers for our newest priest. Paul's voice was shaking as he attempted for a third time to read the sacred words correctly. All heads were bowed except for Paul's mother who couldn't take her eyes off of her struggling son. Only she saw our bishop rise from his seat on the stand, kneel behind the shaking boy and begin to stroke his tense shoulders, whispering encouragement and confidence. By the time the prayer was successfully completed, the bishop was back in his seat. However, our grateful congregation sensed the tenderness of the moment as we partook of the Lord's sacrament.
Paul has blessed the sacrament dozens of times since, always with great confidence and reverence. I often reflect on the loving watch care of a discerning bishop who truly leads each of us with gentleness, tenderness and love unfeigned. — Jeanie Pierson, Little Rock, Ark.