Jim has been "the bishop" now for four+ years. He probably has one more year until he is released and someone else is called to succeed him. It's been an interesting and challenging time for the both of us. It's also been very rewarding.
Today I watched my husband "the bishop" as he conducted yet another funeral. It's one of the duties and privileges he has as bishop. I watched him conduct two previous funerals when he sat next to President Monson on the stand because Pres. Monson was there to speak at the person's funeral. I would look at Jim from the congregation and have tears in my eyes as I saw him stand next to the Prophet exhibiting the utmost respect for him. I marveled at how he could even function in such a setting. Today Jim sat on the stand all by himself. His first councilor is out of town and the other councilor was at work. It was just Jim. The funeral today was for a beloved mother, grandmother, and great grandmother who passed away in her sleep at the age of 87. Her nephew, Clay Christiansen a Mormon Tabernacle Choir organist, played an organ medley during the funeral. I have never heard a more touching or beautiful organ piece. I was deeply, deeply moved by it. The funeral was sweet and simple yet powerful because of the lasting impression made by the life of a good woman.
Halfway through the funeral, I looked at the four woman sitting in the row in front of me. I looked at each one and realized they were all widows. I got tears in my eyes as I realized that Jim officiated at the funerals of all of their husbands. After the service, I said hello to one more widow also in the same category. I thought how much time has passed. I thought how necessary a bishop is. I thought how sweet it is that God provides a congregation with someone who understands that his duty is to serve others and love and care for them.
Jim usually works an 11 hour day at his regular job. I've always thought how lucky his employers are to have him because Jim doesn't know the meaning of an 8 hour day. He went to work for two hours this morning and then went to the ward to make sure everything was being taken care of for the funeral. After the funeral, I accompanied him to the cemetery for the interment service. We finished up about one o'clock. We were both hungry so we went to Subway for lunch. I love being with him when we discuss the important things of life such as living a good life as this woman obviously had. We had a nice lunch together. About 1:30 I said goodbye as he went back to work, obviously to be gone late into the evening tonight to make up for the time needed to take care of the funeral this morning. He is a good example to me of gentle, kind service.
"The bishop" takes care of many things in the ward. He officiates at baptisms, a few weddings, baby blessings, Sunday meetings, ward get togethers, and the list goes on and on. He counsels with the youth and has a responsibility to look after the widows. He meets with a lot of people privately to offer counsel if they need it and offer help to those who are in need. I don't know about those meetings because he keeps those things private. I just know he's gone long hours and comes home late a lot and is tired. Most Monday afternoons he comes home in the afternoon for a nap because Sundays were anything but a day of rest for him.
I think the thing I have been most impressed with over these four years is my husband's sense of Priesthood duty. He never calls attention to himself. He's so soft spoken that many people, myself included, have a hard time hearing him. He tears up frequently, especially when he talks about the Savior. He knows he serves Christ and acts in the capacity as His servant. His sense of duty to serve as Jesus would have him serve is a blessing to me to watch and experience.
I love "the bishop." I've learned to keep myself busy while he is away. I've learned not to ask questions when his hours extend late into the evening. I've learned to have good phone manners as I tell people, "No, the bishop isn't here but I can take a message and get it to him."
I know someday Jim will be released as "the bishop." He will need a good rest then. It will be a well deserved rest. The scripture often comes to mind, "...well done, thou good and faithful servant..." Matthew 25:21.