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Sustaining the Bishop

Purpose: To help families understand the duties of a bishop and to sustain him with increasing faith.

Before the lesson begins:
Have adults read: Dallin H. Oaks, “Bishop, Help!” Ensign, May 1997, 22
Have children read: Sheila Kindred, “Sustaining Bishop Sheets,” Friend, Feb 2007, 10–12

Attention activity: Ask your family to write down everything they know about their bishop and what a bishop does. Ask young children to draw pictures of their bishop doing bishop things.

When everyone is finished, invite them to share their answers. If some of the answers are incorrect, explain the truth. The article the adults read will give a glimpse into the work of a bishop.

If you have children, use the sharing time game “A Day with the Bishop,” Friend, Jul 1989, 44 to help the children understand what a bishop does.

Questions: How difficult is a bishop’s job? Why? What can make a bishop’s job harder than it needs to be? What can make it easier?

Question: What does it mean to sustain the bishop? (It means we promise to support him.)

Discussion: Often members raise their hands to say they support their bishop, but they don’t really think about what that means. Let’s make a list of what we should be doing if we really sustain our bishop.

Application: Help the family make a plan to improve the way they sustain their bishop. This might include working to speak only in positive, supportive ways of him in public and at home, volunteer to help with more projects, send him notes of praise periodically, evaluate our requests for his time to be certain they’re appropriate, and accept callings when they’re offered, even if we’re not initially excited by them. Refer to the article by Elder Oaks for more suggestions.

Reminder: Write this plan down and post it where it can be regularly seen. Once a month, on Sundays, review how your family is doing and what changes can be made. Choose something special to do for the bishop that month.

If your family needs help understanding when and when not to call on the bishop, you might enjoy sharing this humorous—but educational article from the Ensign: Clair F. Rees, “Common Sense vs. Nonsense, or, ‘Bishop, how do I fix my lawn mower?’ ” Ensign, June 1989, 36
Follow up with a game in which situations are offered and family members must choose when to call the bishop and when the handle the situation themselves.

1. You forgot to study for your test so you decide to ask the bishop for a blessing to help you pass it anyway.
2. You’ve struggled for some time with self-forgiveness. You’ve prayed, pondered, and studied, but still don’t feel forgiven. Although this isn’t a sin that requires the bishop’s intervention, you decide to ask him to help you learn how to forgive yourself and move on.
3. Your Sunbeam class won’t behave and you’re just good and tired of them.
4. You decide the Young Men’s program needs a football team, complete with cheerleaders and a mascot, to say nothing of uniforms, a set of bleachers and a refreshment stand.
5. You’ve lost your wedding ring.
6. You know the bishop keeps candy on his desk for children who visit him. You’re starving, so you make up a problem.
7. You want a new teacher for your class because the old one is boring.
8. You and your sisters share a room. Your brother is leaving on a mission and you can’t agree on who gets his room. You decide to ask the bishop to choose.
9. Your children never help with the dishes.
10. You’ve gotten acceptances from two colleges and don’t know which one to attend.

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