Guest Author - Terrie Lynn Bittner
Children are often confused by a change in bishops. They donít understand that Bishop is a temporary job title and suddenly having someone new in the position may create confusion and even unhappiness, especially if they canít remember any previous bishops. Itís important for parents to help their children learn to love and honor their bishop just as they did the previous bishop.
Sunday evening, when the announcement is first made, is a good time to begin. The lesson can continue into family home evening the next day, or, if you want more time to prepare, the following week. After church, make a point of talking about the changes in positive terms. Talk about how pleased you are with Heavenly Fatherís choice and mention some of the qualities that will make him a good bishop. If your family knows the new bishop, remind the children of the good contacts youíve had or the ways heís helped your family. If you have doubts, keep them to yourself and work on your own testimony of the choice privately.
Children donít automatically understand that theyíre supposed to love their bishop. You can teach them this by expressing your own love for the bishop and emphasizing his love for your family.
Plan a family home evening lesson in which you help your children understand what it meant when they raised their hands to sustain the new bishop. Do they realize they made a commitment to support him and to help make the ward a special place? Be specific in what will be expected: speaking only good of the bishop and not letting others speak badly in their hearing, volunteering when he asks for help, and taking on challenges he puts before the ward.
Invite your family to write letters to the bishop telling him how happy they are to have him as their new bishop. You might want younger children to make cards and deliver them with cookies.
Over the coming months, itís likely changes will begin to occur in your ward, since each new bishop has his own way of doing things. Some of these changes may be less appealing to you than others, so itís important for you to give thought to how you talk about them and participate in them. Your children will be listening and watching. When they hear you comment on how you enjoy the new things happening, and your excitement at the changes, theyíll adopt your attitude.
If your children miss seeing their previous bishop in his former role, help them understand they can and should continue to love and honor their previous bishop. Loving the new bishop isnít disloyal; itís just adding one more person to the list of people your child loves and honors.