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Guest mormonmusic

How Can Bishops be Counselors?

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Guest mormonmusic

I'm asking this as a question, not as a challenge to the status quo.

Bishops act as couselors to the membership on a wide variety of issues such as marriage problems, overcoming bad habits, and other spiritual and personal issues. My question is -- how can they get involved with counseling members on a repeated basis when they are not licensed? They receive very little training in counseling so how can they be spiritual advisors?

Does anyone know? Are ministers of religion somehow a different class of counselors which don't require a license? Maybe PC knows....or others.

I am not a counselor by the way, I'm a university teacher.

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I think that anyone in a ministorial capacity can end up having their services used like they're a counselor, but I think this is really a form of abusing their position. Bishops are very similar to counselors in a lot of ways- you go to them to confess personal things and get help, they help you through the repentance process and to become spiritually clean again, than can lead you to other helpful services like the Bishop Storehouse if your needs are temporal, the 12 step program or LDS Family Services for other needs... So they are a sort of "go to" point or an in-between for getting the actual help you need. Because they don't get training and I'm sure a lot of them tend to take the weight of those they are trying to help onto their shoulders, I think many Bishops try to do more than they are supposed to be doing and end up acting as counselors instead of being that "in-between man". And, because many people who see a Bishop have problems that don't really need to go any further than him... this can add to the confusion.

I've had many Bishops, because my family has moved quite a bit and I've been to many wards. I've been to one Bishop for help with bills/food during a time of financial crisis, and when I was going through my repentance process, I went through a total of four Bishops. Each of them handled my situation a bit differently than the other, and out of all of them only one seemed like he was equipped to at all attempt to take on the role of counselor, but he didn't. All of our visits, we stuck strictly to how I was moving along in my repentance. He would occassionally bring up questions about how other matters were going in my life, but it was always kind of like a "check up" to make sure I was getting back on my feet again.

I think Bishop's who DO end up taking on the role of counselor either do so because the members who go to him were misinformed and think that is his job, or the Bishop is trying to take more on his shoulders than he needs to or is equipped to. They are, however, like a counselor, protected by confidentiality laws. When I left my ex, the Bishop we were seeing together at the time let me know that I could not call on him to testify if such was needed, because he could not "take sides" or reveal confidential information from our meetings.

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I'm asking this as a question, not as a challenge to the status quo.

Bishops act as couselors to the membership on a wide variety of issues such as marriage problems, overcoming bad habits, and other spiritual and personal issues. My question is -- how can they get involved with counseling members on a repeated basis when they are not licensed? They receive very little training in counseling so how can they be spiritual advisors?

Does anyone know? Are ministers of religion somehow a different class of counselors which don't require a license? Maybe PC knows....or others.

I am not a counselor by the way, I'm a university teacher.

I don't know about legal requirements. I would say, though, that a bishop counseling a couple is equivalent to a bishop teaching doctrine. Many non-LDS wonder how an undegreed (read "unlicensed") leader can lead his flock. Surely a man (or woman) should be a doctor of divinity before attempting to lead a congregation!

Whom the Lord calls he qualifies. If you lead by the Spirit, you can accomplish what the Lord would have you do.

That said, I think training of leaders is desirable. I have little interest in seeing present-day psychological theory or faddish counseling models presented as leadership resources, since I find little of lasting value in either of them. But overall training on how to deal with such issues seems like a good idea. Hard to find time and resources to do all the training that we might think would be ideal, though.

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My question is -- how can they get involved with counseling members on a repeated basis when they are not licensed?

They are not paid, hence are not "professionals", and need no license. Under the paradigm you are placing upon the role of a Bishop, every friend, family member, confidant, and most of us here on this forum offering advice would need to go get a license before offering our opinion and help. Edited by ryanh
spelling

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I think the Church has become aware of the limitations and shortcomings of having a lay clergy act in such a diverse role. I imagine that is why the Church has been working hard to expand the availability of LDS Social Services. As time goes on, I think you'll find that bishops are referring individuals to resources more often than they are taking on these tasks themselves.

It's my opinion that bishops should be trained to identify when these services are needed, kind of like a triage nurse, and let better trained professionals handle the details. Where to draw the line between where the bishop should take up counseling and when he should give a referral gets murky, however. If a woman comes to him wanting to pursue an abortion (we'll assume for one of the Church's noted exceptions), should he take the matter in his own hands, or refer it elsewhere*? But these are issues I think are best handled by listening to the spirit on a case-by-case basis.

* Admittedly, my preference in some of these situations would be both.

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I know that my current bishop counsels me, and he does so guided by the holy spirit. It works very well for him (and me), and he does a wonderful job. He says that he has keys that allow him to be able to feel the guidance of the spirit, to help me in the best way.

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MM,

I see a bishop in a counseling capacity, the same way I see him as a doctor. I agree with Vort that he whom the Lord calls he qualifies. With that being said, perhaps my faith is simply not on the same level as many on this board.

I trust the bishop completely with regards to spiritual matters.

I will listen to his advice and counsel in other matters, and after getting my own confirmation would perhaps follow it.

I believe in his ability to provide priesthood blessings the same way as my home teacher, but I think when it comes to physical illness I'll go to the MD/DO.

-RM

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I know that my current bishop counsels me, and he does so guided by the holy spirit. It works very well for him (and me), and he does a wonderful job. He says that he has keys that allow him to be able to feel the guidance of the spirit, to help me in the best way.

Sister_in_ Faith.

You are exactly right. When a worthy member is called to be a Bishop. He is given the Keys of discernment. This helps him to make the right decision in any given situation, including counseling. I had a Bishop, about 4 years back, who gave the most wonderful talks you would ever want to hear. He seemed to always know what to say, and the right way to say it.

After he had been called to another position, and was no longer a Bishop, he gave a talk in Sacrament. I could see that he was kind of nervous. When he came up to the pulpit he stumbled on his words a couple of times, and had to refer to his notes a lot more than he used to. Please don't get me wrong. It was, by no means, a bad talk. It just wasn't what I was used to hearing from him. I asked him about it later that day, and he told me it was because he no longer had the keys to discernment.

I would much rather be concealed by a Bishop with the Keys of Discernment, then by any paid professional. Brother Ray

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Sister_in_ Faith.

You are exactly right. When a worthy member is called to be a Bishop. He is given the Keys of discernment. This helps him to make the right decision in any given situation, including counseling. I had a Bishop, about 4 years back, who gave the most wonderful talks you would ever want to hear. He seemed to always know what to say, and the right way to say it.

After he had been called to another position, and was no longer a Bishop, he gave a talk in Sacrament. I could see that he was kind of nervous. When he came up to the pulpit he stumbled on his words a couple of times, and had to refer to his notes a lot more than he used to. Please don't get me wrong. It was, by no means, a bad talk. It just wasn't what I was used to hearing from him. I asked him about it later that day, and he told me it was because he no longer had the keys to discernment.

I would much rather be concealed by a Bishop with the Keys of Discernment, then by any paid professional. Brother Ray

That's putting bishops on a very high pedestal. They are men--men who are inspired, but make mistakes, nonetheless. There are times when they will give advice, counsel or even information that is just wrong.

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Are ministers of religion somehow a different class of counselors which don't require a license? Maybe PC knows....or others.

Yes. Ministers of religion came into existence before anyone had ever thought up licensing, or counselors.

"Bless me father, for I have sinned" - confessionals are older than the AMA. Older than the modern era. Older than the industrial revolution. Older than the United States of America.

Where civilizations and societies have sprung up, they've crafted laws and policies around and along the institutions of religion. Contrary to popular belief, there were things before there were governments to properly license and regulate them.

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That's putting bishops on a very high pedestal. They are men--men who are inspired, but make mistakes, nonetheless. There are times when they will give advice, counsel or even information that is just wrong.

Yes you are right. They may give advice, council, or information that is wrong. After all, like you and I, they are only human. But because they are Bishops who hold the keys of discernment. Those times are few and far between.

Yes I do kind of put Bishops on a pedestal. I personally think all church members should

Brother Ray.

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Yes I do kind of put Bishops on a pedestal. I personally think all church members should

I've been executive seceretary for two different bishops who strongly disagree that they should be put on any sort of pedestal whatsoever.

For that matter, I've been told by an apostle that there was really no difference between his calling and any other calling - the Lord picks, your job is to magnify it to the best of your ability. Nothing more.

Respect the office, understand the concept of stewardship, accept inspired counsel from those who have it over you, and do what you can to support and sustain your leaders. No pedestals necessary.

Edited by Loudmouth_Mormon

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I've been executive seceretary for two different bishops who strongly disagree that they should be put on any sort of pedestal whatsoever.

For that matter, I've been told by an apostle that there was really no difference between his calling and any other calling - the Lord picks, your job is to magnify it to the best of your ability. Nothing more.

Respect the office, understand the concept of stewardship, accept inspired counsel from those who have it over you, and do what you can to support and sustain your leaders. No pedestals necessary.

I see now, that pedestal was not the correct term. Even if I meant a really small one, about

1/2 inch off the ground. ;-)

To be serious. Your last paragraph coveys how I feel, and how I think all members should feel. Much better than, what I wrote about putting Bishops on a pedestal.Thank You Brother Ray

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Bishop's are different from other people in that their calling gives them the right to inspiration for everyone in their ward. Any time they are functioning as a counselor and using inspiration from God that is all the qualification they need and what they say at these times is exactly what you need to hear. I believe in almost all cases that is what is happening and so we should give careful consideration to what they say and what they mean. In the few cases that this doesn't happen, those would be the few times the Bishop makes a mistake.

If you ever doubt what a Bishop says you can pray about it and get a confirmation from the same source the Bishop got his from.

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I'm going to be blunt. If you need psychological counseling, get professional help. Any ecclesiastical leader worth his salt would give the same advice. If you're paranoid about "worldly" influences and want to keep things in an LDS context, well that's why LDS Family Services exists. If, like me, you trust that not every non-LDS therapist in the world lacks professional integrity and is bound to "lead you astray," feel free to get professional services from a non-Mormon. It's up to you--at least the folks at LDS Family Services have more training than your average bishop.

Mind you, I don't mean to put down bishops. Many of them are wise, good-hearted men. But my point is that while a wise man may be able to help and give good advice, he also knows his limitations and will direct you elsewhere should the need arise.

The stuff about bishops being automatically qualified by virtue of their calling, and having the power of discernment, that's a load of hooey. I've seen too many bishops make too many mistakes--BIG mistakes--that I can't believe that anymore. Some bishops are good, and some may have discernment, but not all of them--they're humans like the rest of us. Many bishops and stake presidents don't have a clue about mental illness, for example, or how to deal with addiction, or any number of other problems. So use your common sense, assess the situation, and proceed accordingly.

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That's rather a scary thought to think that it seems to be the minority and not the majority of Bishops that have the power of discernment.

That's the vibe I'm getting from your post HEP.

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That's rather a scary thought to think that it seems to be the minority and not the majority of Bishops that have the power of discernment.

That's the vibe I'm getting from your post HEP.

This is what I wrote:

Some bishops are good, and some may have discernment, but not all of them--they're humans like the rest of us.

Forgive me for being cranky, but "not all" means, well, not all. And besides, "discernment" does not mean omniscience, or having all the answers. If we hold our bishops up to that high a standard, we're setting them up for discouragement, and setting ourselves up to lose our testimonies. Let's just be a little more realistic. People might have spiritual gifts, but that doesn't mean they're infallible or that everything will suddenly become clear and easy. That would kind of defeat the purpose of this life, wouldn't it? ;) Sometimes a man is called to be bishop at least partly to help him learn and grow, as well as to give him an opportunity to serve others.

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If you need psychological counseling, get professional help.

Part of the training bishops receive, and parts of the handbook they're given, specifically talk about referring people who need professional help to professionals.

Many bishops and stake presidents don't have a clue about mental illness, for example, or how to deal with addiction, or any number of other problems. So use your common sense, assess the situation, and proceed accordingly.

One thing I did to support my bishop, was buy him a copy of Valley of Sorrow: A Layman's Guide to Understanding Mental Illness for Latter-Day Saints. Actually, I bought a dozen or more, and spent a year or two handing them out to bishoprics and stake presidencies. Universally wonderful feedback.

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Bishop's are different from other people in that their calling gives them the right to inspiration for everyone in their ward. Any time they are functioning as a counselor and using inspiration from God that is all the qualification they need and what they say at these times is exactly what you need to hear. I believe in almost all cases that is what is happening and so we should give careful consideration to what they say and what they mean. In the few cases that this doesn't happen, those would be the few times the Bishop makes a mistake.

If you ever doubt what a Bishop says you can pray about it and get a confirmation from the same source the Bishop got his from.

L couldn't have said it better myself. In fact I probably couldn't have said as good;-)

Thank you. For putting it into words I can agree with. Brother Ray

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I think of them as a spiritual counsler. Anything else seems would need to be reffered out. Also, I would go there for anything, figurueing he could reffer me someplace, not expecting full counseling services from him.

That's right. Always go to your Bishop first. If he cannot help you. He will point you to someone who can. Brother Ray

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