“The Bishop’s Wife,” Ensign, June 1993, 13
I had been bishop of my ward in southern California for two years—and I was discouraged. I found that my work as bishop was taking as much time as my teaching occupation, leaving precious little time or energy for my wife and three young children.
When my stake president asked me how things were going, I told him the truth—that things seemed to be going remarkably well in the ward. Everyone seemed to be doing well.
Everyone except the bishop’s wife. I told the stake president that the bishop’s wife seemed discouraged, tired, overwhelmed. She had been heard to say that she seemed to be rearing the children and keeping up the home all by herself.
The bishop’s wife had in fact told me that her husband sometimes fell fast asleep during family home evening and daily scripture reading. She had told me that sometimes days passed without a meaningful conversation with her husband.
“President,” I said, “I guess I can’t be a teacher and a bishop and a husband and a father all at once. I’m just not able to handle four full-time jobs. Twenty-four hours a day isn’t nearly enough. Maybe you’d better get a new bishop for my ward.”
The stake president smiled, and I could tell he wasn’t going to get a new bishop for my ward. “Bishop, you’re doing a fine job. Your ward members love you. Your wife and children love you. I love you. The Lord loves you. But we’ve got to rearrange your priorities. You’re a husband first, and a father second. You’re a breadwinner, a provider. Some of the remaining time will need to be carefully used in the Lord’s service.”
The stake president and I talked for a long time that evening. He helped me see how my counselors could carry more of the load. I could give more to my priesthood leaders. I could turn many routine things over to my executive secretary and my ward clerk.
And then the president said something that helped me grasp that indeed my marriage was more important than my Church calling. “Bishop,” he said, “we have a stake meeting Wednesday evening. I want you to skip it. Get a baby-sitter for the kids and take your wife out to dinner.
“And then, as soon as your school year is over, I want you to let your first counselor help out while you take a vacation. Arrange for your children to stay with either your parents or your wife’s parents. Then take your wife on a trip. See how far you can get from a telephone. And when you get home, I want you to really get involved with your children.”
Funny thing about the time I was away on vacation: The ward thrived under my first counselor. The other ward leaders did better work than they ever had before. My children loved spending time with their grandparents (and the grandparents were equally delighted).
And my wife and I became sweethearts again. We learned once more to talk and laugh and be best friends. We learned to make each other our first priorities again. We planned family activities for ourselves and our children.
When we came home from our vacation, I discovered that, sure enough, I could be a good husband, a good father, a good teacher, and a good bishop.