Not quite ten years ago I was called as a counselor in a bishopric. Prior to that time I had served in many capacities, but never in a bishopric. The Stake had just created the ward, and called our new bishop and his new counselors. I will remember our first bishopric meeting for a long time. We didn’t have a single teacher, Young Men’s or Young Women’s leader. We didn’t have primary people, piano players, quorums or anything. We just sat there waiting for our poor new bishop to give us a direction, a place to begin. His opening statement was something like – “don’t look at me!”
We laughed and talked about many things. Finally, a thought came into my mind. “Call Brother Stevens as the Young Men’s President”.
I opened my mouth to propose this calling, when the Bishop said, “What about Brother Stevens as the Young Men’s President?”
I wondered at this, and said, “I feel the rightness of that calling, Bishop.”
Our other counselor agreed, and the bishop assigned himself to make the calling. While he was writing, I had another thought. “Call Sister Wilson as the Young Women’s President.”
I was just about to propose this name, when the additional thought came to me to keep quiet for a moment. After the bishop was done writing he tapped his pen on the desktop for a moment. “What do you brethren think about Sister Wilson as the Young Women’s President?”
I nodded, and tried to say, “I was just going to propose her name,” but the Spirit put in my lips, “I agree, I think she would be wonderful.”
This process went on for about a month, until the ward was fully functioning. It really didn’t seem to matter how big or small the calling was, or what the challenge was, I almost always heard the same prompting the bishop heard. Maybe the angels were just talking loudly in the room, and I was allowed to eavesdrop.
Not long after the initial organization of the ward, we were talking about a potential calling for a ward member. I had not felt a prompting as before, and for that reason doubted it was the right thing to do. My mind suddenly went back to a dozen years prior, when I had sat on a disciplinary council as a High Councilor. I said, “I don’t think Brother Black is ready for this calling. A dozen years ago I sat on a disciplinary council for him . . .” and the Spirit told me to shut up. It’s an interesting prompting. “Stop! Be Quiet!”
I closed my mouth mid-sentence. The Bishop looked at me funny. I said, “I shouldn’t have said that. It has no bearing on the present.”
The Bishop frowned. “You know, as you said the word ‘disciplinary council’ I had the thought, ‘he shouldn’t have said that. It has no bearing on the present’. It was the same words you just used, as you used them. I think the Holy Ghost just talked to me!” He was amazed.
I looked at him with different eyes. I realized that hearing and recognizing promptings was not what this brand new Bishop had been doing these last few weeks. He had been receiving promptings and attributing them to his own intellect. He thought he was just a good organizer. The whole idea that the Holy Ghost would talk directly to him was astounding to him.
A new, fully developed thought came into my mind. Teaching our humble new bishop to identify the revelation he already had was one of the reasons I was called to this bishopric. I waited a moment while the Holy Spirit warmed my soul. I said. “These last few weeks, as we organized the ward, just a few seconds before you would propose each new name, I would have the same name pop into my head. I knew it was from the Holy Spirit, and when you came up with the same name, it just confirmed that I had heard it correctly. It has happened consistently.”
The Bishop laid down his pen. “Why didn’t you say something? It would have helped me feel more certain about the callings to have known that.”
I replied, “It wasn’t necessary. The Spirit told me in each case to just concur with my bishop. I was never told to say why.”
The bishop let his chair lean back as he considered this. “I think Heavenly Father has been trying to teach me how to hear the Holy Ghost. I have been having these names come into my head. Is this what the Holy Ghost sounds like, just a thought? I mean, can you trust these ideas that just pop into your head to be from the Holy Ghost?”
Our other counselor said at that moment, “I’ve been having some of the names come into my mind too, but not all of them. I was wondering what was going on too. I thought we were just brain storming or something. Is that really what revelation feels like?”
They were both looking at me, and I was waiting for the Holy Spirit to put words into my lips. After a long moment I said, “Revelation almost always feels like our own ideas. The difference is that the ideas are usually sudden, probably something or someone you wouldn’t have thought of yourself, and they are accompanied by a feeling of rightness, or truth. Once you learn to recognize this revelatory process, you can identify it every time – and you can trust it every time. It is never wrong.”
Our newly-minted bishop wiped tears from his eyes. “I have been praying all my life to receive revelation, and never felt that I could, even though I have had sudden ideas like this my whole life. Ever since I was called as the bishop I have been praying with all my heart, with great urgency, that the Lord would teach me how to receive revelation so I could truly be a good bishop, and not just someone sitting in this chair.”
I felt a surge of joy which I knew originated in heaven. I wiped tears from my eyes too. “We have had constant revelation in this bishopric ever since the first meeting we held almost a month ago. Almost every decision we have made I felt the approval of Heavenly Father.”
I looked at the bishop intently. “Whether you knew it or not, you are one of the most inspired bishops I have ever had the pleasure of serving with.”
I continued to receive confirmations as the bishop administered to his ward, but he didn’t need me anymore. I would often just nod, and he would smile, because he valued my accord, but he didn’t need it. The Lord’s priesthood mantle had settled upon him, and he was “The Bishop”, and in a humble, yet powerful way, he knew it.