Friday, May 27, 2011

To Nurture and Preside

To be perfectly frank, there's not much I can add to this BCC post...but I think I will anyway.

I can completely understand why people (especially strong and capable women) in the church take issue with the language we frequently use that states that the father and husband should preside in the home. If the majority of the examples of men presiding that we see week to week are men sitting on the stand doing their best to not fall asleep give an example of reverence while their wives wrestle a gaggle of unruly children with no help from the only other person with equal responsibility for the little hellions, it's no wonder some of us give the concept of a presiding priesthood holder the skeptical side-eye.

I personally completely agree with Norbert (the BCC poster) and his idea that presiding should be something active. I mean, our ward employs small children in pairs for the purpose of standing at the front and giving people an example of what it means to be reverent. If a bishop is meant to take up Peter's charge to "feed my [baby] sheep", that makes him a shepherd. Not The Good Shepherd, but a man meant to help fill those shoes, nonetheless. I don't think most shepherds would see results if they tried to keep their sheep from running away or getting lost or tangled in bushed simply by sitting still and giving the sheep a vaguely preoccupied stare-down from the front of the flock. Some sheep would need to eat, some would just meander away, some would follow rambunctious lambs...basically, a good shepherd actively herds and cares for his sheep.

It's fair, that in the people example of this, you can't force everyone to be reverent and obedient: nor should you! That sort of ham-handed use of authority is insulting and demeaning and makes Baby Jesus sad. But to actively preside - as I see it - should mean being (as the scripture says) anxiously engaged in doing what you can to help people achieve their goals: whether that goal is to become an Eagle Scout, get into a good college, or get five snot-nosed angels to sit down, stop hitting each other, and be reverent for Sacrament meeting. And yes, sometimes the best thing you can do is be a good example - whether it's an example of reverence or an example of "honesty, cleanliness, and knot-tying". (Oh yeah, Clear and Present Danger reference right there) But other times it involves going out and getting things done yourself...because if you're not willing to do something yourself, what right do you really have to tell someone else to do it?

So perhaps rather than nurture and preside, we could come up with a different pair of duties like "encourage and exemplify" or "support and advise" or some other alternative. But then, so long as presiding is an active role rather than a passive one, I don't mind it so much.

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