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Bishops serve as ‘ensigns’

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President Gordon b. Hinckley, at the Saturday night priesthood sesion, addressed the Church's bishops who have a great impact on the members of the wards in which they serve.

President Hinckley, first counselor in the First Presidency, spoke of the challenges, responsibilities and expectations for those called to this position. "We have more than 11,000 bishops in the Church," he said. "Every one of them is a man who has been called by the spirit of prophecy and revelation and set apart and ordained by the laying on of hands. Every one of them holds the keys of the presidency of his ward."Prsident Hinckley said bishops must be men of integrity and stand as examples to their wards. "You must stand on higher ground, so that you can lift others."

Continuing, he told the bishops, "Your goodness must be as an ensign to your people. Your morals must be impeccable. The wiles of the adversary may be held before you because he knows that if he can destroy you, he can injure an entire ward."

Bishops also must never compromise their qualifications as a common judge fo Israel, he said. They face the awsome task of judging ward members' worthiness. They also determine eligibility for help in time of need, and make sure none of them go without because they won't ask for help.

"You stand as a watchman on the tower of the ward over which you preside," he said. "There are many teachers in that ward, but you must be the chief teacher among them. You must see that there is no false doctrine creeping in among the people. You must see that they grow in faith and testimony, in integrity and righteousness and a sense of service. You must see that their love for the Lord strengthens and manifests itself in greater love for one another.

"You must be their confessor, privy to their deepest secrets, holding absolutely inviolate the confidences placed in you," he continued.

President Hinckley said he knows the work is hard and there are never enough hours to do it all. but, he counseled, bishops must not become so busy that they rob their families or employers of time and energy that belong to them.

"But as most of you have come to know, as you seek for divine guidance, you are blessed with wisdom beyond your own, and strength and capacity you did not know you had. It is possible to budget your time so that you neglect neither your employer, your family, nor your flock."