Ten Things I Like About My WardBy: Mike S
Todayâ€™s post is a list of ten things I like about my ward. Â The impetus is a comment by Mormon Heretic to my post last week where he said, â€śIt seems like many of the items in here are a bit like scab-picking to me, and seems to have a negative focus. I mean I do some scab-picking too (like my recent â€śDumbing Down the Gospelâ€ť), but I hope it isnâ€™t a steady diet.â€ť And he was right. Â While I have pointed out things I would do differently if I were in charge, itâ€™s not all doom and gloom, so I donâ€™t want to give that impression. Â While the LDS Church is obviously a global organization, past a ward level itâ€™s generally just management. Â Leaders above bishop rarely know people on an individual basis but give talks and mostly focus on policies and administration. Â So, in reality, the gospel is lived â€śin the trenchesâ€ť on a ward level. Â And I happen to live in a great ward.
For those who havenâ€™t picked up on it from prior posts, I live in Salt Lake City, in the heart of the Church. Â I can look out from my back porch and see downtown Salt Lake. Â From my neighborhood I can see several temples. Â A general authority lives in my ward. Â We occasionally have an apostle visit the ward. Â We have a wide range of occupations and life circumstances represented. Â So, why do I like my ward? Â In reality, there are a number of reasons. Â In homage to David Letterman, who we watched every night when I was at BYU, and who we even emulated by dropping objects like bowling balls off the Spencer W Kimball tower, I narrowed it down to ten. Â This isnâ€™t necessarily my top ten, and they arenâ€™t in any particular order, but here goes:
We have a member of the ward who addresses the ward with a big â€śAlohaâ€ť every time he stands up for anything – even if heâ€™s just making an announcement as part of his calling. Â It was even better when a member of the bishopric started sacrament meeting one day with a big â€śAlohaâ€ť, not even having any ties to Hawaii and completely out of character for him. Â After everyone gave a somewhat surprised â€śalohaâ€ť back, he kind of chuckled and said, â€śIâ€™ve always wanted to do that.â€ť Â He then started sacrament meeting.
We have a pool, and because I have kids, we regularly have a dozen or more kids here on any given summer day. Â At least 80% of the girls from the ward wear bikinis when they are here, and no one cares. Â Sometimes they wear tankinis, sometimes they wear one-piece swimming suits, whatever. Â Itâ€™s refreshing that the majority of people in my ward arenâ€™t hung up on something so trivial.
8. Being YM President
My calling before my current one was YM President, and we had a big group of kids. Â I generally had 25 priests, 20 teachers and 20 deacons at any given time. Because I had good people helping, I mostly focused on the priests. Â We did a lot of fun things, including playing laser tag regularly, going to a club to watch a band play, putting casts on each other and playing with x-ray machines, hiking in the Wasatch mountains, playing frisbee golf, having a Xbox Halo 3 party with pizza and multiple TVs hooked up throughout my house, summer BBQ & pool parties, etc. Â We also did a number of spiritual things. Â We met each Sunday morning as a quorum and read the Book of Mormon for an hour before Church; we covered a chapter in Preach My Gospel once a month in our quorum meetings; we memorized scriptures; we served retirement branches in our stake; we did multiple service projects; etc. Â In the two years that they were priests, each boy read the Book of Mormon with us nearly twice, and went through Preach My Gospel around 1-1/2 times, all before going to the MTC. Â We generally had 14-18 missionaries out at a time.
They are great young men and we became great friends. Â When they had an extra ticket to a midnight movie on a premier night, theyâ€™d call me and weâ€™d stay up far too late on a school/work night. Â It may seem weird, an “old guy” with a bunch of kids, but they were my friends. Â My wife and I took some of the young men out to dinner before a Dream Theater concert in Las Vegas when we were all down there. Â Iâ€™m proud of what they’ve done, what theyâ€™re doing and where they’re going, and I am proud to call them friends.
At the same time, Iâ€™m really, really glad that Iâ€™m NOT YM President. Â It was a lot of work keeping everything organized, as well as all of the silly meetings you have to go to as YM President with the other ward leaders. Â For the past couple of years I have taught Primary and I couldnâ€™t be happier. Â The kids are great. Â We have treats and color. Â Lessons take just a few minutes to prepare. Â And we get to sing songs.
6. Understanding Bishop
Iâ€™m glad that I had a tremendously understanding bishop, as I wasnâ€™t the most traditional YM President. Â One person asked him what he thought about us having a YM activity where we played an XBox game that was rated â€śM – Matureâ€ť. Â He said that he didnâ€™t care what we did during the week if it made them more likely to listen on Sunday. Â He also wasnâ€™t too particular about our budget. Â For 25 priests, my budget was $200 for the year. This works out to about $0.67 per boy per month. Â We couldnâ€™t even buy a soda per boy each month for that, let alone do all the things we did. Â Fortunately, as leaders we were in circumstances where we could â€śsupplementâ€ť the activity budget a bit. Â And at the end of the year, we still had our $200 in our account. Â Our bishop didnâ€™t micromanage anything, but focused on the big picture of how the YM were developing and learning. Â I couldnâ€™t have done the job with any other kind of leader over me.
5. Rainbow Shirts & Beards
Because of my callings, I havenâ€™t really been to my own quorum for over half a decade. Â But when I see the men, Iâ€™m glad that no one micromanages there either. Â On any given Sunday, at least 30% of the men are wearing non-white shirts – blue, green, lilac, pink, striped, grey, black, etc. Â Probably 10% donâ€™t even wear ties. Â No one cares. Â A fair number have beards or goatees or mustaches or scruff. Â No one cares. Â I donâ€™t know if anyone has tattoos, though I think it would be cool because I really like tattoos. Â But no one would really care about that either.
We truly have devoted members who follow-through on things. Â While YM President, we planned an entire ward youth conference with a single 20-minute meeting. Our youth conference involved traveling 4 hours to Moab, with a service project in Salt Lake City and a devotional in Provo on the way. Â It involved camping and food. Â It even involved a day rafting the Colorado River with 80+ people. Â Donâ€™t ask how we fit it in the budget, but the whole thing was essentially planned with email and texts. Â A month before, one person said they would take care of the tents. Â I never talked to them again but the morning we were leaving, they were all loaded on a trailer. Â Someone else said they would organize the service projects and that was done. Â Another person set up the devotional. Â And so on. Â We created a list of tasks – everyone volunteered for one – and everyone followed through. Â It was seamless.
And itâ€™s like this in all aspects of the ward. Â One of the members set up a server for the Eldersâ€™ Quorum. Â Home teaching followup is done with a monthly email. Â You can click â€śYESâ€ť or â€śNOâ€ť. Â There is a space to fill in any special needs or feedback. Â Itâ€™s slick. Â There are automated text & email reminders for various activities, etc. Â We have someone whose entire calling is helping 14+ year old scouts finish the few little requirements they have for Eagle. Â We have someone who tracks Duty To God, and who meets with all 60 FAMILIES at least once a year to go over things. Â We have Halloween parties will ALL the kids in the neighborhood, LDS or not. Â We have Primary triathalons. Â We have dunk tanks and hot dogs. Â And it goes on and on. Â We have a very devoted ward who truly go the extra mile.
3. Temple Recommend Interview
For my last temple recommend interview a few months back, the counselor told me that the recommend was really between me and God and that he didnâ€™t think he needed to ask me any questions at all. Â The fact that I scheduled the interview and had a desire for a recommend was enough for him. Â Since he was required to go through the questions, he again said that the answers didnâ€™t really matter to him, as God knew my heart and thatâ€™s who it was with anyway. Â It was very refreshing.
At least every week or two, I have someone call at random times of the day asking if I could see them for some sort of medical problem or question. Â But it goes both ways. Â I could literally call just about anyone in the ward at any time and they would drop what they were doing to help me. Â Iâ€™ve been called at 10pm to help give blessings. Â Iâ€™ve called people at midnight when one of my sonâ€™s teeth was just about knocked out. Â We have people with medical issues who are still having dinner brought 5x/week nearly two years later. Â People shovel each others walks. Â People serve. Â This is the true spirit of Christ – being willing to serve your fellowman and put their needs above your own. Â And my ward has it.
1. People Trying To Be Better People
Finally, my ward is filled with great people trying to be better people. Â We all have our issues. Â Just about every family has some sort of crisis they are going through, or else someone in their extended family, or their close friends, or whoever. Â There are good times and bad times. Â We have people addicted to drugs. Â We have people recovered from drugs. Â We have dozens of missionaries out. Â We have missionaries who came home and left again. Â We have missionaries who just plain came home. Â We have tragedy and success. Â But none of that matters. Â We just keep on trying to be better. Â And that the end of the day, that striving to be better is all that truly matters.
This list could go on and on – I brainstormed at least a couple of dozen other things I could have listed but stopped here. Â I am truly blessed to live in a great neighborhood, and in a great ward where no one cares if youâ€™re LDS or not, no one cares how “active” you might be, no one cares where youâ€™ve been or what you do or how much money you have. Â People just accept you as you are.
And thatâ€™s my ward.
- What about your ward?
- If youâ€™re active, what are things you like about your ward?
- If youâ€™re not currently active, what are things that you did like about your ward?
- Were there things you liked about your ward growing up?