A reminder that I'm (we're?) bad at snap judgements.
The other night I was set apart for a new calling by the first counselor of my stake presidency, and I was reminded at how off I can be when sizing people up.
I'm relatively new to the stake, and I haven't interacted much with the stake leadership. I've had a couple of brief interactions and conversations with the counselors and stake president leading up to my new call, but that is about it. The first counselor came across as a really kind, unassuming elder gentleman, but nothing he said or did gave off any sort of 'wow' factor as to his spirituality, leadership, or experience (not that this is required). Conversation with him was light and a bit staccato as he had brief senior moments trying to recall details. Basically, I thought "this is a sweet old man who I'm sure has served a long time in the church, but he seems to be slipping a little."
Then he set me apart. He pronounced one of the sweetest blessings I have ever heard let alone received. Nothing in it was extremely profound or earth-shattering, but it was simple yet eloquent, meaningful, thoughtful, deliberate, thorough, personal and overall a wonderful, pure spiritual experience. As I've pondered on it I can't get out of my head the image of him standing behind me with his hands on my head, eyes closed, and well worn headphones on his head (the kind you see in movies depicting the 50's/60's) listening to and repeating words directly from Heavenly Father as clear as day.
Often when I give blessings I have long pauses as I try my best to feel and interpret the spirit and discern what I should say. This brother was clearly worthy and well experienced at seeking and listening to inspiration from the spirit and didn't require the pauses that I frequently run into. I don't think anyone should misconstrue cadence or length of a blessing alone as a simple sign of someone else's inspiration. Really, it was the spirit that I felt as he spoke that signaled this to me.
I have a much greater respect for this brother and his ability to seek the Lord's guidance. I misjudged him. I probably should have known better since we regularly hear from 90 year-olds in General Conference who consistently crush it (and this guy isn't remotely close to 90), but I guess I let my past interactions with other senior members cloud my judgement.
Just thought I'd share a recent, spiritual experience and what I learned from it. (Turned out longer than I had anticipated.) Anyone else have experiences getting it wrong with a leader or teacher in the church?
TLDR: We can learn a lot spiritually from the more seasoned folks at church. Don't be as quick as me to write them off.
We seasoned folks from the church learn a great deal from the newer or younger members as well. "In the mouths of babes"!
I have too many stories to share about how new members, or even investigators, have taught me about the gospel.
Keep your eyes and ears open. We are made in the image of God, meaning, we get to see and speak with an image of God every time we see and speak with our fellow beings.
Wow, that's a really special experience. When I moved into my current ward I thought my EQ president was a little rough and wild, amongst a group of very qualified and capable businessmen. Since then there have been some really impressive spiritual experiences in lessons and in personal ministering where I've had the distinct impression, "this is absolutely the right man for the job. The Lord has called him." I was humbled and have tried to not cast judgement so quickly or easily.
That’s a cool experience. I remember getting a blessing from my MP during a rough patch in my mission that felt as powerful and pure as you describe.
Thanks for sharing your experience!! Its reminded me of one of my own. However mine isn't about a member or church leader, but the lesson was powerful. I work in the health industry and one day at work I see one of our regular patients walk in. For no real particular reason he would annoy the heck out of me. Every visit there was always something he would do or say that would just urk me so bad and I hated being the one to deal with him (totally unprofesh I know). I just don't know why he would always annoy me, it was totally unreasonable. Anyways, this one day when he walks in I try and avoid being the one to serve him, nope I have to serve him I'm the only one free. I walk to the counter with a forced smile and do an inward eye-ball roll and think 'oh man what is it going to be today'. The moment I had that thought, I felt this sudden, strong wave of chastisement wash through my body and the very distinct thought/feeling/impression with the words "He is my son and I love him". Talk about a lightning strike. Boy did I feel repentant, in an instant the spirit had been able to show me just how much our Father in Heaven loves ALL his children, individually. it has had a lasting effect on me, I can honestly say that when that man walks in these days I remember that experience every single time, and I have a genuine concern and respect for him. Yes as members we can get things very wrong, we can judge, we can be shortsighted and hurtful to others and it's not pleasing to our Father in Heaven. But thank goodness He is a God of Love, who will forgive and forget if we sincerely repent.