Monday, February 10, 2014

Bishop Ron Carroll: Compassionate Incarnate

Apparently, Bishop Dowling had a deal with President Perkins that once his son, Chris; left on his mission he would be released. Not long after we arrived in the Northridge 2nd ward, young Chris Dowling had his Farwell. At the end of that Sacrament meeting, Bishop stood and announced that he would be released the following Sunday.

I know that President Perkins was fully aware of this. President Perkins knew how to run a stake. But the ward was quite stunned that Bishop Dowling would announce his own release. But that was Bishop Downing for you. The question the ward had for the next week was who would replace Bishop Dowling. Who could?

We didn't know anyone on the ward at the time so we had no real vested interest in who the next bishop would be. But once we got to know this new bishop, we were so grateful that he was called. His name was Ron Carroll. Like many members of the ward, he and his family had lived in this neighborhood for years.

Bishop Carroll was nothing like Bishop Dowling. In fact, they were polar opposites. Bishop Carroll was a by the book bishop. But that is not a negative. Quite the contrary, Bishop Carroll was a deeply compassionate man. As we saw with the transition from Bishop Scholes to Bishop Rust, each new bishop builds upon the foundation laid by his predecessor.

The 2nd Ward was already a highly service-oriented ward as was demonstrated by their care and compassion for the Dusara family through their many crises. Bishop Carroll enhanced this deep-rooted strain of service. Early on in his time of service he had to deal with multiple deaths and with various trials and tribulations of ward members. These experiences served to temper him to run the ward not has he envisioned, but how God wanted it done.

This is what happens with any church leader who comes to his or her calling with humility. It is not wrong for leaders to add their personal stamp to the organization and people they lead. But if they are unwilling to alter their style or change their direction when needed, then they will fail as a leader. Bishop Carroll was ever ready to do what God wanted even when he was uncomfortable with it.

I developed a close relationship with Bishop Carroll. It didn't start out on the proverbial right foot. Soon after he was called, he assigned me to be Scout Master. Now that was a mistake. Yes, I had the ability to work well with the youth but not in the confines of scouting.

I accepted the call, did my best, and even took the troop to a week long scout camp and the Payson hills. But I could tell I was not made of scouting material. So, after much debate, I asked to be released. That was a difficult thing for me to do and equally difficult for Bishop Carroll to accept. But it was the right thing to do.

In the later years of his bishopric, he called be to serve as Young Men’s President and as his Executive Secretary. I loved those two callings and they gave Bishop Carroll and me a chance to get to know each other and to forge a powerful bond of friendship. I never did stop pushing him and falling short of his expectations of me. He was by the book and I was not. But that never became an obstacle in our friendship. In fact, to this day, as I see myself doing more and more by the book, Bishop Carroll simply laughs at me as how the tables had turned. 

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