Each stake president and bishop is "a judge in Israel" (D&C 107:72). By this authority they conduct worthiness interviews and priesthood interviews as outlined in this section. They represent the Lord in conducting these interviews. Accordingly, they should seek to bless members and help them live the gospel of Jesus Christ.
General Instructions for Worthiness Interviews
Stake presidents, bishops, and (when authorized) their counselors conduct worthiness interviews as outlined in this section. They should prepare spiritually so they can be guided by the Spirit during these interviews. They also should seek the power of discernment. This is a spiritual gift that will help them discern truth, as well as a member's needs (see D&C 46:27-28).
Worthiness interviews should be private. For example, a husband and wife are interviewed separately for temple recommends.
Careful listening is important during worthiness interviews. The member of the stake presidency or bishopric should give full and sincere attention to the person being interviewed. The interviewer also makes sure that members understand the questions being asked. He sets aside enough time to conduct the interview in a dignified, unhurried manner.
General Instructions for Priesthood Interviews
Stake presidents, bishops, and their counselors regularly interview the priesthood leaders who report to them. One purpose of these interviews is to receive an accounting of the leader's responsibilities. Another purpose is to help the leader review progress, set goals, and make plans to accomplish them. Where applicable, budgets and expenditures are also reviewed during these interviews.
The person who conducts a priesthood interview should instruct, encourage, and inspire leaders in their efforts to fulfill their callings. He also should express gratitude and strengthen the leader in his personal and family life.
Interviews Conducted by the Stake President
The stake president conducts the following interviews with stake members:
Interviews Conducted by the Stake President or His Counselors
The stake president or an assigned counselor conducts the following interviews with stake members. Before interviewing a person for any of the purposes listed below, the member of the stake presidency ensures that the person has been interviewed or cleared by the bishop. If a counselor encounters serious matters, such as transgressions that require confession, he should refer the member to the stake president without delay.
Interviews Conducted by the Bishop
The bishop conducts the following interviews with ward members:
Interviews Conducted by the Bishop or His Counselors
The bishop or an assigned counselor conducts the following interviews with ward members. Only the bishop resolves concerns about chastity and associated moral matters in these interviews. If a counselor encounters serious matters, such as transgressions that require confession, he should refer the member to the bishop without delay.
The bishop interviews each young man and each young woman in the ward at least annually. He interviews each priest and each 16- and 17-year-old young woman at least twice annually.
In addition, six months after the annual interview with the bishop, counselors in the bishopric interview each young man and young woman who belong to the Aaronic Priesthood quorum and Young Women class the bishop has assigned them to oversee.
In large wards, bishops, acting with inspiration and wisdom, may adjust the frequency of interviews. Some youth may need added attention, while others may need less frequent interviews than are suggested, though all should be interviewed at least annually.
Interviews are excellent teaching opportunities and can be spiritual experiences for youth. Members of the bishopric should express love and listen carefully. They should encourage the young person to talk rather than doing most of the talking themselves.
Matters for discussion should include the growth of the young person's testimony of Heavenly Father, the mission and Atonement of Jesus Christ, and the restored gospel. The importance of sustaining the President of the Church and other general and local Church leaders should also be discussed.
Another matter for discussion should be the importance of obeying the commandments, particularly:
The bishopric may want to refer to For the Strength of Youth during discussions about obeying the commandments.
While interviewing young men, the bishopric member gives special attention to their preparation for a full-time mission. He discusses being worthy, studying the gospel, building a testimony, and preparing financially, emotionally, physically, and spiritually Bishopric members should be sensitive to the circumstances under which young men are honorably excused from full-time missionary service (see pages 81-82).
The bishop and his counselors encourage young women to support young men in accepting mission calls. Young women of eligible age who desire to serve a mission may do so, but they should understand that it is optional (see page 80).
Members of the bishopric ensure that youth understand the blessings of temple covenants and temple marriage and the requirements for receiving these blessings.
When interviewing a young man for priesthood ordination, the bishop discusses the blessings of holding the Aaronic Priesthood and the duties of the office to which the person will be ordained, as revealed in Doctrine and Covenants 20:46-60 (see also pages 175-76 in Book 2). In all interviews with young men, the bishopric member emphasizes the importance of accomplishing the purposes of the Aaronic Priesthood. He evaluates each young man's progress and encourages him.
When interviewing a young woman, the bishopric member emphasizes the importance of incorporating the Young Women values and the standards of personal worthiness in her daily living (see pages 211-12 in Book 2). He also emphasizes the importance of completing the Personal Progress program. He evaluates the young woman's progress and encourages her.
When interviewing young men or young women of seminary age, the bishopric member emphasizes the importance of regular attendance at seminary and the blessings that come from active participation.
When discussing moral cleanliness, the bishop adapts the discussion to the understanding of the youth. He also ensures that the discussion does not arouse curiosity or experimentation.
Interviews for Convert Baptisms
See page 26.
Interviews of Persons to Be Readmitted by Baptism
For instructions on interviewing persons who have been excommunicated and want to be readmitted by baptism, see pages 104-5.
For instructions on interviewing persons who have had their names removed from Church records and want to be readmitted by baptism, see page 130.
As judges in Israel, stake presidents and bishops counsel stake and ward members who seek spiritual guidance, who have weighty personal problems, or who have committed serious transgressions. The stake president or bishop may not assign this to a counselor except in the most urgent cases when he is absent.
Church members should make a diligent effort, including earnest prayer and scripture study, to find solutions and answers themselves. If they still need help, they should counsel first with their bishop. If necessary, he refers them to the stake president. Local leaders should discourage members from calling, visiting, or writing to Church headquarters about personal matters.
The stake president and bishop are entitled to the discernment and inspiration necessary to be spiritual advisers and temporal counselors to ward members who need such help. They should prepare spiritually before counseling a member, seeking the power of discernment and the guidance of the Spirit. This guidance usually comes as impressions, thoughts, or feelings. The Spirit often prompts leaders to remember teachings from the scriptures and from latter-day prophets.
The stake president or bishop should schedule adequate time for appointments. Members should not feel that he is too busy and can devote only a few minutes to them. He also should help members feel comfortable as the appointment begins.
if the stake president or bishop does not feel prepared to counsel a member, he should schedule another appointment. Between appointments he should seek guidance through study, prayer, and, if necessary, fasting. He also may confer with his priesthood leader.
The stake president or bishop should counsel members privately in his office. When meeting with a woman, he should ask a priesthood holder to be in an adjoining room, foyer, or hall. He should avoid circumstances that might be misunderstood.
The stake president or bishop should avoid making decisions for those he counsels. Instead, he helps them make their own decisions with the Lord's guidance. He also helps them analyze and resolve problems or questions in the context of the doctrines of the gospel and the plan of salvation.
When counseling, the stake president or bishop asks questions to help him understand the member's situation, though he should avoid unnecessary probing. Questions usually should bring out feelings and thoughts rather than yes or no replies. Members should do most of the talking.
While members talk, the stake president or bishop should listen carefully, giving full and sincere attention. Listening is vital in establishing confidence and trust. People often need someone they trust to listen to them as they work through their challenges and problems.
If a member has transgressed, the stake president or bishop firmly and lovingly helps him or her repent. He teaches that repentance includes having a broken heart and contrite spirit, recognizing and forsaking sin, seeking forgiveness, making restitution, and demonstrating a renewed commitment to keep the commandments. If necessary, he imposes informal Church discipline or initiates formal discipline. He should be familiar with the circumstances that may necessitate Church discipline and the procedures for initiating it.
When counseling members, the stake president and bishop help them take preventive action to resist temptations. For example, members who are courting, are having difficulty in their marriages, are separated or divorced, and are struggling with minor moral problems may be protected and strengthened by counseling designed to help them guard against transgression. Presiding officers need not wait for members to seek such help, but may call them in for counseling.
If a member needs professional counseling or therapy, the stake president or bishop should select or recommend a professional who will work in harmony with gospel teachings and principles. Leaders may work through LDS Social Services where it is available.
No priesthood officer is to counsel a person whom to marry. Nor should he counsel a person to divorce his or her spouse. Those decisions must originate and remain with the individual.
When a marriage ends in divorce, or if a husband and wife separate, they should always receive counseling from Church leaders. One or both may also need Church discipline if they have committed serious transgressions in connection with the divorce or separation.
The stake president or bishop may give a priesthood blessing if the member who is being counseled sincerely wants one.
During and after their term of service in a calling, leaders must keep confidences about matters discussed when interviewing and counseling. A breach of confidence can damage trust, testimonies, and faith. A leader must not discuss confidential matters with others, including his counselors and wife, unless he receives consent from the person he is interviewing or counseling. If the bishop or a counselor in the stake presidency encounters matters that need to be discussed with the stake president, he should explain this to the member and refer the member to the stake president without delay.
Responding to Abuse
While interviewing or counseling a person, a priesthood leader may become aware of incidents of abuse of a child, spouse, or other person. Abuse cannot be tolerated in any form. Guidelines for responding to abuse are provided on pages 157-58.