I haven't really explained the title of this blog, 'the executive', though I have hinted at times. My very first entry was titled 'executive secretary' and at some point I mentioned the great line from Ben Stiller in Mystery Men the one where he says "It's a Harley...compatible...it's a Harley compatible, it's basically the same thing." In my stake, I am the executive...secretary, I'm the executive secretary, it's basically the same thing. I set the stake president's schedule and take notes, or at least when I do what I am supposed to do, I set schedules and take notes. It's really complicated work; imagine calling people to make a schedule, and then taking notes at meetings.
The calling does have a few fringe benefits. I can send a surge of panic in people just by calling them. And I get a preview of the people who will be speaking in stake conference. It's the kind of calling where I really can't think of anyone who is less-suited for it than me. Understand, I'm not being humble, like: "There are 100s of people more worthy, more capable, etc." Actually, it is a calling that demands a certain skill set (roughly detail-oriented, which means, roughly, arranging schedules and reminding people to come to meetings, and not forgetting to arrange schedules and remind people to come to meetings), a skill set I openly admit not having. And, actually it's not a skill set I have a real desire to develop now, or maybe ever, though I appreciate it in others. But I do like being in council with some of my heroes. And I do, on occasion, get to influence church practice. In one meeting (well this was when I was the secretary to the bishop) we were discussing adults who were not comfortable praying from the pulpit. I suggested that perhaps a member of the bishopric go up and (ala primary) whisper the prayer to the uncomfortable public-prayer. The response wasn't what I had hoped (i.e. the idea wasn't implemented), but still, I think that was among my proudest moments. I still like that image of the bishop or one of his counselors whispering the prayer to some 40 year old.
This last week we learned that a counselor in the stake presidency was moving. Our stake president asked to meet with each High Councilor to get his counsel for the departing councilor's replacement. Do I need to say that one does not explicitly jockey for church hierarchy positions? Anyway, I set up these meetings. When High Councilors asked why the stake president wanted to meet with them, I answered along these lines: "Well, he hasn't been really clear, but he would like you to prepare a 3-5 minute presentation on why you would make a good member of the stake presidency." I also like this image of some great guy awkwardly working in such a presentation, or inquiring about when it would occur.