PRICE, Utah – To the general membership of Clearwater 1st Ward, Bishop Charles Stanley is all smiles – but when his kids are misbehaving during Sacrament Meeting that Mona Lisa smile takes on a double-meaning that is not to be ignored.
“Last Sunday my seven-year-old kept licking his little sister’s face during Sacrament Meeting,” Bishop Stanley’s wife, Debra, said, “until he saw Dad staring him down from the stand. To everyone else in the ward he’s just got a loving smile, but if you look closely you can see his jaw muscles flexing. That’s a dead giveaway.”
Sister Stanley says years of close contact with her husband has provided her and her children with the skills necessary to interpret his surprisingly communicative glances.
“A thin smile with eyes slightly wider than usual means something like, ‘don’t make me come down there’,” she said, “relaxed eyes and a half-smile mean, ‘you just wait until we get home’ and a full-on frown is usually just his irritable bowel acting up.”
Bishop Stanley describes his ability as “far from unique.”
“It’s not just me,” he said. “Almost any father who spends each Sunday on the stand learns how to communicate with his family in a similar way. Bishoprics, Stake Presidencies – even the Ward Clerk. It’s almost like speaking in tongues, minus the tongues. It’s simply part of our authoritative mantle.”
Bishops are fantastic. If you haven’t seen this talk by President Gordon B. Hinckley from 1988 about bishops in the Church, check it out. And let’s be honest, you haven’t seen it.