There are 3 main guys that I blame for the fact that I’m now an active Mormon. Were it not for them, I’d still be enjoying tobacco, alcohol, and coffee. I’d be sleeping-in on Sunday and going to work seven days a week. I’d have at least 10% more disposable income. I could go on and on. One of this culpable crew was the bishop, another was the elders quorum president, and the last was one of his counsellors. And it’s all their fault.

There’s actually several other people who share the blame with these three men. The counselors in the bishopric at the time, the preceding elders quorum president, some pretty spunky sister missionaries, a great home teacher, at least 2 relief society presidents, my wife, my brother, even the stake presidency from 2 presidencies ago. There’s certainly enough blame to go around. If I held grudges, I wouldn’t talk to most of the folks at home or at church.

Actually, that’s just the way that I talk about it so that I don’t sound sentimental. If I talk about it like I’m pointing fingers and assessing blame, I can give the three most blame-worthy guys a hard time without being all serious and making people (especially myself) uncomfortable. The truth is, without their tireless, thankless, and exhausting work, my family life would be devoid of more blessings than I can remember or recount.

At stake conference today we got a new stake presidency. There were some pretty impressive speakers, but the part that stands out in my memory was hearing the incoming and the outgoing stake presidencies speak about their callings.

I feel a special connection with the outgoing stake president. Shortly before he was made stake president, my wife and I got sealed. He handled the paperwork at the temple, and he was my escort for the brief part of the ceremony that involved just my wife and me. I don’t know if he remembers that he did that for us, but I do, and I’d remember it even if he had not served as our stake president these past several years. Recently, when he was visiting our ward, I was able to thank him for this. He’s moving to Utah in January, and it’s likely I’ll never see him again.

The newly incoming stake president was the bishop who, several years ago, was at least one-third responsible for re-activating me. I’m certain that he remembers me, which is really terrific because it guarantees that I won’t get any serious callings. He’s a great man, and a he was a great bishop. It made me very happy to sustain him today in his new calling.

From stake presidents to bishops to elders quorum presidents and auxiliary presidents, since I started attending church again several years ago, I’ve been blessed with tremendous church leadership. My testimony is a work in progress — either a building under construction or swiss cheese, depending on one’s perspective. My belief in the power of the priesthood is especially strong, both because of the leadership I’ve enjoyed with and because of the opportunities it’s afforded me to serve others.

I’m not just some wide-eyed, happy mormon in awe of those elevated to positions with impressive sounding titles. I’ve had bad experiences with priesthood authorities, and I’ve seen with my own eyes how the abuse of priesthood authority has destroyed families and ruined lives, and (unfortunately) how often others in even higher leadership positions are willing to look away when this happens. But there must needs be opposition in all things, and seeing some pretty bad disasters makes me especially grateful the leadership I’ve been able to enjoy in my current ward and stake.

These leaders and others like them who magnify their callings on a ward and a stake level — these are the unsung heroes of Mormonism.