Wednesday, May 27, 2009

She Said: Should We Always Accept Church Callings?

Basically I agree with Dr. B. on this subject. The lifeblood of the Church is those faithful members who are willing to serve and do their part to build the kingdom. But there are always circumstances in our lives that might make it difficult to fulfill a calling. I think members should try to accept callings that are extended to them, seeing them as opportunities for growth and service, but that they should also feel free to discuss with Church leaders their personal situations and any reservations they might have.

I had an experience several years ago which taught me something about service in the Church. We attended Stake Conference one year and the Stake President urged all of the members of his Stake to commit to performing 4 hours per week of community service in addition to whatever they were already doing in the Church. For me, this instruction was completely overwhelming. I had 5 children at the time, and they were 7 years old and younger. I also had a demanding Church calling. I couldn't see any way I could find the time to do as he asked. Surely I should be exempted from such a task! The week following the conference, I was distressed as I pondered what I could do to fulfill the what our Stake President had asked of us. One afternoon, I was taking my daughter to her dance lesson when I passed our neighbor's house. I saw their young daughter sitting on the steps and I stopped to see if she was OK. She was locked out of the house and I was able to call her mom who had been detained from getting home on time. I offered to take the daughter to dance with me. I thus gave an hour of appreciated service with very little effort on my part. From this simple situation, I had an epiphany. I realized that, just going about my week, that there were many small things I could do as service in the community if I kept my eyes open. It wouldn't have to disrupt my normal routine, but it would just take a discerning eye.

I learned that if one is willing to accept callings and perform service, it is possible that a way will be provided for us to fulfill these obligations. Perhaps it will not be in the way that the previous holder of the calling did it. But maybe we can find a way to give this service that will fit with our talents and our other obligations.

I remember a man in our ward who was called as a Young Men's President. He was in his 70's at the time. I'm sure he could have been quite overwhelmed by such a calling. He wasn't able to play basketball with the boys, or go on long hikes with them, as other YM Presidents do. But he was able to call counselors who were younger, and he was able to contribute much time to the calling, a listening ear, and years of Church experience.

I hope Ward members will be sensitive to these things, also. Sometimes members aren't very good at recognizing that their brothers and sisters who serve are performing their callings without remuneration. These members have their own ways of doing things; they bring their weaknesses and life baggage as well as their strengths to the calling. They are often stretched to the limit with their family and vocational responsibilities. If you see something you don't like in the way someone is performing their calling, offer to help!

I see callings and lay leadership as one of the great strengths in our Church. Perhaps we will never be able to go to India and do Mother Teresa-type service. Most of us do not have millions of dollars to contribute to charitable causes. But we can be open to accepting callings outside of our comfort zones and put our drop of water into the bucket. Hopefully we will feel comfortable sharing our hesitations and our frustrations and our situations with our leaders, and they will be sensitive in making these callings and releasings.


  1. Its the good old boy network. nepotism and favoritism all the generals are related to each other with very few exceptions and only white collared guys are in leadership positions. Thats why you'll never see a janitor as a general authority. The church is much too concerned about its image too ever allow anything like that.

  2. Anon: I'm sorry you see it that way. I realize there is much nepotism and "good-ol-boy-ism" going on, as it happens everywhere. They do call their buddies, family members, or those they know. But there are janitors all over the Church in leadership positions, too. Most of the "generals" sincerely try to get inspiration on callings as well as calling those who have the skills to perform well in these difficult leadership positions.