Last week, “Pam” asked us whether we are ever justified in saying no to a church calling. She said she sometimes gets a calling at a time when her personal circumstances don’t allow her to take on anything else. Other times she gets a calling she doesn’t think she can do.
Meridian readers have come to Pam’s rescue, with more advice than she ever thought she’d get. Let’s see what this week’s batch has to say:
I was just looking at the scripture where the Savior tells us, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect." At first reading you want to think, how is that done, and what a daunting thing to think of. How can I become perfect?
Now as to your feelings to accept a calling you feel you can’t accomplish, the next thought that comes to my mind is "All thing are possible with God."
All of us are just like Pam, but we all have different talents, and some members just seem to be perfect for certain callings. But this is what I think. As we know, we were put here to grow and to be on the right path to becoming perfect. We know that the Savior can do anything, and that is how he changes you and me,
In this school to become perfect, our leaders are called by revelation and likewise so are the callings that come to us in life. When we are on the Lord’s errand, then we qualify for the Lord’s help, and He does just that; He takes us from the feeling of I can’t do this, to instilling within us, I will help you along.
Pam, the Lord will make you perfect. Changes in you and your feelings will come, sometimes so unnoticeable that we don't see the changes. Before you know it, you’re there, you’re qualified, and the Lord has instilled within you the confidence you need to lead and to help others become closer to Him and his beloved Son. That is how we become perfect.
The Lord promises that he will send angels to bear us up, and Pam, he does. You’re in the kingdom of God. You’re His beloved child, and He will be there always to bear you up.
On the Way
Thanks, On the Way, for reminding us that we’re all on the same journey. It’s a lovely reminder, too, that angels will be there to bear us up in our weaknesses.
I've had many different callings in my adult lifetime in the Church, and I have to admit there were some that the mere thought of them brought me to tears. Fortunately I've always had the time and life situation to be able to fulfill them and I have to admit those that I dreaded the most were often the ones that taught me the most valuable life's lessons.
However I do think it's appropriate when a priesthood leader meets with us to discuss a possible calling, to let him know our life situation. It is sometimes the case that, while we might be well qualified to serve and might even have a strong desire to serve, our life situation is not one to enable that serving at least at this time. Excessive work hours, ill health of ourselves or a family member, excessive travel, work days and times that conflict with our serving, and any other special needs or burdens – these are all things we should share with our Priesthood leader.
So rather than "turning down a calling" I would recommend counseling honestly and with wisdom with our priesthood leader. In some cases once the situation is made clear a gracious decision will be made that the calling will not be extended at this time.
Additionally, should we accept a calling and our there is a change in our life situation, we don't need to be plagued with thoughts that asking to be released is less than faithful. Instead I would recommend that we go and counsel with our priesthood leader and keep him appraised as to our new situation so that he can make a wise decision.
I’ve had that experience too, Sandee. Sometimes priesthood leaders aren’t aware of your circumstances when they meet with you to issue a calling. If you tell them what’s going on in your life, they sometimes change their minds and do not extend that calling.
We've been told and taught that we are not called because we have the skill for a particular calling and that the Lord will help us magnify that calling. I have on a couple of occasions, turned down callings for reasons that at the time seemed reasonable and logical to me. Later I have realized that I said no for purely selfish reasons.
On the other hand I have had been asked to do things I didn't feel I had the skills for and have prayed about it and felt supported. I have also had callings that were really stressful and that I hated but with patience and the help of the Lord have maybe not come to love the calling but have grown from it.
Also there is a wonderful article in a recent Ensign from someone who was called as a pianist but she knew nothing about music or even how to play the piano. She accepted the calling and her family sacrificed for her to learn to play the piano and they enjoyed many blessings because of her willingness.
I guess what I'm trying to say is that I used to believe that we know ourselves and could pray to see if the calling was right for us and then we could say no. But now, through behaving badly and feeling chastened, I believe that if we humbly accept any calling and do our best that is all that is necessary. We do not have to do the calling perfectly to be magnifying that calling. The Lord is more interested in a humble and willing heart that in someone who can be a shining star.
Ft. Belvoir, Virginia
What a great last sentence, Jamie! That’s a reminder we all need.
I have always been told that you should always accept a calling.
I felt guilty about turning a calling down and I only did it once and I have regretted it. It was to be the choir director. I only play the piano, barely. And I was a full-time college student and a full-time mom and wife. So I thought I did not have time to learn.
But as the years have gone by I wish I would have said yes.