Callings – we’ve all accepted them, and we’ve all had callings issued to us that scare us to death. Should we turn down a calling if we don’t think it’s right for us? Meridian readers continue to share their experiences:
Although I do believe that nearly all the time we should say yes to callings because those extending the callings are inspired, I also believe that perhaps that inspiration may be for reasons other than filling the calling. Perhaps it is so a leader, who may not be aware of a member’s particular life situation, can learn about some problems that may be going on in the life of the person being called.
I remember being a full-time college student, married, with a brand new baby, working full time, in the elders quorum presidency, and with only one car in the family that ran (barely) because our other vehicle had been stolen and stripped for parts. My elders quorum president was gone with the military most of the time, and the other counselor had developed a drinking problem and stopped coming to church. This left most of the burden on me.
It was at this time that my wife was asked to serve in the stake Young Women presidency, which would have required extensive travel around our very spread-out stake. With the vehicle situation, the new infant, strained finances, and all the other challenges, this would have been impossible.
We told the high councilman who extended the calling what was going on at the time and that we did not feel that this was the right time for the calling considering our situation. He listened to our circumstances and agreed that perhaps the timing was not right.
My wife and I have gone on to many other wonderful and sometimes challenging callings since then, and I’ve never felt bad about explaining our situation and my wife declining the calling. My mind is often brought to the scriptures in Ecclesiastes 3, “To everything there is a season…” and Mosiah 4:27 “…it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.”
Having been executive secretary twice now in our ward, I have seen on a few occasions very valid reasons that someone has said no to a calling, and had I been in their shoes I may have done the same. In most of those cases ward leaders were unaware of the strain a particular ward member may have been under at the time. In the end, our decision to say yes or no to a calling is between us and the Lord.
It is not my place to judge others as to the reasons they may decline a calling.
Jason, it never occurred to me before reading your letter that a calling may be extended in order to inform church leaders of a family’s situation, but your letter made perfect sense to me. Thanks so much for sharing your experience.
I'm sure that there are strong opinions on this one. Having recently accepted a calling that puts me a bit out of my comfort zone, I can say that I have been blessed beyond measure for having done so. I was blessed to be healed from a long-term illness so that I would have the additional strength and capacity to handle the requirements for this calling.
I believe that if you are willing to be taught from on high, you'll be strengthened in any way you need, whether physically, mentally, emotionally, and yes, especially spiritually to be made equal to the task that is asked of you.
I love Nephi's example of "going to the mountain" (1 Ne. 17:7). I love what he teaches his brothers in verses 50-51 of that same chapter. Nephi doesn't just take his direction from the Lord once and then leave it at that, though. In chapter 18:3, we read that he went to the mount "oft."
After receiving this current calling, I told my sister that I've heard of stretching spiritually before, but at this rate, I was pretty sure I was going to pull a muscle.
We learn in D&C 6:14 that the Lord will give us whatever direction we need as often as we desire to receive instruction. With that said, Pam is still entitled to receive her own witness that the calling is indeed from her Heavenly Father, for her.
I knew when I was called that there were easily five people who could take the calling. All of them were far more qualified than I was. I accepted the calling still believing that I wasn't qualified for it. When I was set apart, I was promised that I would know that this calling was from our Heavenly Father for me at this time. When I did receive that witness, it was a particularly sweet experience, and the tears flowed freely.
Do I feel 100% in my confidence or abilities? No way, but I do trust in the Lord's purposes for placing me in it at this time. I cherish the relationships I've been able to develop because of it, and most important, have come to love my Savior even more as a result.
What a sweet experience, Catherine! Thanks for sharing it with us.
I've been on both sides – accepting/declining callings and extending calls. This note is for those who would decline a call.
My hope is that we have faith that the process leaders us to identify those they call includes prayer, pondering, fasting and even temple attendance. When such is in place the calling issued is indeed from the Lord and it may be that there is a "bigger picture" that we don't yet understand.
If there are life-issued that dissuade your accepting a call, please make them known. Request that those who extended the call ponder the call again, in light of new information.
As they return and report, please take the time to review with the Lord your reasons for rejecting the call. Very few of us want to accept "opportunities" (we generally just want to be "left alone in our current state"). Yet, "We cannot become what we need to be by remaining who we are" (Max Dupree).
Maybe the call is to stretch you or that the Lord desires to use your uniqueness as a tool to affect others. The promise given is that the Lord will never challenge us beyond our capability and/or that He qualifies those He calls.