We still have letters on what to do when a calling is issued that doesn’t seem like a good fit for us. Everyone who has had a calling has a story, and that means all of us. Without further ado, here’s today’s crop of letters.
Although I usually accept callings, even when I feel not quite prepared, I have turned down callings as well. This is when the calling is one I cannot, because of my crazy on-call schedule and odd hours, really do.
The person doing the calling, the Relief Society president, had no idea what my work schedule was nor even what I did for a living.
I believe that some callings are really inspiration. When this is so, praying about it lets one know that this is a calling to accept. Some callings are made out of sheer desperation and, when one prays about it, one does not feel guilt about saying no.
That’s good advice, Joyce. If you want to know whether a calling was inspired, pray about it. Nobody needs your answer today. Everyone is entitled to spiritual confirmation.
I have received several callings that I felt were far away from any of my capabilities, one of them being a seminary teacher. The seminary calling and the others all taught me several things:
I wouldn't give up any of the blessings or things that I learned from each of these callings. Each "out of my comfort zone" calling has brought my fondest memories!
Just try doing whatever you're asked and you'll see!
A Sister in Oregon
It’s true, Oregon. We can do more than we thought. I always remember Philippians 4:13, which says, “I can do all things through Christ, which strengtheneth me.”
As someone who has sat on “both sides of the desk” with regard to callings, it has been my experience that when people turn down a calling it is not necessarily due to feelings of inadequacy. I describe it as the “Why Me?” syndrome (in the context of, “Why can’t somebody else more qualified do it?”).
People think that “only the qualified” are called, and that is not the case. Callings are often growth opportunities. When a calling has been made, if it is made properly, it has been done after a lot of prayer. Members tend to see the people making the callings and forget the callings are coming from the Lord. If Christ came to you and said, “I really need your help on this,” how many of us would turn Him down?
You make good points, Dale. I used to have a bishop that refused to call anyone who was qualified into a calling. In fact, once somebody got qualified, that person was released. Bishop Marsh said callings were meant to teach us, and once we were taught we needed to pass the calling onto someone else that needed to learn. I thought that was good advice.
My mom is a wonderful pianist and organist, and held a calling as the ward choir accompanist. Our bishop, trying to build the choir, issued calls to a number of people in the ward to come and sing with the choir.
When he called upon my father, Dad explained the difficulties: with several small children and Mom already at choir practice (this was before the block program, and choir practice was held an hour before sacrament meeting), it would be very difficult to have both parents in the choir. "But," he continued, "If you still want me there, we'll make it work."
Dad later explained to me that sometimes leaders don't have all of the facts, so there's nothing wrong with helping them to understand a situation they didn't fully appreciate. Once they do, though, if they decide that the call is still appropriate, it's time to exercise faith and do your best to magnify that calling. Plus, there are no insignificant callings – even singing in the choir! Every call deserves our best efforts.
For the record, once our bishop understood Dad's situation getting all those kids ready by himself each week, he withdrew that calling.
My father-in-law once gave us a printout that hung on our refrigerator for years: "If you will make yourself Available, the Lord will make you Capable." Feelings of inadequacy are normal when faced with a new calling. (I'll bet that if we had to wait until someone felt qualified to accept a challenging call there'd be lots of wards in limbo, without bishops or Relief Society presidents!) Accept the call, and then trust in the Lord to help you develop the skill sets and abilities needed to fill it.
I like that refrigerator advice, Shon. Somebody should make a magnet out of that!
When my husband was serving as bishop, they had a policy that they would only extend a calling “SFI” (Subject to a Favorable Interview). In other words, a sister really may be the best candidate for the new Primary president. However, they may not be aware that she had recently taken in her invalid parent, or had taken on a second job, or had gone back to school, or a number of other reasons how the new calling may put her over the top.
I believe that each person has the responsibility for her own personal stewardship and should counsel with the priesthood leader regarding her current circumstances. Then if the priesthood leader still feels inspired to extend the call, she can accept it and feel comforted that the Lord will bless her to be equal to the task.
Kay Lynne McDougal
I’m sure a lot of people are going to adopt that “SFI” principle, Kay Lynne. What a great acronym!
I served as a Stake missionary for 15 years, and I was thrilled and honored to. Then I was a ward missionary for another ten years, by that time I was looking forward to being released. Which I was.
When our ward got a new ward mission leader, I could see and feel he was excited that I didn't have a calling at that time. I knew he wanted to ask me to be a ward missionary, but I didn't want to be a ward missionary again. I wanted to do something different!
I prayed about it, and then I discussed it with my husband.