The past several weeks, readers have been responding to “Pam,” who wanted to know if it was ever okay to decline a calling. This week ends the topic, and, as usual, the opinions are all over the place. Here’s what Meridian readers had to say:
In answer to Pam: Years ago a young mother in our ward was called to be the chorister for our Primary. This sister had never done anything musical in her life other than sing a hymn in church as part of a congregation. She had never played a musical instrument, didn’t know how to read music – you name it, she hadn’t done it. Still, she believed that her bishop and the Primary president had prayed about issuing the call to her, so she said, “Yes.”
For many weeks after accepting this calling, this sister practiced leading music in front of a mirror in her home – tears streaming down her face as she did so. Over time, this sister became the best Primary chorister I have ever witnessed (and I’ve spent years in Primary – including being Primary president twice, a counselor twice, a Primary pianist, and a teacher of nearly every Primary class, as well as being on two separate Primary stake boards, so I’ve witnessed a lot of Primary choristers.)
Also, perhaps when we’re called to do something out of our comfort zone, it’s to teach us a new skill – one we may even need to support ourselves and our family in the future.
Another sister was asked to put together a Relief Society enrichment activity on organizing your home. She had never done anything like that before either, but she took up the challenge and came up with an amazing presentation – which she was then asked to repeat for a stake Relief Society activity.
Several years later, when this woman’s husband unexpectedly left her to fend for herself and several young children, her bishop asked her if she had any skills or talents she could turn into a business for herself. The only thing she could think of was her slightly developed “talent” for organization – spawned by that first request to put together an activity for Relief Society. This sister turned that idea into a successful business that supported her and her family for years.
You never know what the Lord sees ahead for you in your life. I’d trust Him, as well as his servants.
Thanks for sharing those stories, Observer. When you let the Lord lead you, even in places that may seem crazy at the time, you’ll always end up where you’re supposed to be.
When I first joined the Church I was asked to teach in the Primary. Having come from a Catholic background, I did not even know the Bible, let alone The Book of Mormon. So it was a learning time for me as well as the different age groups I was given in the year and a half that I served.
By the end of my tenure I was teaching the Sunbeams and getting frustrated each Sunday because I couldn't tell if I was getting through to them. Through this I had learned that I was the kind of teacher that needed class feedback that I couldn't get from four-year-olds.
Five years later we moved to another state and when my first calling interview was for Primary, I explained that it is not my forte, that there are special people that are better at teaching children than I am, and respectfully declined. I was then called to be a teacher in Relief Society and accepted that wholeheartedly because that was a group of adults that could give me wonderful feedback.
I now teach family history in my ward and am assistant director of a family history center and having great successes in that teaching capacity. The Holy Spirit was instrumental in helping me to see my teaching strengths and weaknesses.
GW in New Jersey
Thanks for reminding us, GW, that the Holy Ghost will give us specific counsel for individual situations. Just because we receive an answer on one occasion, the answer could change for a similar circumstance at a different time.
After a calling in which I was miserable, I stopped thinking I was obligated to accept every calling. Instead, I believe the following:
I’m always a sucker for a good list, Been There. Thanks for providing one for this topic!
I think Pam is making a very valid point. It reminds me of one time when I was Young Women president, and I needed to recommend someone to be called as girls’ camp director. I tried to use my mind and my
heart and prayer to make a good decision, but I did not have all the information needed until the women were talked to about the calling and gave us feedback.
It took until the third try before we found our camp director, and I am so glad the first two women were honest in their limitations (not having much knowledge or love of camping). It was so wonderful that the third person whom we called was someone who did love camping and had a lot of energy and focus for the calling. That was the right person. It ended up being a process, and not just one-sided.