For most of our married life my husband and I have held callings that did not conflict, or which, sometimes complimented each-other. Early in our marriage, before children, we both served in the youth programme, and I was pianist, whilst he served as chorister in our sacrament meetings. Once children came along we weren’t called to serve together like that, but since we both served in the ward there was no conflict.
A few months ago my husband was called to serve on the Stake High Council, a calling which involves considerably more travel: to stake meetings, and visiting other wards in the Stake at least one Sunday in a month. Meanwhile, I serve as primary pianist/accompanist. I really enjoy my calling, playing piano for the junior and senior primary, and taking my guitar in to sing with the nursery children. I don’t feel thrilled about taking a week off on a monthly basis. I feel like I’m letting the children down. However, I also want my family to spend Sundays together. I want us to attend church together, and that means I have to pass my responsibilities to someone else every time my husband needs to visit another ward. My children also have responsibilities in the ward, but because my children generally choose not to participate in most stake youth/ysa events, visiting other wards and meeting other members their age is probably good for them. To say we’re not the most outgoing of families would be an understatement. Besides which, we’re a one car family. I don’t drive anyway, and our own ward building is just that little bit too far to walk. I’d have to book a taxi both ways, and that just adds to both the stress and the expense.
Not all families go down the we all attend church together route. Growing up, I recall that when my father served on the Stake High Council, my mother and siblings would continue to attend our local ward, which was within a reasonable walking distance, and I’d go with my father. I don’t know how they really felt about that, but it’s what they did. Currently I see some stake officers choose to do it one way, and some the other. I imagine there are pros and cons either way.
Finally, there’s a part of me that feels aggravated that “priesthood” callings take priority. That at stake level (and beyond) there’s a “boys” club to which I will never be admitted. That this is something I simply cannot share with my husband in any meaningful way. That church is taking him away from me. That it is disproportionately women who will finish up sacrificing the service they find meaningful and fulfilling if they wish to attend church with their spouse. I can’t fault the Stake Presidency, who bent over backwards to emphasize that family comes before calling, and who also spoke to me before issuing the call. It’s a structural problem outside their power to change. There’s a part of me that hankers after the simple, collaborative days, working together when I was pianist and he was chorister.
- How do/would you choose to juggle ward and stake callings and why?
- What do you feel about priesthood leadership callings and their impact, both positive and negative, on families?