By Rosalie Stone.
Rosalie Stone is an ordinance worker in the Seattle temple for the summer and has held church callings in ten different countries. I am grateful to be able to share this guest post as a part of my efforts to interject devotional and inspirational material from time to time as I have with other guest posts. She has had many experiences with leaders who were exercising their agency, and with situations where it is appropriate for us to let those who issue callings to us know that the calling is, or has become, inappropriate. Her goal is this post is to help people reframe the bad experiences that come with callings, or not having callings, and to make them feel strengthened in accepting or rejecting them and taking the effort to educate others and ourselves to feel the peace and grace of the atonement in the decisions we make.
There has been enough evidence in my own life, and in the lives of others around me, to lead me to firmly believe that I need never be too concerned about the exact degree of inspiration involved in a particular call to serve in the Church. I know that the Lord is indeed in charge. But from the time of Adam, God has consistently allowed his children (including our leaders) to exercise their agency and have numerous and varied “learning experiences.”
I also believe that God can help us to grow and progress in important ways even in the midst of situations that may cause us some frustration or unhappiness. I have only half-jokingly declared that the main reason that I was called as a stake director of Public Affairs was probably so I would be relieved rather than overwhelmed when I was subsequently called as a ward Relief Society president!
It is always wise for us to share with priesthood leaders any real concerns about our present circumstances which may indicate that a particular calling may be (or may have become) inappropriate. Sometimes, after prayerful consideration, the leader sees fit to withdraw the calling, or extend a release. Sometimes we may be counseled to accept the call in faith, or to “soldier on” through our difficult situation. Sometimes, I have seen how the inspiration to interview someone for a call ends up accomplishing a different, but necessary, purpose.
The Lord may wish to reassure someone that they are worthy to be called to a position, even though they are unable to accept the call because of health, family, or other reasons. Sometimes the interview calls forth a needed confession that may help someone along the path to repentance and peace. Sometimes we may hold a calling only for a very brief, but necessary and sufficient, period of time.
Although I think often it doesn’t really matter where we serve, or who serves in a particular calling, sometimes it truly does matter. In those cases, the person suggesting the name and/or extending the call often has an impression that may not always appear “logical,” but that in hindsight usually proves to have been providential.
Some of the ward callings I have held to serve on a committee or teach a class could easily have been regarded as callings from man by expediency, with God’s approval. In all those cases, I was very grateful to have received a sweet personal confirmation that the calling was exactly right for me at that particular time.
If we remember and rely on the enabling and healing power of Christ’s Atonement as we serve, and if we strive with willing hearts to support each other in our callings (even in the midst of any struggles we may face because of our own or others’ shortcomings, thoughtlessness, or errors in judgment), surely we can trust that, “all things shall work together for [our] good. (D&C 105:40).
Consider the guidelines given by the First Presidency where we are encouraged to “serve as individuals, in families, and in organizations and to offer friendship, mentoring, and other Christlike service.”
We are to:
“participate in this effort when time and circumstances allow, making sure that no one is expected to ‘run faster than [she] has strength’ and that all ‘things are done in wisdom and order’’
- How often do you think about your leaders needing to learn as much as you do?
- How would you educate a leader that a calling was no longer appropriate for you or something you could handle?
- Have you visited “I was a Stranger“?
- How do you avoid “running faster than you have strength” while still participating to the extent that the Gospel of love, the Gospel of Christ call you to care?
- How do you grow in spite of frustration or unhappiness?
- How do you find peace in the Atonement and in the love of Christ?