During my five years as Bishop, I extended a lot of callings to people. Once in a while people would tell me no, but most of the time they would accept, sometimes begrudgingly. I didn’t always follow the accepted method for issuing calls (which will surprise nobody who has been reading my posts). First of all, I instructed my Executive Secretary to always tell the people why I wanted to meet with them. He would tell them the Bishop has a calling he would like to talk to you about. Second, when I would meet with new move-ins, I would always ask them what calling they would like to have, and which ones they did not want. I would them try to accommodate them (what a novel concept!) It turns out people do a much better job in a calling if it is something they want to do!
One thing I would never say is “The Lord has called you to……” That felt very presumptuous. I would sometimes say “We feel inspired” to call you to such and such, but inspiration can come from common sense as much as it can from a higher power. More often than not I would just say “ We’d like to call you as the new Primary President” This was in stark contrast to what we were taught to do. Pres Boyd K. Packer laid out exactly what should be said in this 1997 conference talk
Leaders must learn how to issue calls. When I was a young man, I heard Elder Spencer W. Kimball speak in a stake conference. He said that as a new stake president in Arizona, he left his office in the bank to call a man to be stake leader of the young men.
He said, “Jack, how would you like to be leader of the young men in the stake?”
Jack responded, “Aw, Spencer, you don’t mean me. I couldn’t do anything like that.”
He tried to persuade him, but Jack refused the call.
Brother Kimball went back to his office to brood over his failure. He knew the stake presidency had been inspired to make the call. Finally it came to him: he had made a terrible mistake! Of course, Jack would not respond.
Perhaps he recalled what the prophet Jacob had said when he “taught them in the temple, having first obtained mine errand from the Lord.”11
President Kimball now did as Jacob had done in ancient times. He “obtained [his] errand from the Lord.”
He returned to ask Jack to forgive him for not doing it right and started over: “Last Sunday the stake presidency prayerfully considered who should lead the young men in the stake. There were several names; yours was among them. We all felt that you were the man. We knelt in prayer. The Lord confirmed to the three of us, by revelation, that you were to be called to that position.”
Then he said, “As a servant of the Lord, I am here to deliver that call.”
Then Jack said, “Well, Spencer, if you are going to put it that way …”
President Kimball replied, “I am putting it that way!”
Of course, Jack would not respond to a casual invitation from Spencer, but he could not refuse a call from the Lord through Stake President Kimball. He served faithfully and with inspiration.Pres Boyd K. Packer 1997 Conference Address
Even the General Handbook says “When a leader extends a calling, he explains that it has come from the Lord.”
It is clearly intimidating to hear that “The Lord” wants you do do something. How do you say no to the Lord? But then that presupposes they you, the person in charge, always gets the correct inspiration from the Lord. What if you make a mistake? Years ago a friend of mine had just been called as Ward Mission Leader, then a week later he was called in by a member of the SP and asked to be a counselor in the EQ Presidency. He was told that the Lord wanted him for this calling. My friend said that if the Lord wanted him, he would accept even if he was just called as Mission Leader. The SP member was a little confused, and then realized he had called in the wrong person. Oops! So much for the Lord making the call. Yes, this was just an innocent mistake, the Lord got it right, but the SP member misheard the name. But when you couch everything as revelation and inspiration from the Lord, it leaves you little wiggle room when you do make a mistake. (look at the POX mess as a good example).
What has been your experience with receiving callings? Have you turned down callings when they come “from the Lord”? Have any of you been on the “calling” side? What did you say when calling somebody?
I believe when we use the language of, the Lord has called you to this calling, or the Lord declares this or that, or basically saying you are speaking for God, for most of the time, not always but the majority of the time, it is what the commandment of do not take the Lord’s name in vain is all about. I use to wonder why that commandment was thrown in there with, do not kill, or steal or commit adultery, etc., commandments that could cause real harm to our fellowman, then realized that taking the Lord’s name in vain could cause extreme harm to others by convincing them that you knew how God felt about them. It could cause people to question God’s love for them or feel hopeless and cause them real despair. I realized that if someone went to my kids, and told them how I was displeased with something they were doing which I wasn’t or worse how I felt about them which wasn’t how I felt at all, it would make me very angry. I think it is an arrogant and self serving behavior to use God’s name the majority of the time we do it. For example, if a child had been molested by someone who had been “called of God” to be the child’s leader, how would the child feel now about God’s love for him? Or all the women who were coerced into polygamy because God was commanding them to, how did they truly feel about God. Or the African Americans who were told for years and years that God considered them unworthy, or the LGBTQ told that they are broken or sinful, how do they feel about God’s love towards them? I think God’s feelings and love for us has been misrepresented on so many levels that that is why it is one of the 10 commandments.
I can’t think of a more self-focused, pressure-producing, manipulative way to do this. This standardized, systematized process is used to manipulate young men to go on missions as well. The fundamental mistake is using God’s name for everything, including ‘revelations’ that are just verbalizations of the given ‘profit’s’ worldview. Nelson and the 2015 policy is a perfect example. This is taking the Lord’s name in vain. In the academic world, it’s called ‘concept creep’ – moving from a very narrow, specific definition of a concept to including broader and broader definitions. So what is ‘revelation’ anyway? Intuition? If the so-called promptings are intuition, call it that. It has nothing to do with God. I’m deeply sickened by the arrogance of men claiming to speak for a God that is so large yet they bring him down to the level of ‘ a glorified man’ they are speaking to on the Batman hotline. It sickens me and detracts from the reverence and awe of God. I have lost more faith in God from observing and experiencing the institutionalized language and arrogance of ‘leaders’ who are nothing more than puppets on strings of SLC executives. These men are just that, men, not profits. They look like, sound like, and act like corporate managers or administrators. In fact, I often felt like I was hearing from executives, not inspiring, humble servant leaders. I would have no problem today calling any of them out, at any level, to tell them to knock it off – to put God back on His throne and just deal with the organizational issues yourself without desacralizing God. They are arrogant and personified with a smile.
Another early shelf item. I was called to be in a SS Presidency for a BYU ward in the summertime. I told them, I was moving the next week, and the Bishop said, it is OK, we just have to fill the slot because we are getting pressure from the Stake.
Next, I was called to be Ward Executive Secretary in a ward with many, many qualified people without a calling . I told them, I would be moving in 5 weeks. I declined the calling. I walked into church the next Sunday, and was sustained as Executive Secretary and moved the next month. They hoped we would not move with the calling commitment.
Then in Ward a new Bishopric was sustained. The very next week, the first councilor then got a corporate transfer and was gone immediately. Inspiration questioning alarm bells went off in my head.
Another time, I was told, I was being called to the high council. I had already climbed the calling ladder, but was now rocking the boat. In the final meeting with the SP, he wiggled and waned and did not extend the call, even though I had already been discreetly told. From his point of view, “The Lord told him not to”. Practically, he only wanted “Yes men”, and I did not qualify.
I realized a few callings may be from the inspiration of the heavens, some callings are from cliques/friends, some callings are based on your bank account, some on your Sunday dress, some on your vocation, and some callings are out of desperation.
One of my wise counselors when I was bishop taught me that it should be a conversation. After that I tried to approach a calling discussion as between two stakeholders instead of a one-up position. It generally worked well and I’m sure it resulted in more “no” responses than otherwise.
One excellent response to “I’ve been inspired to call you” is the following:”you’ve fulfilled your duty to faithfully extend this calling on behalf of the Lord. I’ve been inspired to respectfully decline the call.” I’ve never used it but it’s in my hip pocket.
For a new stake president – they round up some dudes and they tell the visiting authority who would be a good fit leaving that guy to go with his gut and make a high-pressured decision in a matter of hours…they might as well send plumes of smoke out the side doors of the chapel…
One time when my husband and I were in a rough patch in our marriage, our Bishop requested a meeting with me to call me to become the Primary President. I politely declined the calling, telling him I believe he was inspired to meet with me—just not for the reason he thought.
I would like to learn more about how the human brain works regarding intuition etc. It is interesting how some in our church have so much inspiration—direction from above, yet others very little to none—no they don’t feel inspired to get involved with or join the church etc.
We talk about honesty and integrity but we don’t do things in a way that makes room for it. For honesty to occur we have to be listening to what others say.
Bishoprics gather information (or think they do) and pray over a few names for months. By then the window of action is gone, people’s circumstances have changed. Only then do they extend the call. At that point they still don’t listen when a person explains their work schedule doesn’t allow them to take the calling. It’s hard to listen when you are taking on the role of “the Lord”.
But it doesn’t have to be that way. We claim God listens to prayers. We claim you can have a close relationship with God. So why should his representatives on earth only give directions. Our leaders should have relationships with members where they ask for information and listen to what they say. That’s the only way to have good communication.
It makes me want to throw up when the bishop says “God is calling you to play the piano in the Primary”. It feels like such a total lack of humility. There’s little to no room for admitting mistakes or for listening to people. This is an incredible error for all leaders in the church.
It also encourages people taking callings to be less than honest about their ability and willingness to complete a call. It discourages integrity. How can it be right?
Ward boundary changes put me in a new ward 9 months ago. Recently, I got a phonecall from a member of the bishopric who said, right over the phone, “I’d like to talk to you about a calling to lead the ward choir.” And then we talked about it. It was amazing. Someone else didn’t have to call me to set up a vague appointment to “meet with a member of the bishopric”. We just had an honest conversation. I had concerns about the calling, and the phonecall ended with both of us agreeing to spend more time thinking about it. In the end, I accepted the calling (still with some reservations) but it was nice to be treated like an adult through the process.
Having seen how much better the process can be (and simpler, too) it really provides a contrast to how stupidly we’ve been doing it my entire life.
The last time a calling was extended to me I did the normal thing – get called to a meeting for no apparent reason, they told me the calling. This might e the only time that I remember that they didn’t use the “lord wants you to” phrase. And for the first time i did not accept on spot. I said I needed to think about it. The counselor was a bit surprised but then told me the reasons he thought I might be good for the calling. It was good that he did that, and I did take a day to think about it, but I did accept the calling.
I have decided that the next time in get called to some random meeting I’m going to be up front in the phone and say something like, “if it is about a calling, I will probably need time to think about it. There are few if any callings that I can accept on the spot.”
I’m mostly out of the church at this point. I will decline any teaching calling, but I’m willing to do various types of service, other than church cleaning.
Sigh. “I did the normal thing” was supposed to say “they did the normal thing” except they didn’t say “the lord has called you to blah blah blah.”
The best answer is:
The Lord has called you to……..
Be kind and forgiving.
When I was 25, my husband was active duty Air Force and we moved often. We had just moved into a new ward, so of course we knew no one. But the bishop got our records, which said we had both been raised in Utah. My records also said I had been primary president in my last ward. On that information only, the bishop asked me to be Relief Society President. First meeting with that bishop. He asked my husband ahead of me, so there were the bishop and my husband pressuring me into saying yes. I felt very strongly that it was very wrong. I was too new to the ward. And the bishop was making my misgivings worse be telling us how “people here don’t know how the church should run and you grew up in Utah, so you know how things work.” I grew up in Utah, with two unbelieving parents who because of their mothers would not admit out loud to anyone they thought the church was bunk. They bowed to their battle ax mothers and forced us to church once in a while and got us properly blessed and baptized and made us take seminary, which back then gave us high school credit for Old and New Testiment. But they undermined faith in the church, while forcing it on us. So, mixed messages big time. I only started being active at church because my first boy friend was a good Mormon and I didn’t want him thinking I was inactive. So, No, I wasn’t “raised in the church” which was a big part of his reasons why I would be a good RSP. But his thinking that non Utah Mormons and converts were not good Mormons really bothered me. And I was an introvert, which was my biggest problem as PP, in a tiny Wyoming college student ward. Our primary only went to
CTRs. I had one counselor and 4 teachers. That was NOT “experience in ward leadership,” as the bishop was saying in his trying to overcome my resistance. And the bishop was SO sure it was God calling me to do this. And God isn’t wrong.
Against my better judgement, I caved into pressure and said yes. And it was a disaster. To shorten a long story, there was a huge long standing divide between “Utah Mormons” and locals, the women resented me for the very reason the bishop thought I was the best possible. The bishop was gone on military assignment more than 60% of the time, so when I needed his signature for food orders and other stuff, nope he was gone or in town for 24 hours. He was a real incompetent jerk when he was in town. The ward boundaries had just been rearranged, so many local women were also new, and didn’t even know I had been there three weeks. I was too introverted to make friends with all the women who hated me to begin with. And, I was pregnant with high risk pregnancy, and two toddlers. Yeah, it was a disaster.
It totally convinced me that there can be little to zero inspiration behind callings, and the more the person doing the calling insists on it being inspired, the less likely it really is to be inspired.
So, bishops really need to learn not to high pressure people into a calling. Yes, they may be desperate to fill it, but using the Lord as a high pressure tool is using The Lord’s name in vain. It is breaking a commandment to use God’s name that way. It is a sin. It is also a sin in that it is arrogance to think your inspiration trumps that individual’s inspiration. That person knows themselves and their circumstances much better than you do. This is especially true for the women of the ward who the bishop hasn’t spent years in priesthood meetings with. The calling should be a two way conversation to find out if the person is a good fit for the calling, not a master dictating to his slave about his assignment. But maybe we are just church slaves to people like BKP in that quote about how to high pressure people to do something they do not want to do.
My husband was raised in the Church and was always told that all callings come from God and we are to never turn them down. We both were taught the old saying that “who God calls he qualifies” (and other’s similar clever sayings). When our kids (all girls) were young my husband was working 3 jobs to keep us afloat financially, and I was often in a RS presidency of a needy ward, plus caring for my aging mother. For years he was called over and over again to be in scouting, which required weekly scout meetings and monthly camp outs. I resented him being gone and not home to help me! With work and scouting he was gone all the time. Where were the dads of the boys?? Why were they not doing the scouting callings? The last time he got called we were asked to come to the Church to meet with a Bishopric counselor. As he presented the scouting call to my husband I got so angry I started crying and walked out. We were never asked if this would be a hardship on our family. He never asked my husband if I was ok. All he cared about was filling the open callings slots! My husband felt obligated to take it, so he said yes. It would have helped if I felt I could have asked to be released from my RS calling, but I felt like I would be disappointing God. We were so manipulated and used back then! Fear of God was used to control us and keep us in line. I am so glad both me and my husband have learned to set boundaries and found balance. We will not be controlled like that again!
Learning to say NO to callings wasn’t something that I was ever taught to do. I was expected to accept every calling even when it was a poor fit for my time and talents. There were several times when I truly wondered if the bishopric could possibly be as inspired as I had always been taught that they were. Surely, if the Lord was the source of the calling He would also make it known to the bishop that I struggled with some health challenges that would limit what kinds of callings I had. Wrong.
Was I ever shocked when I was having lunch one day with my sister and her FIL who’d had every possible Priesthood calling except for being a GA of some sort. I was telling them about my YW calling that had just about destroyed my mental health. I’d been called to be a member of the ward YW presidency and the Beehive leader. What I hadn’t known was that our entire YW group were known as the Mormon Horde (as in a plague of devouring emotional crickets) who’d already driven several girls and women out of YW. I didn’t know this until after I’d been set apart and discovered after the prayer that the bishopric usually called the classes the Killer Bees, the Mean Maids and the Lousy Laurels. I felt like I had been duped into this calling. Entering YWs every Sunday felt like I was entering a war zone. After returning home I would cry for the rest of the day. My husband and I, together and singly, went to beg our bishop to release me for mental health reasons but he refused to do so. It finally took a letter from my family doctor stating that I was dealing with severe depression and that the stress of my calling was pushing me to the edge. I was finally released. However, at that point my mental health was very fragile. It took quite a while before I was able to return to normal.
After I told of this experience my sister’s FIL told me that 99% of church callings were given out of desperation and not inspiration. He further said that I was entitled to my own inspiration with regard to callings. If it didn’t feel right to me I should turn the calling down because only I knew what I could and couldn’t handle and that I should never allow myself to be steamrolled into something that I didn’t feel good about. I’m so grateful for that wise advice. What a novel concept!
I left church activity during the pandemic because I got Long Covid and it has worsened some of my other health challenges. Our bishop refused and continues to refuse to make church a safe, healthy place for members with physical and mental health issues and I realized that I had to advocate for myself which meant becoming inactive. I no longer believe that bishops and SPs are 100% divinely inspired to give callings to members. In all of my years of church participation I can count on one hand how many callings were actually inspired.
One of the things I’m glad about from my bishopric time is that I actually listened to how people responded. If they said not to a calling I accepted that as their answer, and didn’t ask them to go thinking it over for a while and then get back to me.
The the church culture could learn to accept the absence of a yes as a clear no things would be wildly different.
One other thought, when bishops insist on putting someone into a calling who is moving in a few weeks, or is so obviously wrong for the calling, it destroys testimonies. The person put in, who tried to say no, and anyone who notices that it was a bad match starts to wonder if there really is inspiration when issuing callings.
Thankfully, I never have had a high-pressure calling. I’ve always had either teaching or service calling. I enjoyed the teaching callings, and did them back when I was a partial believer (now there is no way I could do a teaching calling), and the service callings were ill-defined and I didn’t really do anything. One time I was second-counselor in the Sunday School Presidency. It was basically a calling just to make someone feel like they had a calling. I remember doing a bunch of pointless stuff like passing around a roll and ringing the bell for Sunday School to be over (as if people couldn’t just track time themselves). Then I “served” in the ward library for some five years. Another fluff, low-stress calling. Fun, though, because I got to know lots of people.
Never again, though. I feel sorry for the folks who are pressured into time-consuming, high-stress callings that involve important decision-making, lots of meetings, and lots of effort. My rationale now is that I simply cannot contribute to an organization most of whose tenets I cannot accept. Hence no callings. The most I can do is attend sacrament with a semi-believing wife (who likes to think of herself as more believing than she actually is), not rock the boat, and socialize with people around me. Now, of course, many people do not like that I do this. But they quickly realize that they are in no position to scold me. For the church stresses trying to bring people to church, not turn them away. Scolding someone for not being active enough is counterproductive. What would that accomplish? I might just decide to go from partial activity to no activity. They know this. And so they treat me very kindly, with the hope that one day maybe I’ll see the light.
But ah yes, “the Lord has called you to…” is high-pressure nonsense. So glad I won’t be dealing with that again.
I’m not a fan of all JS’s revelations but I quite like the line, “It is not meet that I should command in all things.” It seems very sensible to me. And it seems like in a church where God himself says he doesn’t need to micromanage everything, people should feel totally comfortable running things according to their best guess, open communication, and mundane logistical needs. I like Bishop Bill’s approach.
I hope you don’t mind Bill. We had an election in a neighbouring state, on Saturday. We always vote on Saturday to make it easier for people to vote.
By 9pm, 50% of the vote was counted and the experts were predicting that there would be a change of government. The outgoing leader made a concession speech where he said his opponent was a good man with integrity, and he urged his supporters to get behind the new leader.
The new leader gave a speech where he thanked the outgoing leader for his service. That their priorities were different, but each wanted what was best for the state.
Just comparing this with the divisiveness and rancor of Trump. Politics can be positive, and respectfull.
In my husband”s Patriarchal Blessing he is “exhorted” to respond to every call.
Not to say yes, not to say no just to respond.
When we were first married and I read this I decided to do things a little different than I had been doing them.
When asked to fulfill a calling said I needed to pray and think about for one week and then I would get back with my answer.
Some times I accepted it and sometimes I did not.
I have honestly never felt like most of the members of the Bishopric’s of wards I have lived in really put much prayer into asking Heavenly Father who is right for a calling or listening to His answer.
A Bishop we had a few years ago told the ward in his first talk after he had been sustained how much he appreciated this calling but that one thing we needed to know was that his family came first before everything including the ward.
We all decided that we had the same right that he did and when he extended a call that some one really did not fell right about accepting because their family really did need them to be home at night and not running around every weeknight, leaving the kids and the spouse to either be running around some where ever or home with a sitter.
This Bishop had a little difficulty finding people to serve in some callings and probably wished he had not set the “family example”.
But in a way he was right.
I have heard it over and over and over for many years about how families feel like they are being torn apart and never see each other because of intensive church activity.
I tell them to just stop, slow down.
Some do, but too many members think it is some kind of sin to not be out and about running around like chicken with its head cut off all the time.
After hearing about the 120 billion in the stock market and the illegal shell companies they set up making the CEO of these companies sign documents without seeing the whole document, just the signature page and worst of all lying to the members about all of this for over 20 years I have had a change of opinion about them.
The Church is given to people, and people run it. There are any number of people in a ward or stake who could properly fill most any calling, and the Lord would be happy with any of them. This is true for higher callings, too. I believe that there are many people in most wards who could be a relief society president or bishop, and in stakes there are many who could be stake president or high councillor. Even higher up, there are many who could be general authorities, and even apostles. When the president of the Church selects an apostle, he doesn’t go into a room where an angel appears and gives him an unknown name. He usually picks from among the names that he knows, and he prays about it and the Spirit confirms. The Lord vests the office holder with power when the call is offered and accepted, and those people then legitimately sit in Moses’ seat. We sustain them and we should honor our sustaining. Occasionally, maybe rarely, there is one, and only person, who should receive a calling, for some reason that the Lord does not explain to men, but most of the time there are many people who can function in almost any calling. I would not issue a call with “The Lord has called you to be ___.” One reason: we do not lead by coercion or pressure or guilt. We invite, and we try to persuade with gentleness and meekness. Imagine a bishop issuing a call by saying “I appreciate you and I need your help; would you work with me to help the people in our ward by serving as ___?”
I had an experience similar to Lois’. The stake president was inspired to call me in, but it wasn’t for me to fill a calling. It was to meet with me and my wife, and to learn about needs that we had that he never would have learned about otherwise.
My not accepting that calling took me off the “leadership track”, but helped my family more than accepting the calling would have.
BB, thanks for this post. There is a lot I could say about callings. I will just share one experience. In 2021, the stake president asked to meet with me to discuss a calling. We sat down, and he asked me to serve in the elders quorum presidency. I asked him if we should first discuss some of the things we had previously talked about, including my concerns about the church policies and doctrine, my family’s desire to not attend, and personal frustrations with our stake’s Covid policies. He agreed that it would be appropriate, and after a lengthy talk, he decided he no longer wanted to not extend the calling. The discussion helped me to see that the stake president was not at all inspired. If he had been, he would have recalled my situation and the concerns I had shared. The interaction was actually liberating. It is what I needed to see that the church is not what it claims. It was the last time I stepped foot in an LDS chapel.
When I was a counsellor in a bishopric several years ago, it was common during our morning bishopric meeting to identify callings we wished to issue. It was common practice for this bishop to ask me to text people and ask if they could meet me before church, issue the calling literally minutes before sacrament meeting, and get them to accept so we could sustain them and get them set apart all the same day. Talk about efficient! Sadly I didn’t know any better. And while I never told anyone their call came from God’s lips to our ears, I now see that this practice was poor. People need time to think, to ask questions, and to discuss with those will be impacted by the calling, etc. There was no time for that in this process. It was a gross practice. When you know better you do better. If I could turn back time, I would have told the bishop I was happy to issue the calling but not this way.
I guess word got around this was happening and our stake president asked for this to stop, so there’s that.
Also when we would visit new members that recently moved into our ward, I would ask them their dream calling. One day the other counsellor asked me why I kept asking people this question and I told him I was passing that information onto the Bishop to use as he saw fit. The other counsellor thought me odd for this. I guess some prefer the volun-told method.
When I served as executive secretary, I had one of those bishops who felt that privilege of his priesthood authority included keeping everyone in the dark about why he wanted to meet with them. A calling? A disciplinary warning? Meeting with a disfellowshipped member trying to repent? Going over finances and issuing a check from the ward coffers? Who knows! He certainly wouldn’t tell me, and many members resented when I would call them to set up a meeting, and tell them (quite honestly) that I had no idea of the bishop’s intentions.
Of note: when he released me from the calling, he didn’t actually inform me that he planned to do so. I found out in the bishopric meeting one morning by noting that one of the action items on the agenda was “Calling to fill: Ward Executive Secretary.” I was briefly confused, bishop glared at me, and I just shrugged. There isn’t really a word to describe how I feel about this. It’s not anger or sadness, just a profound feeling of being disappointed in “authority.”
One of the self inflicted problems with pondering over and extending callings in the LDS church is the almost complete lack of input from women. It is always a group of men, the B-ric or SP, that makes the decision. The most women can do is for Primary and RS callings, where they recommend names, but the female leaders of those organizations have no actual power to decide or make official input. (This is one of many reasons why I don’t really consider RS a “woman’s organization.” All decisions about it are made by and/or approved by a man, including leadership and money.)
As a Bishop, I had two or three discreet women in the ward, including my wife, that I would ask for their input when I was considering significant callings. Not recommended in the Handbook, but it was extremely useful and in a few instances steered me away from a less than ideal outcome.
On my list of top 10 changes I’d make in the church, requiring at least one woman in the B-ric would be high on the list. Actually, I’d also require a women in the SP. And half the stake HC should be women. The Q15 could and should make that change this weekend if they wanted to. But they won’t.
East Coast Guy
When I was Bishop, we still had Priesthood Executive Committee (PEC) meetings. They consisted of EQP, HPGL, and the Bishopric. We were to discuss Home teaching, and other “manly” stuff. I always invited the RSP to attend. I couldn’t imagine assigning home teachers without input from 60% of the ward (women). The SP was somewhat concerned when he found out, but it turned out several other Bishops in the stake, including his own, did the same thing. His words to me really meant a lot. He said “read the handbook, know where you are deviating from the standard, and then do what you think is right for your ward”
Several years ago, my then-bishop pulled me out of an EQ meeting to have a private meeting with me. He started by making casual conversation, asking me about my family and what was going on in my life, etc. I told him that I would be moving away in less than 3 weeks; my wife and I closed on a new house about an hour away from where we were living, in a different ward and stake (we had not yet told anyone at church). The bishop then informed me that he was originally going to extend me a calling, but in light of that new information, he withdrew it. He never actually told me what the calling was. But he went on to tell me, “as a bishop, the best sources of inspiration for me are the ward members themselves”, and that really stuck with me. He also emphasized that doing the right thing for one’s family is more important than serving in the Church. He wished me well and we parted ways.
Since then I’ve moved around a bit, lived in different wards in different places and cycled through several bishops. None of them really “get it” the way this one did. Especially because he didn’t pretentiously extend an invitation to a non-specific early morning meeting through an executive secretary, but he just casually pulled me aside during church time while I was already there. No manipulation or entrapment involved, and no waste of anyone’s time (his or mine).
We have been winners of leadership roulette for quite a while in our ward. Our former bishop was amazing, and our current one is outstanding. I am currently serving as Sunday School president. Prior to the call even being extended, our Bishop pulled me in and we had an excellent conversation during which he asked about me, my wife, and our family’s circumstances. He then asked me if I would consider accepting the calling of SS president and further inquired about how that calling would affect our family (mostly because of mandatory ward counsel attendance.)
I told him I would like to consult with my wife before responding, and he was happily accepting of that. As part of the subsequent conversation w/my wife, she and I counseled together about me accepting (we concluded I could) and about who good counselors would be in the presidency… And when I responded to the bishop to accept the calling and provide my requests for counselors, he complimented me (and my wife) that we had discussed that aspect of the calling together. Both counselors were as we had requested. All-in-all a very positive experience.
I believe it was President Hinckley who said information leads to inspiration.
I’m trying to decide what to do about my calling. It’s the 4th time I’ve been a nursery leader since I moved here 10 years ago. It’s part-time, just the 1st and 2nd Sunday every month. But we always have General Conference or Stake Conference on the 1st or 2nd Sunday, and I work one weekend a month which also falls in the first half of the month. When I’m there, I never know what lesson we’re on because my partner doesn’t do lessons and doesn’t keep track. It feels like such a “nothing” calling, even though I have enjoyed it in the past. I don’t feel like I have any effect on anything, other than telling the kids which Hotwheels cars will work better on which track.
“… which Hotwheel cars will work better on which track” is the start of experimentation in physics (mechanical side of things) and social fairness (the people side of things). If I had a hat on, I would take it off you for your dedication:)
I don’t think I’ve believed for a long time that many callings come by way of inspiration. This was especially true when my husband was serving with the YM and I was asked to consider accepting a calling with the YW. We had two preschoolers at the time that would need babysitting while we attended weeknight activities. We didn’t have any available extended family to help with that. And somehow they weren’t inspired to know that I was also expecting twins at the time – so of course I said no. It was most definitely a call of desperation.
“It feels like such a “nothing” calling, even though I have enjoyed it in the past. I don’t feel like I have any effect on anything…”
Don’t underestimate the good you do just by being there. Your patience and kindness towards those little ones will have a powerful effect in shaping their tender hearts and minds.
There is no work more important than that of nurturing little ones. So (IMO) you’ve already earned a sizable cache of treasure in heaven.
I’m glad Bishop Howell extended a lot of callings to people during his five years as bishop. It seems that most people are more than happy to accept them, even if they don’t always follow the accepted method. I’m always happy to hear about people’s callings, and I think it’s great that people areAdaptable (able to accommodate). I don’t think it’s presumptuous to say that the Lord has called someone to a specific calling, though.
My husband and I have served as bishop and RS president. We both believe that there are three kinds of callings: those the Lord directs, those the Lord permits and those the “Lord only knows”. Some callings came with very clear inspiration from heaven; some came from thought and study that were either confirmed or at least not objected to in prayer; and the rest were just a matter of juggling available people into available positions. Funnily enough, sometimes the people in the last group had great experiences in their callings.
I think this reflects the overall role of revelation in our lives; not just in church callings. There are times the Lord gives clear revelation in our lives (not as often as I would like). There are times we ponder and research and study and seek confirmation in prayer. Most of the time, though, the Lord lets us figure stuff out. And that’s not a sign of failure. If the point of coming to earth is to learn and grow and develop judgment and wisdom then we need to think and act. If we simply read an instruction list from God everyday, we become robots who don’t learn or develop in a meaningful way.
At the 5 year point of being a PIMO, the stake presidency asked to meet with me and my wife. The stake president looked at me and said “The Lord wants you to serve as the High Priest Group leader of your ward”. Not we would like to call you. Not we feel inspired. But Jesus Christ himself knew me and wanted me in this calling.
Interestingly I no longer believed in any of the major truth claims of the church in the way it teaches them. My wife knew this. I just look to her and asked her if I should accept the calling. she just smiled and said yes.
Inspiration doesn’t exist in the church in my experience.
When that same stake presidency released me 5 years later, they told me they knew they never had to worry about me as a stalwart member of the church.