In our church, we have no paid ministry so everyone pitches in by being ‘called to serve’ in various assignments that make the church go around! 🙂 The Bishop (in each ward) and his counselors, are responsible for making those assignments, with input and suggestion from the ward auxiliary presidents (Sunday school, young women, young men, primary, relief society). [The Elders and the High Priests are generally under the stewardship of the stake presidency, with input, suggestions from the Bishop.] This is generally the rule, different Bishops or Stake Presidents may run things a little differently.
The idea is that each bishop or auxiliary leader will seek the direction of the Spirit to organize their support staff. People pray about who should fill the callings and based on how they are feeling, they submit names to serve to the bishopric, who then also pray about the names and various callings and either extend the callings, or ask the auxiliary president to submit different names.
It becomes a little tricky as the bishop because maybe each auxiliary feels that Sister Terrific Teacher should be in their organization and each has prayed about it and feels like she should be serving with them. However, the bishop is aware that Sister Terrific Teacher has certain health concerns (which are not public to the congregation) that need to be taken into consideration about her calling and that she cannot serve in all of those callings. So they have the responsibility to seek guidance and direction under the Spirit to decide where she should be serving.
In these ways, it is not always the best or most knowledgeable person who gets called. (A lot of times, it is not……) But what we find in serving is that many times, there is growth all around. The person in the calling grows, the people served by the calling grow and all get the opportunity to learn to work together to bring about the best good.
Also, sometimes we receive callings we do not want. I cannot even tell you how many times that has happened to me!! Sometimes I think a calling will be alright and when I get into it, I find that I really don’t like it. Other times, I think I am going to hate this. But then I find that I really enjoy it. Most times, whether I like the calling or not, I find that I learn many things while serving.
Another issue, we are taught not to turn down callings to serve. If we have serious concerns about our ability to fulfill a specific calling, then we can counsel with the bishop or member of the bishopric when the call is extended. But generally, we should accept callings–in fact, President Eyring said so in general conference this weekend:
Here are a few examples of callings where I have struggled:
I was called to teach the Sunbeam class (3 year-olds) when I had a brand new baby (1 month old) and I had a three year-old in the class. (My husband was the bishop–1st time–at the time, which meant that every Sunday, I was getting five children ready for church, by myself and getting us all there. Then after the three hour block, I was taking them all home, by myself and getting them fed, napped, or whatever. And now they were asking me to take the only two hours I had the entire Sunday to spend with other people’s toddlers. I was NOT amused.)
I did the best I could for a little while. It was frustrating! I hated it! I complained, a lot! When the counselor in the primary talked to me after church and asked me to please come to church early to set-up my classroom and then to stay late to clean it up after the children left, I lost it. When the bishop got home from church that day, I let him have it! It is probably not what he needed, but I was livid! To be making the sacrifices I was making to come to church every Sunday and teach those toddlers while I was home all week with my own and doing it by myself almost all day every Sunday, and then to ask me to make greater sacrifice, I just thought that was too much and I was beyond my ability. (It probably didn’t help that I hadn’t been sleeping because I had a new baby.)
My sweet and dear husband (the bishop), calmly said, yes dear, I understand your frustration. It probably isn’t anything they aren’t asking of the other teachers. (Well, the other teachers don’t have five children, including a new infant, and their husbands aren’t the bishop!—that’s what I was thinking….) He suggested that I have my older children (who were 9 and 7 and 5 at the time), help me set up the classroom and help me clean it up when we were done. I was still irritated, but I did what he suggested. The children learned to help. The baby got older. By the time I had been serving them for 9 months, I had learned to really love those other little three year-olds. The adjustments we had made at home by having the older ones help more really made a difference, especially as I received other callings that needed more attention than just Sunday.
I learned how to delegate and give more assignments at home, even though I really, really struggled during my calling.
I had been serving in Young Women (girls ages 12-18) for about four years in various callings. I love serving with teenagers! It is my very favorite place to be. The reasons I love it so much could fill an entire post—so we’ll talk about that later. But I was released from young women, and called to teach the 11 year-olds in primary. I cried and was not very happy. I just figured I would have to bide my time until I could be released from serving there and be called into another calling that I preferred.
I went every Sunday, taught my lesson, and went home to prepare next Sunday’s lesson. The children in the class were rowdy, their hormones were raging and they all wanted out of primary so they were not very interested in the class or cooperative. Most Sundays I felt more like I was babysitting than teaching. But I did what I could.
About a year into that calling, I dropped my older boys off at a youth fireside at the young women president’s home. As I was driving away from the house, I realized that it was the first time in a year that I wasn’t longing to be in the house with all the youth. It was the first time that I didn’t wish I was somewhere else, doing something else. I recognized that I had not put my heart into my calling. I had been just going through the motions for an entire year. I repented on the drive home. I apologized to my Heavenly Father and told Him that I would make my calling mine. I would put my heart into it.
The following Sunday, I was released. I was also called back into the Young Women’s organization. It was as if Heavenly Father was saying, I was just waiting for you to give me your heart. I really do want you here, but I needed you to know that you would be willing to do something else if that is what I asked of you.
For the last little while, I have been serving in callings that I am ready to be finished with. I am not quite sure why….well, I know why……but I really shouldn’t put that out here on my blog.
Sometimes we just have the opportunity to serve where the Lord wants us, and that really is where He wants us, even if we don’t want to be there. Last year at this time, I was also feeling this way about the same calling. Last year, I received inspiration about something I should do in the calling this year. It took me a few months to realize that if I was receiving inspiration about service that was a year away, it probably meant I would still be in the calling a year later. Hey………..Wait a minute! Ya….I wasn’t too happy about that either!
But the good news and the bad news is: callings don’t last forever. The ones you love don’t stay and the ones you hate will go away—of course, in the Lord’s own due time.