We’ve all had it happen. The phone rings and it is the secretary of either the Bishop or the Stake President is asking if they can meet with you. You know a calling is going to to be extended to serve in the church. We may hope for either a lowly station (my dream calling is in Nursery, Nap time, singing time, and snack time? YES PLEASE!) or we make hope or fear for a calling into leadership. At the end of the day, everyone in the church will have opportunities to serve. But the way we think about and approach callings in many wards needs to have a paradigm shift. Here are three paradigm shifts we need to have about callings in the church.
1st. Always Accept Callings.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf
2nd. Realize There Are No ‘Ladders’ In The Church.
For many, especially missionaries, callings and leadership become a ladder to climb. They see callings like District Leader, Elders Quorum President or Relief Society President as promotions. And therefore they view being released from a leadership position as a demotion or a punishment. There are no ladders in the church. One does not climb a calling ladder up to being a Bishop, Stake President, or Apostle. One should not covet or seek or aspire to such callings, one should simply magnify our baptismal covenant to serve wherever the Lord wants or needs us to be. This includes serving missions in areas that are “less desirable.” I loved the attitude of Elder Uchtdorf when he was released from the First Presidency, he was 100% ok with it. Because he understood it was not a ladder. It reminds me of when President Thomas S. Monson quoted a poem by Meade MacGuire in general conference on this topic:
“‘Father, where shall I work today?’
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then he pointed out a tiny spot
And said, ‘Tend that for me.’
I answered quickly, ‘Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.’
And the word he spoke, it was not stern;
He answered me tenderly:
‘Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;
Art thou working for them or for me?
‘Nazareth was a little place,
And so was Galilee.’”
I think President Gordon B. Hinckley put it perfectly when he said: “Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence.”
3rd. Learn To Magnify Every Call.
Now that we have established that the Lord expects us to accept any calling we are given the question is, what do you do when you get a calling that honestly is underwhelming? Simple, magnify it! For the consequences of not magnifying are made clear by John Taylor when he said: If you do not magnify your calling, God will hold you responsible for those you might have saved, had you done your duty.”
One of my favorite stories I heard was on my mission where a sister was given the calling of being the sacrament bread coordinator. One might feel like this is a pathetic excuse for a calling and choose to become apathetic. But this dear sister did not. She approached it as if the Lord Himself had asked her to be in charge of the bread for the sacrament. She decided she would make homemade bread every weekend so that the sacrament bread would always be fresh. And she even experimented with recipes and found one that was amazing, she held this calling for years.
I have met greeters who got a name tag and welcomed everyone by name every Sunday. And I have met Home Teaching District Leaders who would visit every family the companionship under him did not visit each month. What can we learn from these examples? It does not matter what if our as the Bishop or greeter, as the sacrament bread coordinator or the relief society president, each of us can magnify our callings.