"In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how." (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR, April 1951, 154)
"Sometimes men and women in the Church aspire for office. This is unfortunate. It becomes the very reason why they should not be granted such office." (Gordon B. Hinckley, Keep the Chain Unbroken, Talk given at BYU, 30 Nov. 1999)
"And, finding there was greater happiness and peace and rest for me, I sought for the blessings of the fathers, and the right whereunto I should be ordained to administer the same; having been myself a follower of righteousness, desiring also to be one who possessed great knowledge, and to be a greater follower of righteousness, and to possess a greater knowledge, and to be a father of many nations, a prince of peace, and desiring to receive instructions, and to keep the commandments of God, I became a rightful heir, a High Priest, holding the right belonging to the fathers... I sought for mine appointment unto the Priesthood according to the appointment of God unto the fathers concerning the seed." (Abraham 1:2,4)
I might use this collection of quotes to begin a post on women and the priesthood, but I will save that for another day. Today I'd like to talk about callings in the Church. Quite naturally, there are some positions in the Ward and Stake that will appeal to us more than others. Since we are both human and diverse, there are different reasons why this might be so. Perhaps our talents align closely to a particular talent, such as ward organist. Perhaps we enjoy working with one age group more than another. Maybe we yearn for a calling that will be challenging, such as Gospel Doctrine Teacher. Or conversely, we might desire something that takes little to no work (Sunday School President :) ) Some members enjoy power, high visibility, and leadership, while others prefer to build the Church behind the scenes.
As an LDS member, I enjoy teaching, public speaking, and scripture study and interpretation. My favorite age group is youth, and I enjoy being in the limelight. Therefore the callings I most earnestly desire are: Youth SS Teacher, Seminary Teacher, YW Advisor (teaching the Sunday lessons), and yes, I love the calling of Gospel Doctrine teacher also.
According to Gordon B. Hinckley, above and in other places, members should not aspire to callings. But the quote from Abraham can be read as a righteous aspiration for a priesthood office. Look at the things that Abraham desired as he sought for the High Priesthood:
1. the blessings of the fathers
2. ordination to administer blessings
3. great knowledge
4. to be a follower of righteousness
5. to be a father of nations
6. to be a prince of peace
7. to receive instructions
8. to keep the commandments of God
Some of these things sound very humble, and others sound, well, aspiring. Is it OK to seek a calling if one's motivations are as lofty as Abraham's? How should we seek for the appointment? Is it appropriate to pray for a calling? Shall we let the Bishop know what callings we most enjoy?
I'll be the first to admit that I have campaigned for callings. This has manifested itself in the following ways:
- When moving into a ward and having my first interview with the Bishop I have mentioned the callings I have had in the past, telling him the ones I've enjoyed and conveniently neglecting to mention the ones I do not wish to repeat. (Except, sometimes I'll mention that I've been in the Nursery five times already.)
- I've successfully been called to Gospel Doctrine teacher twice by letting the regular teacher know I am always available to substitute. I'll prepare the lesson each week and accept with alacrity even when asked 15 minutes before the Sunday meetings begin. I think this technique works for almost any calling. Just make the offer that you would be willing to "help out" any time you are needed. Then be sure you are Johnny-on-the-spot when someone else falls through.
- Part of campaigning for a calling is not appearing too anxious to step into the calling. A deep show of humility and just a touch of hesitation is essential. Don't step on anyone's toes!
- Several years ago, DH reached the age where he was uncomfortable remaining in the Elders' Quorum. He hesitated to aspire for the calling of High Priest, but I read him the above quote by Abraham, and encouraged him to fast and pray for it. Not long after, he was called to be the HP Group Leader.
Where do you stand on campaigning for callings?
--It is completely wrong to aspire to any calling. You should be totally open to the Lord's will in the matter, and accept the callings extended to you.
--It is acceptable to desire or seek for a calling, as long as you do it with humility and a desire to build the kingdom, learn, grow, and serve.
--Everyone has callings they are better suited for, and there is nothing wrong in making your desires known to the leadership and/or placing yourself in a position advantageous to be noticed for these callings.
What types of "campaigning" are kosher?