The phone crackled with my dad’s excitement, “Bill has been called into the bishopric. I’m flying out to California to set him apart as a High Priest. I knew he would do great things when your sister married him. I knew he was a man of God.”
Emotions swarmed my mind—excitement for Bill, worry for my sister with four little ones who was already slaving as Primary President and finally, the embarrassing sting of envy that my several years older, equally fabulous husband serves invisibly as a Course 13 Sunday School Teacher.
Callings and their cultural significance are unique to the Mormon church. In virtually every other religion, men and women choose the ministry, audition as choir director, sign up to teach Sunday School or simply sit and pass the offering plate(they pay pianists and nursery leaders at most Protestant and Catholic churches—can you imagine?).
We’re different. And that’s good.
Because we might be called to teach Sunbeams or Gospel Doctrine at any time, every member must develop knowledge and compassion. Gospel scholarship is not simply the pastor’s private pasture but every member’s fertile acre. Our various and ever-changing callings develop latent talents and Christlike charity. But let’s be honest, certain callings receive only a nod while others seem to contain a validation of our value in the church and God’s estimation of our worth.
Predictably, I live in a super star ward in Salt Lake City. But I suspect calling worship extends far beyond Utah’s linear borders. In recent years the brethren have preached that every calling is important, every member is needed. But it’s difficult to crack deep cultural beliefs of perceived merit. Have you ever been to a sacrament meeting devoted to the exiting and incoming library staff?
Now, I know, I know, that we can learn and serve in a thousand other ways. And I’ve certainly enjoyed the luxury of raising our six children without challenging church callings to monopolize family time(my hubby has never complained a bit). But when every member leaving a “big” calling stands and bears witness that they’ve learned and grown exponentially through their recent service, I wonder if my family and others around us will be able to make great spiritual progress without the intense learning curve of a ward or stake assignment?
My words may sound petty and shallow but I pray they are read with understanding hearts. To give my father credit, he compliments my family at every opportunity. Our value to him is not measured by callings or accomplishments. And I must remember that my Father in Heaven is the same— God loves me as the imperfect, fumbling-but-really-trying child I am.
I actually have a really fantastic calling at the moment(Gospel Doctrine) so I know my angst won’t be cured by a call from the Stake President. I have to reach deeper. Stripping away my pride and opinions, I need to have faith that God has a better plan for our lives than I do. I need to believe that God loves each soul and will provide His own divine tutelage to bring us back to his throne.
Now that I’m nearly finished writing, I think I’m over it. I certainly don’t want a more challenging calling and I love having my husband at home. But the next time my husband’s uncle asks him pointedly, “So– what are you doing in the ward these days?” or a old missionary companion exclaims, “What happened to you? We all thought you’d be SOMEBODY by now?” the frustrations will flood back in.
Only humility and faith will shield me from those arrows. Meanwhile, as I’m developing this superhuman abilities, how can we help each other? How can we make every member feel valued? How can I bloom where I am planted and “lift where I stand”?