Your Favorite Church Calling

By: Graceforgrace
January 13, 2013

Today one of my friends, who is serving as a counselor in a bishopric for a Mormon Church, told me he couldn’t hang out this weekend because of his schedule with a church assignment.  I jokingly told him that the main reason I keep moving around is to avoid getting a “big” church calling.  I’ll explain.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon Church) are assigned jobs, otherwise known as church callings.  The callings are assigned under the inspiration of the local minister, or bishop and his leadership team.  From my experience, callings usually last no more than 3 years and can range from working in the nursery with kids during church, being the humanitarian representative in the community or even being a Relief Society President (for women) or Bishop.

I have been an active member of the LDS church for a number of years.  Just to give those of you who are not familiar with Mormon callings an idea, I’ll list some of the callings I’ve had over the years along with a brief description of what the job entailed:

Home Teacher: Visiting an assigned group of families within the congregation once per month and sharing a spiritual message with them along with making sure their needs are met.

Deacon’s Quorum President:  As a 12 year old boy, the Deacon’s president functions under the supervision of the Deacon’s adviser  who is an adult.  He mainly organizes youth activities and makes sure the sacrament (communion) is passed out accurately each week.

Teachers Quorum President: This is very similar to a Deacon, except the boys are 14 years old.

Priest’s Quorum 1st Assistant: Same as Deacon and Teacher, except the Priest also blesses the communion during church.

Elder’s Quorum President: The Elder’s Quorum President is responsible for seeing that all the Elders (usually males in the congregation 18-50 years old) are being spiritually in line with the Lord, making sure their needs are met, assigning home teaching assignments, receiving feedback on how to help members in the congregation with various needs, working with the bishop to help new members move out or move into the “ward” (i.e. congregation).

Elder’s Quorum Instructor: Teaching a spiritual lesson in Elder’s quorum class on Sunday.

District Leader:  Leader of a group of 4-10 missionaries.  Can also be a leader of Elders in a large Elder’s quorum.

Zone Leader:  In a mission, the District Leaders report to the Zone leader.  Usually about 2-4 district leaders to each zone leader.

Substitute Primary Teacher: Primary is Sunday School for children ages 3-12.

Executive Secretary to the Bishop: Note-taker and organizer for the bishop to keep him on track with all his duties.

Ward Missionary:  Works with the full-time missionaries to teach investigators (people considering being baptized into the Mormon Church)

Gospel Principles Instructor: Teaches investigators and newly baptized members basic gospel principles each week in Sunday School.

Youth Instructor (ages 16-18): Teaches youth each week during Sunday School

Sunday School President:  Responsible for calling all Sunday School instructors and ensuring they are properly taught on how to best teach.

There are also “callings” mentioned frequently over the pulpit from our church leaders that are things assigned to us as being disciples of Christ such as being a good neighbor, parent, spouse, etc.

The culture within the Mormon church is that it is sort of taboo to turn down a calling.  I’ve heard people say that if you turn a calling down from a leader, you are turning down the Lord.  Since the leader is (ideally) receiving revelation on who should be called to what position, that may very well be the case, but my purpose in writing this article isn’t to debate turning down a calling.  I mention it, just to let those of you unfamiliar with Mormon culture in on the mind set many members of the Church have when asked to do something.

Personally, I have turned down a calling on a couple occasions, but I usually accept the calling, even if I don’t necessarily want to do it.  I have found that in most cases I learn and grow a lot from the various callings I have been given.

That being said, I will rank my favorite callings (being a father and husband are my number one callings that I thoroughly enjoy, but I am referring to callings that are formerly issued) as well as my least favorite.

Favorite Church Callings

1. Elder’s Quorum Instructor: I loved this calling because I only taught once/month and had a whole month to dive deep into the lesson plan and scriptures.  The conversations and discussions with the Elders in church were very inspirational for me and I learned a lot from them and mostly from the Holy Spirit.  Plus, I love teaching.

2. Zone Leader: I remember on my mission as a zone leader thinking if I could find a job that was like that, I would love it!  I am a Regional Manager in sales now, which is very similar to what I did as a zone leader.  The upside now is that the product I sell isn’t as hard of a sell as religion was!

3. Sunday School President: As I oversaw all the instructors in the congregation and made assignments, I felt I had the best of both worlds in teaching as well as administrative tasks.  It was an enjoyable calling.

Least Favorite Church Callings

1. Executive Secretary to the Bishop: I absolutely hated this calling.  I do not do well with organization and being the executive secretary was nothing by trying to keep the bishop organized.  I also do not do well with taking orders and this calling is nothing but taking orders from the bishop.  I will admit that I didn’t have the best attitude while I had this calling and so the experience wasn’t as good as if I had humbled myself more…or just not said I would do it.

2. Elders Quorum President:  This was a love/hate calling for me.  There were aspects that I completely loved about the calling.  The group of men I served had 92 elders in it.  It was a massive group.  I had 3 counselors and 1 secretary along with 5 district leaders (I divided the group in to 5 districts with nearly 20 men in each district).  I loved visiting the men in the group, teaching them, praying with them and for them, etc.  The only part I didn’t like was how draining it was on me emotionally and time consuming.  I was in graduate school at the time and working full time as well.  This calling took about 15 hours/week.  After about 2 years I asked to be released because I just couldn’t emotionally keep up with the demanding schedule and something had to give.


I think from my experience that I have learned that I do best in a role that gives me some flexibility to “call the shots” such as with teaching, or in some leadership roles.  My preference is that of teaching because I don’t have as many people who are reporting up to me and what I have to worry about is making sure what I am teaching is in line with what the Spirit is leading me to teach.

If you are a Mormon, what have your favorite and least favorite callings been and why?

If you are in a different faith, what is your understanding of being “called” to something and what callings have you had?

22 Responses to Your Favorite Church Calling

  1. Moss on January 13, 2013 at 9:21 PM

    Favorite: Primary Choirster. Fun calling, always felt the spirit, made a difference in how much kids enjoyed church. Got to teach the kids about Jesus through music.

    Least Favorite: Primary Secretary. Too much phone calling, list making and organizing. An important calling, but too much like an actual job.

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  2. whizzbang on January 13, 2013 at 9:55 PM

    Favourite Gospel Doctrine teacher-Love teaching the gospel
    Worst-my calling right now as Ward Mission Leader and I was a primary teacher with a guy who had been a Bishop, he taught all kinds of screwy louie stuff and I hated it every sunday to tag team teach with him. Did that for two years

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  3. Orwell on January 13, 2013 at 10:39 PM

    Favorite: Primary accompanist

    No preparation, no meetings, and no actual interactions with children.

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  4. Tristin on January 13, 2013 at 10:40 PM

    Nursery is the greatest place in the church. I play with toys, I sing songs, I get snacks, I get story time, and the lessons are two minutes long. It is heaven on earth, and all I have to do is make sure the kids don’t kill themselves or each other.

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  5. Douglas on January 13, 2013 at 10:41 PM

    Favorite: Gospel Doctrine Teacher. It’s a challenge to keep the class interested and you get humbled quickly by the knowledge of your fellow members.

    Least Fave: Scouting Coordinator. I did it when my boys were that age. I’ve given my all for “King and Country”. Now that I’m working on grandkids, working with other’s folks boys is not my thing.

    A comment on working in Primary: It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

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  6. Dayle on January 13, 2013 at 11:44 PM

    I’ve only had three callings (joined the church in 2006).
    1. Elders quorum teacher.
    2. Elders quorum 1st counselor
    3. Elders quorum president.

    I loved #1 because it was only a once a month responsibility but it gave me the opportunity to get my gospel feet wet without putting me in danger of drowning. #2 was a great learning experience for me where I learned a lot about the workings of the church and the role of the elders quourm in it. #3, my current calling, is challenging and draining and my quorum has far fewer than 92 elders. We have about 30 active elders with about 75 inactive/prospective elders. Like my other two callings, I’m learning and growing, line by line.

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  7. Hedgehog on January 14, 2013 at 1:46 AM

    #3 I’d love to just be primary accompanist, but the wards I’ve been in and am in just don’t have enough people to make that a separate item. It’s always an add-on (no-one is called), either to primary teacher, or as a presidency member (my current calling) – though I much prefer being sat at the piano to interacting with the children, so insofar as it reduces the interaction I see the add-on as a plus.

    I don’t have a favourite calling (although if there were separate pianist callings to the auxilliaries where I am they would probably qualify). I know people who always love their callings and are very upset to be released, but I have always been glad when the release comes. Whenever I’ve been in a calling for any length of time it becomes formulaic and tedious. I just don’t seem to be able to keep it fresh, and I’m never brimming with enthusiasm to begin with. I think I most enjoyed teaching RS: TFOT and TPTPOC(not the old manuals though), while I was doing it, but that was because the particular group of sisters were wonderful at paricipating in and contributing to discussions. I could see a situation with a different group where I’d hate it.

    Worst calling: has to be YW presidency. I never liked YW as a YW, so to have to serve there afterwards was pretty grim each time.

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  8. AndrewJDavis on January 14, 2013 at 3:01 AM

    I used to say I loved being the Primary Pianist, which is half of my calling right now (the other have leading the music in Primary — my wife and I do both, and switch off who plays and who leads).

    But, I’ve been doing music for the past 5 years now. I love it, I have the ability to do it, it’s not hard for me, but I would love to do something different.

    I did really enjoy teaching Gospel Principles and teaching the Deacons (about the same level as the adult Gospel Principle class for our deacons — very little previous exposure to church topics). Maybe one day I’ll get something other than Music again!

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  9. hawkgrrrl on January 14, 2013 at 5:41 AM

    Favorites: teaching adults. Whether gospel doctrine or relief society, adults have interesting things to say.

    Neutral: teaching primary. It’s OK, but I get tired of constantly repeating myself. But some of the kids’ comments are great. A favorite is when one girl guessed that “lesbianism” was a religion older than Christianity. Older? Yes. Religion? Not so much.

    Worst: Enrichment coordinator or activities committee. Not my cup of tea.

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  10. KT on January 14, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Least: Primary

    Most: No calling at all – allows for better connection with other adults in the ward and allows me to actually focus on self-enrichment and learning and takeaways.

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  11. Paul on January 14, 2013 at 10:43 AM

    Intresting question. I’m not sure I’ve had my favorite calling yet (I think it might be nursery, but I’ve only gotten to sub in there once in a long while). I also loved working in Primary, particularly in music, but also only got to do that as a sub.

    I enjoy teaching, and presently teach two or three times a quarter in my HP group.

    I loved the blessings of being a bishop (twice) — seeing the personal growth in others, offering assistance that really matters to ward members, working with other remarkable people who serve in ward leadership — but I’m not sure one “enjoys” that calling; it was pretty tough phyically and emotionally for me and for my family.

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  12. Usually a lurker on January 14, 2013 at 1:07 PM

    Believe it or not, my favorite church calling might be my current one–Bear den leader. We meet just once a week for an hour, the boys seem happy as long as we do something fun, and it doesn’t take a lot of meeting time/preplanning with other adults because my husband is the scoutmaster and he doesn’t do meetings, just e-mail. And my co-leader is really just a parent helper and has no desire to help plan den meetings. So it’s easy-peasy.

    That said, I don’t really like any callings. As a previous poster said, I’m always happy to get released.

    My worst calling so far has been YW secretary. I’m not very organized, I have issues with some of the focuses of YW (the way modesty is taught just kills me), and I’m a bit socially awkward, so all the activities were a burden. I loved, respected, and admired the YW president, though, so I appreciated the chance to work with her.

    I actually turned down the calling of YW president a few months ago. My husband and I were very, very prayerful about it, but in the end, it just didn’t feel right. And I haven’t regretted turning it down for a moment.

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  13. luman walters on January 14, 2013 at 1:09 PM

    Favorite- Starting a young married couples chalice circle at my Unitarian Universalist Congregation.

    Least Favorite- head of the reedeeming the dead committee at BYU. I didn’t even beleive in God at this point and they asked me to be in charge of planning temple trips. You’d think they would have made sure my temple recommend was valid wouldn’t you?

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  14. KC on January 14, 2013 at 2:00 PM

    Worst: Young Women counselor. I just cannot relate to or stand to be around teenage girls.

    Best: Ward Historian. I think this might be made up. A lot of it is keeping track of things the Ward Clerk already does, but then I also do a small write up once a month of a talk given in Sacrament. Easy job that requires no outside meetings.

    Has anyone else ever had this calling?

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  15. Paul on January 14, 2013 at 2:13 PM

    KC, we’ve had that calling (ward historian) in our ward, too. It’s highly unstructured and very dependent upon local leadership (or the inhibitant of the calling) to define, but it was definitely “in the handbook” when I was in a position to extend callings.

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  16. Paul on January 14, 2013 at 2:14 PM

    #13: What is a chalice circle at your church?

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  17. KC on January 14, 2013 at 2:23 PM

    #15 Thanks Paul. Highly unstructured indeed!

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  18. Mike S on January 14, 2013 at 2:46 PM

    Neutral: YM President – 60-70 YM, extremely busy on Sundays and during the week, grew very close to the boys, tremendously draining on me and my family, still not sure if it was worth it

    Worst: 11-year-old scout leader. I just didn’t like it. At all.

    Best: Currently Primary pianist. We are big enough that we have a Sr Primary and a Jr Primary. So I can sit there for two hours and play the piano, and 99% of the songs I can sight-read, so preparation is minimal. And during the sharing time part, I can sit behind the piano and read on my Kindle. Great gig if you can get it.

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  19. ajax on January 14, 2013 at 3:33 PM

    Best: Course 16-17 Sunday School teacher. Get to be cool with the youth without always nagging them about duty to god, personal progress, scouts etc. No mutual nights either.

    Worst: Anything scouts. Don’t like it. At all.

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  20. NewlyHousewife on January 14, 2013 at 3:38 PM

    In college I wanted to learn how to play the piano just so I could have a music calling for the rest of my life. Sadly I never found the time to take classes, and ended up moving before I could start. But if I ever did, primary will I go (and only then. I can’t stand kids).

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  21. Joey on January 15, 2013 at 3:13 PM

    Favorite: Scoutmaster. Hands down the best calling in the church. I have thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of it from working with the boys and training them to the monthly campouts, plus the friendships I’ve made with the other adult leaders and espeically all the Scouters I’ve been able to rub shoulders with, most of whom are not members of my faith. I hope to be able to keep this calling as long as possible.

    Least Favorite: Probably one of my stints in an Elders Quorum Presidency. I just got tired of always helping people move. One time the only help I could recruit for a move was my best friend who wasn’t even LDS. Now that’s a friend.

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  22. Chad on January 21, 2013 at 2:56 PM

    Favorite: BSA Varsity Coach. Another favorite is Nursery leader.

    Least Favorite: Anything to do with Home Teaching. Trying to convinced grown men that they need to do it doesn’t work.

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