Refusing Callings

By: hawkgrrrl
September 6, 2011

When is it proper to refuse a church calling?  In a strictly voluntary church (well, nearly so – wink, wink), is it ever proper to decline to accept a calling?  What does it mean to magnify your calling?  Are there other things that prevent people from fulfilling their callings (aside from being a slacker)?

In the 2002 October General Conference, Dallin Oaks said:

“I often hear about members who refuse Church callings or accept callings and fail to fulfill their responsibilities. Some are not committed and faithful. It has always been so. But this is not without consequence . . . My brothers and sisters, if you are delinquent in commitment, please consider who it is you are refusing or neglecting to serve when you decline a calling or when you accept, promise, and fail to fulfill.”

*Note that E. Oaks said “SOME” are not committed and faithful, and doubtless this does apply to some.  The talk was ostensibly about commitment, so his not listing other reasons to decline callings or fail to perform doesn’t constitute a lack of awareness that they exist.

Personally, I think lack of commitment or faithfulness is probably more linked to failure to perform an accepted calling that refusal to take on a calling.  Here are some other reasons I can think of that people turn down callings:

  1. Pride.  The calling is not sexy or grand enough.  They want something they like better or nothing at all.  The calling is an insult to their superior gifts.  They could “do so much more.”  Some people like to shop or barter for the callings they want.
  2. Humility or Perfectionism.  The calling is intimidating.  They believe they will not be adequate to the task.  They perceive their limitations, and feel it’s a disservice to accept the calling.  Often the response is to trust that the calling is inspired (therefore the Lord will make up for the lack of talent or other limitations) or that the limitations are not of concern to the leader extending the calling and to “do your best.”
  3. Exhaustion, Stress, Personal Circumstances.   This should be obvious.  A calling shouldn’t endanger your health, marriage or family relationships.

When it comes to failing to “magnify,” as I think about my own or others’ poor performance in some callings, I can think of several reasons for that (I’ll add Oaks’ 2 reasons here):

  1. Lack of commitment.  OK, so some people are slackers.  Let’s be honest.  People say they will do things and don’t.  People forget.  Teachers blow off their assignments and don’t get a substitute.  This happens a lot, especially in callings that require weekly or frequent commitments.  And home & visiting teaching, too, obviously.  Let he among us who has not slacked cast the first stone.
  2. Lack of faithfulness.  Rather than pointing to lack of faith in general (which could exist also), I think this often relates more to lack of faith in that calling’s importance.  For example, some HT and VTers don’t believe in the program or dislike being visited, and therefore assume others will, too.
  3. People pleasers / lack of courage.  It’s easier to slack off later than it is to look someone in the eye and say no.  Saying no is more courageous than saying yes without meaning it.
  4. Interpersonal conflicts.  Well-intentioned people might disagree about how to get things done.  If they can’t work things out, personality clashes can cause committees to fail or status quo to prevail (I sound like Jesse Jackson!)  People can check out or deliberately not get behind an idea they don’t like to prove the other person wrong when the idea fails (which it will without buy in!)
  5. Ward level bureaucracy / poor leadership.  Some callings are frankly nebulous with little instruction.  Some wards get bogged down in bureaucracy and require all decisions to be made by the bishop. Sometimes people are not given resources or budget to do the calling properly.  Ward goals may not exist.  People with no clue might be given a calling they don’t understand and not given any instructions.
  6. Lack of resources.  I know I mentioned it, but lack of resources are not always due to leadership or bureaucracy.  There are some callings more people feel free to turn down.  When I was nursery leader, it look a long time to fill our open nursery worker positions, and absenteeism was also higher because workers couldn’t come in if they were sick.  And something about being in the nursery contributed to the perceived or actual sick rate of our helpers.
  7. Personal circumstances.  There may be conflicts due to work or family commitments.  People might have crumbling marriages, difficult parenting situations, mental issues, or any other number of hidden problems that emerge while trying to fulfill a calling.  People might be asked to teach under circumstances they find impossible (for example, teach something they don’t believe or dealing with a class size or age group that is particularly challenging for them).

Given that those who do callings are 100% voluntary, I think we could also do a better job motivating people, maybe even some additions to the CHI to make these more common practice.  Here are some of the best things I’ve seen done:

  1. Up front time limits.  This is generally true for bishops (5 years), and often a rule of thumb for auxilliary heads (2 years is common).  Many wards want to move people in and out of callings annually, or even every six months!  Some let people languish in a calling for what feels like an eternity.  When I accepted the nursery leader calling I was told one year.  It ended up being just north of that, but close; it felt like an eternity, though.
  2. More frequent praise.  I know we aren’t doing what we’re doing to be “seen of men,” but knowing that you are on the right track is better than toiling in the dark.  Often, it feels like once you accept a calling, you never hear from them again unless they want to release you or correct you.
  3. Track time to fill callings.  I’ve never seen a ward do this, but I think it’s an interesting idea for the church as a whole.  Some callings are hard to fill because of the type of calling they are, and some bishops have a hard time getting people to accept because they make it impossible to feel appreciated or effective.  And some wards have more people who don’t want to volunteer.  But it would be interesting to track!  Mostly I just like stats.
  4. Training.  Teach leaders how to set goals, manage a ward budget, use committees to make decisions, and basically how to lead volunteers.  I know we emphasize the inspiration/revelation part of callings with leaders, which is great, but there’s a human aspect to leading people who are unpaid and doing these things out of the goodness of their hearts that I think is very relevant.  Without it, leaders are left to rely on guilt trips to motivate.  Also, the controlling behaviors of some leaders can make it impossible to be successful in some callings.  Magnifying your calling implies making it your own as well, not just being someone’s puppet.
  5. Continue to winnow down the callings.  OK, they often start out as a great idea, but some callings are tough to justify based on any actual meaningful contribution.  I guess keep the peripheral callings that are easy to fill, but get rid of the ones that hog resources and are tough to fill (like activities and enrichment committees – I know some will disagree with me on this one).  I think the church is aware of this and working to remedy it.

What do you think?  Do you ever turn down callings, and if so, for what reasons?  If you failed to “magnify” a calling, why did that happen?  What suggestions above do you like?  What other suggestions would you add?  What times limits do you think should apply to callings?  Discuss.

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37 Responses to Refusing Callings

  1. salt h2o on September 6, 2011 at 4:49 AM

    It seems almost like a tradition that when a newly married woman moves into a ward, she gets called to the nursery. After my husband and I were recently married, we moved into our new home, and when I met the bishop I told him I’d be delighted to serve in any calling, except the nursery- because I’d like to have children some day and if I served in the nursery it would post pone that process.

    Two months later they asked me if I’d accept a calling to serve in the nursery. This upset me for a few reasons, I said I’d think about it- and because of external circumstances, didn’t show up for church for 5 weeks and they filled the position with someone else because it needed to be filled.

    That’s the thing about callings, not all callings are inspired- work needs to be done and someone needs to do it. I was the wrong person for that job.

    The funny thing is- I’d love to serve in the nursery now. (I’ve got the next best thing, Sunbeams)

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  2. Aaron R. on September 6, 2011 at 5:38 AM

    I have never turned down a calling, yet. However, I can think of a few callings that I would turn down if they asked me in the next year or so. I just would not have the time and I have other priorities.

    With that said, I believe that accepting callings (at least most) even if it is difficult is important. There is value in sacrificing for the other people in your community.

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  3. Stephen M (Ethesis) on September 6, 2011 at 6:11 AM

    work needs to be done and someone needs to do it Isn’t that the truth.

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  4. Paul on September 6, 2011 at 6:14 AM

    Having been on both sides of the calling fence (extending and receiving), I have to say that I have always welcomed a discussion of people’s limitations when a calling is extended. My father advised me not to turn down a calling, but to be free with my concerns and conflicts when it’s extended. (“Did you know that I’m starting graduate school next week? I’ll be at school studying and working 16 hours a day. I wonder if this is the right time to teach seminary?”)

    When extending callings we often try first to learn more about a person’s situation and ability to serve. My goal, frankly, was to avoid having to put someone in the position of saying no. (I never sensed that someone refused a calling because of pride or lack of commitment.)

    That said, sometimes I felt strongly that a person should be called and that person was reluctant. I tried to assess why and to help resolve concerns if I could, and to offer help.

    Your suggestion about pre-agreed timing is a good one. Missionaries and mission presidents are called that way, too.

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  5. Kevin Barney on September 6, 2011 at 8:37 AM

    The only calling I’ve turned down has been seminary (twice), as it was inconsistent with my long commute by train into the City of Chicago.

    Just last Wednesday by wife turned down a calling as Webelos leader. She already teaches a primary class, and is fairly new with that class, as she had been both a Sunday teacher and Achievement girls leader. Doing both Sunday and Wednesday night was too much for her, so they gave her a primary class on Sunday without the Wednesday commitment. But it’s as if they forgot all of that and tried to call her into the same dynamic like two months later (she wouldn’t be released from her primary class, just add the Webelos gig on top of it).

    She was a Webelos leader once before and loved the calling, but her circumstances have changed. Then she was totally stay at home and had ample time; now she’s gone full time for work and school, and the stress of having to prepare projects and activities every Wednesday on top of teaching her Sunday class would be way too much.

    She had my complete support in turning the calling down, and she’ll just continue with her primary class. There was a time when she wouldn’t have had the confidence to turn down a calling, but those days are over, and she’s more willing to stand up and protect herself. which is actually good for her long-term engagement with the Church.

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  6. Jeff Spector on September 6, 2011 at 8:51 AM

    Mt experience is pretty much the same as Paul. Having been on both sides of the issue. When I was extending calling, I usually try to discuss the person’s situation. If it appeared to be adverse to the calling, I just did not extend it. And I usually didn’t tell them what it was either. if I felt to extend it, I tried to allay their fears about time, ability, etc.

    I’ve nver personally turned down a calling, but one did get delayed because we thought we might be moving. But we didn’t and I received the same calling a few months later. I did encourage my wife to turn on down a calling because both she and I didn’t think it was right at the time given circumstances that we knew.

    I think people need to determine for themselves whether they turn down a calling or not. They, alone know their circumstances better than anyone, inspired or not. But, it should be for a good reason.

    This idea that we never turn down a calling no matter what is just silly and a guilt generator.

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  7. Coffinberry on September 6, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    Yes, the times I’ve “turned down” callings have been more along the lines of “you do know I’m already doing x, y, and z” usually in a stake position outside the ward.

    My challenge right now, though, is seeing that everyone who wants a calling has one. We have mega many more sisters than callings available. (that’s the beauty of those committees) Everyone needs a chance to grow and to serve.

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  8. anon on September 6, 2011 at 9:49 AM

    I’ve always been happy to accept callings, but have never been asked to serve in a scouting position. I strongly oppose the church’s connection with the BSA, and would have a really hard time serving in that area. So that’s the test I haven’t had to face yet…

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  9. Nick Literski on September 6, 2011 at 10:01 AM

    OP:
    The calling is not sexy or grand enough. They want something they like better or nothing at all.

    #7:
    My challenge right now, though, is seeing that everyone who wants a calling has one…Everyone needs a chance to grow and to serve.

    I would caution a bit with regard to the above statements. During my 26 years in the LDS church, I never declined a calling. At one point, however, I served in a married student ward where the “everyone must have a calling” sentiment prevailed. Accordingly, my youthful EQ president sat me down after church one day, and in his most solemn, reverent tones, let me know that it was the desire of deity that I serve as the “Elders’ Quorum Hymn Book Coordinator.” For those who’ve never heard of this calling, this translates as “guy who puts the hymn books away after priesthood meeting, ’cause some elders are too lazy to put their hymn books back on the cart.”

    I accepted this “calling,” but I must confess I wasn’t fully diligent in performing its vital duties. Oddly enough, I’m almost certain that I would have been more reliable, had the EQ president pulled me aside one afternoon, and said “Hey Nick, we’ve had complaints. Would you do me a favor, and just making sure the hymn books get put away after meetings?”

    Granted, pride can raise its ugly head when a calling isn’t “impressive” enough for the recipient’s ego. (When I worked as full-time security for the Nauvoo Temple, I saw a few wealthy senior missionaries become indignant and refuse to take their assigned turns at simple housekeeping tasks, such as vacuuming.) On the other hand, inventing callings for the sake of “everyone needs a calling” really can reach a point of injury. I didn’t have the greatest self-esteem at that point in time, and it wasn’t particularly helpful to be given the impression that the only thing deity considered me useful for was picking up hymn books.

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  10. Martin on September 6, 2011 at 11:59 AM

    I have never turned down a calling, and I have tried to do my best even when my calling was something I didn’t enjoy or was of dubious value. Having served in a bishopric, I know that not every calling comes from the Lord. Some of the more faithful members are serving in busier or multiple callings not because the Lord specifically wanted them, but because the job needs to be filled, and those members faithfully fill them. I personally fall in this category more often than not, but I also feel that in accepting the calling and dedicating my service to the Lord, that He will consecrate my efforts, whether or not He was the one who selected me.

    I do believe there are times when it’s appropriate to refuse calling, but I’ve also been on the extending side and had a member give legitimate reasons to refuse a calling that I was sure was from the Lord. I think refusing was a mistake. I think that member missed out on an opportunity to come closer to the Lord and do some real good.

    Personally, I’m not sure any of the suggestions for improving people’s attitudes towards callings would really help — I’d even replace “more frequent praise” with simply expressing more gratitude. I think we have to keep teaching people to look for the hand of the Lord to assist them in their efforts to serve and be patient.

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  11. Starfoxy on September 6, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    My goal, frankly, was to avoid having to put someone in the position of saying no.
    This is something I agree with very strongly. I’ve heard it suggested that before saying “We’d like to call you to ____” you first say, we need someone to serve in the _____, and wanted to talk to you about it.” At that point the person in question can bring up whatever they think needs discussing. If after a good talk you still feel prompted to extend the calling then do so.

    I also think that leaders being honest with ward members can be very helpful. Being willing to admit when calls are extended out of necessity or desperation can go a long way towards preventing you from being “The Bishop who cried ‘inspiration!’”

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  12. Georgy on September 6, 2011 at 12:51 PM

    I have turned down “Activities Day Leader” about 5 times now. They needed me to be available at 3pm every Wednesday. I told them with my work schedule, I could come at 5pm. So much for understanding working women….

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  13. Jeff Spector on September 6, 2011 at 1:31 PM

    I think sometimes we confuse “lightening bolt” inspiration with the quiet assurance that the Lord endorses OUR choice. This is the way I saw much inspiration while determining callings. At some times, it was very obvious who the Lord wanted in a a position. But it was still after a discussion and prayer. In other cases, I felt “OK’ with the choice. At other times, it didn’t seem right. And in still other cases, the Bishop of Stake President overrode the whole decision.

    Just like there is not usually one spouse choice, there are multiple people who could potentially fill a calling. Luckily, I never had to call a “Hymnbook Coordinator,” though I did make myself one during another callign i had.

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  14. Coffinberry on September 6, 2011 at 1:42 PM

    “ward where the “everyone must have a calling” sentiment prevailed.”

    Oh, fear not. I am very much in the camp of not everyone has to have a calling. The issue is that those who want to serve have a meaningful opportunity to serve and grow. Handbook 2 emphasizes that “callings” are not the only place in which service and growth can be found.

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  15. Paul on September 6, 2011 at 2:25 PM

    #13 Jeff: On the matter of SP overrides — I had more than one instance where I as a bishop at the time recommended names to the stake president only to have them rejected (this happened quite often). It was quite frustrating to me sometimes as I had really worked on the inspiration.

    In some cases, I really believe I was inspired to consider the person so I would be more mindful of him or her, despite the SP’s determination they should not serve.

    In at least one case, because of the nature of the assignment, I’d discussed the matter with the person involved before going to the stake, and the SP said no. Only later did we learn that this person’s father had cancer and this person had to be directly involved in his care — something she could not have done with the calling. She found the SP’s inspiriation to be faith promoting.

    In another case, the SP agreed, but the person said no. Only months later did I learn of complications in that person’s life that made serving very difficult. But having been considered was very important to him and to our relationship.

    While I suppose that sometimes the extending of a calling is so much logic and filling of slots, but I think quite often the Lord’s hand is in the details in ways we may not see at first.

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  16. Jeff Spector on September 6, 2011 at 3:41 PM

    Paul,

    I can tell you that I never disagreed with my Bishop or SP’s override on a calling. It could be simply faith that they somehow knew better or had just that little bit more inspiration (for which they were entitled). It can be frustrating when we were really sure of the inspiration that we received personally.

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  17. Paul on September 6, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Jeff, only once did I actually say out loud, “President, have you prayed about this?” To his credit, my remarkable stake president said, “I’ll pray again.” The ansewr didn’t change.

    I recognize that my SP at the time was truly one who waits upon the Lord. He did not move without spiritual confirmation. He told me once, when I asked why a name had been rejected, “The spirit tells me yes or no. It does not tell me why.” I have never personally known as humble a servant as he was.

    So, I agree with you. While I may have been disappointed, I never disagreed. And I learned a great deal in the process.

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  18. Brad on September 6, 2011 at 4:16 PM

    Last year I turned down my very first calling. My wife had just been called to be an auxillary president, and I had recently been released from my calling. I was soon asked to work with the scouts. I strongly felt that given my wife’s new responsibilities, I didn’t want the extra stress of being required to be at church each Wednesday, as well as making sure the kids got to their activities that night.

    Could I have done it? Of course. But I had little desire to do it. Was it an inspired calling? I don’t know. But I know I didn’t want to do it. I’ve swallowed my unease at many callings before, but I didn’t have the desire to do it now.

    I don’t feel bad about this decision. I totally get that the work has to be done. But I’ve become a little jaded now. I think there’s too much unnecessary work to be done. We really need to scale back on the time commitment required from members.

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  19. hawkgrrrl on September 6, 2011 at 5:46 PM

    Nick – I agree that “makework” callings are a waste of people’s good will. That’s my view. But I have known people who very clearly told the bishop that unless they were in a leadership calling (e.g. auxilliary head, HPGL, etc.) the bishop was wasting their talents. To me that’s just being a jackass.

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  20. CatherineWO on September 6, 2011 at 6:43 PM

    I had to turn down some callings when my children were young and my husband was serving in stake callings (high council and then in the stake presidency) simply because it would have been impossible for both of us to fulfill our callings and still have anyone available to care for our children.
    I wish it were acceptable to volunteer for a particular calling, not out of pride, but because of personal and family circumstances. I was serving as our ward Primary president many years ago when the Church announce the change to the 3-hour Sunday block. That required a lot of changes in the Primary organization, one of the most difficult being the organization of the nursery. My counselors and I suggested several different names for this position, but they were all either not approved by the bishop or turned down the calling when asked. Finally, I suggested that I be released and put in that position. The bishop was hesitant at first, but then agreed. I loved putting together that first nursery and working with those children (one of whom was my own) and have often thought since then that there may be other times when it would be appropriate for people to just volunteer.

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  21. Rigel Hawthorne on September 6, 2011 at 6:57 PM

    I was once extended a calling the afternoon following an 24 hour hospital shift as an intern, and I was totally wiped out. At that moment (the schedule allowed me to be at church only one Sunday that month) it seemed to me like an impossible situation to accept. So I protested enough until the priesthood leader told me he would take the calling off the table. Had I really understood more about making the calling work, I probably wouldn’t have protested to the point that I did, but I didn’t have the experience to know. Also (in my exhausted state) I didn’t communicate my concerns well, nor did the priesthood leader reassure me with the right pieces of information. I should have taken a few days to rest and to pray about it, but it was not a good moment. Following that interview, I dozed through most of Sacrament Meeting.

    As it turned out, I got a different calling a couple of weeks later that seemed like it would be more manageable, and as I was feeling like I needed to say yes, I accepted it. After all was said and done, I think, ironically, the first calling would have resulted in less overall time and complexity. I enjoyed the calling that I accepted, but the time factor during those residency years was a challenge. The person who did get called to the position that I was first approached about ended up doing a fantastic job.

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  22. Ray on September 6, 2011 at 9:32 PM

    I have never said no directly to a calling, but I have explained my situation, told the person that I honestly didn’t feel like I could “magnify” the calling and said that I would be willing to do what I could to hold down the fort until someone was available who could magnify it. I also have explained that I wasn’t sure how long I would be in the area and might not be able to serve for very long in the calling.

    I believe deeply in talking about situations and limitations and concerns before “extending” the calling. I also believe that it is perfectly acceptable to choose not to take something that is extended – and that the ultimate choice HAS to belong to the person being asked to serve.

    If I believed in leadership infallibility, I would see this differently – but I don’t, and that is critical for me.

    Like Paul in #15, I have had experiences with absolute revelation in extending a calling only to have the person not accept the call ater we talked about it and his situation at the time. I’m cool with that, since I did the best I could in my responsibility – but I just don’t believe there is anything one adult MUST do simply because another adult asks.

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  23. Ray on September 6, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    I forgot to add that there have been two cases where the calling was not extended to me based on the conversation and another case where it was postponed until I knew if I would be moving or not.

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  24. CS Eric on September 6, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    I have turned down two callings in my life: the first was primary pianist when I was in High School (back when Primary was during the week) because my after-school schedule was very busy. I have since repented of that, and have been the primary pianist in a long line of wards and branches.
    The other one was as a counselor in a branch presidency. My wife had medical problems that leadership wasn’t aware of, so even though I turned down that calling, it did open the door for my wife to get some support from the Church that she would not have had the courage to ask for. I have since been taken off the “leadership track” and am firmly entrenched in the “music track.”

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  25. hawkgrrrl on September 6, 2011 at 10:31 PM

    I seem to be on the teacher track, but at least I graduated from the scouting track.

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  26. LBK on September 6, 2011 at 11:56 PM

    I have a very strong testimony that there are times one should turn down a calling.

    I have brother in law that prides himself on never turning down a call. He also hates, detests, abhors, despises, loathes

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  27. LBK on September 7, 2011 at 12:41 AM

    Sorry sent it too soon. I’ll try once again.

    I have a very strong testimony that there are times one should turn down a calling

    I have a brother in law that prides himself on never turning down a calling. He also hates, abhors, detests, loathes, despised and intensely dislikes hiking and camping. Roughing it is a three star hotel without a hot tub in the room. He was, of course called to be Scout Leader.

    Basketball became a scouting activity and his crowning achievement was being able to cut Scout Camp from 6 days to 4.

    The aggravsating thing is that he magnified every other calling he undertook. This was just beyond him. He warned the Bishop, but he took the calling

    I once had a very good speaking voice. I could not sing, those attempts I made at it could kill voles at 60 feet and scare children for hundreds more. It was not quite a calling, but the Bishop told us if the choir director asked us to join the choir to please do so. Well I was asked just as sacrament meeting was breaking. My wife broke into paroxysms of laughter I’m sure she was heard throughout the building. I couldn’t blame her because she had heard me try to sing, but the ignomy of having to tell others why she laughed so hard was a bit much.

    I very genteely declined to join the choir, which put my wife in another fit of mirth.

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  28. faithless trombonist on September 7, 2011 at 7:28 AM

    I remember once I moved into an off-campus BYU ward just for the summer until I could move back into the apartment I had come from, which was undergoing repairs. At the time, I was [practically] engaged to a girl from a different ward, so social participation and desire to even be there was close to null (this was a notoriously effective match-making sort of BYU ward). This ward had one of those “tell us about yourself” forms you had to fill in your first week. The form asked for, among other things, my major and minor. My minor was Music (I sang in the choir and played the trombone in a few bands at BYU). I was called in a few weeks later to meet with the second counselor, who extended the calling of ward organist to me. I tried explaining to the man that while I could indeed read music (although the treble clef takes some work), I did not, in fact, even play the piano let alone the organ and thus could not accept the calling. For those non-musical types out there, this is roughly analogous to asking an experienced and knowledgeable Gospel Doctrine teacher to come and teach the new Spanish branch. The counselor told me that the Lord would provide if I would just have faith. How do you respond to that? I told him okay, we shook hands, and I never attended that ward again. Now perhaps I missed out on an opportunity to learn a completely new instrument, that the Almighty who could part the Red Sea and touch stones to make them glow would indeed reach down and instill a new talent into my hands over the course of a couple of weeks. But it seemed more likely to me that the last ward organist happened to be a trombone player whom I knew as well, and the bishopric just assumed that one thing equals the other and figured I could do it, too, no problem.

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  29. Jeff Spector on September 7, 2011 at 11:27 AM

    LBK,

    ” I could not sing, those attempts I made at it could kill voles at 60 feet”

    We have a vole problem. I could use your help…. :D

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  30. Heber13 on September 7, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    I’ve never turned down a calling, and always tried to be responsible because I don’t feel good about myself if I flake out, even when personal circumstances are hard.

    However, I felt I had to approach the bishop, saying my focus needs to be at home, and he released me. That was about 24 months ago. I was later called to primary, then released. Then Sunday School teacher and released. I currently have no calling.

    I could be offended, and kind of feel like they really don’t need me or are judging me, but honestly, I think they are trying to respect my needs. The problem is sometimes once you voice a “need” or “concern” … that sticks in your file, and can become an assumption about faith or commitment over time.

    So, you can say no to a calling…but you’ll never erase it from your record (OK, there isn’t really a file). But since the bishop is the only one privy to the talks behind close doors, others don’t always know why some people are serving, called, released, or not serving. It is probably natural to think judgments are made about faithfulness.

    Truth is, I don’t really care to fight for a perception or to be on some list for callings. I figure, if they care to ask me to help, I will help if I can. If not…football season is starting, and I’m just fine with my Sunday afternoons to myself.

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  31. hawkgrrrl on September 7, 2011 at 5:55 PM

    While I’ve never (yet) asked to be released, I have prayed to be released from a calling. I figure that’s a pretty direct way of asking, right?

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  32. LovelyLauren on September 7, 2011 at 7:34 PM

    I haven’t ever refused a calling (not that I’ve been extended very many, I’m quite young) but I have asked to be released. I spent several months in primary and I started dreading going to church. I was working two jobs at the time, and one of them was with children. I just couldn’t spend another day of the week without adult interaction.

    I don’t understand why so many Bishops like to call newlyweds into primary when we’re all in school and working. I felt so isolated and I didn’t know any of the women in my ward after six months there and the clipboard never got down to the primary basement so I didn’t know when activities were either. Give primary callings to the old ladies who already have friends.

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  33. Brian on September 8, 2011 at 8:16 AM

    I have been inactive in the church for about a year. It was a lengthy process. When I quit attending church, I told the bishop that I didn’t want to talk but I would let him know when I was ready. Two months ago, I finally sat down and told him my issues. I told of all of the issues on the shelf and how they finally became overwhelming. I called Joseph Smith a liar and a charlatain. We talked about the Book of Abraham, Zelph and other things which I feel illustrate his creativity. At the end of the meeting, I felt he had to know what I felt about the church.

    A few weeks after our meeting, he called me on the phone and said he had something he wanted me to do. He is a long-time friend and so I told him I would meet with him as long as what he wanted me to do had nothing to with furthering the mission of the church. He sounded perplexed but said it didn’t. Knowing I would not agree to do anying, I met with him because he is a friend and he sounded very anxious to meet with me. At the meeting, he told me of how right this calling felt and he proceeded to call me as the Gospel Essentials teacher. After processing this bizarre request, I told him that I told think he fully understands my feelings about the church. I told him that not only not coming back to church but that I don’t want my funeral held in an LDS church.

    This ward has no desperate shortage of people. The bishop wanted me to teach those investigating the church and the recently baptized after I had told him JS was a liar. I turned him down because it was a stupid idea.

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  34. Geoff - A on September 9, 2011 at 4:13 AM

    The only people in our ward who I;ve seen publicly praised are the Aaronic p’hood after passing the sacrament,
    Choirs no matter how bad they are, especially if they are american,
    the bishops wife after someone complained about her behaviour.

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  35. ESO on September 9, 2011 at 7:06 AM

    Lovely, Lauren–I suppose the issue is more one of being new to the ward, than being newly married. I too feel sorry for new people who are called directly into Primary/Nursery, because it can be very issolating. Surely there may be some “new marrieds” who have more of a life than “old ladies”–I don’t think you can judge that those who already know people in the ward do not need the support of sitting in Relief Society. You don’t know what is going on in their lives enough to say that. And, of course, men should teach in Primary as often as women do.

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  36. Michael on September 9, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    “And, of course, men should teach in Primary as often as women do.”

    You evil wench! I hate Primary!

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  37. shamaria on March 17, 2014 at 3:45 PM

    I need prayers everyday

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