Many are Called: You’re the Bishop (Poll #11)

October 15, 2011

You have a small ward, and it is tough getting enough people to fill all the required callings. During interviews with both your Relief Society President and your Primary President,  they each (on the same night) give you the name of a sister they want to call in their organization.  They both tell you that they have prayed about it, and that they are confident that this is where the Lord wants this sister to serve.

You go home, and pray about it all week, but get no indication one way or the other where the sister should serve. You interpret that as her being equally well fit for either calling.  Both presidents are anxious to get their organizations’ positions filled and are relentless in following up with you.  They both have very strong personalities and do not like to take no for an answer.

You're the bishop. What do you do (Poll #11)

  • Bring both presidents in to discuss the dilemma together, knowing that their personalities may make this challenging. (54%, 58 Votes)
  • Choose one of the two callings at random. Tell the other president she will have to go back to the drawing board. (22%, 24 Votes)
  • Tell both presidents that the sister will stay in her current calling. They both have to go back to the drawing board. (18%, 19 Votes)
  • Put them both off until a better solution presents itself, like another sister moving in to the ward. (6%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 108

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Discuss.

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27 Responses to Many are Called: You’re the Bishop (Poll #11)

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on October 15, 2011 at 3:16 PM

    I’ve been tempted, when serving in lesser places, of course, to suggest that we ask the person which of the places they would prefer to serve.

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  2. Starfoxy on October 15, 2011 at 3:32 PM

    I know there are some exceptions to what I’m about to say*, but primary callings are generally harder to fill, there are more of them, and the costs of them not being filled is far higher than for the RS. So, I would give it to the Primary president.

    *(ie, does the primary really need a second assistant cub scout leader more than the RS needs a teacher?)

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  3. Mike S on October 15, 2011 at 3:45 PM

    This does point out the problem with the general assumption that every calling is the “Lord’s will”. As in this case, what if BOTH presidents feel strongly that it is the “Lord’s will” to have this person. What if a bishop gets a prompting, but the person doesn’t? Or what if it is vice versa?

    I think that at the end of the day, for the majority of callings, it doesn’t really matter who fills that spot. There may be exceptions, but it probably doesn’t matter. So barring any overwhelming feeling one way or the other, I think it doesn’t really matter.

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  4. Chad on October 15, 2011 at 4:18 PM

    I say give her to the Primary. In the end, the women of the RS are going to do what they want to do no matter who fills a calling or who is teaching (the same with the EQ – how many lessons do we need on Home Teaching for it to NOT get done?). I say the YM and YW get primary pick for those they want to serve. Primary is next. RS and EQ next and Sunday School gets the dregs of the ward. :)

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  5. philomytha on October 15, 2011 at 4:40 PM

    Like Stephen M, the first thing that occurred to me was — ask the sister which calling she would prefer.

    But gosh, it’s not one of the poll options. An oversight? Or is it unthinkable for the person being called to have any input?

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  6. NewlyHousewife on October 15, 2011 at 5:11 PM

    And here I was interpreting the “no inspiration” as “no need to make any changes” and call someone else…

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  7. Paul on October 15, 2011 at 5:20 PM

    I voted for their counseling together with you; that seems to be especially in the spirit of recent direction to improve our “counciling” in the church.

    But I also like #6 — maybe “no answer” is like the stupor of thought. My stake president used to tell me that he hadn’t gotten an answer to move forward with a recommendation, so he didn’t think he should move forward.

    That all said, all else being equal, I’d follow another SP’s advice: Primary takes priority.

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  8. Paul 2 on October 15, 2011 at 5:22 PM

    No inspiration=haven’t found right answer yet.
    It is important not to make your ward leaders question their spiritual experiences or feel micromanaged unless there is a good reason to.
    I would give the sister both callings and ask her to calibrate her workload in a way that was consistent with her personal spiritual well-being, family, and work situation. Ask her to try to be sensitive to reasons for this unusual situation and let her know there is no pressure from you to overdo things.

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  9. Stephen Marsh on October 15, 2011 at 5:28 PM

    Or, in a small ward, give her both callings, like Paul 2 said.

    I know my father served as a Bishop and on the District Council (like a high council in an area not quite as organized) for a while in Saudia.

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  10. Jeff Spector on October 15, 2011 at 5:31 PM

    I’ve always believed that there are two reasons to have someone serve in a calling. Either the person can use the experience, or the Lord can use their experience.

    There was no mention of which calling needed to be filled more urgently.

    I like the idea of bringing them in and discussing it. It might help their strong personalities. Other than that, I agree that giving that very capable person to Primary is probably a better choice. But I would always take that to the Lord to ratify that decision.

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  11. Whizzbang on October 15, 2011 at 6:58 PM

    What the Bishop should have done to eliminate this scenario is give both Presidents different lists so there is no overlapping. I do that with Christmas gifts but I don’t see why Church would be any different!

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  12. Alex T. Valencic on October 15, 2011 at 7:01 PM

    It has been my understanding that general policy is to fill callings in the Primary before filling non-presidency roles in other auxiliaries. So I would call the sister to the Primary.

    Sadly, reading the Handbook and seeing what it suggests was not an option.

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  13. jks on October 15, 2011 at 7:31 PM

    I definitely would put her in the calling that needed to be filled more urgently. Either because that calling would be harder to fill with someone else, or because the calling is currently more crucial to the well-being of the ward, or because the other calling has someone who can adequately substitute, etc.
    I very much doubt the bishopric would be completely without opinion on which situation was more dire.

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  14. tosaneara on October 15, 2011 at 8:13 PM

    I have had the experience of being in a small ward, being a leader, and upon hearing that another organization was looking for somebody, automatically wondering who they were going to take from the organization I was over.

    I have made logical choice callings, the job needs done and I know this person will come through callings, and some inspired callings.

    I agree with #3 Mike S.

    Much of the time there is too much emphasis placed on the idea of there being “one right person” for the job. With some callings, this might be the case. For many callings, I don’t believe it really matters. A person can grow and learn from any experience if they want to. Many times I was pleasantly surprised by unexpected performance.

    Just fill the position and go forward….oops, that wasn’t one of the choices. Oh well, the church moves on.

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  15. Georgy on October 15, 2011 at 8:54 PM

    Since that Relief Society President is wearing a tank top, then the Primary President is obviously more righteous and worthy ….

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  16. Last Lemming on October 15, 2011 at 9:12 PM

    I voted for “Choose one at random,” but I don’t really mean that. Mostly, I just vote for making a choice. There are always priorities and the bishop should act with those in mind. I agree with most that those priorities will usually favor the Primary.

    Don’t pass the buck to the two presidents to work it out. That isn’t their job. Don’t assume that no inspiration means no action should be taken. That can be a recipe for paralysis. Sometimes the Lord lets us use our own judgement. Consider the example in D&C 80:3–“Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss.”

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  17. wonderdog on October 16, 2011 at 5:54 AM

    Bring them together. Zion was of “one heart and one mind”.

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  18. john roberts on October 16, 2011 at 9:43 AM

    “You go home, and pray about it all week, but get no indication one way or the other where the sister should serve. You interpret that as her being equally well fit for either calling.”

    That is not how I would have interpreted a lack of spiritual impression. As Elders’ Quorum President, I let a calling in the Elders Quorum go unfilled for years because I could not get a strong confirmation as to who should fill the position.

    Of course, I am no longer EQ President, so there you go.

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  19. Chris on October 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    Hopefully, the bishop would know the sister well enough to recognize–along with the help of his counselors–which calling would be best suited for the sister’s personal circumstances, needs, desires, and talents. I really like the idea of giving her a choice if he is unclear about which calling would best meet her needs.

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  20. Ray on October 16, 2011 at 12:36 PM

    Given the scenario as described, I would talk with the woman and tell that I was considering her for two different callings – and I would mention that I wasn’t getting any inspiration as to if one was where she “should” be. (No passing of the buck by mentioning other people.) I would NOT tell her what those callings were, but I would ask her what calling or organization she would request if she had that option – or if there was an organization in which she did NOT want to serve at that time. If either calling was close to what she said (or if she identified one of the organizations), I would move forward accordingly. If not, I would thank her and let her know that I would let her know if I felt she should serve in one of them or if she should continue serving in whatever calling she currently had.

    Then, I would wait for about a week and, lacking any other insight or inspiration, I would leave her where she was.

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  21. Ray on October 16, 2011 at 12:38 PM

    Perhaps the reason for the multiple requests and inspiration block would be for no other reason than for the woman to know that I and God cared about her and her wishes.

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  22. CS Eric on October 16, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    I like the idea of calling her in and talking with her. Maybe the issue really isn’t one of the callings at all; maybe she has something going on in her life that she needs to talk with the bishop about.

    I remember a couple of years ago, there was a family in our ward who was struggling financially because of the husband’s huge medical bills. That was not a secret. What was a secret was how bad off they really were. As soon as my wife found out that the kids were only getting second-hand stuff for Christmas, she turned the bishop on to them. The family got a food order, their utilities paid, and the kids got at least one new present each for Christmas.

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  23. All_Black on October 16, 2011 at 5:24 PM

    “They both tell you that they have prayed about it, and that they are confident that this is where the Lord wants this sister to serve.”

    Here lies the error imho. The presidents ‘Recomend’ people for callings while bishoprics actually ‘Call’ them. So it is incorrect for a primary president or R/S president to say that they prayed and know or believe they know where Lord wants the sister to serve. All the inspiration that they will recieve is for ‘who’ to recommend.

    Therefore all four options are really incorrect, since it is up to the bishopric to call the sister to where they feel the Lord wants her. If no answer is received by the bishop ,as in the OP, then she shouldn’t be called to any position, so maybe one could answer 3 as the closest to being right however I’d interpret no answer as ‘no calling at all’ answer.

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  24. Ray on October 16, 2011 at 8:18 PM

    #23 – There is nothing wrong with auxiliary presidents praying about their recommendations and feeling like those recommendations are inspired. It’s what they are asked to do.

    They just need to understand it ultimately isn’t their call (and that, sometimes, there are legitimate reasons why someone who might be the perfect person for a calling doesn’t get that calling extended to her) – and the OP recognizes that. I’ve had that experience – where I was absolutely confident of revelation relating to a calling that needed to be extended but then discovered that the person simply needed the opportunity to talk with someone about a calling even though he couldn’t serve in it at the time. That experience has made me much more open to “conflicting answers to prayer” being real, legitimate revelation despite the conflict.

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  25. Will on October 16, 2011 at 10:23 PM

    This is an easy one. The bishop is the only one that holds the keys and his decision is his to make.

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  26. jks on October 17, 2011 at 12:22 AM

    Will – of course it is his decision….but he can decide how best to make that decision.

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  27. All_Black on October 17, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    #24 “There is nothing wrong with auxiliary presidents praying about their recommendations and feeling like those recommendations are inspired. ”

    Absolutely. They just need to understand that it is in relation to ‘whom to recommend’ because the calling is the bishopric’s to decide.

    And I agree with the last part too; I’ve also had cases where I felt to recommend someone and it was just so the Bishop could interview them where a big sin was confessed.

    The Lord does work in mysterious ways.

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