Okay, so this post is not going to be all doctrinally deep. I am not going to pull long quotes (or even short ones). I am just going to tell you a little bit about callings and how this is currently applying to my life.
But first, a completely unrelated story:
We were traveling a couple hours from our house to an amusement park on Saturday and, for miles and miles of country road we were in line behind a fuel truck and two vans full of teenagers. We spent some time debating: church vans or youth correctional facilities vans? We never knew.
Anyway, the teenagers in the van directly in front of us were completely oblivious to our existence because, why would they notice the people in the Suburban behind them?
But then . . . the did. Well, they didn’t notice us really, just him.
We were stuck at railroad tracks when, out of boredom, one of the girls in the back seat of the van casually looked over her shoulder and then just didn’t stop looking. She tapped the girl next to her and motioned for her to turn around as well. So there we were, at the railroad tracks, with two teenage girls openly ogling my husband, smiling coyly, and totally ignoring the wife sitting right next to him.
After the line of traffic had been moving again for a few minutes, the girls apparently thought subtlety was the better part of valor (or somebody responsible told the to turn around) because they finally turned around. But then? They popped open the back windows of the van and stuck their hands out so they could wave at him and motion for him to keep following their van.
I realize now I should have just leaned over and started making out with him at the railroad tracks. Or maybe held up a sign that said: Comes With Rude Dog.
Anyway, on to the topic of the day:
We have no paid ministry in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In fact, we have no paid anyone. Well, I guess we do have facilities management people here and there who are paid, but basically, on a congregational level, nobody is paid. But? Everybody is expected to do something to keep the congregation running.
I have talked before about our belief in personal revelation, and this is a key element to the staffing of the Bishopric and auxiliaries. Without giving you the whole flow chart of how it all comes down from the top, let me just say: it all comes down from the top. The prophet and the apostles pray about who should fill positions in lower levels (like large regional levels), and those folks then prayerfully select people to fill positions in lower levels (smaller regional levels), and so on. So somebody one level up (Stake Presidency) prayerfully selects a bishop or branch president (and that person, by the way, has to be approved by higher ups in Salt Lake City before being officially called), and then the bishop is called.
And that is what we call it: a calling. The bishop is then responsible for the staffing of his congregation, so he, along with his counselors, prayerfully chooses people to fill roles in the auxiliaries. The key is the prayer. But maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. I’ll tell you some personal experiences that will hopefully explain it a little better.
I have held many callings in the church, but for the purposes of this discussion, I’m going to talk about times I’ve served as an auxiliary president. I have served as a Relief Society president three times, which means three times I have had to prayerfully select counselors to serve in the presidency with me, a secretary, teachers, and other women to fully staff our Relief Society (not that those already in these positions automatically go, just the previous counselors automatically go, though they can be called back). See, the president prays about counselors and then submits the names to the bishopric/branch presidency for approval, and the bishop or one of his counselors then extends the calling to the person. Once the presidency is in place, they are responsible for keeping the auxiliary running and prayerfully keeping it staffed.
Anyway, here is my point: each “job” in the church truly is a calling. It’s not just people randomly choosing other people to do stuff. I have had enough experiences to know that, as long as everybody involved is sincerely trying to do His will, the Lord tells those with the stewardship who they need to call.
Each time I have been called as a Relief Society president I have known, before I even knew the calling was coming, who one of the counselors would be. The first time I was just lying in bed, trying to go to sleep, when all of the sudden the thought popped into my mind, “So and so is going to be the next education counselor. Hmm. Interesting. And why am I thinking about this?” Within a couple of days I was called as the president and had to select counselors.
The second time, I was sitting in the very first sacrament meeting of a brand new congregation that had a branch presidency and nothing else as far as organization. As one sister was bearing her testimony I was struck with a sure knowledge that she was going to the be the homemaking counselor (I’m dating myself for those in the terminology know). I immediately knew what was coming. The branch president called within a day or two to meet with me. When we met he said, “I suppose you know why I want to talk with you?” and I said I did. Then he asked me if I knew who my counselors were to be, and I told him I knew one of them. We talked for several minutes before he finally said, “Well, I suppose we should make this official. You are being called to be the Relief Society president,” and I said, “yes, I know.”
And I did know. I knew it deep in my bones, without him even officially saying it. And he knew that I knew it. And we both knew these things so clearly, so surely, without even saying it out loud, because it was a calling from the Lord, and we were both very much in tune with what He was saying needed to be done.
The third time was similar. I was sitting at a dinner and suddenly knew who the next education counselor would be, and BAM! I was the Relief Society president.
I am leaving out a lot, like the praying mightily to know who my other counselor was supposed to be each time, to know who the secretary for our presidency was to be each time, etc. But I know that callings come from the Lord. It isn’t necessarily because we are the best person for the job, but it is because, at that time, we are the right person for the job. I am so grateful for this, because I have learned so much, and been blessed so much by the many different callings I have had.
See? Not very deep doctrine, no?
Anyway, this has all been on my mind because . . . drum roll please . . .
NO! I am not being called as the Relief Society president for our congregation.
Last week, however, I was called as the Primary president.
So, all’s good. I have counselors, but no secretary. Since we are a small branch, we can probably do without the secretary. We have an almost full staff of teachers, but we do need to pray about filling one teacher slot and a nursery assistant slot. Other than that, we’re good.
Except . . . . the primary program is in a few weeks. This means it was suddenly up to me to come up with an entire church service to be presented by the 3-11- year-old children. Naturally that caused me no small amount of panic because, other than my own kids? I wouldn’t say I’m a small kid kind of person. It’s not that I don’t like them, it’s just that I have a hard time “making things small” as my one counselor said today. I liked that description. I don’t speak little kid very well.
I’m bound to learn loads from this calling.
So, anyway, panic. But I prayed about it and prayed about it, and, really, didn’t have to pray all that much, and this whole program just kind of flowed into my brain one day while I was in the shower. The outline, the structure, all of it, just came to me as if some higher power were downloading information straight into my brain.
Which, of course, is pretty much what personal revelation is. And when you have the calling that puts you in charge of coming up with the program, you are entitled to that personal revelation.
It’s a beautiful thing.
And George, if you’re out there, Tewt the Newt says hello.
As a completely unrelated side note: my lovely laptop has been having serious issues, so I am very behind on my blog reading. Also, Dianna, Mr. Fill has not forgotten you. The computer just wouldn’t let me do a second post on Friday, or one Saturday morning before we left. Sucky, sucky Vista.