A time to be called, and a time to be fallow

Scene: A year and some months ago. In the bishop’s office during tithing settlement. He tells me the leadership would like to give me a calling, but have no idea to what. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for. I tell him that I want to be the Relief Society pianist. It’s mine in a couple of weeks. In this case, it’s a matter of my knowing what I want, and that there is a specific need in the ward that I can fill.

Scene: A couple of weeks ago. In the bishop’s office again. I’m telling him that I need to be released as RS pianist. I can tell he’s panicking, wondering who he will be able to get to fill the spot. I feel a little sorry for him, given our impersonal but generally well-wishing relationship, but I’m also very sincere about needing to be released from the calling. I’m no longer in the same spiritual place I was a year ago, and need some latitude.

Scene: Sunday, in Relief Society. Although not yet released, they have found a sister who can do the calling. Several, actually. And I feel a great deal of peace.

I’ve been thinking about callings lately. So many different types of callings needed in order to staff a church with a lay ministry. However, even more interesting to me, are reasons why callings are given.

Callings which are for the benefit of the person called.

Callings which simply require the most skillful person available.

Callings which are made up for the sake of giving a member a calling

Callings which are so generic and simple that they just need to be delegated and performed.

Callings which leaders are inspired to give.

Callings which members are inspired to ask for.

I was mainly inspired to ask for the pianist calling by all but the 6th reason. The bishop probably had his own reasons for giving it to me, which didn’t necessarily correlate with my reasons.

Right now I find great comfort in lying fallow. I’ve never before asked to be released from a calling, and it’s a strange feeling. I’ve always just relied on my ward or stake leadership to be aware of me. Or maybe that was just my ego-centric youth. Anyway, I know what this is that I need now. And while there are certain things that are beyond my ability to obtain, this period of rest is good for me.

Do you feel it’s okay to ask for a specific calling? Have you ever lobbied for a calling? How did it go?

Do you feel it’s okay to decline a calling when it doesn’t feel right? Do you accept whatever comes your way? If so, what benefits have you seen in your life?

Have you ever been lax in a calling? What could you or others have done differently?

Jana

Jana is university administrator and History professor. Her soloblog is http://janaremy.com/pilgrimsteps/

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  1. Deborah says:

    With my last three callings . . .

    1) I had a dream that I was called to the YW presidency the week before it happened . . . it’s the only time I’ve had that experience, but it was useful when, for two months, I was the sole active YW worker in a very very needy urban ward. I still experienced some “burn-out,” but I also had experiences like this
    that made me feel the hand of the divine in this calling.

    2) New ward, wanting to lay low for a season. Began to practice piano in RS room during Sunday School. When the pianist moved, I volunteered to cover. Volunteering became an official calling a couple of months later. I also volunteered to be the RS substitute teacher because I love that job and am comfortable preparing a lesson on short notice — that worked well; no calling necessary.

    3) Ran into the Primary President at a party. We’d never talked. “I hear you’re a teacher,” she said.

    “Yup — if you ever need help up in Primary . . .”

    “Great — I’ve been petitioning the bishop for you.”

    Two weeks ago, a new call to be primary pianist.

    I believe in a mixture of pragmatism, inspiration, advocacy, and willingness to “go there.”

  2. Seraphine says:

    I haven’t ever declined a calling, but I have asked to be released. My senior year of college, I had three callings (in a small student branch), and I got hit with a really severe depressive episode. I went to the bishop and asked to be released from 2 of my 3 callings (the third one was RS teacher, which I loved doing, and only had to do once a month). Asking to be released at that point in my life was the right thing to do.

  3. jana says:

    I expressed great hesitancy at accepting a calling to be a cub scout leader many years ago because:
    1) They wanted me to hold the meetings in my home and not at the church (note: they suggested I hold the meetings in my garage–not knowing that I didn’t have a garage and that I lived on water, which would certainly be a safety issue)
    2) My physical disability would make it hard for me to corral a rambunctious group of young boys

    Interestingly, after I expressed my concerns, the counselor who was extending the call admitted that he hadn’t felt right about extending it in the first place, but was just following the bishop’s directions. Within a week I was given a more appropriate calling in YW.

    I guess I felt like the scout calling was one of those situations where I was just being asked to fill a vacancy (i.e. not inspired) and once the leadership better knew me, I received a calling more suited to my talents and life situation.

  4. madhousewife says:

    I think it’s both okay to decline a calling and to ask to be released. Bishops are inspired, but they aren’t omniscient.

    I would be reluctant to do either, though. (I only asked to be released once, and I’m still not sure if it was the “right” thing to do–but I don’t feel terribly guilty about it either. Anymore.) I definitely think you ought to ask to be released if you just aren’t doing your job, for whatever reason. If you need more support, ask for more support, maybe–but if you can’t/won’t do the job, don’t stay there just because you feel guilty asking to be released. However, I’m painfully aware of how not accepting a call (or accepting it and not doing the work) affects other people in the ward. If I don’t do x, who will? Probably the same handful of people who do everything else. I’ve been one of that elite group–or the wife of one of that group–and it may be rich in blessings, but it’s also rich in opportunities to resent your fellow man (or sister woman). So I’m hyper-aware that every time I say no, I’m making it harder for someone else to say no.

    On a side note, it’s interesting to me that you’d ask to be released as RS pianist. I think it’s the best calling in the church–provided you know how to play the piano, of course (ha ha). No lessons to prepare, no one asks you to pray or anything because you’re already playing the piano–it was perfect for me when I was going through a spiritual slump, as it required no faith. Actually, when I couldn’t feel the Spirit at all in any other aspect of my life, I could still be touched by the hymns. Playing the prelude music was like my own private worship service. No one interrupted me, and no one taught me stuff I couldn’t handle. 😀 Your situation, of course, was apparently different. I think there are times for being fallow. But I think I personally prefer a low-impact (for me) calling to no calling.

  5. Ana says:

    I have lobbied for a calling — assistant YW camp director. I was a very young newlywed (20) and still missing my YW days a lot myself. So I assisted a camp director who was all of 18. We had the best time! The stake leaders kept coming into our camp and wondering where the leaders were … but we had a great group of girls and no problems. I mainly recall a lot of french braiding, smoky fires and Indigo Girls songs.

    Another time I was in a BYU married student ward that did not have a choir. I told a member of the bishopric that we needed a choir and that I would direct it if they needed someone. I so did not know what I was doing, but it turned out to be a very democratic singing group that was a lot of fun.

    I have not asked to be released from a calling — yet. But after adopting my second baby I was approached by the Primary president, who asked me to think about whether it was time for me to be released from teaching the 9-12 year old girls. She encouraged me to pray about it. It was time. It was a really interesting experience to have that responsibility placed on me. I think it helped me transition out of the calling, which I loved.

    The calling I really really want is Primary Pianist. However, my boys seem to have more behavior issues when I’m in the room, so Primary is out of the question for right now. I have been working in YW for just more than 3 years. I never feel like I am doing enough. I have an insanely busy life with a full time job and 3 kids. I wonder all the time if I should ask to be released. But I LOVE YW and have not been able to bring myself to take that step, yet.

  6. madhousewife says:

    I’m hoping my last comment didn’t come off judgmental. I really believe people should be honest with their leaders about what they can or can’t handle and not feel like they shouldn’t say no. Sometimes you just have to say no, and when you have to, there should be no guilt. But it’s hard to say no when you feel a burden of responsibility–which wouldn’t feel like a burden if you weren’t stretched so thin because of a multitude of people saying no (when they should probably say yes).

    I don’t think that came out right either. Never mind.

  7. Caroline says:

    I didn’t decline a calling but I accepted one with a bad attitude. I was called to be the librarian, and right when it was said, I felt like it was totally the wrong calling. This certainly showed in my face and in my reaction. I told the bishop I’d think about it, and a week later I emailed telling him I’d do it, but for future reference I’d really love to be involved in something humanitarian or teaching related.

    A week or two after that, he rescinded his original calling and gave me one involving humanitarian stuff. I accepted that off the bat and have loved it since. I really give my bishop credit for being willing to rescind that first calling and give me something that I was so much more interested in.

    I feel like communicating your needs/desires to leaders is highly important. They’ve got so much to worry about, it would be hard for them to be inspired for every calling. The more help we give them the better.

  8. Eve says:

    Dora, thanks for this post. This issue has been very much on my mind lately.

    Six months ago I got called to the stake Relief Society presidency as enrichment counselor. I felt a fair amount of trepidation about it but said yes because, well, that’s what one does in all the Ensign stories, and then trepidation vanishes, personal growth occurs, inspiration becomes retrospectively apparant.

    It quickly became evident to me that I had been called “statistically”: they needed a younger, “nontraditional” woman to represent all of the singles, the childless, the divorced, etc. and they wanted someone specifically from my ward. Things did not go well. Without going into too much detail: unbridgeable communication problems, vastly different assumptions sbout the nature of the gospel and the church, lots of orders directed at me (none with the word “please” attached to them), no consideration for my perspective, no support, help, or gratitude. (And, in an attempt to be fair, I have no doubt that the rest of the presidency could justly indict me on my failinigs as well.)

    A couple of weeks ago something relatively minor happened, but to my own amazement, it was just the last straw. I snapped. After an exchange over the planning of the nightmare activity that has been haunting me for months in which I was roundly shot down, I emailed the rest of the rest of the presidency and told them I was no longer available to help them with their activity but that I wished them the very best of luck. Then I emailed my ward Relief Society president and told her I needed to be removed from all visiting teaching immediately. (I had just been stood up by my visiting teaching partner for the third time in a row.)

    Then I called the stake president and asked to be released.

    At the moment I’m taking a little “no contact” vacation from church. This experience has been so emotionally destructive that I literally can’t make it very far into the three-hour block without completely losing it. I’m choosing to stay home and salvage my sanity.

    I have no regrets at all about asking to be released. The calling was a terrible idea from the outset, and I knew it. I just regret that I allowed myself to be sucked in by the standard church line about never saying no to callings or asking to be released.

    What I’ve learned: that there are callings tht will drive one into inactivity and end up being very emotionally and spiritually destructive. That not all callings are inspiried. That I will never in the future say yes to anything without very careful consideration of the demands on my time–and, more important, on my sanity.

    Thanks. I’ve been needing to get that off my chest.

  9. Heather O. says:

    This post is so timely for me, as I have just been released from a calling I felt should not have been extended to me in the first place. It was the first time in my life when I felt I should say “no” to the Bishop. I didn’t, of course, but I was only in the calling for 4 months before they released me. A lot of hassle and heartache could have been avoided if I had been willing to listen to my heart in the first place.

    I second what Deborah said. Callings are a mixture of pragmatism, inspiration, logistics, adminstrative needs, and listening to the needs of the ward family. Having served in a variety of presidencies, I have seen first hand when a calling is simply when we need an able body, and when it is the Lord directing it.

    Examples: When I was the Education Counselor, I really wanted a specific woman to be a teacher. She wanted to be a teacher. The RS president wanted her to be a teacher. We all prayed about it, and got this: she wasn’t supposed to be a teacher. I was blown away, and somebody was called that none of us knew. She was an incredible teacher, and the calling meant a lot to her.

    In that same calling, we felt inspired to call a woman to be the RS pianist. She was delighted, and spent many hours composing her own arrangements of the hymns, which she played impromptu for prelude and postlude music. She then went to change her major to music composition.

    I also personally petitioned one particular Bishop and Primary President to call Miss Deborah to help us with a particularly difficult Primary class. As you can guess, she was an answer to our prayers 🙂

    Yet, I have been stuck countless times to the Activities committee, one time because the Bishop said he felt he wanted to keep me and my husband “involved” in the ward. Our other calling was weekly temple workers, and he didn’t want us to be isolated. I groaned inwardly, and wished he would leave us well enough alone, we were dong fine, thank you very much. Still, we performed our duty, and nobody died.

  10. Caroline says:

    I’ve loved reading all your stories about this. Eve, wow. I’m sorry to hear that your stake calling turned out so badly. I myself sometimes fantasize about having a calling like that, because I envision all the good I can do and all the influence I can have. But you were totally trampled on. What a shame the presidency didn’t include you and listen to you more. Their loss. I’m glad you’re taking the time you need to recover from this incident.

  11. Anonymous says:

    When I was in the RS presidency we needed a calling filled, we prayed and asked for a certain person, the Bishop said no, we prayed again and asked for another person, she said no, we finally realized we kept asking the wrong question. So we asked the Lord who He wanted for that position (we had been asking would so & so be good in this position) and we all got the same answer, asked for the person and she was wonderful in the job. Yes, I have turned down positions – when they called me to Y.W. when my husband worked in Y.M. and we had a 1 yr. old and I was pregnant – when asked to me den mother when I had a 1 yr. old and babysat two other 1 yr. olds – when I reminded the Bishop of that fact he rescinded the calling. Yes, I have asked to be released for health reasons. After saying that I do believe we should not turn down callings just because we don’t think we would like them, they often become a source of joy or at the very least growth.

  12. Mary Ellen says:

    I was given a stake humanitarian calling to collect used textbooks from local schools and get them to the cannery/distrubution center where they’d be shipped overseas to developing countries.

    Nice concept, but it was a logistical nightmare. I had to find a (free) truck big enough to transport 5-200 boxes of books using volunteers from the church (who could safely lift 50 lbs) and pickups had to be done on school days. The only people available were students and unemployed people–a limited pool. Often, I would get only 2 or 3 days’ notice to make a pick-up happen. Mucho stress.

    I was uncomfortable when the regional coordinator told me to instruct volunteers NOT to mention this was a church project. And a friend who went to the distribution center with a load of books said the employees there didn’t have a clue that books were coming or what to do with them.

    I felt less supportive of the flawed program and I was glad to see it fizzle and die. I was never set apart, nor was I released when the program crapped out.

    I wished I had asked more questions about the calling, but the stake and regional people didn’t seem to know much more than I did. But they still expected me to make it happen.

  13. Vada says:

    I’ve only (sort of) asked to be released from a calling once. I was the ward chorister and an assistant nursery leader, and had been for about a year (and we’d only been in the ward for just over a year). I’d moved into the ward because I’d gotten married and moved to a new state away from anyone I knew, and the only adults I’d gotten to know in the ward were the ones who had two year olds. I asked the bishop if they could call another nursery worker so that I could attend RS at least once a month and get to know some of the adults in the ward. He said they actually wanted to release me and call me as RS secretary. Be careful what you ask for 🙂

    I’ve also lobbied for callings at various times in my life, but I’ve never actually gotten those callings. Oh well. I figure it can’t hurt to ask.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Jana Said:
    ) My physical disability would make it hard for me to corral a rambunctious group of young boys

    I just wanted to let you know that my son waas in a cub program that was run by a wheelchair bound Akiela, and it was the best run program ever!! All the boys while very active also learned to help her out, and it was a great expeience for my son and the other boys in the program.

    My point is, some times we don’t feel that we are spirtiually or physically able to serve but the Lord really does know us all. And that is who it comes from. And even if the councilor didn’t feel like he was to extend the calling, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t meant for you. Service stretches us, if we said no to things that we nessissarily didn’t think we could do or wanted to do, we wouldn’t be able to turn our weaknesses into strengths.

  15. Deborah says:

    I also personally petitioned one particular Bishop and Primary President to call Miss Deborah to help us with a particularly difficult Primary class.

    I didn’t know that, but makes sense (considering the bishop didn’t know my experience in this area)! You know, I’m watching a kid right now with similar special needs in Primary and am about two weeks away from having a pow-wow with the prez about ways to modify the program for him.

    And that music composition major has just released her third album.

  16. Eve says:

    My point is, some times we don’t feel that we are spirtiually or physically able to serve but the Lord really does know us all. And that is who it comes from. And even if the councilor didn’t feel like he was to extend the calling, doesn’t mean that it wasn’t meant for you.

    That’s undoubtedly true–in some cases. But as I recently realized, sometimes the Lord is trying to tell us to listen to our own gut instincts and say no. If you’ve ever served in an organization that has to extend callings, you know that some come form inspiration, and some come from statistical calculation, like my calling to the stake RS presidency above.

    I think the mistake of saying that every calling comes from God and that we should accept every calling and never ask to be released is that it sets people up to mistrust their own gut feelings. There’s a fundamental difference between the normal trepidation of trying something new mixed with excitement –or grounded in a convication that this is what you need to be doing right now–and cold, sick dread. If all you feel is cold, sick dread, maybe this is not the calling for you.

    Also, it’s worth pointing out that just because your son was in a well-run Scout program headed by someone in a wheelchair does not mean that Jana’s obstacles could have easily been overcome or that the calling was necessarily for her. Individual circumstances, even those that look similar, vary enormously.

  17. Eve says:

    Caroline, thanks so much for your kind words. This whole thing has been very difficult for me–although a couple of relative strangers in my ward have been extremely kind to me and have said things to me I very much needed to hear. (That’s where I see the and of God in this–there’s been comfort and kindness available to me even in the disaster.) My ward RS president told me quite frankly that she herself could never be part of the stake RS presidency. I found that such a relief to hear because I realized that my perceptions that they weren’t particularly kind or supportive weren’t just me. Other people had perceived the same thing.

    And a woman I barely know, after she saw that I was having an extremely difficult time, told me the story of how her husband had asked to be released from his stake calling becuase it was making him miserable and how some people, she knew, would condemn that but that, in her words, “sometimes you have to fight for your own spiritual well-being.” She also said that the trouble with stake callings is that you can so easily end up being a cog in someone else’s vision of how things should be. That was very much my experience.

    I can envision someone like Caroline as stake RS president really getting involved in humanitarian work, for example, and doing all kinds of good things. But what I found was that–I think because of my age–none of the presidency would listen to me or take me seriously (they’re all at least 20 years older than I am) and that they simply wanted me to implement what they had already decided upon). They essentially wanted me to be their party planner (I think too they come from an era of lots of fancy RS parties). Terrible idea. I can’t plan a party to save my life.

    Anyway, I have a firm and absolute conviction that asking to be released was the right thing to do–and further, that I never should have said yes in the first place. I do realize that wards have to be staffed, and that some callings push us in good ways. I’ve had many callings that have helped me to grow. But callings shouldn’t be unremitting misery. And it’s extremely unrealistic to expect that God will personally direct every single calling. That idea runs counter to the notion of agency, for one thing. I know God is involved in the church–but God clearly also wants us to work things out for ourselves. Strong guidance on every single decision we have to make would obviate THAT kind of growth.

  18. Dora says:

    Deborah ~ I love your willingness to serve, and the positive effects you obviously have on other people. I know my life is richer for learning from you.

    Madhousewife ~ I initially asked for the calling to help me out of a spiritual slump, and for me, it did require faith … but obviously our situations were different. And I do tend to feel the spirit more strongly through music than with most talks. So it’s nice to be able to rejoin the choir and be uplifted through that. It;s a much better personal fit at this time.

    I also echo what Eve and a number of other people have written. Personal revelation (for our own actions, etc) trumps whatever limited knowledge a church leader uses to extend callings. Of course, there are some callings which are inspired by God, but I have yet to hear a church leader say more than they felt strongly that they should extend a call below stake president or bishop. I think there’s much more wiggle room than people realize.

    Caroline ~ Yes, I think communication is the key. With so many ecclesiastical duties (to say nothing of financial, emotional, spiritual responsibilities in their personal lives), it’s inevitable that they are unaware of sometimes key factors in a member’s life. I sometimes find it hard to give voice to my reservations, but this is something I’m working on.

    Eve ~ Thank you for sharing your story. I’m so sorry that you had to go through such a wearing experience. It sounds like your calling was one of conveniece, and not one of inspiration. And it does sound convincingly convenient that you would have been able to advocate for those out of the mainstream. It’s such a pity that your valuable input was ignored, and that you were treated so badly. I hope your fallow time gives you the respite you need.

    Heather O ~ Yes. There are times when I believe callings trul are inspired. And then there are times when it just looks good on paper. What I’m hearing from most women is that sometimes understanding the difference comes after a lot of heartache.

    And, at least no one died. But if they had, you’d have been in the perfect position to get their temple work done!

    Anon 0932 ~ I also don’t think we should turn down callings just because we don’t “like” them. I’ve had plenty of callings I didn’t “like.” But there are times when a specific calling is not appropriate or is just wrong. And in cases like these, I hope that women are able to give voice to their reservations.

    Mary Ellen ~ The project sounds so good on paper, and it’s a shame it was so poorly planned, then dumped in your lap to execute. Maybe with a bit more preparation (and less obfuscation) it could have been very successful.

    Vada ~ No, it can’t hurt to ask. In fact, aren’t we told *to* ask?

    Anon 1125 ~ I would love to hear from Akiela. And I would love to hear about your personal experiences with callings … when *you* had a weakness turned into a strength.

    Thank you for all your comments, everyone! It seems as if most everyone has leaders who have good intentions … if not the best execution. Where they are mistaken, I hope that we are able to inform or correct. Where they are inspired, I hope that we are able to follow. And, (this will sound suspiciously AA), I hope we are able to successfully differentiate.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Well, I was called to be the RS president in my singles ward, and loved it for six months. I asked to be released when I had a major depressive episode, the one that finally convinced me to get medication. My wonderful but clueless bishop said, when I asked to be released, “you know, we’ve been feeling that we needed to release you for a while, but hadn’t thought to find someone new yet.”

  20. Anonymous says:

    If all calling’s were extended in the right way you wouldn’t have to turn any down.
    Example: My husband and I were asked to meet with a member of the stake presidency. He told us about the calling they had in mind for us, and then asked us about what was going on in our lives. After listening to us talk he said he felt he should not extend the call to us. No need for us to turn it down, no need to rescind the call, because it was never extended to us. I wish it went this way more often!
    I agree that it is up to us to share our feelings about a calling and take time to pray about it if need be. Not all callings or releases are inspired.
    Marmee8

  21. EmilyCC says:

    I’ve never lobbied for a specific calling, although I’m with Ana, I’d love Primary pianist, but I have lobbied not to be put in a specific organization (after serving in YW’s presidencies for 5 years, we moved to a new ward and I said I’d do anything BUT YW’s).

    In the past, I’ve accepted callings, regardless of my feelings, which has worked well for me. But, this year, I’ve watched my husband struggle with his calling as seminary teacher. Watching him has made me decide that I have a responsibility to really think and pray about those big time-commitment callings when they’re extended. I can’t expect Church leaders to know my needs–or to expect God to tell Church leaders my needs 🙂

    Dora, I love your questions at the end. I think they would be such great leading questions for a thoughtful discussion in RS or PH.

  22. AmyB says:

    In my most recent branch, the branch president asked me what type of calling I would like when I first moved in. I was very impressed with his openness and the way he listened to me and accomodated my desires and skills.

    I did ask to be released once, when I was serving in the YW presidency. It had come to a point where I was losing sleep and couldn’t take my mind of what was happening between the YW president and the girls. The pres was very authoritarian and expected the girls to respect her no matter how she treated them. I came to a point where I was so upset that I couldn’t work effectively and was losing functioning in daily life.

    I’ve appreciated the thoughts on listening to our gut, or inner sense of what is good for us. I think women tend to have an inner knowing that often we are trained to distrust. Here’s to learning to trust the voice of Spirit that is within each of us.

  23. Anonymous says:

    There was a time when it became very clear that my husband was going to be extended a call to serve as Bishop in our ward. When he emailed the SP about his reservations, the calling was not extended. I have felt very guilty for NOT wanting the calling to be extended, and for being very relieved when the SP said my husband’s email was an answer to his prayers. I have felt guilty for the burden it is on the family of the man who was chosen, who doesn’t seem much more equipped than we were to deal with it. Some little RS president in my mind tells me they are being blessed, and I wonder what blessings we might be denied because I wasn’t sure I could support the calling. Am I brainwashed?

  24. Eve says:

    Anonymous, may I just say, for whatever comfort it is, that I have that same little RS president in my brain? She’s the voice that used to wonder if my husband wouldn’t have turned into an inactive agnostic if I hadn’t introduced him to so many liberal ideas, if I would have had children if I’d started trying right after I got married instead of pursuing a master’s, if I would have been eternally happier if only I’d gone to BYU as I felt prompted to, if I would have been able to handle the calling I quit if only I’d prayed harder, fasted more, been different, been better. If if if.

    Over the years I’ve managed to smother her to some extent, but now and then she still pops up, wagging her finger to tell me about all the blessings I’m missing because I Did a Bad Thing. It’s a relief to realize that the voice of Christ says exactly the opposite: even if you DID do a bad thing, all is not lost. There’s still hope.

  25. Eve says:

    Uh…sorry, that came out wrong. Not at all to imply that you did a bad thing in being relieved your husband wasn’t called as bishop. It sounds like you did exactly what you needed to.

  26. Anonymous says:

    No, I get it. The thing is, how to distinguish between the “little RS Pres.” and the spirit, or Spirit, or our conscience, or Satan tempting us, or what? I need some insight in how to recognize the Little RS Pres. for the self-defeating attitude that she is.

  27. a spectator says:

    I think you need to be your own advocate and speak up if something is not working for you.

    I have asked to be released and have no qualms about it.

    As someone else mentioned, I think the best way to lobby for a calling is to volunteer for it. No shame in doing that–many (most?) callings are callings of convenience anyway.

  28. Nancy says:

    Many years ago I was YW president in our ward. My husband was called to be a stake missionary. I was told at the time that if we couldn’t make it work (we had four kids 8 and under) his calling should come first. After a few weeks there was a night when we both had to be gone. The girl next door was coming to babysit but had to be a little late. My eight-year-old could be left for a few minutes, though I don’t know that they do that these days. Something happened and the baby-sitter didn’t get there. When I got home, my eight-year-old said, “I wish you and Dad had never gotten these callings.” I asked to be released immediately. She doesn’t even remember that, and is now in her thirties and has been a primary president. My bishop was in full support, but I was very hurt that my husband didn’t think I was doing the right thing. A couple of years later when I was pregnant again he made some comment about “You’ll probably just ask to be released” from whatever calling I had at the time. Now that he has been a bishop I think he has developed more compassion. I also let it be known once that I would love to be Cub Scout den mother, and guess what, I got it! Right now I have been Primary President for just over 2 years(someone had a sense of humor when I was called to that after 28 years of working in everything but Primary.) What I really want is to be called to the family history library, but dropping hints about that haven’t gotten me there yet.

  29. Nancy says:

    I just have to say one more thing. I have been the one asking for people to be called too, and you are right that sometimes it is inspiration and sometimes desperation. I needed a secretary when I was Stake YW president and could not come up with a name, though I knew immediately who my counselors should be. I was asked to lead music in sacrament meeting and stood up, saw a face in the back, and knew she was my secretary. That was inspiration. We have a ward with a low activity rate now, though, and I have made some mistakes in primary callings as president because there just weren’t enough people to choose from. Those were made in desperation.

  30. claire says:

    Nancy, if you are meaning that your 8 year old had to babysit her three younger siblings for the evening, you did the absolute right thing to show your support to her. Your family should not have to suffer. I’m in shock that they would say that your husband’s calling ‘came first’- as if you couldn’t determine together as a couple what the priority was on a given evening?

  31. Kaimipono says:

    Eve,

    I’m so sorry to hear about that. It sounds like a really bad experience, and I’m sorry you had to go through it. And I hope that you can minimize the fallout and get to a better, more peaceful place, without too lengthy of a stay in emotional turmoil or pain.

    AmyB,

    You’re leaving out the best part of the story!

    You know, about how that ward’s flustered and understaffed de-facto primary president (and her annoying lawyer primary-pianist husband) were _thrilled_ that you were suddenly and unexpectedly available, and how we pounced on you like a plate of fresh brownies, before the ink was even dry on your release. And how you pretty much saved said woman’s sanity. And how we all seemed to have a lot more fun after that than we had been having before. 😛

    We _loved_ it when you were released as YW Pres.

  32. Eve says:

    Kaimi, thanks. I’ve actually found it very therapeutic to write about it here (hopefully not jacking Dora’s excellent thread too much). It’s been a hard experience, but getting released has been an enormous relief. And I’ve learned a lot about callings, about limits, about saying no.

    All vital skills that were not featured prominently in my good-Mormon-girl upbringing. 😉

    So, in the long run, I think this experience will turn out to be more than worth it.

  33. Nancy says:

    Claire, in response to your response to my post, I think they didn’t mean that on one specific night his calling came first. What they meant was that if it proved to be too much to have two callings that big in one young family, his was a stake calling and someone else could be YW president in the ward. He was expected to put in so many hours a week (I forget how many) but was usually gone two or three nights a week and part of Sunday. I remember that he stayed home once later when I had to help with a Relief Society thing and for some reason couldn’t take my kids.

    I was actually impressed that they left it up to us to decide whether it was too much for our family to handle both callings at once. I have never felt I did anything wrong by asking to be released. Now he is Bishop and I am primary president, but our youngest child is 20 so there is no problem.

  34. Dora says:

    It seems that the most positive experiences happen in an environment where dialogue (with oneself, one’s leaders/followers and any other people directly affected) is fostered.

    Eve, I love what you write. Even when you’re philosophizing on snarky politesse. Besides which, your comments are so appropo. Thanks for sharing your story. Thanks to everyone for sharing your stories!

  35. Eve says:

    Dora, thanks.

  36. claire says:

    Nancy, thanks for the clarification. I’ve calmed down now! 🙂

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