Two things to know about me: I love fiction, and I dislike Church books. I try to keep an open mind when some well meaning friend gives me the latest Deseret Book on faith or discipleship, but I rarely make it past the intro. Way too didactic. And boring. But when friends gave me a copy of For All the Saints by Kristen Smith Dayley, I knew I had to read it. The book is based on hundreds of interviews of Boston saints, many of whom I know, and many of the interviews I personally transcribed for what was then a High Priest project. So reading the book was like visiting old friends.
The theme that resonated with me is how tempting it is to deny people growth opportunities in the church. It is so much easier to call competent, experienced people than to train newbies. How many times have you said, “this will be easier if I just do it myself.” But as I reacquainted myself with these Boston saints, I was inspired to make a few changes in how I did my calling with satisfying results.
As the homemaking/enrichment counselor, putting on the RS opening social is my job. I have a lovely little committee and had assigned each to do things I thought were within their comfort zone. One sister, whom I’ll call Salma, is a very shy convert with amazing organizational skills. As we were welcoming almost 20 new sisters that night, I had tasked Salma with emailing the visiting teachers to make sure each new sister was given a personal introduction. Totally in her skill set. But right before we were to do the intros, I thought about the book and realized that I needed to have Salma be in charge of welcoming the group and facilitating the introductions. She started to protest but I insisted she could do it. Salma looked terrified as she stood in the room of more than 50 women, and I felt awful for making her do something that would have been nothing to an attention hog like me. But she rocked it. Salma shone that night like I’d never seen before. She was the perfect MC: witty banter, silly observations, great transitions from sister to sister. I just basked in her awesomeness and wondered that it had taken so long to see this Salma. I overheard many women praising Salma and she glowed. She seems different now. People treat her differently now. They can better see her depth. She could serve in any calling and succeed.
I now know that while my job is to arrange RS events, my calling is to take the women on my committee and help them blossom. It’s not just about comfort zones and getting things done most efficiently. One of my favorite exchanges in the book was two men discussing the pros and cons of calling “the weak.” One brother wondered if he had called the right person because he felt he was having to spend too much time doing follow up. The other one relied, “if you don’t need to check up on them, then you haven’t asked the right person.” I look back at the callings I have held and see where I was fostered along the way. Some jobs have been a natural fit, but others have stretched me. Like the one I have now. We are supposed to focus on emergency preparedness. Tomorrow night’s event is all about 72 hour kits and all I can think is how many cans of Diet Coke can I fit into a backpack? But as it says in Ether 12, if we have faith and are humble, the weak will be made strong. So as I am trying to be less snarky about making ready for an apocalypse. And as I am given assignments, I try to be prayerful about which jobs to give to my committee. I have learned that while doing it myself might be easier, but it is not necessarily better.
What callings have stretched you? Have you seen people transformed by their calling?