Congratulations

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Why is it when I receive a new calling, everyone says, “Congratulations”? It’s not like I campaigned for them. It’s not like I was running neck and neck with some other candidate for them. It’s not like it was something I had to attain.

If I graduate from university, it makes sense to be congratulated. If I place in the top ten of a marathon, it makes sense to be congratulated. If I eat a two-foot-long sub sandwich in under ten minutes, it makes sense to be congratulated.

All those things are accomplishments. Receiving a new calling is not an accomplishment.

Same goes for having babies. I am so not looking forward to everyone saying “congratulations” in the fall after our baby is born.

23 thoughts on “Congratulations

  1. Thank You for that post. I’ve never really considered what one would be congratulated for when attaining a new calling. I guess it is because I always feel excited at the prospect of what I will learn when I recieve a new calling. It is a happy event. Anyway, I withdraw my earlier congratualtions and offer my prayer that god will guide you in your new calling. :)

  2. J,

    For the record, I wasn’t singling you out. :) I was singling out the 20+ congratulations I’ve received in person.

    Anonymous,

    If every calling acknowledges a person’s efforts to live righteously, why congratulate them every time they receive a new calling? There level of righteous living likely hasn’t changed, so why not simply acknowledge your appreciation of their righteousness from time to time?

  3. Kim,
    I assumed that was the case.

    Now that I’ve been think about it, our HP group leader congratualted me on the ‘promotion’ when I was called as an EQ president. I didn’t really process what he said and I went on. I respect this man very much, but to think of any church calling as a ‘promotion’ is very egocentric.

  4. Your remarks remind me of the traditional guidelines on what to say to a newly married couple. The groom is to be congratulated, because he pursued and acquired a lovely bride. To congratulate the bride would be an insult, as traditionally you must assume she chose this man from among all her suitors. To the bride, one offers best wishes.

    But these latter days, people just say the first nice thing that pops in their heads. You seem to have caught one of the odd effects.

    At least a congratulations on your calling is better than when people offer condolences, as if they assumed you would rather be about your own projects.

    As for me, I so excited for you Kim, and for your ward. May you have much joy serving in this new calling.

  5. I still say congratulations is for accomplishing something, and receiving a calling is recieving a responsibility, not accomplishing something.

    And receiving a particular calling, such as a President of an organisation isn’t better than any other calling and as J said, it is rather egocentric to treat it as a “promotion” or such.

    I generally say “Good luck!” when anyone recieves a new calling and “That’s great! I know you will do a good job”.

    Openly oppose the teachings or not, the Lord is going to judge on the heart, and a person receiving a calling isn’t better than someone who doesn’t, or a particular TYPE of calling. It is this arrogance of creating a hierarchal “we are better than them” attitude that really bothers me. Very judgemental and hypocritical.

    Really, no one is a loser. No one. And shouldn’t be seen as such. You don’t know what stage a person is at in their testimony, nor the trials they have been through, nor the blessings they have in store. As I said, the Lord looks on the heart and we as humans create these divisions of being better or worse than other people. I have had this brought home to me living in an area where the Church is more concentrated, than I did when living in areas where it membership is smaller. When LDS have this idea that they are better than either non members or less actives or less diligent members of the Church, there is a huge problem. Pride is what keeps us from progressing. Who are we to judge who is a “loser” or a “winner”? As I recall, the Saviour spent more time with the “losers” in society, and without judging their worthiness or unworthiness, He loved and helped them and didn’t write them off as being less important. We don’t get REWARDS as such for being righteous. We have a duty to be obedient to the commandments, and we have even more of a duty to love our neighbours. If we are judged on nothing else, at the judgement, it will be on how loving we were to the people around us. It certainly won’t be because we recieved a particular calling. And when people start to realise that their worth is not wrapped up in positions they have held in Church (or elsewhere) we will be much further along as spiritual beings in grasping what this life and this plan is all about.

    I have held positions of leadership and non leadership at Church. I honestly do not think that any particular calling has been a reflection of my “righteousness” over any other situation. It is my personal state of being that is a reflection of how righteous I am being or not being.

  6. I want to add one more thing.

    A woman who showed the most Christ-like love of almost anyone I have known, lived a life of service and dedication to the Lord. She was my daughter’s Sunbeam teacher and I am so grateful that she was her teacher. What an incredible person she was. She lived a very hard life. As far as I know she didn’t hold any “high” callings. She had been a Sundbeam teacher for the last several years. She was not rich, not even close. She cleaned homes for other people, had left a very abusive marriage, had a very hard (possibly abusive, I can’t rememebr) childhood. She had children (grown) who had struggled with different parts of their lives, health, careers, etc. She was one of the most incredible people I have ever had the privilege to meet.

    Last year she passed awayfrom a brain anuerysm. Suddenly. It was very unexpected and shocking.

    But I KNOW for a fact that she served the Lord with complete devotion and dedication. No, she wasn’t the RS president. She was a primary teacher. She was a humble woman who gave her all to Her Saviour. I also am more than confident that as far as being rewarded for righteous living, she will recieve it. Her efforts to live the Gospel exceeded what most of us accomplish in this life. She will be crowned with all the blessings she deserves. I know this as sure as I know anything.

    The Lord looks on the heart. We look on the outside. He sees more than we see.

  7. Wow…this dialogue leaves me speechless as it never occurred that offering a congratulatory greeting to a friend or neighbor within the context of an LDS calling was so out-of-line and inappropriate.

    My speechlessness can also be attributed to the vitriolic rhetoric heaped upon those that might offer a different view point than the one espoused by the resident bloggers.

    Lessons learned…a) from this point onward absolutely no congratulatory comments will ever be offered to any members of my LDS sphere for being blessed with a new calling and b) approach differing dialogue at this location with caution…or better yet move onto other conversations where alternative ideas are respected not abused.

    Such closed mindedness is not an infrequent characteristic of the LDS faithful and, at times, does make it the missionary effort more challenging.

    My the Lord bless you and your family.

  8. Hmmm, interesting how you misunderstood me completely.

    By all menas, offer congratulations if you feel the desire.

    The issue I had was the comment you made (and why don’t you use your name?) that there are some people who are “losers”. I don’t find anyone to be a loser, or anyone to be better or worse than anyone else. I have no problems with differing opinions, I do have problems with people who believe they are superior to other people because they are LDS or hold certain positions in the Church.

    As well, it is interesting we are considered “close-minded” when in fact it seems your point of view is more close minded to think that Church callings are exclusionatory to such a degree. The other interesting thing is that you so mis-read our comments as to think we are jumping down your throat. Oh yeah, ok. So only YOU are right and only YOU can have an opinion. Just becuase I don’t agree with you that people who are the Bishop or the RS president are better than someone who is the bulletin editor or who doesn’t hold a calling, doesn’t make me or anyone else for that matter “close minded”. It seems you have the issue with differing opinions. Just because you state one opinion, don’t expect everyone to agree…this is also a failing of many LDS. The need to be always right and the only one right.

    I dont’ dispute your right to your opinion. I do distpute your attitude towards people being “losers” or “non-losers”. My contention is that you are playing God to have such an attitude and He doesn’t make those distinctions.

  9. What leaves me speechless is when persons claim that anyone presenting points or arguments different than what they hold are being bitter, abusive and scathing.

    There’s more than one opinion in the world. It’s hypocritical to accuse others of close-mindedness when one is claiming differing points of view are vitriolic.

    I hope you find another sandbox where you feel more comfortable.

  10. Hmm… very perplexing. Just on Sunday I got a new calling and someone told me congratulations. I was thinking congratulations for what? What did I do?

    I just wanted to come to church and learn from everyone else when the 2nd counselor in the Bishopric asked me to do something. He said they prayed about it, etc. I didn’t know whether or not to say thank you or not to the congratulations… so I nodded.

    I’ve always just felt like it was awkward in a way to say congratulations. Congrats on all the new responsibility!!! I don’t know. It’s just a little odd, especially when no calling is supposed to be better than another.

    … But what else could someone say to be nice?

  11. I meant nice as being friendly, kind, and supportive. I ran into this column browsing the internet, but I didn’t want to get into your debate. It seems that’s what that question was aiming toward.

    My statement can be translated as, “… But what else could someone say to be supportive?”

    To clarify my post I wouldn’t say congrats to someone with a new calling. Congrats is more for accomplishments that you’ve been working toward.

    Some people may say it carelessly (like nice in my last post) because they can’t think of anything else to say for support. Some people may mean it literally.

    I think there are more important issues in the world, however…

  12. “But what else could someone say to be supportive?”

    Why does anything need to be said at all? Doesn’t raising the right hand in sustainment say it all?

  13. I have served in many callings. I am grateful for the experiences in my life. As long as we are humble and aren’t looking for the “pat on the back” and just serve to the best of our ability we will be fine. There is nothing wrong with someone acknowledging our calling. But we can’t be puffed up for receiving a calling and we can’t be offending if we don’t get the acknowledgement for being called. The blessings of the spirit for our service is what I need to help me in my eternal progression. We need to stay focused on the goal. “Don’t sweat the small stuff”

  14. That’s my point. Doesn’t giving congratulations (especially when given only to leadership positions) precipitate the puffed up attitudes?

  15. I see it differently than you. Many callings are accomplishments. For example callings to be a relief society president or a counselor in the bishopric are not issued to “losers.” I will congratulate a person with a new calling as a way of acknowledging their new responsibility and as a way of acknowledging that their efforts to live the Gospel has been recognized.

  16. Anonymous:

    I have to sort of disagree with you. Callings are issued to those who are able, ready and at the time called of the Lord (generally). As far as being issued to “losers”, not everyone who is a bishop or a RS president is perfect and some are far less than perfect.

    I knew a man who was called as a bishop, in spite of the fact that he told them straight out he wasn’t sure he had a testimony. He served for a short period of time, asked for a release and went inactive for a good 20 years afterwards. A calling isn’t a recognition of a person’s effort to live the gospel. It’s a calling from the Lord to do the work and accomplishments come from fulfilling one’s calling.

    A RS president isn’t better than any other calling, nor is a bishop. Callings are made hierarchal only by us weak humans. Let me tell you, when I hear people say they are “only a primary teacher” or “only the bulletin editor” as if those are not important callings, it gets to me. My son’s Sunbeam teacher is absolutely marvellous. He adores her and her helper teachers. He learns so much from her. She is an amazing person. My daughter has similarly been blessed with wonderful primary teachers. If I am going to say that any calling is not issued to “losers”, I would say any calling where children are to be taught. Actually any calling in the Church. What makes a person a “loser” or a “winner” is what they do with that calling, however seemingly innocuos or not.

    Serving the Lord in whatever capacity, is important. The Lord doesn’t make distinctions in people, only people do that.

  17. I agree callings are without status; all are important and all deserve respect and support. My example of counselor and RS president was not meant to infer they were more, or less, important than any other calling.

    However, I would ask that you consider that folks that are given calling, though by no means perfect, have demonstrated their commitment to live gospel principles. I know of no excommunicated members who hold callings. I know of no folks who openly oppose the teachings of the church and hold callings. It is those folks to whom I apply the term “loser”; perhaps an inappropriate term. But, virtually everyone I’ve ever known that was called to a church position was, in their own way, striving to live the principles of the Gospel, that’s commendable, difficult and to be admired. So yes, from my point of view, to offer congratulations is very appropriate. To withhold congratulations is missing an opportunity to let other members know you love, respect, and support them.

  18. …folks that are given calling…have demonstrated their commitment to live gospel principles.

    Without a doubt. I wonder though how offering congratulations affects a person’s understanding of the purpose of obedience. If we congratulate persons for new callings on the basis that they received it because of their obedience — despite the fact that this clarification is never included with the congratulations — are we teaching them that they should be obedient so they can receive a calling?

    I don’t know about you, but of all the callings I have held, I have never asked for any of them. I certainly don’t see them as any sort of reward for whatever level of obedience I may possess. If anything, I see them as additional burdens. If my callings are directly related to my level of obedience, then I am tempted to reduce my obedience so I can receive fewer of them.

    “To withhold congratulations is missing an opportunity to let other members know you love, respect, and support them.”

    Aren’t there plenty of opportunities other than new callings to let members know you love, respect, and support them?

  19. Definition of “Congratulations”: The act of expressing joy or acknowledgment, as for the achievement or good fortune of another.

    There is nothing wrong with expressing joy for them with a new calling. A new calling is “Good Fortune” for them. They will be put in a position to grow spiritually. All callings are important for our eternal progression. We serve because we are asked to serve. If we serve with charity in our hearts blessings will be poured out upon us. Serving will keep the Holy Ghost with us and he will acknowledge our good works. Serving others should be thanks enough. There is no other feeling that lifts our spirits as the Spirit we receive when we serve others. We must sustain those whom the Lord has chosen to serve. Which requires us to pray for them and to help them when they require our assistance.

    None of us are perfect we all have a short comings. We are asked to do the best we can do. We may offend others, we may bring others into the fold. But if we are humble and serve where we are asked to serve we will have the Lord on our side helping us.

    So I say “congratulations” in your new calling good blessings and spiritual experiences are to follow if you serve with a charitable heart.

  20. “They will be put in a position to grow spiritually.”

    But don’t we grow spiritually from all callings?

    “All callings are important for our eternal progression.”

    So then why are congratulations only given out with some callings? I never receive a congratulations when I was new in the ward or was made ward clerk or secretary to the stake mission presidency.

    As well, it’s not like I was never an elders quorum president before.

  21. Kim,

    My sentiments exactly. I got a lot of “congratulations” after I was called as elders quorum president. It made me uncomfortable for exactly the reasons you cited.

    I started telling people that “gesundheit” would be a better thing to say.

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