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I love hypothetical posts.

Let’s say you are the bishop of a ward. Your gospel doctrine teacher is moving at the end of the month and as a bishopric, you are deciding who to pick to replace her. All other things being equal, it’s come down to two individuals.

The first individual is a powerful orator with a vast understanding of the scriptures and gospel principles. This person has the ability to motivate people.

The second individual is a recent convert who is still absorbing much about the gospel and has yet to finish reading the Book of Mormon.

Would you put in the person who will probably make the most difference in the lives of more people, or would you put in the individual who would gain the most personally from the calling?

39 thoughts on “Callings

  1. Hmm… I call them both! They can spell each other off and help each other. There’s always something to learn, don’t underestimate the new convert’s ability to help the more experienced member and of course, it’d be a great help to the convert to have someone who knows a lot in easy access. Between the two of them, they could really expand the horizons of their students!

  2. I believe it is quite possible that either choice might be confirmed as acceptible to the Lord. If it were me, I would seek further inspiration on the matter.

  3. Why make the whole ward suffer? Sic’ him on the elders quoroum or something – the guy can learn through teaching them.


  4. Why does your original post completely ignore the existence of revelation, and pose the question as purely one of personal judgment by the bishop?

    It think this hypothetical, like the one you posed about the Prophet “tweaking doctrines” is a false dilemma.

  5. ltbugaf

    why is it a false dilemma? Aren’t we (including Bishoprics) supposed to make decisions and then take it to the Lord? Revelation doesn’t generally come before seeking guidance.

    As well, I don’t see why it completely ignores the existence of revelation. And why oh why do you have to take Kim’s questions as his personal opinion? He is posing the question to see what people think. And to make them think.

  6. Gospel Doctrine class can be a little rough. I might not consider a new convert unless I was sure they had a thick skin. And even then I would (as bishop) attend the class personally for several weeks and be prepared to support the new convert as well.

  7. I am saddened that we can even legitimately ask this question. Gospel Doctrine is not a place to learn how to teach the gospel! There are lots of other places for that in the church. The fact is that Gospel Doctrine class is the only scriptural teaching/discussion most adult members get in the week. It is the time to “feed the sheep” from the scriptures. I think the best available teacher in the ward should be in that calling (at least the one who is best at teaching adults). The sheep need proper sheep food and a novice gospel teacher is almost never prepared to properly feed the sheep on a consistent basis.

  8. The personal history of ltbugaf is not relevant.

    The assumption that the inexperienced teacher will gain the most from the calling is not necessarily true.

  9. I think you are just a contentious sort, ltbugaf.

    But then perhaps I am jumping to conclusions like you have a tendency to do.

  10. Mary, I think I am a naturally argumentative person, and that this kind of forum tends to bring out that side of me. We’re here raising arguments, aren’t we?

    Anyway, I just think it’s a little silly for Kim to say on the one hand that he shouldn’t have to express his own views about something while attacking the views of others, and then ask for personal history.

  11. I also humbly admit that I have jumped to at least one rash and false conclusion on this ‘blog.

  12. But he does express is opinions at times. He wants to see what other’s think. The reason he asked if you have served in a Bishopric was to see if you knew how the whole calling stance has a tendency to work. Or rather, what your experience was with that.

    It’s too bad you couldn’t get to know Kim in person, you might find your opinion of him would change. It’s easier to know what people are really saying when you can see their body language.

  13. Itbugaf,

    I think the question about your experience with bishoprics was a valid one because you seem to have opinions on how God interacts with bishoprics that are incorrect in my opinion. Lots of saints think God tells bishoprics who to call and when — that God is really the bishop and the man with the mantle is little more than God’s puppet. This is, of course false. And it leads to all sorts of disillusionment too. More often God lets the bishopric make all the decisions and intervenes only when they really need it (to avoid a major screw-up or instance). Mostly God whispers “you’re the bishop — that decision will work”.

  14. I was exec-sec to a good bishop who later went on to be a Stake Pres. He said the Lord did a lot of hand-holding when he was first called as bishop, but after a while the Lord let him stand on his own feet.

  15. Great comment Geoff. I actually think that the “God tells bishoprics who to call and when” line of thinking you mention is dangerous. All it takes is for the bishop to make a mistake and call the wrong person, and those who think that way are losing testimonies and getting offended all over the place.

    Personally, I would think that 98 percent of the time, God doesn’t care who serves in a particular calling.

  16. I think the second individual, Recent Convert, will make more of a difference in the lives of my ward members. Brother Orator gives bored individuals the opportunity to pose their best party banter, but Recent Convert will provoke caution in the class and force a focus on the gospel’s central message.

    The Lord is free to veto my proposal. I think he calls Brother Orator in many wards since teaching meets Brother Orator’s boundless ego needs while keeping him out of trouble.

    (Sister) Johnna Orator, four-time Gospel Doctrine teacher

  17. Just as it’s wrong to assume the new convert will gain the most from the teaching, it’s also wrong to assume the gifted orator has “boundless ego needs.”

  18. Johnna,

    Kim’s implication seemed to be that the person was not just a gifted orator, but also a gifted teacher (“Has the ability to motivate people”). Now assuming that person also has strong faith, then there is little risk of boring classes, boundless egos posturing, or banal “party banter”. If any of those things are happening then the person is not a good teacher after all.

  19. I suppose the Bishopris would put in whomever they felt inspired to put in through prayer. Having had my husband in multiple Bishoprics…that’s the way it works.


  20. Wouldn’t it be normal to do some praying while looking for a short list of names and then do some more praying after narrowing it down to one?

  21. Not when I have been in bishopric meetings. The praying comes only after the decision has been made, as confirmation that it was a correct decision.

  22. I wrote a reply to Kim’s question yesterday but it doesn’t seem to have posted…Bishoprics do not “choose” people for callings in PEC, or with all presidency members in attendance. Typically, prayerful consideration is done FIRST with the Bishopric ALONE. That is the way I have knwo it to be done on all my wards and in all the Bishoprics my dh has been in. I am only talking from 15 years of experience.


  23. yes that’s right, usually, but not all the time in all callings and not exactly that way necessarily. besides that, the Lord expects everyone to use their brains and make a decision, He has a tendency not to hand out answers on a silver platter. we have to work for them, and that includes Bishoprics. Kim has worked with Bishoprics before as well (including in the calling making process).

  24. What I’ve usually seen is some President (of the Primary, the Relief Society, a quorum, etc.) praying for guidance in choosing someone to recommend, and then submitting the recommendation to the bishopric. Then the bishopric will do some more praying about the recommendations.

    I just suggest that it’s not necessarily correct to say, “The praying happens at point Y, not at point X.” I think it happens all over the place.

  25. That’s of course for calling that fall under an auxiliary’s stewardship. There are a lot that do not though.

    In our ward, at least, presidencies choose a person for a calling, pray for confirmation, then submit the name to the bishopric.

  26. Surely there’s nothing wrong with praying both before and after coming up with a choice?

  27. So…I believe the Holy Ghost has a role in guiding us BOTH while we’re using our own noggins to come up with a name AND while we’re praying for confirmation.

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