Leadership Now & Then

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There’s something I don’t get.

My entire married life, the only callings I have received have been leadership callings. Elders quorum presidencies, ward mission leader, young men presidency, stake mission presidency, ward clerk. I have no idea why. I don’t think I do a particularly good job, and I honestly don’t think I have any leadership skills; I’m certainly not a very good motivator.

But what really gets me is that this is completely opposite of my mission experience. I never once had any leadership experience on my mission (except for my last trunky month training). No district leader, no zone leader, no AP. I was never even a senior companion (always a “co-companion”).

I don’t know why there’s this contrast either. On my mission, I read my scriptures every day (for at least an hour). I prayed often. I got along with my companions. Sure, every so often, I slept in or caught a video. But I loved to teach and I was good at it. I struggled with resolving concerns for the first half of my mission or so, but the last half, I was a pretty good teacher.

I hated finding though. I detested it in fact. I wish back then I had a secretary to make my appointments for me like I do now. I hated asking for referrals and knocking on doors (selective tracting is what we called it in Utah). All I wanted to do was teach.

The baptisms weren’t even that important. Sure I was caught up in all the hype and the numbers game, but teaching and seeing progression was the real thrill for me.

I certainly teach less now. I read my scriptures less. I pray less. I watch TV and movies more. I listen to music more. I even kiss more.

So why? Why is it now that I seem to be focusing less on spiritual things and more on temporal things, I am given leadership callings? And for that matter, only leadership callings?

30 thoughts on “Leadership Now & Then

  1. because on your mission you ate breathed, ate and slept being more spiritual. That was what you did. Then reality set in and you came home, got a job, got married started your family and your time now became pretty non existant. You are tired when you get home from work and just plain life gets in your mind. You are part of the world.

    You are in leadership positions because all your blessings growing up were about you being a great and noble leader in your youth and in your adult years. People watch you and your presence. You never know who is watching you and who you are planting seeds to.

    Heavenly Father is grooming you so that you may attain greatness in your leadership.

  2. “all your blessings growing up were about you being a great and noble leader in your youth and in your adult years.”

    So why no leadership positions on my mission?

    And great and noble leader? That’s funny.

  3. “all your blessings growing up were about you being a great and noble leader in your youth and in your adult years”

    That sounds an awful lot like pre-destination; a concept not embraced by the LDS, no?

    “Then reality set in”

    Are you implying that being on your missions is not being ‘in reality’?

    I’m surprised that you’d have these opinions, Sally.

    Kim, I had not idea your mother was such a heretic. And at this time of year, my word!

  4. “Are you implying that being on your missions is not being ‘in reality’?”

    I don’t imply it. I know it.

  5. I can’t wait to see that on a resume:

    Jun 2004 – Jul 2004: Food Services (Wendy’s)
    Aug 2004 – Sept 2006: Outside of Reality
    Oct 2006 – Present: Student BYU

  6. Rick
    well, being on a mission is a different reality. You live, breahe and work sharing the Gospel day in and day out. You don’t have the responsibilities of going to a full time job each day or being a parent in the full time sense. You don’t have to pay a lot of bills. It’s an expectation that all your daily efforts are focussed on your mission work. Secular stuff is kept to a minimum. So yes, it is a different reality.

  7. “sharing the Gospel day in and day out”

    I would dispute that. It is the goal, but not the reality.

    Based on anecdotal evidence I’ve collected, I have determined that the vast portion of one’s mission is not, in fact, spent sharing the gospel; it is in truth spent doing many, many other tasks related to trying to share the gospel but not on the sharing process itself.

    Having never served a mission, I can’t give firsthand evidence but I can solicit several sources who claim firsthand knowledge of this thesis.

  8. I have a theory.

    I would say that on the mission, you had about 0.01% of missionaries saying ‘No’ to a leadership assignment.

    I think in the real world, that number is much higher. I, for one, don’t plan on saying ‘Yes’ to another leadership calling. In fact, my goal is to be calling free by 2008.

  9. Another thought…

    Less callings in the real world are ‘inspired’. Once they find someone who is willing to do the work, they just stick with them.

  10. JM said: “In fact, my goal is to be calling free by 2008.”

    Quit attending church and you can be calling free in 2007.

  11. Perhaps a better answer would be that your mission leaders simply did not like you and your current local leaders do like you.

    When do you get crowned a High Priest?

  12. You are misinformed JM when you said when “they find someone who likes the work they keep them”. I was just released from my calling as Primary President on Sunday. I loved my calling, I was very good at it, I was passionate about the children… something you do not get very often. You usually have to pull teeth to get people in there to subsitute let alone be called to it… and yet they called me elsewhere because of their inspiration.

  13. JM said: “Less callings in the real world are ‘inspired’.”

    What callings do you believe are “inspired” and what callings are who is available?

    Are any callings really “inspired”?

  14. George,
    While I can’t offer you any proof of inspired callings, I can offer a couple of personal anecdotes.
    When I was called as a counselor in the EQ presidency several years ago, I felt a strong feeling of confirmation during the interview with the SP.
    Currently, as a member of the bishopric, I have felt inspiration and the confirmation of the Spirit when we discuss callings. We also have had a few ideas for callings that were flat out rejected by the Lord. There is a definite difference in the feeling in the room.
    Again, I can offer no hard evidence of inspiration, just my own experiences that I have interpreted as inspiration. Your mileage may vary.
    (Unfortunately, I am going out of town tomorrow for several days and my web connection status is uncertain. If I don’t respond, don’t take it personally.)

  15. As to Kim’s question about leadership, I wouldn’t read too much into the lack of leadership callings as a missionary. I would feel fortunate that you were allowed to focus on teaching more than babysitting. It’s so much easier to concentrate on being a missionary when you don’t have to worry about other missionaries being missionaries. You obviously loved teaching as a missionary and the Lord allowed you to do just that without having to take care of homesick, disobedient, trunky, or unwilling missionaries as a DL, ZL or, AP.

    I am in a similar situation, Kim. I was DL as a missionary for about 2 months near the end of my mission. Boy am I glad I didn’t have to deal with that for a longer period of time. Since my wife and I decided to stay in our current ward, I have been called to leadership positions (EQ counselor, EQ pres, YM counselor, bishopric). I also do not consider myself particularly skilled as a leader and I keep wondering if there is something the Lord is trying to teach me but that I’m too stubborn to learn.

  16. Capt. Obsidian – Have you ever thought a calling was “inspired” and then you find out the person was not worthy to hold that position?

    Did it make you question how “inspired” your thoughts/feelings really were?

  17. I just happened onto this discussion, looking for what my duties will be as a new Ward Mission Leader. I am sorry if I don’t belong here. A few observations. My callings and mission weren’t about me, though I can see how my perception could have been just that. If I enter the vinyard to work, but I don’t like the vines or the grapes, or my job, I certainly could turn my nose up at the penny I received at the end of the day. But, the vines were mine, and my job wasn’t really MY job either. I didn’t have to accept the job in the first place, and don’t have to value the penny and what it stands for; and, it is my right to throw the penny away.

    Next, yeah, a mission can be hard. Darn. Most 19 year olds find everything is hard- even doing laundry or dishes. You all speak of “reality” as if it is an absolute like 1 1=2. Reality is an illusion of the moment. If the veil were taken from our eyes, and we could see the eternities, our families, and our Heavenly Parents, this reality would not then be real to us at all. When you speak of reality, you are only telling of your dissatisfaction of present affairs. The reality is that I WAS happy during my mission, and teaching the gospel WAS important, and I DID feel the spirit. But that condition DOES not need to remain as past tense.

    I would choose that reality again, and probably yours too, over my wife having cancer, the death of my mother, or my lost job. Or as the optomist in a room full of horse “crap”, I can declare, “there’s got to be a pony in here somewere!”

    This too shall pass, if you want it to.

  18. K Holmes

    Interesting and good insight. Why would you think you don’t belong here? Congratulations on your new calling!

    Yes, using this parallel, there are different realities at different times. Right now, my focus is on bearing and raising my children (mainly teaching them; it seems to be my primary focus) and yet that won’t always be.

    Just to clarify, Kim isn’t complaining, he is bringing up thoughts and ideas for discussion.

    Kim also loved his mission. There are still times when he misses it.

  19. George,
    “Have you ever thought a calling was ‘inspired’ and then you find out the person was not worthy to hold that position?”

    No. But as the EQ pres, my first choice for a 1st counsellor announced he was moving out of the ward literally minutes before I handed in the personnel request for the calling. Does that mean that I was wrong when I prayed about him and felt good about it? No, it means that he would have been a great counsellor, but he was moving. Interestingly, that led me to consider someone who was not even on the radar screen previously. He turned out to be a great counsellor.

    I don’t look at callings as a case of the Lord saying “Brother X has been predestined to be the Sunday School president from Dec 2006 to March 2008.” I understand it more as the Lord saying “Yes, Brother X would make a good SS president right now.” If Brother X’s personal worthiness gets in the way of such a calling then perhaps the process of calling him was a step to help him repent. In such a case, Brother X probably would be a good SS president, if he were worthy.

    Kim,
    “Oh, I still babysat.”

    Fair enough. I had a companion I had to babysit, too. I was referring to having to babysit 20 or so Elders and Sisters as a ZL, though. My BiL was a ZL and he spent so much time breaking up fights between companions, dealing with pretty serious disobedience, planning and attending Zone meetings and leadership conferences, and things like that, that his actual missionary work suffered.

  20. Capt. Obsidian said: “George,
    “Have you ever thought a calling was ‘inspired’ and then you find out the person was not worthy to hold that position?”

    No. But as the EQ pres, my first choice for a 1st counsellor announced he was moving out of the ward literally minutes before I handed in the personnel request for the calling. Does that mean that I was wrong when I prayed about him and felt good about it? No, it means that he would have been a great counsellor, but he was moving. Interestingly, that led me to consider someone who was not even on the radar screen previously. He turned out to be a great counsellor.”

    Assuming God knows “EVERYTHING”, why would God inspire you to call someone whom God knew was moving?

    Was this more of a feel good choice you made as oppossed to it being inspired?

  21. George, is it a personal goal of yours to try to kill every thread you respond to?

  22. JM said: “George, is it a personal goal of yours to try to kill every thread you respond to?”

    Do you prefer living in a world were truth is not allowed?

    Truth can withstand questions and lies/mistakes do not.

    The typical way LDS handle hard questions is to attack the person who asks as opposed to answering the question.

    Since you do not know the answer to the question, does this mean you are not righteous?

    My goal is to ask a question and have it answered. I really like to know what others think/believe on certain subjects.

    I would think LDS members having all the truth and knowledge would also have answers to simple questions.

  23. Capt,

    I believe Monson said it best when he said “Information precedes inspiration”

    An inspired choice about anything is only as good as the information available.

    It has been my experience that local church leadership is generally uninterested in any information that will help them to make inspried callings / choices / decisions.

    I offer the following as evidence, names witheld to protect the foolish.

    – New person moves into ward. There is a vacancy in calling X. Vacancy filled by new person the following week. Althought this may be an inspired calling, I cant remember a time in the last 10 years when I have not witnessed this happen. It is a statistical improbability that 100% of the time, the inspired choice will only be to call the new person to the vacant calling. Never have I seen an established ward member released from a call to fill a vacancy and then the new person take the established members old calling.

    I was also in a ward with a high population of newly married couples who were students. I would say that 90% of those, when they moved into the ward, were called to serve in the nursery or primary. Again, a statistical improbability. I heard this same bishopric complain that they could never keep thos positions staffed because the members they would call would always move out of the ward. I heard from those that moved out of the ward complain that they were always being called to the nursery or primary, so they would keep moving until they found a ward that gave them an inspired call.

    – Two new priesthood holders move into ward. They are 1) assigned to home teach each other, or 2) they are put together as a home teaching companionship and given some of the less active / DNC families the EQP was handling. Another varaition would be member X moves out and member Y moves in. Membery Y is assigned the home teaching vacancy left by member X. This is usually done without getting to know the new member. I find it sadly humorous when the EQP finds out that their newly assigned home teacher has been disfellowshipped or is completely inactive and cannot home teach.

    – When I was EQP my inspired choice for first counselor was turned down for three years straight. Reason I was given by SP: “The bishop likes the job he’s doing as ward financial clerk and doesn’t want to have to train a new replacement”

    I understand that these types of things don’t happen 100% of the time, but in my experience, they are the norm rather than the exception.

    Another symptom of uninspired leadership, in my opinion, are those leaders who feel the need to re-invent church programs, or completely ignore truly inspired programs and procedures.

    There are many examples, but I will offer my favorite as an example.

    Any priesthood leader who calls quorum members for home teaching stats, asking “Did you do your home teaching” and only requiring a simple yes or no answer. This type of priesthood leader can only be uninspired in the decisions they make. The yes or no answer provides no information regarding the spiritual and temporal welfare of the families they have stewardship over.

    Any priesthood leader who does this, almost universally, does not do home teaching interviews or personal priesthood interviews. They are probably horrible at deligating and are more often than not, only focused on reporting a good stat to look good to the bishop or SP.

    This type of priesthood leader is one who clearly does not read the church handbook, or if they do they either consider it a ‘guideline’ to be followed or ignored at their discretion.

    This ineffective management of the home teaching program is almost always a symptom of greater problems and misunderstandings in a quorum / ward / stake. It shows a complete lack of understanding of the doctrine of return and report and of personal accountibility for one’s stewardship. I have no patience for it.

    I never answer the phone when I know I am getting the “did you do your home teaching?” call. I will never give the yes or no answer. I have a hard time supporting a foolish, lazy tradition that goes against the inspired home teaching program outlined in the handbook.

  24. “Never have I seen an established ward member released from a call to fill a vacancy and then the new person take the established members old calling.”

    This just happened in our ward a few months ago. A counsellor in the bishopric was released to be the high priests group leader, and a recent move-in was called as a counsellor in the bishopric. In fact, he wasn’t even a high priest yet.

    “The yes or no answer provides no information regarding the spiritual and temporal welfare of the families they have stewardship over.”

    Unfortunately, by putting in a recording mechanism that requires only a yes or no answer facilitates this type of reporting. Home teaching stats recorded in MLS do not show progression or ward spiritual strength despite many local leaders believing the contrary. It does show whether a visit was made to particular families, but it does not show whether those families were asked regarding their spiritual activity (prayer, scripture study, FHE, etc), whether they are progressing toward meeting their personal goals, whether the home teachers have done any service, whether the home teachers are developing a love for those families, and so on.

    “I never answer the phone when I know I am getting the “did you do your home teaching?” call.”

    Neither do I. My current calling notwithstanding, I always phoned my supervisor as soon as I had visited all my families and reported on each individual family. I have never received “the phonecall” in the 11.5 years I have been married.

  25. I think JM’s post begs the question of, “Whose inpiration trumps whose inspiration?”

    What happens when two people are inspired to do things which in diametrical opposition?

    Do you have a worthiness-off?
    Some sort of spiritual arm-wrestling?

    …or is this simply a matter of practicality vs. spirituality in every instance?

  26. Rick,

    It all boils down to stewardship. Who has the right to receive the inspiration.

    In the case of me calling a first counselor, here is how it looks to me:

    The bishop has the right to receive inspiration for who to call to what position in the ward. The call of bishop is an aaronic priesthood calling. the aaronic priesthood is the ‘lesser’ priesthood.

    The elders quorum is a stake orginazational unit, usually organized at the ward level. the elders quorum president reports to the stake president, not the bishop. The elders quorum is a melchizedek priesthood quorum.

    When I look at the org chart, It appears to me that a calling from the elders quorum presidency for a counselor trumps a calling at the ward level, however….

    the man who presides as bishop also holds another calling / title – presiding high priest. This means that the bishop (aaronic priesthood) is the head melchizedek priesthood holder in the ward. as the presiding high priest he is able to conduct and judge / evaluate worthiness. For this reason, an elders quorum president must consult the bishop on all callings. Because the elders quorum president is not allowed to be involved in worthiness issues, if there is a problem with a suggested call, the bishop cannot tell him about it.

    Basically what this means is that the EQP will ask the bishop ‘I would like to call Henry to be my counselor. Are you ok with that?’

    The response is usually ‘no, you can’t have him’ or ‘that should be fine, but let me check with my counselors first’.

    So, a bishop can turn down a request for a call without needing to give any reason, regardless if the reason is valid or not.

    The only appeal would be to the stake president, who usually sides with the bishop.

  27. “Basically what this means is that the EQP will ask the bishop ‘I would like to call Henry to be my counselor. Are you ok with that?’”

    It’s just semantics, but what I usually say is, “For your information, we are considering Henry to be a [counsellor/instructor/secretary]. We still have to visit with him and pray about his name.” Only once did the bishop say no, but he changed his mind. I wish he hadn’t said no, because the person did the worst job in that calling than anyone else we’ve had.

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