To be called of God

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There have been a few discussions going on in the bloggernacle about being called of God (or the lack of it). Most of the discussion focuses around past and present bishopric members of various wards talking about how hard it is to staff a ward and that it is impossible to have the stamp of approval from the Lord on every calling extended. I’m not sure what the purpose of their discussion is. They aren’t looking for any answers. They don’t seem to have any intention of correcting the situation. Perhaps it’s just a big pity-fest to help them rationalize why they aren’t doing their callings correctly. who knows?

If we turn to the scriptures, we find in the fifth article of faith that “a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.”

Well, I guess one out of two ain’t bad…

President Packer gave a good talk on callings. He points out that:

“When there is a need for someone to serve, the leaders talk about it and pray about it?¢‚Ǩ‚Äùoften more than once. They seek a confirmation from the Spirit, for calls should be made prayerfully and accepted in the same spirit.”

As a lowly member of the ward, am I asking too much that my leaders follow the prescribed pattern in making callings?

President Packer goes on to say:

“One who has authority to issue a call must rely on inspiration to avoid overburdening those who are always willing.”

I wonder if the reason why these bishoprics have such a problem staffing the ward is because they consistently fail in this one area? This talk is a goldmine in information for anyone issuing callings out of “desperation”.

Let’s see what the handbook says regarding issuing callings:

Doctrines of Callings and Releases

A person must be called of God to serve in the Church (see Articles of Faith 1:5). These callings come as the Holy Ghost inspires presiding officers to issue them. Releases from Church callings should also come by inspiration, except when a person’s change of residence necessitates a release or when a calling is for a specific time period, such as full-time missionary service.

Again, we see the need for inspiration in issuing callings in the church.

So, I guess my question is “why do bishoprics take shortcuts and offer calls of desperation, and then wonder why they have such a hard time staffing the ward?”

12 thoughts on “To be called of God

  1. FWIW, when I was participating in bishopric meetings, the bishopric prayed regarding every calling.

    I should point out that the fifth article of faith does not require prayer. Prophecy can come without being preceded by prayer.

  2. Kim,

    They can pray all they want, but if they don’t get any answer or any inspiration, and make a call based on desperation, I have issues with that.

    Like you said, it may not even need prayer to trigger the inspiration.

    If they aren’t getting any inspiration, they shouldn’t offer the call.

    What’s the danger in leaving a position unstaffed?

  3. Good example.

    So let’s say that this ward has a single unstaffed position… that of the 11 year old boys primary class.

    The bishopric, after asking, receives no inspriation on whom to call. I see the options as follows:

    1) Leave the position vacant – merge the primary class with other classes

    2) Leave the position vacant – keep seeking inspiration until the answer comes, have someone substitute teach the class in the mean time (a parent of one of the boys, someone in the primary presidency, someone in the bishopric, etc.)

    3) Pick someone available and make an uninspired call out of desparation.

    Why would any priesthood leader worth his salt ever go to option three? What if the right person for this call is moving into the ward in a few weeks time? What if there are other conditions that need to be met until the inspration comes?

    Priesthood leaders short-change the ward when they act out of desparation.

    (If I’ve missed another reasonable option, please identify it)

  4. For instance?

    For instance what? You asked what the danger would be if a calling was left unfilled. I am saying the “danger” would vary depending on the calling.

    If the Primary presidency first counsellor was unstaffed, the “danger” would be the rest of the presidency would have to pick up the slack. If the ward organist was unstaffed, the “danger” would be someone would have to find a substitute organist each week or everyone sings a capella. If the ward bulletin editor was unstaffed, the “danger” woudl be there would be no bulletins on Sunday.

    As you can see, the “danger”, as I stated, depends on the position.

  5. Kim,

    I don’t see any “danger” with any of those. Nor do I see any with any calling.

    But let’s take one of your examples… the ward organist. This position is vacant and no inspiration is forthcoming. Like you pointed out, you would need to find a sub, sing a capella, or wheel in the organ/electric piano from the primary/relief society room and have it play itself, or even play the hymns off of a CD player.

    Aren’t any of those options better than a desperation call?

    There is no danger in leaving a position unstaffed until the Lords choice comes along. That is, if we really believe in A of F 5.

  6. I don’t see any ‘danger’ in leaving a calling unfilled if it’s something like bulletin editor, organist, or even the chorister (who really pays attention to that person anyway). I do see a bit of a danger when it comes to working with children or youth. There needs to be someone that puts forward the notion that they care about them. I would imagine that if there was a class of 15 kids that had no teacher it would make sense to at least ask parents to take turns teaching the class until the inspiration came on who to call.

    Another question – have you ever had a call extended to you that you felt like was not inspired? Or have you ever had a strong witness that a call was inspired? I’ve experienced both of those. It’s quite interesting to go through that.

  7. I don’t see any “danger” with any of those.

    If we’re referring to “danger” as literal, then I have to agree that there is no actual danger in leaving any calling unstaffed.

    have you ever had a call extended to you that you felt like was not inspired?

    Yeah, I’m doubtful my being called as EQP was inspired. There were few candidates at the time and I was the only one who had been president before.

    I certainly haven’t changed anything in that time.

  8. Ye. I understood the ‘danger’ definition. Thing is some people think it’s impossible to function without this or that person…but the truth is, even if there are bumps, life goes on.

  9. I have been a member for 29 years and I have always and I mean ALWAYS known what calling I was about to get before I got it. So much so that when I have gotten a calling that was not what I “knew” I was supposed to get I have right out asked “Are you sure”? For example, a few years ago I knew I was going to be called as Primary President. I knew it as sure as I was breathing. When I was called in the Bishops office he called me as RS secretary. I kind of shook my head and asked if he was sure. He said yesss why? So I told him. Not what I knew I was supposed to get just that my experience had always been I had known prior to getting it. 6 months later I get called to the Bishop’s home and get told that through prayer and fasting I was going to be released as RS secretary and called as Primary President. I couldn’t help it. I started to chuckle and was asked what was so funny. So I told him.

    He then said the Lord may have told you that you would be called as PP but He didn’t say WHEN you would be called that. Well when you put it that way!! Point was that was the first time I got called to something that I didn’t know about. Move forward to just before Christmas. After only 1 1.2 years as PP I get released to be called as Ward Family History Consultant. That came out of left field. Totally out of the blue. I to this day know it was “not right” but did I make a big stink about it? Well in the office right there and then I did. I told the Bishop how I felt and that I thought he was wrong and that the Spirit was telling me it was wrong.

    It was the first time ever in a very long list of callings that I refused to be set apart right then and there. I broke down uncontrollably to the point that I had to leave. I have since been set apart. I am doing my calling and I do love my calling and work very hard at it as I do with all of mine. Do I think it was still wrong? Yes. BUT!! Regardless if I think it was right or wrong he is my Priesthood leader and I sustained him. What he asked of me was not unrighteous. We are both entitled to feel the guidance of the Spirit and on Judgment Day all will come out in the wash.

    On an ending note the person that was called to replace me 2 days later went through the EXACT same thing I went through in the Bishop’s office. The following day the person that was called to replace her went through the exact same scenario. None of us had spoken to the other until after Sunday when we were all released and called. Ironic that 3 of us in one week went through the same thing.

    I don’t have an answer for you JM. We all have to do what we think is right and for the right reasons. We don’t know what is going on in the Bishop/Stake President’s mind or any other leaders. We don’t know what goes on during their prayers. I know for us, we have a new temple that is being built out here. Our very first temple!! I know that the Bishop had need of someone who was direct and enthusiastic about family history in this calling. Someone who could get others passionate about their genealogy.

    Just as you were really good in your Stake Mission calling and knew your stuff inside out, I did too with mine. I don’t get it when someone is very good at they are doing why they would be released to put someone in there that hates it. Maybe it isn’t what we can learn from it but what others can learn.

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