New calling: Gospel Doctrine teacher

This past Sunday, I was sustained as a Gospel Doctrine teacher. I’m excited about it.

This is my second time around. Last time was 5 years ago, after I was released as elders quorum president. I was looking forward to the following year, when we would be studying Old Testament. Unfortunately, it was short lived; I was released after only 8 months so I could serve as executive secretary.

Luckily, this year, we’re studying the Old Testament this year, and we still have the majority of the year left, so I can get a pretty good OT fix this year. I’m also looking forward to teaching the Gospels next year.

I love public speaking, but the next best thing is being able to teach. :)

  • elders quorum second counsellor
  • elders quorum president
  • ward mission leader
  • stake mission secretary
  • young men president
  • ward clerk
  • elders quorum president
  • Gospel Doctrine instructor
  • executive secretary
  • seminary teacher
  • stake website editor

 

Reflections of an elders quorum president

Two and a half years is quite a good stretch of time to serve as an elders quorum president. When I first started out, I was maintaining the status quo (e.g. focus on home teaching). After a year or so, my outlook changed, and I knew I need to focus my attention to more fundamental issues.

I have served as elders quorum president longer than the four presidents prior to me. I’ve reflected on my efforts often. My bishop seems to think I am doing swell, bang-up job. He must see something I don’t see because I don’t see any evidence that anything I’ve done in the last 2.5 years has made a difference.

Anyone who’s been a longtime reader has probably picked up on this through some of my posts. It doesn’t take much to read between the lines. In fact, it may even be more obvious than I thought.

Anyhow, while studying my scriptures tonight, I came across this scripture.

“When my brethren saw that I was about to build a ship, they began to murmur against me, saying: Our brother is a fool, for he thinketh that he can build a ship; yea, and he also thinketh that he can cross these great waters.” (1 Ne. 17:17)

The word “great” got me thinking, and my mind was shortly thereafter brought to D&C 64:33. In particular, the last line:

Out of small things proceedeth that which is great.

I decided to turn to the verse and read it in context. That’s when the first part of the verse jumped out at me.

Be not weary in well-doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work.

That verse hit me pretty hard. It gave me some comfort.

I still don’t know if what I am doing is making a difference, but at least I have the feelng that I’m going in the right direction.

If verse 33 provided comfort, verse 34 provided encouragement:

the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days.

If nothing else, I’ll try to be less self-deprecating and more optimistic. More willing I suppose would be a better phrase.

To be called of God

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?”

We Need Some New Callings

Over time and through some painful experiences, I have learned to keep my skills as a “computer geek” secret from members of any ward I live in.?Ǭ† I even act dumb when asked?Ǭ† if I know anything about printer drivers so they can print home teaching reports, etc. if I happen to be passing by the clerks office.?Ǭ† I have found that if “They” ever find out about my superpowers, I’ll get roped into a “computer related” calling and be stuck there until I move or die.

I was talking to a friend about this.?Ǭ† His profession is in finance and investing.?Ǭ† Because of this, he was shackled to the financial clerk chains for many years, even though he knew nothing about accounting.?Ǭ† His leaders always commented that they were grateful that they had him because someone with his experience made things go so much smoother in the ward.?Ǭ† He would always joke to me that he had zero experience before he took the calling.

I believe we have others who are typecast into certain callings.?Ǭ† Of course this won’t be 100% of the time, but it is very common in my experience.?Ǭ† I was in a ward where a lady worked as a head librarian at a city library… bet you can guess what her calling was.

To me, the odds of this being “inspired” 100% of the time is pretty small.?Ǭ† I believe these are callings of convenience.?Ǭ† To me, it was disheartening to have to do my computer job all week long, and then in my spare time have to tend to the computer needs of the ward and the family history center.?Ǭ† I never got a break.

Locally, (again, not 100% of the time) my experience is that the leadership callings of the ward and stake are reserved for the “professionals”.?Ǭ† High councils are mostly full of doctors, dentists,?Ǭ†and lawyers.?Ǭ† Bishops are dentists, lawyers and doctors.?Ǭ† And I can see why, it’s because there is no calling in the gospel that coincides with their profession.

This leads me to think that we need some new callings in the church.?Ǭ† We need to have the ward doctor, the ward, dentist, the ward lawyer.?Ǭ† They would then be on call 24/7 and be able to use their professional expertise to help the members of the ward FOR FREE, just like I do when I use my computer skills in a calling.?Ǭ† Who knows, maybe we’d see more convert baptisms if people knew they had access to those types of resources as a result of being a member of the church!

“Opposed… if any?”

I hear those words, almost on a weekly basis.

On a weekly basis, I get a few more drops of courage to actually raise my hand.

?Ǭ†Why is it that we don’t oppose when it’s how we feel sometimes??Ǭ† I must admit, I have never done it in a public meeting.?Ǭ† The closest I ever got was a few weeks ago when I had a PPI / HT interview with the EQP.?Ǭ† I told them point blank that I opposed a number of things they were doing in the quorum.?Ǭ† I didn’t try to be a jerk about it, but I let them know how I felt and why.?Ǭ† And, then to make it clear, I told them if they continued, I could not sustain them.?Ǭ† I / They left it there.?Ǭ† Nothing has changed.?Ǭ† They now know where I stand.

So, I’m thinking about our ward and stake conference that are comming up, where I’ll have another chance to oppose in public.?Ǭ† Honestly, I don’t know that I have the guts to do it.?Ǭ† I think I’d be more inclined to not raise my hand to sustain and afterwards, go to whoever and voice my opposition.?Ǭ† I admit that is the easier way out.