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Why Me? Why Now? Serving in our Callings with Joy

It was six years ago. I was a young mom with three small children ages four, two, and newborn. I had just come off of the most terrifying experience of my life where I spent a month in the hospital and had my body tested to the limit. I in no way felt “good” or “back to normal” after the delivery of this child just three months earlier. My husband was commuting and working a part time job, and I felt like I couldn’t possibly put one more thing on my plate.

Which is why , when I was called into the bishop’s office and asked to be the new Primary president, I felt like Moses when he said:

“…O my Lord, I am not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto the servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.” (Exodus 4:10)

I may not have felt slow of speech, but the sentiment was the same; I felt totally unprepared for this calling in so many ways. First, the timing just seemed so off. There were dozens of women in my ward who I knew had more settled lives than I did at the time. Second, Primary? While I had served in Primary a time or two before, I definitely didn’t feel like my strengths were in working with children. If I were Moses, my verse may have sounded something like this:

“O my Lord, I am not ready right now, neither heretofore, nor since thou has spoken unto the servant: but I am still recovering from childbirth and raising toddlers, and I don’t especially like working with kids!”

And yet, ready or not, here it was. I was called and sustained as the Primary president in a young and growing ward. I knew I had huge challenges ahead of me (and I didn’t even have a CLUE at that time how hard those challenges really would be). All I could think of was, “Why me? Why now?”

Callings don’t always come at convenient times or to people who feel completely prepared for what they are called to do. But usually we accept, we learn, we do our best, and yes we can even learn to serve with joy.

When I look back at that particular time in my life, it is with a smile. There were great challenges for me during that time, both calling-related and in my personal life. But there were also many in fact, far more times of great joy as I made life-long friends with those with whom I served, and witnessed the testimonies of Primary children grow as they learned about the gospel. It’s not a time I’d trade for anything.

There have been times before and since when I may not have felt that my calling was the best fit for me at the time, but I can honestly say that each time I have served with my whole heart, I have been blessed and have grown.

Recently I moved into a new ward, and my second time attending I was called in to meet with a young counselor in the bishopric. As we started talking, I was thinking, “Gee, this guy can’t be more than 30 years old can he?” and remembering back how I felt as a young wife with a husband in the bishopric. “His poor wife!” I thought. “I know how hard it is to raise young kids with your husband gone all the time.”

As our interview continued, he called me to serve as a counselor in the new Young Women’s presidency in the ward. He explained that the president had been called a month or so earlier and had quickly decided on one counselor and the secretary, but that she was having a hard time filling that last position. Luckily, she had a little time because they wanted to get girl’s camp behind them before the change. She saw me briefly on my first Sunday there and didn’t know my name, but took the question to the temple and felt like I was the one to be her other counselor. I didn’t ask who the new president was (because I didn’t know anyone anyway so it wouldn’t really matter!), but finally the counselor said, “I know she felt very strongly about it, because it’s my wife.”

Wow. Here I was feeling sorry for this woman for having a husband in the bishopric and now he tells me that she is the new YW president! God has a sense of humor, this I know to be true!

As I’ve served with this sister over the past two months, and come to know her a bit better, I’ve come to learn two things: First, she really does have her hands full! Her oldest child is just starting kindergarten and she is expecting her fourth, and with her husband’s calling and work she has to feel completely overwhelmed. But second, I’ve also learned this: this is the person who the Lord would have serve at this time. I’ve seen her interact with the girls and there is a reason she is there. She may not know the reason now, but someday she also will look back on this time as one of great joy in her life. This I know.

So, how do you serve with joy in your calling when not even you have a testimony that you are the right person or this is the right time? I know you all have experience with this. Do share!

{ 28 comments… add one }
  • Michelle D September 17, 2009, 5:59 pm

    Angie, great article.

    I have also had times when I’ve wondered why me? why now? Like many situations in life, I most often find the answers to those questions when I look at the experience in hindsight. In other words, I don’t always see it during my time of service, but it is obvious when I look back at what I’ve learned and accomplished.

    The timing of your article is ironic. I was just sustained on Sunday to two callings in our new ward. Ray and I were called as seminary teachers for the youth in our area (the western part of our ward boundaries – the distance and school start times preclude our youth from attending seminary at the church with the other youth in the ward). We knew this one was coming, ever since we knew we’d be moving here and understood the dynamics of the location and talked with the bishop about our girls and seminary.

    My second calling is the Achievement Day leader for 10-11 year old girls. One of my daughters is that age, and she is ECSTATIC!! I took a few days to ponder this one before accepting, given the seminary calling. Most weeks Ray can teach when there is AD. But there will be times when Ray is traveling 3-4 days/week for his job, and I will be teaching seminary. Planning AD on top of that? Being aware of my tendency to overload myself in the name of “good works” I knew I would need to be careful and not just accept the calling “because it’s typically expected.”

    Ironically, the day after talking with the counselor in the bishopric, I unpacked a box that included some old journals. Instead of unpacking another box, I sat down and read. (Way more fun! :bigsmile:) They happened to include the time right before I was called as YW Pres through when I was released. As I read, I remembered feelings, thoughts, and lessons I had learned. I knew the Spirit was giving me my answer: “Accept the calling. Do your best. Trust the Lord to magnify your efforts. He’s done it before; He will do it again.”

    Now for the challenge to see how I do in real life – next week Ray has his first week of travel and I will lead my first AD. Ack!

  • Michelle D September 17, 2009, 6:33 pm

    I don’t want to dominate the beginning of this discussion, but I don’t know when I’ll get back on here during the next week.

    Here is another perspective on serving in callings and the timing of them, gained from my own experience:

    When the bishop talked to me about being released as YW Pres (a few years ago), he gratefully acknowledged my efforts and time, particularly because my 3.5 years of service had included some extremely trying and difficult circumstances for our family. He was feeling a little bad that the Lord hadn’t prompted him to release me earlier so I could focus on my family and our situation. My reaction was immediate and instinctive – serving in YW had been my lifeline!! It forced me to think about and serve others instead of wallowing in my own stress and fears and self-pity. I NEEDED that calling as much as the YW needed me at the time! The bishop looked at me in astonishment because he had never before viewed it that way. It gave him a completely different perspective on the timing and reasoning of callings.

    Sometimes the answer to “why me? why now?” can be as simple as helping someone step out of their own situations and challenges through serving and lifting others.

  • agardner September 17, 2009, 7:17 pm

    Thanks Michelle, and good luck in your callings!

    You are heading right along the lines that I was thinking. When I got the PP calling and though “how can I do this?”…looking back on it now I can see that it was exactly that calling that got me through all of those issues that I was dealing with at the time. I knew I had a job to do and I wanted to do my best, so I didn’t mess around with my health the way I had been up to that point. I was having a lot of post-delivery complications and was kind of just “waiting” for it to get better, but when I got the calling I knew I had to take care of myself or I’d never be able to physically do my calling. I saw a specialist right away and was diagnosed with hypothyroidism and anemia among other things and got myself set back on a path of health. That’s just one example. My calling served ME in many ways. I needed it.

    Another thing I just thought about…this happened at a time of great change in our area. When I had moved into my house, it was the same ward that my mom grew up in. The ward had been virtually unchanged other than splitting once since my mom had left it 30 years earlier. Then the Mt. Timpanogos temple opened and the building went crazy. Our ward split three times in 2 years, and I was called right when a new ward was being created. I was not happy at all about the growth in the area, but serving as PP during this time forced me to get to know people who were moving in and make them feel welcome. It also put me in immediate contact with 4 other women (we had an assistant secretary because our Primary was so big) that could be my instant friends. I know that if I would have continued playing the organ or leading the music or teaching in RS or whatever that I could have easily climbed into a shell and just pretended none of the change was going on around me. Instead, the calling enabled me to get outside myself and serve others.

    I think sometimes we don’t know the purpose until later. Maybe we never really know. But I think there is always someone we can reach, or something we can learn. A way we can help others or be helped by the callings that we have.

    I think you’ll love working with the AD girls, and seminary teacher has always been my secret desire (guess it’s not a secret anymore, lol!). I love working with that age group and I think it would be awesome to delve into the scriptures the way a seminary teacher does. You are going to be great!

  • Tinkerbell September 17, 2009, 8:34 pm

    I would really love to know how to serve in my calling with joy. I was just talking to two friends about this today. I loved being a busy YW President with little kids. Like Michelle, it was my lifeline. It was hard and demanding but just felt like a good fit.

    I HATE being in cub scouts. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it. I procrastinate like crazy. In fact, what I do is pretend I don’t even have a calling until I am forced to do it. All the stupid stuff you have to do – the paperwork, the trainings. I hate it. I feel really torn. On the one hand, if I don’t magnify my calling when I have little responsibility, why would I expect the Lord to trust me with greater responsibility? On the other hand, I just hate it. I was explaining it like this to my friend today: I love to vacuum. I hate to wash dishes. I would rather vacuum four hours a day (a big calling I enjoy) than wash dishes for half an hour a day (cub scouts). I just hate it.

    Basically I am gritting my teeth and hoping that it ends soon. Which it won’t – I’ve only been in for three months. I would much rather learn to enjoy it, but I just don’t know how. I had this calling for a year before. I know exactly what it is and what it entails. I hated it the whole year I did it – and I was even making an effort back then to do a good job! Now I honestly just don’t care. I just can’t stand it.

  • agardner September 17, 2009, 9:08 pm

    I HATE being in cub scouts. Hate it. Hate it. Hate it.

    Tink, I shouldn’t laugh, but I did. You are in my nightmare calling! So I totally get it.

    I have had a couple of callings like this. Not that I was serving in scouts, but just doing something I hated. Honestly, if I were called into scouts that might just be the one calling I would turn down. You are a better woman than I. I don’t care for the program and don’t think the church should be involved with it. Amen.

    So, how do we find a way to just get through a calling that we can’t stand?

    When I was 18 I was called to teach Sunbeams. Now, for a lot of 18-year-olds, they might find this fun. Me, un-uh. I was never really a “kid” person. I don’t think I’m particularly good with them (which is why it is so ironic that I’ve served most of my adult life in Primary) and I don’t particularly like being around them (except my own, sometimes :-). Today, I could be a Sunbeam teacher and find it tolerable (but probably not enjoyable, lol!), but back then this calling was pure torture. I remember trying so hard to come up with something that would keep their attention…and my great idea lasted for like 2 minutes and then I had lost total control of the class and I still had to be with for 40 minutes! I was so clueless. And yes, I hated it, and I cheered when I got called to lead the music in RS instead!

    So, what’s the answer? How do we get through a torturous calling? The best thing I can come up with is to pray. Pray for a quick release (ha ha), or to see the good in the calling, or for the ability to see how you might be the one who is reaching someone that another person might not.

    Isn’t your husband in the bishopric? How did he let them torture you like this?

    Something else I’d like to flesh out a bit on this thread is the age of service. Does it seem to anyone else that those in time consuming callings are getting younger and younger all the time? Man, my bishops and RS presidents growing up always seemed ancient to me – and when I think about it, they kind of were. Bishops seemed to always be at least in their mid-40’s and RS presidents were even older than that it seems! I know there were exceptions out there, but I don’t think I personally had a bishop under 45 until about 10 years ago. I’ve had a bishop as young as 30, and my husband has served in bishoprics 3 times and he’s only 36 (first time at 26). My current RS president has to be in her early 30’s. She’s got 4 little boys under 10, including one under 6 months. I found out recently that she was called earlier this summer (right before I moved here) so her baby must have been just a month or two old when she was called. These are in “average” wards where there are plenty of people who could serve, so why are church leaders and/or God (depending on your philosophy of how callings happen) choosing those who are at the busiest times of their life? Doesn’t this seem kind of backwards? You have all of these young people who have young families and little knowledge and experience serving as bishops, auxiliary presidents, etc. — and a lot of middle-aged people with empty nests teaching Primary or working as visiting teaching supervisors. Now before anyone jumps on that, let me just say that all callings are important – this isn’t to me about “importance”, it’s about “time”.

    Anyway, I have a couple of theories on why this is starting to happen more and more, but I’d love to hear your ideas and experiences on that first.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 18, 2009, 1:48 pm

    Angie, what a great article. Thank you. I have my dream calling right now, so I’m just going to sit back and enjoy it whether I’m the right person or not!:smile:

    Posted By: Michelle DMy second calling is the Achievement Day leader for 10-11 year old girls.

    Pssst. Activity Day. :bigsmile: Achievement Days were discontinued over six years ago.

    I bet you’ll be great in that assignment.

    Posted By: agardnerWhen I got the PP calling and though “how can I do this?”.

    The PP calling. Hah!

    Tink, I sooooo feel your pain. I have nothing but hugs for you. I wrote about this a few years ago. We had a pretty good discussion then, if memory serves. That might help, too. Or it will help you wallow with others who feel the same way. :confused:

    Posted By: agardnerDoes it seem to anyone else that those in time consuming callings are getting younger and younger all the time?

    I do think this is a trend and I don’t think it’s just because *I* am getting older. IMO it has some connection to the way this culture views youth, etc. I know that I’m busier right now than when I was in both RS presidencies and YW presidencies, but I also know that in a few years some of those responsibilities will pass. Looking statistically in the past wards I’ve been in, Sam and I are probably less likely to have very demanding callings when we would actually have more time to commit to them, than we have had during the very demanding times of child-rearing.

    OTOH…oh, I’ll save it for another day.

  • Tinkerbell September 18, 2009, 2:48 pm

    My DH is in the Bishopric. He stood firm against the Primary president and both other members of the Bishopric for four months. Then he caved. I didn’t even talk to him for almost a whole week because I was so mad. With how it all went down, I really felt forced into it. I am still so mad. I think I am over it (because I haven’t had to do anything cub scout related for a few days), but then I have to do something, and I get angry all over again. I am even surprised by how much I hate it.

    I don’t know if the trend is for Bishops, etc. to be called at younger ages. Whenever I read the history of an apostle, they started in “big” callings at really young ages.

  • Tinkerbell September 18, 2009, 2:56 pm

    I honestly feel a little betrayed. My friend (whose husband is a Bishop) told me that when husbands are in the Bishopric, they “protect” their wives from callings they really hate or are too time-consuming or whatever. For my own husband to call me to the calling I hate the most in the whole wide world is really aggravating. But, I knew it was coming. As soon as the ward split almost two years ago, I knew exactly what it meant for me personally: my husband gone all the time in the Bishopric and me losing my beloved YW and being stuck in cubs. I still got to be in YW for over a year and a half (which is a good thing – I honestly think I would have lost it if I would have been called to cubs right away. I’m close to losing it as it is).

  • agardner September 18, 2009, 3:31 pm

    My friend (whose husband is a Bishop) told me that when husbands are in the Bishopric, they “protect” their wives from callings they really hate or are too time-consuming or whatever.

    It would be nice if that were true, but I think it rarely is. I guess there must really be a reason you are in there if he fought so hard to keep you out and it still happened. Maybe some little boy who you are the one to reach through scouting? I don’t know….

    Something kind of similar happened to me awhile back. When Doug was in the bishopric, one night I got a call from the other counselor wondering if he could meet with me the next morning. I asked Doug what was up and of course he wouldn’t tell me, but he did say, “I tried to tell them this is not where you want to be.” Then, I knew it was Primary. We had talked many times about how I had been in Primary for so long and how I needed a break. When he said that, I just knew, and I was mad too!!

    When the counselor issued to calling for me to serve as Primary chorister (I was then serving as pianist) he looked terrified to do it. I knew then that Doug really had stood up for me. The counselor just said that the bishop felt really strongly about it and that Doug tried to tell him it wasn’t a good idea to no avail. He really almost apologized to be issuing the calling…and then I felt kind of bad for complaining about it before.

    Still, it wasn’t scouts, so I should have been happy! πŸ˜‰

    Funny thing is, there are people out there who really do like serving with the cub scouts. I have a couple of friends who just absolutely love it. You and I aren’t one them though, are we?

    I don’t know if the trend is for Bishops, etc. to be called at younger ages. Whenever I read the history of an apostle, they started in “big” callings at really young ages.

    Yes, I think there have always been some. President Monson comes to mind. Wasn’t he a bishop at like 23 or something, and a mission president in his 30’s? I think even among the apostles he’s the exception though. Many of them served young, but not that young!

    Alison, I’d love for you to explore the “way our culture views youth” thing more. I have a couple of theories of my own. One is similar to yours (I think) in that the church is very concerned about the youth right now and feel they might relate better to a younger bishop, YM/YW president, etc. In some cases I do think that’s been a positive. Another theory I have is that they are looking for a level of deeper commitment among my generation and younger generations. I’m of the post-baby boom era that was kind of “it’s all about me”…and maybe committing people of this age to a level of deeper service is both teaching us a lesson and committing us to lifelong service when it might be a period of life when many fall away?

    One more theory: The Lord is trying to prepare a bunch of leaders for what is ahead. Perhaps with things in turmoil politically, disasters increasing, etc. there needs to be people physically able and prepared in leadership and spirituality to withstand it? Just one of my thoughts.

  • Tinkerbell September 18, 2009, 4:41 pm

    Angie, I did tell my husband toward the end that if they decided to issue me the calling, he had to do it. I didn’t want to have to deal with breaking down sobbing in front of someone else. My husband said, “But then you’ll take it out on me”. True.

    You know what’s sad? My husband has issued a lot of callings to women who have cried when issued the calling. It kind of makes me wonder. I know the Bishopric in our ward. They are all good men who are doing the best they can and are inspired. I watch my husband wrestle with deciding who to put into callings. But, we still have many women who cry at first. It would be nice if everyone could be happy with their calling (starting with me!)

  • jennycherie September 18, 2009, 4:52 pm

    Posted By: agardnerThese are in “average” wards where there are plenty of people who could serve, so why are church leaders and/or God (depending on your philosophy of how callings happen) choosing those who are at the busiest times of their life?

    Posted By: agardnerOne more theory: The Lord is trying to prepare a bunch of leaders for what is ahead. Perhaps with things in turmoil politically, disasters increasing, etc. there needs to be people physically able and prepared in leadership and spirituality to withstand it?

    that was my thought – just think of Zion’s Camp and how it prepared the future leaders of the Church. I honestly don’t know the answer to how you find joy in a calling you hate, but I’ve always felt like I couldn’t get out of a calling until I got to the point where I didn’t hate it any more!

  • Tinkerbell September 18, 2009, 6:42 pm

    I’ve always felt like I couldn’t get out of a calling until I got to the point where I didn’t hate it any more!

    Hence my fear about being a cub scout leader for forever (or until my youngest boy turns 11 in 9 years. In cub scout years, that IS forever!)

  • euclid September 18, 2009, 10:32 pm

    this honestly is not a rude response. i know my previous posts have been, but this is sincerely offered. it’s ok to say no. it’s ok to say “im done.” it’s ok to say “release me now or the job will go unfilled”

    it may cause a day or two of tension with you and your husband, but that possibly may be better than months and months of tension.

    should your husband have stood more firm? perhaps/perhaps not. maybe he thought you would decline and felt it was easier to “go along to get along”, figuring you’d draw the line in the sand. of course i dont know, so i may be totally wrong there.

    serving in the church is not supposed to be miserable. difficult at times, usually a sacrifice, often a growing experience. but not miserable. life is too short and there are too many other ways to serve. ideally, the time to say no is at the extending. but having given it a try, and it sounds like a very honest try, it may be time to say “release me now, and that is not a request”…

  • Alison Moore Smith September 19, 2009, 9:09 pm

    My husband has “protected” me. πŸ™‚

    Posted By: euclidit’s ok to say no. it’s ok to say “im done.” it’s ok to say “release me now or the job will go unfilled”

    You know, I totally understand the need for us all to contribute and to serve where requested, but the older I get, the more the notion of “you must accept” seems not only wrong, but dumb.

    We wrote about that years ago, too, but I can’t find it easily. I’ll see if I can dig it up tomorrow.

  • Tinkerbell September 19, 2009, 11:27 pm

    euclid, I appreciate that. I probably would have said no if my son wasn’t a cub scout. But, I didn’t feel good about turning down the calling and then sending my son to cub scouts. It didn’t seem fair to whoever else they would call. Plus, I have to admit that I did have a feeling of peace when I prayed about it and finally said yes. Peace enough to make me say yes, but not enough to make me like it. When my husband set me apart, he said that “the Lord knows your feelings”. I found that comforting. He’s willing to torture me, but at least He knows how I feel. :tongue:

    I thought of a few ways to find joy in callings (these are helping me):

    1. Look at the eternal perspective. My mom sent me an article in which Sister Lant talks about how cub scouts is preparing the boys to be men of God. I love working with the youth because I feel like I am changing their lives. This helped me to see that I can change the lives of cub scouts, too.

    2. Focus on the things you enjoy and let the things you really hate go. I hate the uniform. I don’t think I’ll wear it unless someone else buys it and physically puts it on my body. But, I love planning the activities. I also love making the newsletter. These both fit with my talents. I proposed a division of responsibilities to the other leaders that I felt capitalized on each of our strengths and interests. They agreed. As I was working out the details of our first “real” den meeting last night, I realized that I didn’t have to do anything I really didn’t want to.

    3. Think outside the box. Two things that made being a cub leader really hard last time were that I did it in my home with all my little children there. So, this time, we are doing it at someone else’s house, and I asked my husband to come home from work early on those days to watch my little kids. I told him that he called me to this, so he can support me in my calling. He said okay. We’ll see how it goes. I’ll even let him make dinner while I am at den meeting. :bigsmile: Then, since I won’t have to spend all day Wed “cub-proofing” my house, stress about getting dinner done, stress about keeping my little kids safe while I am working with the cubs, maybe I will actually enjoy the meeting (or not, but at least I won’t be stressed about it).

  • agardner September 20, 2009, 10:59 am

    Those are really good suggestions Tinkerbell, and I think they could apply to any calling.

  • ksjarvis September 20, 2009, 12:50 pm

    First of all, just wanted to say thank you for this article. I really enjoyed it. I’ve also really enjoyed the discussion so far. Tinkerbell, I think your suggestions in your last post are perfect. Sounds to me like you are definitely finding ways to make your calling easier and more enjoyable.

    As others have mentioned, I think that we do sometimes get called to things that we don’t enjoy for the benefit of someone else. When I returned home from my mission, I moved across the state for a job and on my second Sunday in my new ward, I was called to be the Primary persident. Crazy, right? I was terrified, but in somes ways really happy about it because I loved kids and I had already served as a primary teacher, primary pianist, and primary chorister before I left on my mission so I felt like I had a little bit of an idea of what I would be doing. I had been doing that calling for 5 months and I felt like things were really beginning to go well and I was really starting to get the hang of it when I was released and called to be a stake missionary (now I think they are called ward missionaries). I was SO ANGRY. I couldn’t believe that I was being taken away from something that I was truly beginning to love to do something that just six months ago I had been doing 24 hours a day 7 days a week. I felt like I had put my missionary time in and that I needed to be doing other things. But I accepted the calling. A week later, a new sister missionary was transfered to serve in our ward. She was fresh from the MTC and she was fresh from South Amerca. She didn’t really have any lanuage barriers, but the whole companionship thing, culture shock, and extreme homesickness were tearing her down. I honestly think that I was called to be a stake missionary at that time so that she could have a ready made friend who would help her and encourage her to stay on her mission. I was released from that calling about two weeks after she left that area. I have no doubt that that calling was entirely for her sake and not mine. Realizing that has helped me in subsequent callings to think less of what each calling means for me as far as difficulty and time is concerned and more about what it will mean for the people that I will be working with and serving. I can’t say that I have loved every calling since then, but I have found people that needed me and people that I needed too.

    As far as the age thing goes, I would definitely say that I see the same thing around these parts too (sometimes the Southerner in me just can’t help but come out). In fact, my husband told me that when the last RS Pres. was called, the bishop told her to choose couselors from the younger set of women because he “wanted to see more of the younger generation step up to the plate.” I had thought those were just his sentiments, but maybe that is a prevailing feeling churchwide. Our Bishop is in his late 50s and I guess he followed his own advice in calling his counselors. Although I wouldn’t consider them extremely young. I mean my husband is 33 and the other counselor is 31, but still fairly young.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 20, 2009, 4:13 pm

    I found the article on the old site and reposted it. Here it is:

    Is It Ever OK to “Just Say No”?

  • Michelle D September 23, 2009, 12:07 pm

    Count me in with the group that thinks cubs is the nightmare calling! Tink, I like that you are searching for ways to make it bearable – and especially that you are working together as leaders to share the responsibilities. Hopefully, if you don’t have to do very much that you hate, it will become easier while you serve in this calling.

    My experience has been that husbands in bishoprics will usually share more assertively why their wives should or should not be extended a particular calling but that they don’t “protect” them from ones that would be time consuming or they would hate.

    Alison, for the record, I am aware that I misspoke in my earlier comment. It’s Activity Days not Achievement Days. (Why?! It makes more sense to me to focus on achieving the goals in Faith in God instead of just coming to play… You can still have fun in the process.)

    This has been a really good discussion with a lot of great points. How do we serve in a calling we hate? It’s okay to say no at times. Is there a trend toward younger leaders? Thanks for helping me clarify some of my own thoughts and feelings as I begin to serve in two new callings.

  • Michelle D September 23, 2009, 12:18 pm

    Angie, I had to smile at your revealed “secret desire” calling of seminary teacher. A few years ago, it was on my unspoken list of dreaded “please, never that one!” callings. Until I read your passing comment, I hadn’t really thought about how I would have freaked out a few years ago to be called as a sem teacher and I didn’t this time. I wonder how much of my change of heart can be attributed to teaching 3 students instead of 15-20, teaching at 7 AM instead of 5:25 AM, teaching at home instead of at the church, and teaching with Ray… πŸ˜‰ Actually, some of it is that I am in a different place now than I was then, and I have served most of those intervening years with the youth.

  • Tinkerbell September 24, 2009, 2:18 pm

    I think that if you can’t do your calling, you should say no. For example, we have an Assistant Cubmaster who has never done anything. He travels a lot. When he was called, he said, “I’ll try to make it when I can” but he is always traveling and just can’t. Someone at our committee meeting this week says that he feels really bad about it. So, I asked, “Why not just release him and call someone else?” How is it benefitting him to be in a calling he physically cannot do? How is it benefitting the Cubmaster to have never had an assistant? How does that benefit the boys? Wouldn’t it have been better for everyone if he had just said “no” to the calling in the first place? When the Bishop asked, he could have just said, “I would love to, but I am never home. I’m sorry”.

    We had a really great den meeting yesterday. The boys were boys but we had fun and they seemed to enjoy it. One frustrating thing to me is that we now have 9 boys. When I accepted the calling, we were planning to have 6 in September. But, one hasn’t moved who was supposed to, another moved in, and a non-member friend of one of our boys is joining our pack. I should be all excited about the missionary opportunity, but I admit I am frustrated. There are regular cub scout packs in our city – the kind where parents volunteer and do everything. In the church, I feel like we all serve each other. I’m your kids’ cub scout leader, but you teach them in Primary, etc. Wouldn’t every little boy be in cub scouts if his parents knew they didn’t have to pay for it, fundraise, be a leader, etc? If it was just like a free club you could drop them off at? It’s not that big of a deal to have this boy come, he’s a nice kid. But, I admit that I don’t like the principle of it. And I feel guilty for being mad about a missionary opportunity and an opportunity to be a positive influence in a boys’ life.

    I think that I am scared the word will get out and other boys will want to join, and I have zero desire to expand the group. We do it at a house on my street, and we turned away two other neighborhood boys who wanted to come. I felt guilty for that. These boys practically live at my house everyday. I really didn’t want them to come to cub scouts. One of the reasons I hate scouts so much is that I spend my whole life surrounded by little boys, and having to do an activity with 10 of them (9 plus my 7 year old) is like having cake for dinner when you’ve eaten cake for every meal the past week. You’re just sick of it. It’s enough for me to even do cub scouts, but adding in all the neighborhood friends? It is too much. Any suggestions? I am so torn.

  • Tinkerbell September 24, 2009, 2:24 pm

    This is one of those areas where the overlap of scouting and the church is fuzzy to me. If these boys wanted to go to church, I would suck it up and do it. I’ve taken one of them and his sister (and all my four own boys) to church by myself and sat with all six alone in the pew several times. I don’t want to deny a child the opportunity to hear the gospel and feel the Savior’s love. But, is cub scouts church? By turning the neighborhood boys away, am I turning them away from the gospel? Or just from doing fun stuff?

  • Tinkerbell September 24, 2009, 6:50 pm

    Wow, that really made me sound like a jerk. I swear I am not. I just don’t want to do cub scouts with so many boys. I didn’t tell those two neighborhood boys they can never come to scouts. I just said no as we were going inside and they saw all the boys to play with. I probably should have just let them come. But, there are logistical issues as well. 9 scouts, 3 siblings, 3 adults in a medium-sized home around a small kitchen table. When you have too many boys, it just gets out of hand. I suppose we could split the den and call two more leaders. Good luck with that. But, I really am interested in anyone’s opinion about how much cub scouts is “church”.

  • agardner September 24, 2009, 7:42 pm

    I really am interested in anyone’s opinion about how much cub scouts is “church”.

    That’s a tough one, because I do see the missionary opportunity. Then again, the church highly subsidizes scouts for members, and if you let too many others from the community in it would be become a problem. I guess there is the possibility of having them pay even though the LDS boys are not…but then there are the logistics with staffing the troop. Like you said, if a boy is in community scouts, their parents will be expected to pay for things and in many cases to volunteer.

    We did have one case when I was Primary president where a non-member boy wanted to join with a friend, but his mom offered right up front to help with things and to pay. She actually contributed quite a bit to the den, so I didn’t have a problem with it and I don’t think the den leader did either (I hope not!) Wouldn’t that be funny if all these years later I find out that she was griping about it and I never knew? πŸ™‚

    Ugh, I hate that the church and scouts are married to each other!

  • Tinkerbell September 25, 2009, 12:40 pm

    It’s not just the church that subsidizes scouts – it’s me. Out of my pocket. Sure, the church pays for dues and has a small budget for pack meetings. But, when we do cool stuff at den meetings, it is ME paying for it because church rules are that you can’t charge the boys.

  • Alison Moore Smith September 25, 2009, 2:06 pm

    Can I get in my dig to abolish scouting just one more time??? πŸ˜‰

  • agardner September 25, 2009, 5:04 pm

    Amen! I’m really wracking my brain to come up with a few fabulous experiences of men who would not be men without scouting…but I can think of very few. I do have a few horror stories though (I won’t tell them…but yes, if scouting were abolished in the church there would be many cheers from my direction!)

  • Tinkerbell September 25, 2009, 6:37 pm

    Oh, you just had to make my blood boil again, didn’t you, Alison? This is in response to the first article on scouting (and how you got a two month break in the summer). When I got called to be den leader (2 months before my baby was due), and the other leader was 1 month from her due date (the last leader is more of an assistant), we got together and decided that we would cancel den meetings for the summer. Most packs do. We were both having our fifth babies. Surely all the other parents would understand and respect that, right? Nope. A parent complained, and the Primary presidency decreed that we would have scouts during the summer. So, in the month that the other leader was having her baby, I planned the meetings and a Primary presidency member showed up to help. And, in the month that I was having my baby, the other leader did the same. What kind of parent has the audacity to request that two women having babies hold meetings so their kid can go?!?!?! Without even offering to do the meetings! There are so, so many things I have hated about this calling. But, we got the “Summertime Pack Award”, so I guess it’s all good. :angry:

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