Accustomed to service

By: J NS - June 25, 2007

I was surprised to be called Friday to see if I might be able to substitute in Primary for the 11-12 year olds on Sunday. It seems that the teacher is not entirely dependable and would I be a back up? I was given the information on the Church site to get the lesson materials and began to prepare. This is not a remarkable occurrence. I am sure it happens thousands of times each week in the church. The surprise is that I haven’t had a calling in the church for months. My husband and I are no longer young and he was not so recently released from a “high profile” calling in which he had served a very long time. To compound that situation we, realizing our home and acreage were getting to be too big of a responsibility, put our place up for sale. So we were not asked to serve. These days when houses aren’t selling, we could be here a very long time. The thing is I have become accustomed to not serving, to not preparing, to not asking for guidance to touch someone’s spirit. As I began to go through my usual approach to prepare I realized that I was out of the habit. I wasn’t sure I wanted to go through the work it takes me to instruct others. I have become comfortable not doing anything. It is easy to not worry. It is also easy to be bored, critical and uncomfortable in meetings where there is no investment. I hear folks say that it would be great to take a vacation from serving and I know some would say “why complain”? On the other hand when you live in world where a common conversation opening is “So what are you doing in the Church now?” we who do not serve are an anomaly. I miss the prayers for inspiration. I miss the dedicated study. I miss that feeling of raw spirit when some thought or idea is sanctioned by the Savior. I have also grown comfortable not worrying. I still visit teach, call the sick and sad, study, pray and only occasionally swear, but the shear involvement of purpose in the Lord’s errand is not mine anymore.


  1. I still visit teach, call the sick and sad, study, pray…

    Sounds a bit like James:

    Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

    Still, I think your idea of an institutional vacuum is quite real, especially on the level of our community of Saints. I’m not sure that I have much to say besides that except that I found the post moving. Thanks.

    Comment by J. Stapley — 6/25/2007 @ 11:42 am

  2. Visiting Teaching, studying, praying are a given. Most people do this or should. It’s the idea real or not that being “called” to an assignment gives more of a feeling of responsiblilty or accountability to the spirit. Besides, what does one do with FHOH’s (Former High Office Holders)?

    Comment by J NS — 6/25/2007 @ 11:57 am

  3. Wait… J NS? Isn’t this J NS? He has a wife not a husband. I’m confused.

    Excellent post, BTW. There is something really desirable about being assigned to serve I think.

    Comment by Geoff J — 6/25/2007 @ 12:15 pm

  4. Different person, Geoff. Same initials.

    Comment by J. Stapley — 6/25/2007 @ 12:22 pm

  5. Besides, what does one do with FHOH’s?

    Same thing one does with anyone else. Give them a calling. Nursery, young men’s, whatever. My mission president had a rule that he would not call someone to be an AP if they wouldn’t have time to go back to “normal” missionary work before going home. After they got done being APs, he would put them in some area with no leadership calling (often he would have them train a new missionary) and let them go apply all the learning (and enthusiam) they gained as APs. I thought it was a stroke of genius, and I think the same is true for any leadership. After you get done being a bishop or stake president, or whatever, you need a calling, and it should be a non-leadership calling where you can simply do a solid job in a low-profile calling. I think it is good for the FHOH and it also sends the right message about callings not making anyone better than anyone else. If the former bishop will accept a calling in the nursery, why won’t I?

    Comment by Jacob J — 6/25/2007 @ 12:23 pm

  6. I agree with Jacob. I think it is important to get into another “calling”. If you haven’t been given one, go and say “I want a calling” to your bishop, primary president, etc. Usually leadership is desperate for volunteers who actually want to serve.

    Or move to my Ward, We have plenty of room for you. And I guarantee that the cost of living in San Antonio is lower than Washington State. (I’m guessing)

    Comment by Matt W. — 6/25/2007 @ 12:53 pm

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