Thursday, September 13, 2007

Calling All Saints

There were some comments over at By Common Consent about the inspiration of callings, and the original post shed some interesting light. Over the years, I’ve thought a lot about how callings come about.

My initial contact with this issue also came during my mission. I got to thinking just how the President made the assignments. And I wondered about it. Were they all inspired? I know my President was a prayerful and spiritual man (although we disagreed a lot – a topic for another blog), and I know he sought inspiration when doing the companionship assignments. I also knew he often delegated the “first drafts” to his Assistants. Still, he explained to us that he often made changes and often felt inspiration when making the assignments.

Here’s some of my thoughts:

First of all, there are some missionaries (and later in life, ward members) that will dive into the work and commit to the building of Zion no matter where they are called and what they are called to do. My father is an excellent example of this. I remember when he was finally released, after years and years and years in stake leadership, from the stake presidency. He had no calling for about a month, and he felt completely lost. Then, he was called as a Sunday school teacher for the thirteen and fourteen year olds. He struggled with it, but tackled it with as much dedication as he had shown in the stake presidency for all that time.

From the mission point of view, the president knows he can send them anywhere, with anyone, and they will “bloom where they are planted”.

I have always tried to be that kind of saint, but have not always done so.

Second, there is the direct opposite. These are those ward members and missionaries that will not commit no matter what the call. In the mission field, we wondered why they had even come out in the first place.

Then, there are some times when the Lord knows that the needs of a particular calling and a particular missionary or ward member, in a particular place all match up. Most of the time, we humans don’t see this. We don’t get it, and we wonder why on earth that person got that calling.

So, in a lot of ways, I imagined that it’s the task of the Bishop or the Mission President to sense when there are people that need to be in a particular place and feel that inspiration. They need to put that in place, and then they need to fill the rest of the positions with other people. Then he can go to the Lord in prayer and get a confirmation of that.

And, in a ward, you also have the additional wrinkle that everyone should have a calling. Everyone should have a task to do. So, sometimes, especially in big wards, they have to invent things for people to do and places for them to be.

Also, I think there are times when the Lord confirms a wrong choice so that the Bishop or President can learn how to better read people. It’s like He says to the leader, “Well if you want him there, I’ll OK it, but you’ll have to deal with it when it all breaks down… It’s alright, though. It will be a good learning experience for you.”

So, is every calling inspired? Yes, in the sense that the overall plan is driven by inspiration. There have been many times when I could sense that my calling was more one of convenience, or at least expedience. I’m fine with that. Like I said, I think it’s best to try and be one of those “plug me in anywhere” saints.

I think it’s amazing how the Lord works with us as individuals. He lets us stand or fall wherever we are. And yet, somehow the church moves forward still...

Mark Hansen

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