Zhen

Saying no to a calling.

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Hi! I am new to  posting in forums. I am sure this topic has been discussed many time. This has been weighing heavily on me for some time. Saying no to a calling. It seems we are taught in LDS culture that it is taboo to turn a calling down or ask to be released from current calling. What are your experiences or thoughts on this matter?

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It's not taboo.  If you really feel the calling is driving you farther from Christ then you should ask to be released or decline.

But that said, I've never had a calling I was comfortable with when it was given.  I got baptized on a Saturday, confirmed on a Sunday and got my first calling that day to teach 4th Sunday Relief Society that month.  I still call Sacrament Meeting Mass, I still call the Bishop the Priest, I keep on messing up and right on the front row of the class is the wife of the Stake President.  I remembered asking myself, "What can I possibly teach that old lady?".  Then I got called to Nursery when I didn't have kids of my own and don't know anything about keeping 6 toddlers in line. Then I got called Activities Committee Chairperson where they give you $300 for the year to organize at least 6 ward activities.  Then I got called Singing Time Leader when I don't even know Primary Songs because I've never been to Primary let alone teach them to kids ages 3-11, some can't even read, the others easily bored.  Then I got called to teach CTR8 and I remember agonizing over how to teach 7 year olds the meaning of the Atonement.   Then I got called Cub Scout Den Leader when I have zero interest in Scouts because that's my husband's arena, etc. etc.

What I did find out though that if I just close my eyes and have faith in the calling, it eventually comes together.  My first calling of RS Teacher was the fastest growth in the gospel I've ever had.  I spent an entire month studying for a 40-minute lesson!  It was full immersion.  The sad thing I noticed though that just when I get comfortable at the calling and things start getting easier, that's when I get released and called to do another thing.

I've never declined a calling.  I just made it a thing for me to just close my eyes in prayer and accept any calling and give it a shot.  I did ask to be released when I was Activity Chairperson because I couldn't get along with the person I shared the calling with.  I wasn't released, rather the other person was released to be called into the Young Women Presidency.

Anyway, that's just my experience.  It's a cycle of being scared, getting comfortable, then getting scared again all the while building faith and testimonies and a love of the people I serve.

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Welcome, @Zhen!

I think because of the instructions we've received to always accept a calling, we sometimes don't realize that it's OK to counsel with the person extending the calling - to explain to them details about our life that they may not know (schedule, availability, other commitments, personal fears or doubts, etc.).  It might be that after counseling about the calling, either they decide to pray about it further, or you realize it's not as bad as you thought.

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You know yourself better than anyone. If they give you a calling with children and you hate and despise being around children-it's not going to work out for anyone. 

I was given a calling with the Boy Scouts. I told the bishop "I hate all things outside and I can't change a tire. So I'm not the guy for this." He said "It might be good for you." After three months I was released. It didn't work out for anyone. Sometimes the bishop does his best but still needs your input. 

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I think there are times that are warranted to reject a calling.  I don't believe that every leader when they give you a calling is doing so by the spirit 100% of the time.  I think there are some that may get impatient and just call someone that seems like they can do the job.

What I think we need to do is our own due diligence and pray and ask what we should do.  Get our own confirmation.  Sometimes we know immediately, and sometimes we need to pray.

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Just a counter view, I have not once heard any mention or suggestion from a general authority in any standing that it is ok  to reject callings.

I know there are people who have awful experiences in their callings, or maybebhave crippling fears of their duty... but none of that changes the fact that we are told over and over by the leaders of our church that we should accept all callings that come.

The notion that it is acceptable to reject callings is purely one that comes from the membership.

The only thing I would be comfortable doing would be to tell my bishop my situation and why I feel I may be unfit for such a calling, but then follow up with “but I will accept the calling if you still feel I should”. 

Edited by Fether

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It's not taboo, but we are encouraged to try and say yes to all callings. President Ezra Taft Benson said 

“The Lord expects each of us to have a calling in His Church so that others may be blessed by our talents and influence.”

I believe the Lord truly desires us to accept all callings outside of potential extenuating circumstances (health problems with you and your family including mental health issues, moving soon etc.) If you have a genuine concern outside of those ones, you should absolutely let your Bishop or Branch President know about them. It's possible they were unaware of your situation (say you were called to teach early morning seminary, but your job starts too early to fulfill that calling). However, if you are feeling more that you are just busy or that you would not enjoy the calling itself, try serving anyways.

My two least favorite callings were as a Cub Scout leader and as the Ward Clerk. I'm not an outdoorsy, hands on person and I've never been organized, and forget small details constantly. These two callings were difficult for me and I won't tell you I ever came to love them, but I'm glad I said yes. My wife and I were able to assist the poor sister who was leading the cub scout den. I believe a number of other people had turned down the calling previously to us and, while we were far from ideal candidates, just having some extra bodies to watch the kids while she taught helped ease that sisters burden. As Ward Clerk, I never became better organized, but I was able to gain a strong testimony of how sacred tithing funds were. I received powerful impressions of how the Lord still sees the Widow casting in her mite, and how special he views even the tiny donations of children. That was worth some time spent feeling overwhelmed by something I had no experience in. Just my thoughts on the matter.

Edited by Midwest LDS

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On 10/2/2018 at 2:57 PM, Zhen said:

Hi! I am new to  posting in forums. I am sure this topic has been discussed many time. This has been weighing heavily on me for some time. Saying no to a calling. It seems we are taught in LDS culture that it is taboo to turn a calling down or ask to be released from current calling. What are your experiences or thoughts on this matter?

I would check with the Apostle Paul, no just kidding. I assume the calling you are asking about is within your local Church congregation? If so, is your answer not found in LDS protocol?

 

Styln 

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On 10/2/2018 at 2:57 PM, Zhen said:

Hi! I am new to  posting in forums. I am sure this topic has been discussed many time. This has been weighing heavily on me for some time. Saying no to a calling. It seems we are taught in LDS culture that it is taboo to turn a calling down or ask to be released from current calling. What are your experiences or thoughts on this matter?

I am a family history person in my ward (I think it has a new name, but ...). When I was first about to be called, the bishop gave me a heads up because it would include going to people's houses and helping them on the computer. No. Not gonna happen. I don't want to be travelling at night after work, I don't want to deal with people's pets, etc. No. 

I realize a lot of people here would never refuse a calling, but it was either be straight up about it or not do it and have the bishopric wonder why I'm not. 

We reached a compromise that I would go to the activities at church, help show the youth stuff, talk to people on the phone, etc., but not go to people's houses.  I do try to keep up with the messages from the Church re this calling and learn what I can, but we have sisters who apparently do this all day everyday. I'm just not as familiar with a lot of the tools and am not sure if I'm worth people's time, but I give it a shot. 

I don't think we're supposed to suffer or put ourselves in danger for a calling. I don't mind being stretched, learning something new, etc., but there's a difference, in my mind, between that and doing something that completely disrupts your life or that of your family.

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13 minutes ago, dahlia said:

I realize a lot of people here would never refuse a calling, but it was either be straight up about it or not do it and have the bishopric wonder why I'm not. 

 

This is a great point. Sometimes it's best to refuse the calling rather than do a terrible job at one. 

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Quote

The notion that it is acceptable to reject callings is purely one that comes from the membership.

I have been told by at least some of Church leadership that I should turn down some callings, at least when calling you to a position is a violation (even if unintentional) of official Church policy.   It does happen on occasion.  It has happened to me twice.  Sometimes we can be called to certain callings by mistake on account that those in Church leadership positions are still human.  

Edited by Scott

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I feel very strongly about this so I apologize for the lengthy reply.

YES it is ok to say no to a calling.

I've struggled with this in the past. I have a strong sense of duty and doing what I say I will do and doing it well. I've said yes to things I didn't really want to do because of this feeling of responsibility. I also believe that it is irresponsible to agree to do something, accept a calling, and not actually do it. There have been times where my life or my health or my personal fears/flaws have gotten in the way and I have felt like I needed to decline a calling or request to be released. This has happened only a couple times where I have said no, but I don't regret it.  When it comes to an emotional conflict all I can say is that if it's the right thing, after some time pondering and praying or whatever you need to do you will feel peace about your choice. There are callings I have absolutely hated that I kept doing because it was a growing experience and because I felt like I needed to be doing it anyway. The strength and peace really do come when you think you just can't continue. At least I found that to be my experience.

Here's a related personal experience. It is not appropriate to go into too much detail here but I really want to help you by sharing. I have been in a calling where I was responsible for choosing three others to serve in my presidency. I was new and did not know many people in the ward. I can tell you with 100% confidence that two of those people were inspired. One name came to me with one of the most powerful "promptings" I've ever had, and was a person I did not know at all. The third one, another complete stranger to me, was a person on a list of who was available and reliable, but I felt somewhat indifferent about it. So maybe it was inspired maybe it wasn't. All three were fantastic at their callings and all three told me later that they originally considered saying no but were glad they didn't. The one who cried the hardest was the one I felt the strongest about. It was a very interesting faith-building experience for me personally. 

I want to share one last thing. There was a calling years ago that I felt I needed to abandon. It wasn't a very hard or time-consuming calling but I hated it SO MUCH and I really just didn't feel like I fit and I wanted to be released. It was an extremely difficult decision to make and I felt like an absolute failure and unsure of what to do. I talked to my bishop, who is to this day my favorite bishop ever, and he told me something I will never forget. This is not verbatim, just a synopsis. He said that yes, many callings are inspired and all are prayed about. As a bishop, he wants to make sure the right people are called to the right places, not for just the benefit of the individuals but also for the ward as a whole. He said that sometimes they just need someone who is able and willing to serve in the ward. Especially when someone else says no. For the church to function smoothly, some positions just need to be filled by someone who will be there and will get a job done. That was his way of telling me that if I felt like I was wrong for the calling, he would release me and move me somewhere else. And he did. And I was very relieved to be out of there. 

To make a long story short, think about it and pray about it and if it feels right to say no, say no! It really will be ok. The church will keep on going and the Lord will find other ways to help you grow. ;)



 

Edited by InvisibleOne
clarification

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There is a common teaching that says something to this nature, "Better information leads to better inspiration." The more information we have the more likely we can be inspired. I would reiterate what others have shared in light of the statement given, there is nothing wrong with discussing with the person extending the call regarding your situation. Here are somethings that may or may not occur when further information is gathered (especially if leader did not know of circumstance before):

1) At times a person may confess a "sin" that would prevent them from receiving the calling. Some people in this situation will say "No," instead of confessing. Obviously confession is better than saying "No" to a calling.

2) With further information, the leader then has a decision to make after sitting in council with counselors or simply the individual the call is extended to. If I were to extend a call for a young man leader who works on Sunday's and also works Wednesday nights (mutual), and I found this out through discussion when call is extended. The individual would not need to say "No" to the calling. Life automatically allows me to see a right/wrong decision.

Let me put it another way. Elder Holland shared a trip with his son where they prayed to go one way. They felt impressed to go one way, which was the wrong way. What they determined is that with this answer they now know this way was the wrong way. In like manner, I would now know this brother -- although worthy -- is the wrong way, and another is being prepared. Again, "Better information leads to better inspiration."

3) Although @Lost Boy and I don't agree on aspects, his though on leaders not being perfect in their revelation is true also. Revert back to principle #1 and #2; however, this doesn't mean inspiration was not received, this inspiration may have come for the leader to know himself that this is the wrong path (all doubt is removed). At times though, a leader may be moved by how they feel about someone, not necessarily revelation. We all succumb to our strong feelings, and our strong feelings are not always revelation.

4) I never, personally, go into any calling with the thought of rejecting a calling. I believe in what @Fether has said. If we study the prophets and apostles they specify never to say no to a calling. Membership are the ones that create this. I will though follow principle #2. If called, I will share my current life obligations if they appear to interfere with a calling. If the leader specifies this is by revelation, I will accept (Oath and Covenant of the Priesthood).

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