Sunday, June 12, 2011

Do you KNOW what my skill set is?

Today we're going deep. Come back in a couple of days and we'll talk about how Starbucks is ruining my life. But for right now, wade in with me.

Mormons get callings. These are jobs at church. They are voluntary. They are varied. I have taught 11-year-old Sunday School and been in charge of the ward newsletter. And a lot of stuff in between.

I wasn't really involved with church in my twenties. I ran wild, showed up often enough to keep my place at BYU. That's about it. After BYU, I more or less didn't show up at all. And then I decided things needed to change and I stuck a toe back in the water and by thirty, I was up to my eyeballs in church and pretty happy about it.

When Kenny and I got married and moved to our ward (congregation) in Huntington Beach, I expected the bishop to call me in and put me right to work. I had just left a teaching career where I had also coordinated a major program that attracted national interest. So . . . I was good at my job. Lots of life experience. Lots of job skills. Lots of life skills. Blah, blah, blah.

Here's the thing. If you're ever in charge of something, trust me, I'm the best right hand woman you'll ever have. I won't bore you with a list of the reasons why, but I promise you it's true. 

So when we met with our new bishop, I fully expected to be called to teach something. I mean, that's what I DO, you know? Or lead something. Probably run the activities committee because the chairperson was leaving. That would be fun. I'd only need two months for our ward activities to become legendary.

The bishop sat us down. Husband gets called as ward mission leader. I get called as . . .

The stake building scheduler.


What the what?

To say I felt underutilized would be an understatement of massive proportions.

But I smiled and said, "Sure."

And then I did the job. I did it as well as I knew how and to be honest, it was so easy, it felt like cheating.

And to be even more honest, I really wished I had something more to do.

But whatever. I did it.

Months passed and my bishop, who was in charge of our stake building shared by three wards, called me in for something else. I don't remember what. And he asked me how the building scheduling was going and I smiled and said, "It's great."

And something funny happened. A look of total relief washed over his face and he thanked me profusely for handling it. He couldn't believe there hadn't been any problems and he was amazed at how smoothly things were going.

And I realized right then and there that the Lord had put my skills to use right where he needed them most: with me in a position to remove one major stress from my overburdened bishop's shoulders. 

It was a humbling lesson and one that taught me that the most important thing I can do in any calling is to make sure that my piece of the puzzle is one that whoever I serve under never, ever has to worry about. Doesn't matter how large or small that piece is; it shouldn't ever have to cross their minds other than for them to think of it and dismiss it immediately as "taken care of." Then they can throw their energy to other more important things.

I don't think I'm meant to be a captain because I'm so effective as a lieutenant. And it feels really good to make someone's life a little easier that way.

I love figuring stuff out, you know?


LisAway said...

What a fantastic thing to learn.

When we first came to Poland, our branch in Kraków was tiny (bigger than it is now, unfortunately, but it was full of people who only slightly got what it was all about. Or didn't at all). Greg came, with tons of experience from his mission and 8 years living in the US where the church functions well (and working in the MTC as a teacher and culture coordinator). Our branch president was a missionary, which tells you that there was not a single Pole capable/worthy/whatever enough to be in leadership positions. And we went to church every Sunday (by bus 3 hours each way) for almost A YEAR before he got a calling. Almost a YEAR. And his first calling was Branch President.

And I almost wrote about 7 more paragraphs, but I think I'll make it a post for some Sunday. Because I want to remember it and see if I can come up with a moral. :)

But the church is seriously so awesome. The gospel, too, of course, but the organization of the church is just so inspired and callings are the awesomest way for us to be tested, whether it's with more than we think we can handle or less than we think we should be used for, or dealing with people we don't like etc. Someone seriously knows what He's doing.

Susan said...

I think I'm exactly the opposite. You want a girl who will do whatever she's told and do it well, I'm your girl. Just don't ask me to be in charge. Please. I hate being the one with the authority and the weight on her shoulders. Hence my calling as Young Women's president.

It's funny how the Lord puts us where we learn the most

Kristina P. said...

I don't have a calling anymore. I was a VT District Supervisor. I was called in to his office, thinking I was getting another major calling, but nope, I was released. And that's it. No calling. Adam doesn't have a calling and never has.

Have I mentioned I'm really not a fan of my branch?

Amy N. said...

What a great post! Thanks for giving me a new way to think about things!

NIKOL said...

In our ward, there are apparently many, many individuals who will refuse callings. So the ones who do accept usually have multiple callings. I am Webelos leader, a Primary substitute, and I teach in Relief Society. My husband is Ward Mission Leader. Our RS President's husband is 2nd counselor in the Bishopric. Ditto for the Primary President's husband. It's a little crazy.

NIKOL said...

I should have read through my comment before posting. Saying "ditto" makes it sound like the Primary President's husband is also 2nd couselor in the Bishopric. But he is IN the Bishopric.

I shouldn't try to comment on blogs first thing in the morning. I need to wake up a little bit first.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

Love this, so true. I've been in both spots before and there's satisfaction in helping out either way. Sometimes we feel underwhelmed in the kingdom, but that doesn't mean the kingdom doesn't NEED us right where we are. :)

Andrew & Sarah Clawson said...

Loved your post. I felt the exact same way about my calling- I actually cried when they called me in! After accepting the calling and realizing that I was needed and that I need to pull my weight- no matter how small that calling is, it makes everyone else's life easier. Kudos to you for realizing that you are helping.

Anonymous said...

Your perspective makes me feel better. My calling as E-Scrip Coordinator (obscure fundraising for youth program that mostly entails me encouraging people to sign up and that's it) feels like a made-up calling. But I guess it's taking the load off youth leaders and the bishopric, even if I only do maybe 15 minutes of work every 6 months. Whatever little bit helps, I guess.

Melinda said...

Loved this! I went from being the YW Pres. in Utah to being the ASSISTANT ward music person. I handed out music at choir. It sucked. :) But sometimes those callings that seem so minuscule to us, help so much someone else, and thats a good thing. :)

Melody said...

I think that your post identifies an important part of magnifying a calling that I have never really thought about before (and have therefore perhaps neglected now and then). Thank you for helping me learn.

Andrea said...

What a great post. I was feeling very under utilized in my ward, and I was pulling a bit of a Laman and Lemuel (murmuring), and now I have three callings. None of them are Sunday callings, and one will be over in two months, but I'm happy to feel needed.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

I'm a great example of someone who works well behind the scenes. I'm not a huge fan of being in the spotlight. That's probably why I keep getting called to teach! :P I teach the Laurels right now. I actually enjoy it, since they answer questions and participate in discussions instead of sit an stare at me... ;)

bonrhe said...

Right now I am a Primary President in a Ward with a huge amount of kids. My deal is how stinkin' humbling it is to be here in a congregation JAMMED with women who could do this in their sleep, and yet it's sucking down my life!
Guess it's just my turn.

Karen Peterson said...

I WISH I could be the building schedule coordinator. I'm in the RS Presidency and it' challenge. We get everything done and our bishop doesn't have to worry about us, but things aren't running nearly as smoothly as they should be, which frustrates the heck out of me.

Larsens said...

I dont mind being the worker bee. I have taught primary for many years with the exception of a year to be in the YW presidency. I pretty much expect to ALWAYS have a primary calling because a special blessing told me so. With each year/class I have felt a distinct lesson being taught to me and for that I am grateful.
BTW-I love reading stories of how people connect the dots in their lives. Have I told you lately how awesome you are?

Charlotte said...

In our new ward we went 5 months without a calling and then got called to nursery last week. But I'm pretty sure I'm okay with that.

Lara said...

I love this post. It's so amazing to me that I can look back on all of the callings I have ever held and see WHY I was needed in that particular place at that particular time. Sometimes, it's because I have certain skills that are needed, sometimes it's because there's a particular person that I needed to help and other times it's because I needed the growth that came with that particular calling.

Dedee said...

I find it strange how things like this happen. When we moved to the ward I'm in now, I was almost hurt because my first calling was ward magazine rep.

I felt like I wasn't needed and I think I needed that lesson to be humbled a bit (since I had just come from a ward where I did all things music and was very high profile).

Now I have nothing as I'm in between moves and it's rather strange, but I'm so relieved.