Editor’s Note:  I have always understood STP to mean something somewhat different than it has been used in this column—not that it is the STPs who always get callings, but it is the STPs who show up and can be counted on and will pull through.  It is the STPs who attend Saturday afternoon baptisms, who put themselves on the list to take dinner in to the homeless shelter, who sign up to work in the cannery, who give their all without hesitation even when the job is tedious or inconvenient.  They are the supporters in a ward or branch.  

Occasionally a topic will really hit a nerve with our readers.  The question that “Befuddled” raised last week  about why the same small group of ward members (also known as the STP, or “Same Ten People”) often seems to rotate among the high-profile positions was one of those subjects.  We have a whole mailbox of letters from people who are among the STP, people who call the STP to positions, and people who wish they were among the STP.  Here’s the first batch:

What an interesting issue to bring up. I was already pondering this topic because yesterday a new Relief Society presidency was sustained in my ward. The president was new, but the Primary secretary (who had been serving for eight months) was taken to be her second counselor. Apparently they tried to take the first counselor of the Primary (who was in the Relief Society presidency two years ago), but the Primary president convinced them not to. 

The Primary presidency has been serving for less than a year, and they are also guilty of taking from another presidency.  The first counselor of the Young Women presidency became a Primary counselor when they were formed. (To add a cherry on top of that particular situation, the Young Women president “retaliated” by taking the Primary chorister, who had been serving seven short months, to fill her void. How nice.)

Fortunately, only one person was “taken” in each of these presidency formations, so it wasn’t a full STP swap. But I don’t understand why one auxiliary presidency needs to be left with a vacancy in order for another to be formed, especially when it hasn’t even been together for a year. I am not going to question people’s inspiration, but it is almost as if new presidents print off the list of people who are already serving in other presidencies to consider who should become their counselors. As you suggested, they may be asking the wrong questions about the wrong wonderful people.

I have been in a ward where the bishop would not allow anyone to be released if he had served less than a year. His idea: each calling has a purpose, and a year allows the person serving to gain something meaningful from his/her experience. It also allows those being served to develop trusting relationships with those who serve them. Furthermore, it helps emphasize that callings really are inspired, not just whims that can be changed from month to month. I appreciated that particular bishop’s approach. I know for certain that it helped spread the opportunities. 

Thoughtful and Slightly Disgruntled

I like your former bishop’s rule, Thoughtful.  It is certainly nice to be able to serve in a position long enough to learn that particular position.  At the other end of the spectrum, I had a former bishop who believed a person should be released as soon as he learned how to perform whatever calling he or she held.   He said the whole point of having a calling was to learn, and once you learned, it was time to move on.

As one of the STP I have often wondered about this phenomenon.  Do other people turn down callings?  Do leaders just “assume” these STP are the only ones with leadership ability?  It really is a puzzle to me.  I would love to let someone else carry the load and see what they could do or become. 

And how do people become STP?  Sometimes when I move to a new ward I don’t want to mention what other callings I have had, but it seems like it always comes up.  What if no one’s past callings were known?  At one time I was homemaking counselor or homemaking leader seven times.  The eighth time I was called, I rebelled.   So then I was put in as Young Women counselor. 

Thank you for addressing this situation and I will look forward to hearing a solution to it!

One of the Chosen

Apparently it’s not just the people on the outside looking longingly in, Chosen.  You have shown that people on the inside can longingly look out.  I, too, look forward to seeing how others answer your questions.

I have been called as Relief Society president three times, but not in the same ward. I also served as a teacher, counselor and as a secretary in Relief Society, and then later as president.  Serving in other positions greatly enhanced my understanding of how the callings work.

The first time I was called as president was out in the mission field.  I was a mother of three and expecting my fourth.  I knew so little of how the Church actually ran that I was giddily happy to accept the call. I learned so much just in administration and the order of things in the Church.

We moved to a different province and years later I was called again to serve as Relief Society president. Having served as a counselor in a wonderful presidency, I felt better prepared to serve as president. I would never have had the confidence to accept without having the training I received from a fabulous Relief Society president that I had served under. She totally relied on the Lord and the handbook. I knew that if I was ever called, I wanted to emulate her wonderful qualities. I had also served in a presidency that didn’t seem to follow the handbook so closely or rely quite so much on the Lord. Both presidencies moved forward, but the difference in the spirit and the amount of work that was accomplished and the unity felt was so obviously greater to me with the first one.

With unity serving is a joy and the workload seems lighter and brighter. Without unity the work still gets done but it seems heavier and not so bright.   Sometimes just daydreaming about the future I would think, “Well if I ever got called in any kind of a presidency again and if I could work with these sisters that rely so wholly on the Lord, then I wouldn’t be afraid of anything that got thrown at us.  They all do the heavy lifting. It could be very hard but it would be joyfully hard.” 

Then, after a ward splitting and a little time passing, I was called again as Relief Society president. I was not giddily happy. I had a much clearer understanding of what I would be accepting. The new bishop told me up front that they felt a sureness on my name. This helped, but I had a week before my name was presented to the ward. I knew I never would have called myself.  If pushed I would have said call me as a counselor.  So going to the temple really helped and then in my setting apart the Lord said that eventually I would know why I was called.


 

 

 

 

 

The very Sunday I was called and sustained, I had such experiences thrown at me that very night and all the next week that I hardly had time to breathe, and I knew that without my past experience and the refining fires that I had gone through before, I would have drowned under the weight of it. The Lord let me know right away that I do not get to decide the value of my influence. He had given me those past experiences in training and in preparation; nothing is ever wasted.

Serving as a president the third time I presented names to the bishop of a younger, inexperienced sister to serve with me. When the bishop questioned my choice I got to explain to him my own experiences and how I would like to include and train up some of these younger sisters because the Lord will be relying on them in the not-too-distant future. I would also fast and pray that the sisters who would be receiving callings would have the faith and courage to accept them. 

One other note on the Same Ten People:  Sometimes it’s not the same ten people being asked; it is the same ten people who said “Yes”

Trisha from Cardston

Your letter shows, Trisha, that sometimes people are called to positions so they can learn, and other times so they can help others.  Your third experience seems markedly different from the first two, and it was interesting to see that you handled all three callings differently.

That doesn’t always happen.  I once had a Relief Society president who had served as Relief Society president on five different occasions.  She was a lovely lady, but the first time she had served it had been in a young marrieds ward, where everyone was newly married and just popping out their first babies.  It blew me away that on her fifth experience in the same calling, she served exactly the same way she had served the first time.  She ministered solely to the young marrieds who were just producing their first babies.  Everyone else was invisible. 

I’m sure she will be called as Relief Society president over and over until she finally understands that all wards are different, and that being president of a Relief Society organization is not a one-size-fits-all calling.  You can’t just do it once and then do it exactly the same every other time you serve.

I have observed a variation of the STP in our stake. We have couples where both spouses serve in very demanding positions, and in several cases there are still children living at home. For example, the wife of a counselor in our stake presidency serves as Stake Young Women president. The husband of a counselor in the Stake Young Women presidency is a ward Young Men President. A ward Primary president’s husband is a counselor in a bishopric. The Stake Relief Society president’s husband is a bishop. A ward Relief Society president is the wife of a member of the stake high council. A ward Relief Society president’s husband is the Stake Young Men President.  I could go on.

I am puzzled as to why this is necessary. I have observed the pressure this puts on families and am concerned at the message it sends to the general ward and stake membership.

An Onlooker

You make a good point, Onlooker.  It does send a message to people who are on the outside looking in.

I heard our past stake president talk about an incident when he was bishop, realizing he should call a single woman to be Relief Society president.  I don’t remember if she was divorced or widowed, but his thought was, “Can I do that?”  As if marital status matters.  He pointed out that she was great because she understood everyone — the single, the married, the divorced — because she had been there.  It should be about inspiration.  

Luckily I haven’t seen that STP in any of the wards I’ve been in.  It seems all get chances to be in big callings — even the bishops!

Becky Rose Mason

Talk about thinking outside the box, Becky!  It reminds me of a friend I had who was called as bishop over a singles’ ward.  He called an all-female Sunday School presidency.  They were sustained one week and released the next week, after he learned that Sunday School presidencies are staffed by priesthood holders.  Nobody could say he’d chosen the Same Ten People for those callings!

I live in a small ward and I have a different take on the topic than the one that was suggested.

I remember my friend saying that when her husband was called to be stake president, he was instructed that one of his responsibilities was to train the next stake president.

Perhaps the problem is self-perpetuating.

An auxiliary president is generally given the choice of who his/her counselors will be.  Why not choose at least one of those counselors from outside of the STP? Have the counselors take turns attending ward council meetings, not only being trained and learning how to participate, but also making sure that the bishopric and other ward leaders have a chance to see that person as leadership material.

Minou in Rural West Virginia
Cumberland Maryland Ward
Martinsburg West Virginia Stake

That’s a good idea, Minou.  I have a friend who has always and forever been one of the STP, and when she was called as Relief Society president, she chose as her first counselor a woman who had married a nonmember and who was on the fringes of ward membership.  The counselor blossomed in the calling.  Although her husband still isn’t interested in joining the Church, she has taken out her temple endowment and is still active — more than twenty years later.  I have no idea how active she would be today if she hadn’t been given the opportunity to serve in that Relief Society presidency.

When my husband, Clark, was high priests group leader, he went through a whole lot of group assistants.  With only one exception, the people he chose were outside the STP.  Choosing these “dark horses” meant that sometimes Clark thought he was serving in his group leadership all by himself, but at least he gave people the opportunity to hold responsible positions and decide whether they were going to magnify their callings.  I admire him for that.

Our next three letters are from women who feel underutilized in their wards, and who wish they would at least be considered when ward callings come around.  Here are their words:

I think you would class me now as “on the outside, looking in.” I have been a Primary president three times, and I loved it, but now that I am an older woman, I find that I have been relegated to very small jobs in the ward. The women now in their thirties and forties are the ones who have the most responsibilities, as it should be. I just feel like I’ve been put on the shelf and ignored. Whereas once I was busy at church, now the only thing I do is sit there and listen and occasionally give an answer in class.


 

 

 

Maybe my real job is just to endure to the end.

 

Grandma

You may have to take matters into your own hands, Grandma.  There are always people in every ward whose needs are overlooked.  If you can figure out who those people are and how to serve them, you could be a great blessing in the lives of many.

I am a 77-year-old female, three college degrees, still living in the same house I moved into in 1958 at the very edge of town, then, practically downtown, now.  I’ve always had a recommend and a driver’s license.  My calling always has been and always will be music and Family History or Cub Scouts or Library or Activities Committee.  Because I was never chosen nor called to even just be in a presidency, let alone be the president, I have, and still do feel unworthy, unloved, unwanted, especially by the Church.

My sister, in far away Oregon, has been one of those ten who get to do it all repeatedly.  She has advised me to leave Utah so that my other talents could be known.  My husband’s employment prevented that, and I would have felt as if I were telling the Lord what to do with my life if we had.

I have tried to serve in the best way I know, but because I have never been in the “inner circle,” I do feel as if my efforts don’t really count.  Because meetings need musicians, I know I have been needed, but I still feel as if my efforts have not really counted.

I brought the question up to my bishop several years ago, and his answer was that so few women were really willing to serve!  I didn’t believe it then, and still don’t.

Thanks for listening.  I thought it was a condition or practice peculiar to my own ward.  I certainly didn’t imagine it could be abroad in the land.

Now at this age, I’ve had a stroke and am getting quite crippled with arthritis, but I can still play for Primary and grateful to have a calling before I “age out.”

Underutilized

I’m glad you didn’t move out of Utah to find a calling, Underutilized.  The STP phenomenon is alive and well here in Virginia, and I presume it is thriving wherever there are wards and stakes. 

I am so glad you are addressing this issue, and it is fun to know it has a name (STP) and is recognized by others.

I am a capable woman who has led organizations in my community and directed an active local group for families for twenty-plus years.  But I am never called to anything of any responsibility at church.  I don’t do things exactly the same way the others in my small farm community do, and that might make me scary, but I am friendly, ever present, willing and capable. 

It brings up difficult emotions for me when the bishopric shifts around the callings and asks for sustaining vote.  It feels like position rotation of players during a volleyball came.  No one new is ever given an opportunity.  Are “yes” people the only ones the Lord needs?  I believe going the “safe route” with the STP means the ward is missing out on many talented people who could give the ward new life with their leadership.

Please do not publish my name!  It is hard enough having this opinion!

Overlooked

Grandma, Underutilized, and Overlooked, your sentiments are shared by many.  If I could offer you a bit of comfort, I’d like to share my own experience with you.  I hope I haven’t told this story before, but if I have it’s just another indication that I’m as old as dirt.  Old people tend to repeat themselves.

When I was in high school, I was the Same ONE Person.  I tell people I was president of every club in the school.  That’s an exaggeration, but it wasn’t much of one.  I was president of clubs I wasn’t even interested in.  I was also the pep club leader, the varsity boys’ basketball scorekeeper, the yearbook editor (world’s worst yearbook editor in history, I might add!), and the newspaper editor.  On top of that, I was a district officer in one organization and did a lot of traveling and public speaking with that.  Talk about overkill!  My name was in the local newspaper so much that I not only stopped cutting out the articles, but I even stopped reading the newspaper.  Local fame had lost its novelty by the time I was a sophomore in high school.

When I joined the Church and heard about how callings were rotated among ward members, I wondered how soon it would be before I was called to be an auxiliary president.  As soon as I had the thought, I heard an almost audible voice say, “You already know how to lead.  You will spend the rest of your life learning how to follow.”

As the years have passed, it has been interesting to see what lengths the Lord has gone to in order to fulfill that prophecy.  I have had outgoing Relief Society presidents tell me that my name was the only name they gave to the bishop to be their successor, and that they were sure I was going to be called any day.  I knew otherwise.  I have also had many auxiliary leaders tell me they relied on me considerably more than they did their counselors, and they couldn’t understand why my name hadn’t come up when they were praying about whom to call to serve with them.  I know exactly why.

Over the years, I have learned that being a cheerleader and holding people up is a whole lot more fun than being the actual leader of an organization.  I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn how to follow, and I’m even more grateful for the much-needed humility I have gained over the years, knowing that when people are called for leadership positions, my name is always going to be the last one on the list.

From your credentials, I’m guessing that even though the three of you may never have heard the voice, you are in the same situation.  The Lord knew what you already had, and he is now giving you what you need.  I hope that’s a comfort to you next time a presidency is called and you aren’t among those who are asked to serve.

Read on for the views of someone who recognizes the STP, and who is glad for the phenomenon:

Many years ago, when I was a new member, I really liked knowing that those in charge of leadership meant caring people, the STP.  Now, much older and wiser, I still like it.  For one thing, there is consistency. I don’t have to learn new names or wonder about where they are coming from in terms of personality, work ethic, or health.  Another, I can admire the sacrifices they make to do the calling.  If they have foibles I already know, and I can cope accordingly.  

I have a lot of interests and, while active in the Church, my many other projects give me little time to fret about them as the STP.


 

 

 

  This system gives the STP a chance to use their familiar group over and over for the neat jobs and I can say no to the heavy lifting, unless I want to associate with them.  These are the people who have the personality to cope with the trials of those of us trying to become perfect, and still love us.  Serving the Lord is greater than callings in the Church.  In fact, there is a whole world of needs.  I like the STP — it gives me time to have other opportunities for service!

 

Judy of Richmond

What a great attitude, Judy!  When the STP do the “heavy lifting,” it frees others to find different avenues for service.

As the wife of a former elders quorum president, I’d like to share some insights I learned from my husband.  He was scrupulously careful not to talk about people or situations in the ward, but when he could share a generalization, he sometimes did.  One of the things he commented on was how so many people who the bishop felt inspired to call into leadership would not accept the callings or their spouse was unwilling.  Sometimes there were worthiness issues that were unknown to ward members. He used to get rather sad because there were men who he felt strongly should serve in the elders quorum who would not accept the calling, and he was aware that happened to our bishop frequently.  No wonder the bishop got gun-shy about issuing callings to untried people.

Observant Wife in Missouri

You make a good point, Observant.  I vaguely remember a situation in our ward where the bishop kept calling person after person for a position, and all of them said no.  Finally he called one of the STP, because he knew she wouldn’t turn him down.  She didn’t.

I was attracted to your article on STPs.  I am not sure why; I am not a regular Meridian reader.  However, I am an STP.  It doesn’t matter what ward I live in — I’m an STP.  No, it doesn’t wear me out or down.  I am committed to doing what I am asked to do to the best of my abilities.  

I have requested “dark horses” (as you called them) as counselors, many times.  Training others in leadership positions is one of my favorite things to do. When I am an auxiliary leader, I consider it one of my major responsibilities.   When called as Young Women president (for my sixth time) I requested a new member as a counselor. She is a retired high school principal who was baptized six months before.  She was a wonderful counselor and a great blessing to me. 

Currently, I am in a small ward, so we don’t have Young Women advisors.  She graciously accepted any training and instructions I gave and taught me several things also. She willing went and went. She even loved chaperoning the dances!   I love her to this day and will happily work with her again at any opportunity.  After a year, the bishop decided she needed other experiences in the Church, and she is now teaching Primary.  Small wards don’t get three adult sisters to lead five Young Women, so we make do with two of us now.  Perhaps in living in smaller wards, I have the time to do more training than someone in the same position in a larger ward. 

I depend on my bishop to use revelation when he calls me to a position.  I depend upon him to help me if I choose someone he doesn’t feel the impression to call to that position.  He knows more about the lives of people in my ward than I do.  I leave any opinion I might have at that line.   I know that he is sensitive to those that have family challenges — especially young mothers.  During personal priesthood interviews he asks me about my counselor and how she is doing.  Is her calling serving her needs?  He asks what I have her doing and how well she does it.  Does she seem happy in her calling?  He is very aware.  I trust him to do his calling as he trusts me to do mine. 

Leadership positions are not what others that haven’t held them might think.  It’s a lot of work and responsibility that you are accountable for.  I would love to be a Primary teacher again someday!  For those that might yearn for leadership positions in the church — move away from Utah and other bastions of LDS-dom.  There are plenty of such positions to go around away from Utah.

Callie

Michigan 

Callie, I about swallowed my tongue when I read that you’d been Young Women president six times.  I guess that living in small wards gives people opportunities to lead that they don’t get in larger wards.  You must really feel needed!

I am a member of a branch presidency.  I have been in bishoprics and branch presidencies for the past 15 years and have seen the concept of STP (where the T can be anything from two to two hundred) many times.

I can only speak from my own observations and experience, but typically we (leadership) ask the Lord who he wants, and then use the resulting inspiration to narrow the list, and then present a decision for confirmation.  We always ask who he wants, rather than asking who would be best. Sometimes the answer is no, and we’re back to the beginning again. We are aware of the load on members, and the appearance of a “natural fit” into certain callings, but when the Lord speaks, we listen and act — regardless if the answer is “Yes”, “No”, or “Not yet.”

Why do the same names turn up time and again? Short answer: Ask the Lord

It’s been my observation that some people ask to be released, some want the calling for the glory, some simply will not perform their duties, and some refuse any calling.  Similarly there are some who never say no to the Lord, and some who say, “Ok, I guess he knows what he’s doing. Please help me.”

I’ve yet to see a president refuse to submit a name because he or she “can’t work with that person,” but I have seen many names submitted with, “I can’t believe this is who the Lord wants me to work with, but that’s the name that kept coming up.”  These choices were confirmed at bishopric level.

From my own perspective (not the Lord’s) the STP tend to be people who do what the Lord needs, and often do more than is seen by the general membership.  They can be relied upon. Similarly there are some who cannot be relied upon, and diminish any calling they undertake despite training or encouragement. I personally respond to those who ask, “Why don’t I have a calling?” by saying, “You need to have a chat with Heavenly Father and ask him to guide you in what we wants you doing, and what you need to work on in your own life so He can use you.”   Those are certainly the questions we ask him in our bishopric/ Presidency meetings when we discuss each member, and their progress.

I’ve yet to meet a perfect member in any calling of leadership, but I’ve yet to meet a bishopric/ branch presidency that wasn’t trying to fulfill their calling to the best of their abilities or circumstances.


 

 

 

 

 

There is no easy answer, but the Lord has told us all who strive to be faithful in the callings/ duties we have will receive the same reward (the reply to the servant of five talents and the servant of two talents was the same).  This is the reason why I don’t seek after callings, but rather be supportive of those whom I sustain when they are called.

Des in Oz

Thanks for giving the perspective of a bishopric member, Des.  Your observations were very helpful.

Although I have never been called to a presidency, there are several callings I have held multiple times, and sometimes they were ones that required I select others with whom I should work.  

There are other callings that I think I could do well and would enjoy, to which I have never been called. There are others I dread and am grateful the Lord has not called me to them.

But in any case, I would do whatever was asked of me to the best of my ability. So, because the bishop knows this, and because I never turn down a calling, maybe I am one of the STP for those particular callings. Each time I have been personally benefitted, and I hope I have been of service to the ward and to the Lord.  Either way, I know the Lord inspires the callings.  

We don’t know why and how He inspires callings, and the bishop doesn’t necessarily know it all either.  Maybe some are not called because they would not accept, and the Lord knows that, or maybe the candidate for first few impressions actually turned the calling down. We wouldn’t necessarily even know that, since these discussions are confidential.

When others will not accept, sometimes it is the STP who takes up the slack.  The bishop has to make the best decision he can, and sometimes answers don’t come quite as readily as he might hope, and then he does his best. I don’t really know that, but speaking from my own experience, sometimes the answers to questions take a long time.

Also, we do not know how many potential candidates might have indicated to the bishop in some way, that they cannot serve or that it would be unduly burdensome.  Maybe sometimes bishops are not considering people for callings, because they are trying to be considerate of the person’s circumstances. Other times, I am sure it is because the Lord really knows what the ward or the individual needs, regardless of how it may look to those on the outside observing it.  

I also know that sometimes the reason the STP do those demanding callings is that they are demanding callings and not everyone can do them well.  The Lord knows what the ward needs and He does tell the bishop.  Although we might think that some other people could be useful and do that calling well, we cannot really know how it would affect them or the ward. Only the Lord can truly know these things.  

Once I saw a Relief Society president sustained who, a few weeks later, was obviously suffering personally from the increased demands of that calling.  Her counselors rallied to help her, and the sisters were kind and sympathetic to her, but it was obvious that she was emotionally drowning in that position. She was released within a few months. Does that mean the bishop who called her was not inspired? Or does it mean that she had a need for this personal growth experience and the Lord knew the ward would not suffer having this woman as our Relief Society president for a few months? Or could it be that some one or two sisters were especially touched by her impact in those few months, and the Lord knew she could survive it, even if it was painful for her? We will never know and we don’t need to know. That is where the faith bit comes in.

The Lord expects each of us to do our best to deserve inspiration, and it is not always so easy as just praying and have a name pop in to your head — at least not in my experience.  On one occasion where the bishop asked me to submit names for two helpers, I prayed about it, studied the ward list, tried to imagine what kind of person would be helpful, and prayed about it some more. Finally, I submitted one name of a woman who I knew would be ideal and was confident this was the right choice, and she accepted and we worked well together. The other name I finally submitted was woman I barely knew, didn’t particularly like, and I had no idea why I submitted her name, except nothing else felt any better to me.  Yet she accepted, and to this day I remember her and what I learned from working with her. Was that inspiration or desperation? Either way I know it was what the Lord wanted done.

I think questions like this one about the STP and presidencies sometimes arise from people who might enjoy doing more, and it might not be a bad idea to ask to meet with the bishop and let him know of your increased availability and/or desire to help out.  Maybe some callings are a little of desperation and less of inspiration, but the bishop can do better with more knowledge to work with, too.  It isn’t an easy or simple process to get inspiration, and if we can help ease the burden of the bishop by giving him more information and support, maybe that will make things easier for him. It sure can’t hurt, as long as you remember it the Lord and the bishop who make the callings and don’t get offended if it doesn’t go the way you think it should.

Elizabethe Walton

Elizabethe, your idea to let your bishop know you are available to serve is a good one.  I doubt the bishop would be open to a person telling him what calling she wants, but there’s nothing wrong with saying, “I’m ready, willing, and able for whatever you want me to do.”

The STP phenomenon is certainly alive and well in our ward, but I have to say that after being called to be in a presidency once, I’m quite content to let the others do it.  I’m so absentminded that I can’t ever keep track of the binders that go along with the job, so I say if those people are the ones with the organizational skills, as well as all the other qualities necessary, more power to them.  I’m happy to be a follower.  

Years ago there was a sweet sister who hadn’t been in the Church more than a year (and possibly much less) when she started getting callings to be in the presidencies. She had to finally ask them to give her a break, so they released her from those and since then she has been in teaching callings, from what I’ve seen.


 

 

 

  I think it does wear on some of them. 

 

Anonymous and Happy to Be Where I Am

Like you, Happy, I’ve seen new converts experience burnout from being put in prominent places too quickly.  Others thrive.  It’s amazing to me how different we are.  I definitely agree with you that it’s nice to let others make the decisions.

Years ago Elder Oaks visited the ward we attended at the time.  He had a personal relationship with our bishop and he just “stopped by because I haven’t attended a sacrament meeting today.”  Wow!  It was High Councilor Sunday and he asked the speakers to take the full measure of their time. I’m still repenting of what I was thinking as they talked and talked while an Apostle of the Lord was waiting.  Anyway, the gist of his talk was this:

“We are here to build Saints, not great organizations.  We don’t call the most qualified.  In fact, we often call those who appear least able to fulfill the assignments.  For example, the lady in the library who wants to remain behind the scenes in a quiet and relatively non-public setting is called to be Relief Society president — not because of her current skills and talents, but because she needs the training and experience to prepare her for whatever is coming, and because the sisters need whatever it is that the Lord sees she will offer.” He added, “We call a bishop whose employment places heavy demands, whose children are a handful, and who has no experience counseling and no desire to ever speak in public.”  Then he reiterated, “We are building Saints, not great organizations.”

Looking beyond the STP is difficult and challenging, but it is what the Lord intends.  We are a lay ministry, after all.  Maybe the fault lies in our lack of faith — not faith in the folks we call, but lacking in faith that our “flock” will follow the inexperienced minister.  The Lord qualifies whom he calls.  If we are willing to sustain those called, with faith in them and us, we will be blessed in ways that we can only imagine.

Bob Bedont

West Jordan 19th Ward

What a great way to end this week’s column, Bob!  Thanks for your report.

Okay, readers.  That’s it for today.  We’ve got tons of other letters to finish out this column over the next couple of weeks, but I do need some topics for future columns.  Please send your ideas to [email protected].  Put something in your subject line to let me know your letter isn’t spam.  I’m looking forward to hearing from you.

Until next time — Kathy

“Any system that depends on reliability is unreliable.”

Anonymous