This is such a delicate, almost taboo subject and it is worth discussing.
The reason why people believe their callings are insignificant and only leaders have important callings is because, as a church culture, we act like that. But I think that the way Heavenly Father sees us is more like a watch. The most visible parts are the case, hands, crystal and crown. Those are the parts that get general admiration and embellishments. But watchmakers and connoisseurs want to see inside the watch and marvel at the tiny gears and screws that, in some cases, had to be precisely handmade with immense concentration and precision. And the watchmaker didn’t make these tiny, rarely seen parts just for the sake of making them. Rather each part is vital to making the watch actually work and be a useful timepiece. Leaders may be like the visible parts of a watch but I believe that Heavenly Father rejoices in and understands how a nursery worker in an invisible to most and seemingly insignificant role is a vital component to the functioning of one of His wards.
Believe me, all I’ve ever been was a tiny taciturn component and the older I get the tinier I get. My only real hope is that Heavenly Father really imagined, engineered and created the tiny cog that I am with the same attention and love as an independent watchmaker does with his or her creations.
My daughter, a dynamic person, moved into an established ward. At the time, she worked retail, which included some Sundays, and was a full-time student. Her husband is a less-active, new convert. It saddens me that the ward seems to have written her off. Sure, a Sunday calling might not have been a good fit at the time. She has since changed jobs, and could serve just about anywhere. But they have been there for two years, with no callings extended at all. She struggles to get her husband to church with her, and sometimes struggles to be there, herself. A calling would be so much help, and she has so much to offer. I guess this is a tender subject for me.
I cannot believe that people feel that leadership positions are the only important callings in the church!! What is wrong with being nursery leader or Primary teacher?? Those callings are just as important if not more so. If you feel that you are missing out because you have never been in a leadership position, then you do not understand true service in the church, and maybe that is why you have not been called to those positions. In other words, maybe you are not humble enough to be called.
Loved this article! It's the first time ever in the church I've seen this addressed. The comments by those who have always had leadership callings for the most part don't get it. They say do just serve, ask how to help, etc. That is not the problem. I do lots of service on Just serve, as a service missionary, etc. The problem is when I go to church I feel rejected that I'm not needed. If I didn't have a strong testimony I would go inactive. I've raised a large family all active and involved in the church. My siblings have had all had leadership callings but this has alluded me. I've wondered why my neighbor who has been RS Pres 7 times, Stake R.S. Pres and Stake YW Pres needs to be RS Pres once again.Why so the same people keep getting called. They tell of the close relationships they have in all the Presidencies they've been in and I long for that. I long to be wanted. I play the piano so it's behind the piano for hours not talking to a soul. I'm outgoing and continue to serve in every way I can but it's so hard. My Stake Pres. who calls the same 10 people said to me that he calls those that he thinks can get the job done which was hurtful I always give more than 100%. Most of the time people call their friends to serve as counselors and I get that. I know in the long run it doesn't matter if it's inspired or not as long as the Lord gets his work done but I'd really like it if Bishops could recognize people who aren't ever called. It's extremely hurtful.
I think the article captured well the feelings of those who are overlooked.- especially the questions about worth and whether inspiration is in play. Unfortunately I’ve watched those feelings in my very capable wife. Over our 30 years together she has never been called as a President of any church organization. I can count on one hand, with two fingers missing the presidencies she has been in. In the meantime I’ve held every position in YM, every clerk position, every EQ position, and Bishop counselor. This was very demoralizing, especially in wards that constantly interchanged the same sisters among YW, RS, and primary.
She was left with two possibilities for her experience, either “the Lord doesn’t value me” or “callings aren’t inspired”. Fortunately she feels the Lord values her.
A couple of years ago, she began volunteering at a large Museum. Folks there quickly saw her capabilities and she has been given significant responsibilities and has been elected a member of the volunteer board. It’s been a very fulfilling and validating experience for her.
I was just released from serving in our High Priests Group Leadership. I have not had the problem of not having a calling. My problem was learning the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes we get so absorbed in the administrative aspects of the Church that the Gospel seems to go by the wayside. I have always served in what I call Administrative positions and being responsible for others. I enjoyed serving but when I went to the movies yesterday to see "Paul, The Apostle" I found out that I did not know that the Apostle Luke was not one of the original 12 Apostles or Disciples of Christ, but came later. My wife knew because she has had the opportunity of teaching the Gospel. Teaching is where you learn. Now, I am going to follow the advice in one of your previous articles by Joni Hilton entitled "Give Yourself a Pretend Calling". I recommend her article to those who want to serve, but seem to be left outside the circle. It can be found in the archives of Meridian.
This article was an answer to my prayers. I have been in my ward for over 25 years and have never felt needed.It is always the same people called over and over again to the leadership positions. I constantly wonder what is wrong with me. It is not that I want the "glory" of the position, but rather I want to serve the Lord and use the talents He has blessed me with.
I was reflecting on Alma's desire to have a different calling. He wanted to be an angel.
"Oh, that I were an angel and could have the wish of my heart...." The next verse really stood out to me, "BUT, I do sin in my wish for I OUGHT TO BE CONTENT with the things the Lord has allotted unto me."
Content I will be and find other ways to serve.
Very insightful, inspiring and educational! I learned a lot. We ALL need to feel needed!
I love this article!!!
I have spent the last almost 30 years in Relief Society or Young Women Presidencies, either as the President or a counselor & loved the work & serving and definitely feeling "needed".
The last 5 years I have served at a Branch, which I also loved.
During that 5 years I always had several callings...in the RS Presidency, doing the Sunday programs, Visiting Teaching assignments, & more. [all at the same time]
Now that I am back in my ward, it has felt interesting because I was very tired from feeling that I was constantly going, & I was good with a short break.
We finally got a call which we have not started yet, but instead of worrying about feeling needed [which is EASY to do] I have gone behind the scenes to send extra cards, take flowers etc to those who may need an extra pick up.
I think that we sometimes depend too much on specific calls without anticipating that we should find ways to serve our Heavenly Father through our prayers and daily actions!
Oh, Maurine, I needed to hear this. I have had many health and monetary challenges i the last 19 years. But, along with this, I feels that no one in my wards has neededme for any callings. I used to teach Gospel Doctrine and Relief Society in different wards. And now that I an=m handicapped, I had to ask to be a visiting teacher. But, before I was handicapped in the lats 2 years, I volunteered for a mini mission at Temple Square for 3 years and as an ordinance worker in the temple. If my ward didn't need me, someone did. But I do have a big fear about just fading away in church, now that I am an amputee. Thanks you for this beautiful article. I loe you,
I loved this article and all of the suggestions and personal experiences in the comments. One suggestion I have if you don't feel needed is to go on Justserve.org and find a place to volunteer at. I guarantee there are people that need you and would love your time and talents right where you live!!
I've typically been in smaller wards and my husband and I have rotated through leadership callings over the years often times being stretched quite thin. For the last 2 or 3 years we've been serving more in the background. It's not unwelcome to have a break but we don't feel as connected or as much a part of the ward. Currently my husband is teaching in Primary and I am the Justserve Specialist for our Stake. Nobody knew what that was when I was called, neither did I. I've worked to build and bring the Justserve program out of obscurity but most people still don't know much about it or use it often. I am overwhelmed at all the service needs that are in my community and wish more people took advantage of it. A sister that was retired, didn't have a calling and had no family was telling me she didn't know what to do with herself. She was excited about some of the prospects I told her about on the justserve website. I think it can be a great resource and a great way to connect with others in your ward as you invite them to serve with you.
Thank you, Maurine... what a compassionate, inspired article.
A few years ago I was feeling this way. We had always wanted to serve a mission and it looked like we would be unable to do that due to life circumstances. We also lived in a ward that was highly active and didn't feel too needed there. So I prayed about it and the answer came, direct and clear, "you are loved and needed in the kingdom". Not long after I was blessed with the gift of family history. I was blessed to be able to learn and teach with a proficiency that could have only come from the Spirit. This was noticed by the Bishop, then my husband and I were called as Temple and Family History Consultants and we are still serving in that capacity. We have been able to help many in the wards we have lived in. There is such a sweet, soul-satisfying feeling that comes with this calling, I still feel loved by the Lord and needed in His Kingdom.
Very good article, my wife and I moved into our current ward about six months ago and I finally received my first calling in the ward this Sunday. I did feel sometimes left out but I volunteered to substitute for Sunday School teachers that were gone or sick, my wife and I volunteered to help the youth meet their goal of 150 names to prepare to do baptisms at the temple one night of the week. Plus we were put in as Temple Workers in our temple we serve in. We started participating in things like family home evening for the empty nesters and took a self reliance course that the church offered. The important thing is to interact with as many people and you begin to feel apart of the ward.
It is not always easy for a Bishopric to give everyone in the ward a calling, if fact it was a struggle for me to as a branch president to give everyone a calling because some of the members could not be trusted or were not mature enough in the gospel to fulfill certain callings. That is why the Lord has to inspire us to trust in his wisdom in calling new members, or less active to leadership roles.
This is incredibly well put and sensitively written. An article that will kick you in the gut when you admit you have felt this way, and perfectly expressed as to not the aspiration of the significant calling, but rather the question as to does God not trust me in any important capacity? The challenge comes both from never having such a calling, as well as "being on the ladder" on your way up with those callings, and once released, now watching your friends receive those grander callings as they vocally wonder why you haven't. Culturally it's a stigma - "Is he not worthy? What did he do to not be called to something greater?" I have felt this the past 10 years, and the answer for me was to hire a therapist, lift where I stand (in cub scouts), diligently do home teaching, and keep myself busy in the service of reaching out to compliment and show gratitude to those who serve. I had plenty of time to revisit doing The Basics. Being an excellent supporter, an uncalled disciple, the great cheerleader, a smile and hug for anyone that needs it, all of it makes up for what seems to not be needed and we can still feel needed in our way of uplifting others even when we feel stepped upon.
To the excellent points made in the article I would add the thought that being supportive is also a form of service in the church. All too often I have observed those who are released from a calling that seldom attend the activities of the organization in which they just served. How sad for the current leaders to work hard and not have the support of those who have been in the trenches and should know how much effort is involved. Pride takes many forms and will bring us down every time. I agree completely with the idea that if we truly want to be useful in the kingdom we need only ask the Father and He will provide more than enough opportunities for us.
This article really hit home to me. It's as if my soul were an open book and my thoughts were eloquently described. I was the one for decades in and out of presidencies and being overwhelmed. I was ready for a less-daunting assignment. Then I moved and got my wish. For many, many years, I was invisible. I did get callings but my bitter mind excused them as less than desirable. I soon didn't want to attend activities and even thought, I feel so awkward in Relief Society, I don't want to go. Then my husband said to me, "that is a form of apostasy." I struggled for a long time "not feeling needed". I think following some of these suggestions in serving the Lord regardless of where we are placed is a great concept. I have always known that deep inside, now I need to practice it. Thank you.
There is another antidote worth mentioning. If you are in between callings, go ask your Church leader if there is any calling which nobody wants to accept. Then, volunteer for that calling. That happened to me when I had another calling. I am still in the one nobody wants. I also love the calling to clean the chapel. That is a fine calling.
Maurine always has great insights. Let me add to this my personal experience: I had been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness and was under chemo-therapy treatment for many months. The Stake President thought I should be left alone dealing with my health issues and not have a calling. On the contrary, the High-Priest Group Leader was inspired to call me as his First Assistant. I never had such inspiring and faith-promoting experiences than through this calling, and it made a difference how I handled my illness and potential depression. I have also been able to contribute to the Welfare of our Ward and our Stake in a significant manner, partly through my testimony of the blessings of the gospel when being challenged with a serious illness. I can also add that one reason why so many members do not receive significant callings or none at all is that Leaders always fall into a routine and do not think "outside of the box." Many callings can be created and added to the standard flowchart and no only make a difference in the lives of those who serve, but also in that of those who are being served. And yes, as Maurine says, people should not be "stuck" in the same calling forever, like Ward Pianist or Primary Leader, just like Full-Time missionaries get to serve in different cities with different companions. Lots of improvements that could take place in our Church if we do not fall into routines and stereotypes...
Email (will not be published)
Daily news, articles, videos and podcasts sent straight to your inbox.