I think we’ve all felt it—that panic that grips our chest when we’re asked to fulfill a church calling that seems waaay over our heads. Or it seems outside our training and abilities. Even before we hear what it is most of us have sweaty palms and dry mouths, because, in our hearts, we know that every calling is tough if you do it right. Will we measure up? Will we flounder and fail? Fear squeezes us like a vise.
And many people say no. Sometimes there are legitimate reasons that should be shared with your bishop (“We’re moving,” “I’m pregnant with twins,” etc.). But if we have faith that these callings are inspired of the Lord, perhaps we need to take that leap of faith, and believe He will help us.
At the very least, we should pray about it. Perhaps the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost will speak comfort to our hearts, and we will accept a position we didn’t think was a good match. Just maybe He knows something we don’t.
Several years ago I was asked to step in at the last minute as the Ward Girls’ Camp Director, overseeing the Young Women of our ward at a tents-and-outhouses camp in the mountains. When I walked into a stake meeting about it, you should have seen the jaws drop. One sister even said, “You’re going to Girls’ Camp?” Okay, my sentiments exactly. But the Holy Ghost confirmed it to my heart when I got this surprising assignment, so what was I supposed to do? It’s okay to be terrified; it just means you don’t know all that the Lord knows, yet. Do it anyway. Wisdom will come.
And I realize Girls’ Camp would be someone else’s dream job, just as my “favorite” calling may be one that someone else might dread. We all have our strengths and shortcomings. But this is the honeybee church. Hard work. Industry. This is the roll-up-your-sleeves church, where you pitch in and shovel mud, or tie quilts, or teach classes, or bathe in mosquito repellant, and you do it with a cheerful attitude.
Almost thirty years ago, I lived in the Tarzana ward where there was a senior sister named Gladys Owen. At various times she played the piano for Relief Society, Primary, and Sacrament meeting. Wow, I thought, she’s good. And then I heard that Gladys was never able to play piano before getting those callings. She had the courage and tenacity to accept a job she flat-out couldn’t do, and then relied on the Lord to help her do it.
Gladys buckled down, took lessons, and learned how to play. What kind of person has that much faith? One day I saw something on her arm—some dark blue numbers. And I shuddered. As a child, Gladys had been in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp, in Nazi Germany during World War II. After relying upon the Lord for rescue from an ordeal like that, how could she say no when he asked her to play the piano?
Just a few years ago, our ward needed a new choir director. The calling was extended to Rachelle Price. And she said yes. Except that Rachelle doesn’t read music, sing, lead songs, or play an instrument. But she did it. She researched, used every resource she could, and most of all, brought her willing spirit and enthusiasm. It was electrifying. She got people to sing with all their hearts and souls, conveying testimonies and inspiring listeners.
Every time I am asked to stretch, to accept a calling I feel unqualified to perform, I think of this Neal A. Maxwell quote: “God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability.”
I also think of Gladys and Rachelle. And I want to be in their wagon.
Hilton’s LDS Nursery Rhymes is hot off the presses and can be purchased at the BYU Store, or at this link.
You can find her other books here.
She is also the “YouTube Mom” and shares short videos about easy household tips and life skills at this channel.
And be sure to read her blog.
Hilton currently serves as a Relief Society President.