I recently read a comment from someone who was called to serve in the scouting program. He is not a fan of scouting and really wants to turn down the calling. He suggested the calling is coming more from “desperation and not inspiration”. I laughed out loud when I read such a phrase. I am sure many who are called to serve in ward/stake callings idealize the calling process. They imagine a bishopric quietly praying in an office when suddenly the room fills with light and the new sunbeam assistant teacher is manifested. In reality, sometimes a decision must be made out of desperation and the bishopric hopes inspiration catches up.
This still classifies any calling as inspired and gives no reason to turn down a calling. Leaders are inspired regardless if that inspiration comes to them through a first-vision-format or through their best decision making process.
Now you, as the eligible servant, sit in the bishop’s office waiting to receive word of how your life will be controlled by home teaching organizing, or babysitting kids during church (nursery), or by ward missionary work. You anticipate you aren’t going to like it and you prepare your quiver of excuses (all valid, I’m sure) to fire back. The invitation to serve is revealed, and you just don’t see how this will ever work.
Here’s where to go from here…
Don’t Say You’re Too Busy
If you sit in the bishop’s office and complain you can’t take on a calling because you are busy, you may see the bishop’s eye glaze over. That’s like flying to Ethiopia to tell the children you are hungry. No matter what is on your schedule the bishop (or his counselors) can probably one-up you. Being busy is no reason to avoid service. If busy is all you got, buck up and accept the calling. We are called “not according to our own works, but according to his own purpose and grace.” (2 Timothy 1:9)
Ask for 48 Hours to Think and Pray
Bishopric members realize some callings are hard to accept without deep consideration. The bishopric got a chance to sit and think about asking you to serve, so you deserve time as well. If it is something you are reluctant about, ask for 24-48 hours to ponder over the invitation and receive your own spiritual confirmation. This shows your commitment to serving to the level the calling requires.
As Elder Pinigar once said, “Now you must gain a testimony as to the divine nature of your own calling. You must come to know that you also have been called of God.” (A Holy Calling, 1997)
Request a Trial Run
So maybe the calling really does scare the socks off you–or you have done it before and had a bad experience. Express those feelings and look for a way to make it work. Every bishopric knows some callings are just not going to fit. The best course of action is requesting a trial run, or revisiting the calling 3-6 months down the road to determine if it is working out how everyone expected. Most concerns can be accommodated while still having you remain in the calling.
Truth be known, there is rarely a valid reason to turn down a calling. The Law of Sacrifice is alive and well in the Kingdom of God–serving in a calling is part of it. Sometimes there is a schedule conflict the bishopric didn’t know of prior or a physical limitation that makes it impossible to serve. However, those examples are very rare.
If by chance you really can’t accept a specific calling, let the bishopric member know how you CAN serve. It’s shows you are a team player and really do care about serving.