Monday, June 11, 2012

When You Aren't Sure about Accepting a Calling

More than once I have explained my reservations about accepting a calling (and I mean given detailed explanations about why I was hesitant) - with the caveat that I would accept it if they went back and talked and prayed about it and still felt they needed me to fill the position.

Once I explained that if I did accept it I would be "filling a slot" and probably wouldn't be able to "magnify" anything, given my work situation at the time.

One of those times, they still asked me to accept the calling, so I did - and was released eventually when someone better was able to do it.

Twice, they talked about it and never extended the calling.

Finally, once I was in a holding pattern for an extended period of time with a potential calling based on what I shared with the person who spoke with me. It actually is a calling I would have liked to accept, but I wasn't sure if I could do it well or for how long - since we thought we might have been moving in the near future. They waited for us to decide fully about that possible move, then the calling was extended when we decided not to move. 

I share all of that to say this:

To those being extended a calling: 

If you aren't sure about accepting a particular calling, be open and honest about your concerns with those who are talking with you about that calling.  Be willing to accept a calling with which you aren't comfortable, but don't withhold important information if those who are talking with you aren't aware of it.  Don't refuse reflexively - but if you can't accept reflexively, that's fine, as well.  Talk about it; don't hide your feelings and concerns. 

To those extending a calling:

Talk with the person first, before actually extending the calling.  Be willing to reconsider, talk again and pray again about it if the person has concerns.  You are dealing with real people, so give them sincere consideration as agents unto themselves.  Respect their agency - and truly listen to them. 


Paul said...

The counsel to talk with someone before extending the calling is very wise. When I was in a position to extend callings, it was heart breaking to me to put someone in position to say no, mostly because it heart breaking to the person saying no.

That said, I have also had the experience of extending a call, having someone resist, and inviting that person to go away and pray about it and have the person come back and accept, serve faithfully, and report the blessings that came from the service.

There's great benefit on both sides of the desk for seeking that spiritual confirmation.

Papa D said...

Amen, Paul. I couldn't agree more.

I don't believe in the idea that every calling that is extended is God's inspired will (even though I've experienced knowing it was - on both sides of the desk, so to speak), but I also don't believe every calling has to be God's inspired will to be a wonderful opportunity to grow and serve. Iow, I don't believe we should accept only callings we believe are God's inspired will - which is why my general default is to accept callings about which I'm hesitant, as long as those extending the callings understand my situation and still feel they should extend the calling.

Paul said...

I think you are probably right: not every calling is as inspired as every other calling. Ideally they would be, but we have people doing these things, and sometimes we are expedient or mechanical.

I learned a great deal from a former stake president who was very careful not to move on a calling without confirmation (which may or may not be the same as inspiration -- I suppose the Lord may allow us to call someone of our own choosing sometimes).

On one occassion we had recommended a sister to serve in a particular calling in the stake. THe calling was an excellent fit; she wanted to serve there and had the unique skills and interest to succeed, and on any day anyone would have wanted her to serve there.

The stake president held onto her name for a few weeks and finally came back to me and said no, he didn't feel it was the right thing at the time. Within weeks her father was diagnosed with protate cancer, and she was his main support as he successfully underwent treatment over the next year. That care to her father would have made it impossible for her to succeed in her calling.

She recognized the Lord's hand in inspiring the stake president NOT to extend the calling, even if he did not know why. (He had told me, "The spirit says yes or no; it doesn't say why.") In the end the experience was really faith-building for the sister and for me.

Patty said...

I think it's really hard to turn down a calling. There's a lot of guilt associated with saying "no." I had to turn down a major calling because I literally was at the point of a breakdown. I still feel guilty about it and wonder what growth I might have missed out on, but I also have the nagging feeling that it might have been enough to push me over the edge... and it takes a lot to pull me back up onto the cliff when I've gone over. I've accepted other callings that have been intimidating and downright terrifying, and I know God helped me through them, but my faith wasn't strong enough to believe that He would somehow bless me with the strength to keep giving when I was empty inside. I'll always wonder, but I'm okay with my decision too.