When considering who to extend a church calling to, which is most important, considering the needs of the calling, or the needs of the individual?
I have never served in a bishopric, but I have been a Sunday School President, Young Men’s President, Ward Mission Leader and Elder’s Quorum President. In each of these callings I was in a position to recommend people for certain callings to the bishop. Individuals in ward priesthood and auxiliary leadership callings play an important roll in determining who gets called. What process should they use?
My natural tendency is to follow the instructions in D&C 9:7-9 which reads:
Behold, you have not understood; you have supposed that I would give it unto you, when you took no thought save it was to ask me. But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you can not write that which is sacred save it be given you from me.
When following this approach one will tend to focus on individuals who are intelligent, experienced, well spoken, enthusiastic, and draw positive attention to themselves. Once such a person is considered, a prayer may bring some level of a ‘good feeling’. The name is then submitted and, pending approval from the bishopric, a calling will then be extended.
There have only been a couple of times (two that I specifically remember) where I had a stupor of thought and could not come up with a ‘good feeling’ about someone that I thought was well qualified for the position. On these occasions I browsed through the ward roster and considered the decision from a completely different angle. Who would benefit from serving in this calling? In both cases I knew who the Lord wanted to serve. I submitted the name feeling that if the bishop did not approve he would be wrong, and I would need to discuss it with him.
Both of the brothers called in this way had obvious weaknesses that at times would naturally make them seem like failures in their callings. I received frequent negative feedback from people involved. These men did enjoy their callings. They were both recent converts. They both give the impression of low intelligence. They both lacked social skills. They both remain active to this day. While some would say they were ‘failures’ at some level, I feel good about the decision even though I would have never made that decision on my own.
As I write this it strikes me that these two approaches may only cover two extremes in a ward. The more ‘elite’ people being called when one considers who is the most competent, and the more ‘needy’ being called when one considers who will benefit from the experience. But what of those in the middle? The ones who quietly do good without drawing much attention to themselves, and also quietly take care of themselves and are not all that needy. Are they routinely ignored?
How would the Lord have us go about choosing people for callings? Should the needs of the calling, or the needs of the individual carry the decision process? And what of those in the middle? Can we expect the Lord to give us revelation when we do not make some kind of effort to arrive at a decision?