Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Refusing Callings

Today, for the first time in my life, I refused a calling offered to me. In some ways, I feel awful about it, but in reality I feel much more relief. The first counselor ward was going to call me to be a ward missionary. Right after saying it he says, “Now you’re probably thinking to yourself ‘What would a ward missionary do in a BYU ward.’”

I stared back at him and bluntly said, “Actually… that is not what’s going on in my head at all. I’m just not going to be able to accept that calling.”

I just know that I couldn’t have that calling. In my previous ward I had to ask to be removed as Elders Quorum instructor because I couldn’t stand up and testify of the gospel without having too many conflicting emotions wash over me. It’s not that I don’t believe or have some testimony of the gospel, it’s more that all the emotions and sadness that come with accepting the fate of never being able to find someone I can share eternity with wash over and flood my mind every time I do bear testimony now. Then it just hurts too much. I know if I couldn’t deal with that kind of emotional pressure every time I tried to fulfill my calling.

I understand the idea that some callings are more for the individual who is called than for the people I would affect, but I can’t take that right now. Maybe this would help me to sort out these ideas and find where I fit in all this, but more likely it will just make me more upset and guilt ridden.

When I moved to this new ward I was hoping to be able to move in with a clean slate; to just blend in with everyone else in the ward. But now my bishopric knows that I’m dealing with some issues. They don’t know what, thankfully, but I’m now under their awareness radars.

Marcus, my brother, said people refuse callings all the time. He just never said how hard it is to actually go out and do it, especially if you’re trying to avoid actually telling them the issues you’re facing. It’s hard to maneuver through those probing questions, even if they’re trying to not do it.

The first counselor was really trying to accept and be understanding of my issues (without actually knowing what they were). I told him I was temple worthy, but that there were some ideas and doctrines I was working through. He gave me the whole schpeel about how our testimony is like a wall of bricks: sometimes there are doctrines of the gospel that we don’t understand. These are like bricks that don’t fit. Instead of throwing them away or giving up on the wall we need to set them aside and move on to other things. Those bricks will fit somewhere later on.

In my case, this is a load of crap. I can’t just set these feeling aside. I can’t set this part of me, that I have just begun to accept, and that has given me so much happiness lately aside; maybe other doctrines, but not this one. It just doesn’t work. So I had to refuse this calling.

I feel really good about my refusal though. I feel it’s better to refuse than to accept the calling and avoid doing anything with it. Then you’re shirking on something you agreed to do. I’ve done that before and it always feels like you’re letting people down.

Anyway, what do you all in the MoHo blog-o-sphere think about refusing callings? Is it justifiable?


  1. Yes. The church should exist to help the individual develop a relationship with God. The church should help bulid you up not the other way around. Not all calling are inspired by God. Don't let anyone gulit you into a calling. -A.J.

  2. I used to believe that every calling was inspired, and that refusing a calling was tantamount to saying "no" to God.

    That's rubbish.

    I've been an EQP and extended callings myself (for instructors, etc.). I've been an Exec.Sec. and watched the bishopric deliberate over who to put where. It's true that prayer is usually a part of the process, and I won't say that there isn't direct inspiration sometimes.

    But by and large, it all comes down to logistics and convenience and a little bit of randomness. Not infrequently a decision will be made without full knowledge of a situation, when a complete understanding of a person's circumstances would have made it obvious that they are a poor fit for the calling.

    You know more about your life and your situation than your bishop and his counselors do. You're entitled to your own inspiration regarding your own life. A "no" doesn't have to mean you're turning God down. Instead, it can simply mean that you know what's right for you.

  3. Wow, you really impressed me here...I think that you are just starting on a path that will lead to a lot of happiness, there will be pain, there is always pain, but I am really happy for you! Please don't feel guilty, if you had accepted you would have been unhappy in the situation and felt a whole lot more guilt when you went about the calling. Have an amazing day!!

  4. I think the important thing to do is gauge your own response to this . . . and right now you are at peace. Within the last three years I have declined a calling which the person extending it, when I shared with him the other dynamics of my life agreed that I shouldn't take that calling and basically retracted the calling. I was later called to another more appropriate calling which later extended into something much more beneficial to me and the people that I serve. There will be other callings with better fit for you. I think you did the right thing.

    And there are many ways to serve in and out of the church without being called, and special calls to service which can come to you first before priesthood authority brings it to you (which is not to say you are to do an end run around priesthood authority). . . read the D & C.