Challenges of Vocation in Mormonism

It’s a commonplace to note that in the Church nobody chooses her calling. Rather, God, through the mediation of priesthood leaders, calls us to serve, typically only for a limited time, in any of a wide variety of capacities. There is much to be said for this approach: sometimes, by doing things we never would have chosen for ourselves, we, like Moses, learn things “we never had supposed.” Having this potential for divine surprises built into the system is a good thing.

Still, this approach comes at a price: we lose the concept of vocation—the idea that God calls us individually to walk a particular path of divine service. (Angela C recently wrote an excellent post about this.) To be sure, patriarchal blessings can provide something like an individual call, but in most cases there are not formal institutional venues for performing the things that we in the depths of our souls feel that God has called us to do. If a person in another denomination feels called to the ministry, in many cases there are formal processes of discernment and training to guide that person in working out whether this is really what God wants him or her to do. In Mormonism a person who feels so called must either wait for a formal calling or figure out some less formal way of acting as a minister. This latter option can mean “doing much good of [one's] own accord,” but it can also lead to tensions with the institutional Church.

As we try to sort out how to act in the world according to our individualized vocations, we can look to the life of Florence Nightingale for an example. On 7 May 1837, at the age of sixteen, she experienced the first of what would be four calls to God’s service. [1] Like King Benjamin, she knew that serving God meant serving her fellow beings, but working out how exactly to do this took some time. She came from a very wealthy family, and, as such, her station in life was not to serve but to be served. The editor of some of her diaries observes: “In the early nineteenth century, nurses were little more than servants, often women without family [who were] notorious for sexual improprieties and their love of alcohol.” [2] Her eventual calling seemed profoundly at odds with her class.

Accordingly, Florence’s family (especially her mother and sister) actively resisted her efforts to act in her calling. This continued for fifteen years.  At one point, in November of 1845, Florence pleaded with God to take her life:

Lord, thou knowest the creature which Thou hast made, Thou knowest that I cannot live. Forgive me, O God, and let me die, this day let me die. It is not for myself that I say this. Thou knowest that I am more afraid to die than to live for I shall carry myself with me, but I know that by living I shall only heap anxieties on other hearts, which will but increase with time.

Lord, I do not wish for another life. I believe in a future state and I thank Thee and bless Thee for it. Many of my friends will find the reconciliation to their fates in it and I embrace the idea as a support which cannot be taken away from me. But Thou, Lord, who knowest all things, I do not think that Thou wilt insist upon my taking up life again. Thou seest that I can make nothing of it.

If, as Papa says, this is vanity and selfishness, then, Lord, all is wrong and there will be nothing of me left. My inmost self is hollow. Wilt thou not, O Lord, call the spark of life back to Thyself and send it out again under a new form, for if memory is left, there will be no heaven for me if this present I is remembered in anything. O Lord, if all is vanity and selfishness, Thou seest why I cannot pray to thee, there is nothing in me to do homage to Thee, the Pure, the Perfect. Lord into thy hands I commend my spirit. It cannot even pray. [3]

In these years of darkness, she could echo Job’s lament—”He has put my family far from me”—but instead of indicting God she commended her spirit into God’s hands. Her act of faith was not in vain, though her difficulties would still persist for several more years. The next month she wrote:

God has something for me to do for Him or He would have let me die some time ago. I hope to do it by living, then my eyes would indeed have seen His salvation, but now I am dust and nothing, worse than nothing, a curse to myself and others.

This morning I felt as if my soul would pass away in tears, but I live in utter loneliness, in a bitter passion of tears and agony of solitude. But I live, and God grant that I may live to do this. Oh if our Saviour walked the earth, how should I not go to him, and would he send me back to live the life again which crushes me into vanity and deceit? Or would he not say, Do this. Oh, for some great thing to sweep this loathsome life into the past. [4]

Like Jesus, Florence did not regard the riches and privilege of her station, “but emptied [herself], taking the form of a slave.” This was the price of her calling, of her service.

In time, after an 1848 retreat in Rome, journeys to Egypt and Greece in 1848-49, and a long-desired visit to the Protestant institution for deaconesses at Kaiserswerth, Germany (near Düsseldorf), Florence was finally able to put her vocation into practice. In Rome she met Sidney Herbert, the Secretary of War who later charged her with leading nurses in the Crimean War. Her successes there led to the publication in 1859 of her influential Notes on Nursing, in which she inveighed against circumstances that prevented women from acting in keeping with their God-given potentials:

But how much more extraordinary is it that, whereas what we might call the coxcombries of education—e.g., the elements of astronomy—are now taught to every school-girl, neither mothers of families of any class, nor school-mistresses of any class, nor nurses of children, nor nurses of hospitals, are taught anything about those laws which God has assigned to the relations of our bodies with the world in which He has put them. In other words, the laws which make these bodies, into which He has put our minds, healthy or unhealthy organs of those minds, are all but unlearnt. Not but that these laws—the laws of life—are in a certain measure understood, but not even mothers think it worth their while to study them—to study how to give their children healthy existences. They call it medical or physiological knowledge, fit only for doctors. [5]

The error in this way of thinking lies in categorizing spiritual knowledge as scientific. For all her scientific achievement in making hospitals safer and healthier places, Florence was at heart a mystic: as evidence of her disposition, she compiled a manuscript anthology of medieval mystical writing. She did not, however, think of the mystical state as one of spiritual ecstasy, but rather as one of quiet harmony with God’s laws:

It appears to me that the mystical state is the essence of common sense if it is real, that is, if God is a reality. We can only act and speak and think through Him and the thing is to discover such laws of His as will enable us to be always acting and thinking in (conscious) co-operation with Him. Grace is a mistake because we cannot conceive that this, the very best gift we can have, can be the gift of arbitrary caprice on the part of our Almighty F[ather]. But if we find out that He gives us grace, i.e., the mystical state in accordance with certain laws we can discover and use, is not that a truth and  common sense? …

The fact is, mystical books are for hard-working people to inspire their daily work, like you and me, not for mystical people, contemplative people, religious people, people in contemplative orders, idle people, excitable young ladies. [6]

This perspective can guide Mormons by showing that institutional venues can paradoxically detract from spiritual vocations. In this, Florence Nightingale is siding with St. Francis and St. Dominic who, around the turn of the 13th century,argued that the true apostolic way lay not in monastic life but in mendicant preaching among the people. [7] She is arguing that contemplative retreat from the world misses the point of Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan. In a note of 2 July 1849 she reflects on how different ways of living can affect a person’s ability so recognize her neighbor:

Ought not one’s externals to be as nearly as possible an incarnation of what life really is? Life is not a green pasture and a still water, as our homes make it. Life is to some a forty days fasting, moral or physical, in the wilderness, to some it is a fainting under the carrying of the crop [cross], to some it is a crucifixion, to all a struggle for truth, for safety.

Life is seen in a much truer form in London than in the country. In an English country place everything that is painful is so carefully removed out of sight, behind those fine trees, to a village three miles off. In London, at all events if you open your eyes, you cannot help seeing in the next street that life is not as it has been made to you. You cannot get out of a carriage at a party without seeing what is in the faces making the lane on either side and without feeling tempted to rush back and say, “Those are my brothers and sisters.” [8]

As Latter-day Saints, whatever we feel our vocation to be, the important thing is to seek out our neighbors (in Jesus’ sense of the word) instead of acting in quiet and often unreflective ways to cut ourselves off from them. The world in its woundedness may inspire an understandable desire for retreat, but we, like Jesus, are called to incarnate ourselves in it. Thanks be to God for the example of Florence Nightingale in this regard. May we become her fellow-travelers on the path of discipleship.

mormon_lectionary-100x100px-rgbaMormon Lectionary Project

The Feast of Florence Nightingale, 1910

Job 19:13-22 (NRSV); Luke 10:25-37 (NRSV); Philippians 2: 1-11 (NRSV); Mosiah 2:10-19

The Collect: O God our True Physician, by the light of thy Holy Spirit, and through the grace of thy Son, Jesus Christ, show us the path whereby we might always be in communion with thee, that we may know how to bring thy compassion and healing to the distressed of the earth. Amen.

To honor a person of spiritual power who was deeply invested in healing, what better than Nina Simone with my favorite version of “There is a Balm in Gilead”?

Notes

[1] From a diary entry for 7 Feb. 1892, recorded in Lynne McDonald, ed., Florence Nightingale’s Spiritual Journey, in Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, vol. 2 (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2001), 516.

[2] Michael D. Calabria, Florence Nightingale in Egypt and Greece: Her Diary and “Visions” (Albany: State University of New York Press), 2.

[3] McDonald, 366.

[4] Ibid., 367.

[5] Florence Nightingale, Notes on Nursing (London, 1859; facsimile reprint, 1946), 7.

[6] Lynne McDonald, ed., Florence Nightingale’s Theology: Essays, Letters and Journal Notes, in Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, vol. 3 (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2001), 232-34.

[7] For more on this, listen to Blair Hodges’s excellent interview with Bernard McGinn for the Maxwell Institute Podcast. The Church did, of course, eventually embrace the Franciscan and Dominican orders.

[8] Gérard Vallée, ed., Florence Nightingale on Mysticism and Eastern Religions, in Collected Works of Florence Nightingale, vol. 4 (Waterloo, Ontario: Wilfred Laurier University Press, 2001), 107.

Comments

  1. Most Mormons follow vocation outside of Mormon channels (becoming teachers, or doctors, or volunteering to help the poor, etc.) for the reasons you describe. The one exception may be senior missionaries who are often offered a range of service options in the church from which they seek their calling.

  2. Good point about senior missionaries. For people with sufficient privilege to put spiritual consideration into choosing their life’s work, there might also be something of Weber’s Protestant ethic at work here.

  3. Sometimes, it seems as if Mormonism is a counterpoint to vocation: “so, you’re an investment banker and a mathematical genius? Off to the Nursery.” It is as if the Church serves to provide some dose of humbling reality to those whose natural vocations lead to greatness. God reminds us through his Church that we are dross (by making us do lame chores).

  4. But how often, and for how long do investment bankers really spend in Nursery?

  5. Right. That’s why there’s some aptness to invoking St. Francis and the idea of mendicant friars, for whom keeping reality humbling was important, at least in theory.

  6. I’ve seen it happen, but only for early-career types. Then again, I’ve never really been in a ward with more established bankers (although I did serve in a bishopric with one established person and another who was on his way).

  7. This is probably one of my favorites in the lectionary project. It really resonates with me, especially as a woman. Many of my callings, while enjoyable, have seemed silly and a little wasteful. Driving children to piano lessons and making memorable meals have also left me wanting. I have now found great fulfillment in pursuing service opportunities outside of the church. Serving the marginalized has brought me closer to the divine than I could have imagined. I also feel an odd sense of relief, like I’m finally on the right path. Maybe I’m finding my vocation?

  8. I hope so, rtc. Carry on with the good work!

  9. This post is wonderful. And this conclusion really spoke to me:
    “As Latter-day Saints, whatever we feel our vocation to be, the important thing is to seek out our neighbors (in Jesus’ sense of the word) instead of acting in quiet and often unreflective ways to cut ourselves off from them. The world in its woundedness may inspire an understandable desire for retreat, but we, like Jesus, are called to incarnate ourselves in it.”

    Thank you!

  10. What an excellent contribution to the Lectionary! I echo Hunter’s enthusiasm for the quoted lines.

    I also would not want you to miss an opportunity to cite Angela’s previous excellent treatment of this problem with vocation/callings in Mormonism: http://bycommonconsent.com/2014/03/23/many-are-chosen-but-few-are-called/

  11. Thanks, John. Angela’s excellent post deserves to be read, so I’ll update the OP to give it a nod.

  12. It used to much more common for saints in the church to have a passion or vocation within the gospel. People would feel “called” to a particular niche and then dedicate their entire lives to it in and outside of callings.

    Examples include: musicians, genealogists, life-long primary teachers, youth leaders, missionary work, widow-caretakers, humanitarian workers, temple workers, craftsmanship of all kinds solo gratia dei, scholars of particular scriptures or points in history, patriots, etc.

    It seems to me our habit of quickly-rotating callings and extending “creative” callings to persons with little or no preparation or experience is considered a quicker path to ‘testimony-building’ than the slower discipline-based and vocational approaches. Most leaders display their “faith” by filling callings with novices. I think faith can be built through both the “creative” callings and through vocationally-related callings, but I lament the fact that our culture seems to value less the vocationally-applied saint. The last bastions of vocationally-oriented callings huddle around pianists/organists, genealogists, and some leadership callings, mostly because they require a certain level of application and knowledge which cannot be compensated for elsewhere in the system.

  13. Very good points, annon. Teaching is one place where vocation plays a part, but less so than the others you mention, I suspect.

  14. And yet teaching is one area in which vocation should properly be a primary consideration, no? That is one of the problems with the current dismal state of teaching in our Church lessons in Sunday School and Priesthood/RS/YMYW, isn’t it? That we’ve ignored or downplayed vocation as a relevant consideration in extending teaching callings — in many cases actively avoiding it out of a form of pride in which we bristle at the idea that a teacher could know more about something than those whom they are teaching, and have special abilities in bringing the information out and enriching lives? No one member, in the current climate, is supposed to “know” more about any particular Gospel topic than any other member, the only exception being General Authorities whom we elevate with assumptions that they somehow “know” more about the Gospel, history, theology, ethics, symbolism, spiritual experiences, etc. than all other members, despite the fact that in our Church, they themselves are essentially “just members” too with no particular background or training that would give them any more insight into these topics than any other member. A troubling irony.

  15. … as evidenced by the fact that I wanted to make a comment along similar lines, but didn’t, both because I teach Gospel Doctrine and didn’t want to toot my own horn, and because I didn’t want to put down my fellow teachers.

  16. Like rtc, I’ve felt called to help people outside of the church’s service programs in soup kitchens and nursing homes. I’ve gotten so much fulfillment out of that – more than most church callings I’ve had (though there were one or two I really enjoyed). So for me, since I don’t have time for both, I’ve decided not to accept any church callings for now because they would take me away from what I really feel called to. This works for me, and I feel like it’s a good decision, but it’s hard to explain it to other members who generally tend to view turning down a calling as akin to some kind of sin – or evidence that you’re committing other sins, which I’m not. I just don’t how to explain how important my outside service is to me. More than any other thing, I feel like it strengthens my relationship with God and helps me become more Christlike and love others better. But I think it’s hard for people who feel closest to God in church service to understand that I feel closest to Him in other ways.

  17. Thanks for this very personal articulation of the tension that can exist between vocation and church callings. It’s a very useful reminder, too, of the need to see God in our neighbors’ walks with deity, instead of judging them based on what works for us.

  18. too bad that we culturally don’t consider such “outside service,” as you put it MOQT, to be “church service” such that such misunderstanding wouldn’t be possible.

  19. Jennifer Poff Koski says:

    Thank you Jason K. Excellent, most excellent post. I’ve been richly fed by your BCC contributions – this is one of my favorites.

  20. MOQT,

    Thank you for the wonderful work that you do!! I wish we had thousands and thousands more church members (and non-members) doing such service. How inspiring!.

    One thing I wondered: Is it possible (with the right ward leadership) to turn such service into a calling…for example, having a community outreach coordinator or something? What avenues do we have institutionally as church members to create formal church callings to accomplish such service? Is it simply the perogative of the Bishop?

  21. I’ve seen people called to represent the ward on local interfaith councils. All manner of good had come of such things. I think it’s the bishop’s prerogative.

  22. Great article Jason!
    I look at Church Callings as the Lord trying to add to my usefulness and give me challenges that I may not have chosen, but that as I put my full heart and effort into them, I grow to love and enjoy this new challenge and the joy and added dimension it brings to my life. Most people do improve with time if they put effort and prayer into what they are formally called to do. Everyone needs a chance to learn to do a variety of things. And we need to be patient with those who are learning and respect the effort they are putting forth. We will not all be wonderful at everything, or even educated enough to do as well as others, but we are each blessed with our perspective that we can share with others and maybe help them see things a little differently and more clearly.

  23. Interfaith involvement and community service can be vital to a church community and its emotional and social health, both collectively and for the individual members.

    Since I know this truth well, about a dozen years ago I was feeling down and started to make plans to involve myself in some community service. Almost immediately I got a clear, unmistakable — and very loud for being the still, small voice — direction that I was not to do that, that I had other responsibilities. The direction was also clear what those responsibilities were in a way that made just enough sense at the time but makes more sense now.

    As I’ve pursued this responsibility (vocation, avocation, whatever you want to call it) and slowly built my skills I’ve both enjoyed and suffered through other church callings, but eventually my church responsibilities caught up with my vocation.

    I have deep admiration for those who serve the poor and needy in the church or elsewhere, and admiration for those who understand and fulfill missionary or other church responsibilities, but I have found that within my own area of expertise and responsibility, I am able to minister to people in a very personal and meaningful way. It’s been quite an experience.

  24. I was talking with an LDS friend who is also a professor, who has not been called in a teaching or leadership calling, since her final year getting her doctorate. She has expressed how wonderful it was to be asked by a friend in charge of the UU bible camp to teach the 6th graders. She hasn’t realized how hungry to teach the gospel she was.

    Since it doesn’t conflict with her war’s meeting time, she agreed to teach Sunday School in the fall, after discussing it with her bishop, and him confirming that she is not being considered for teaching callings, because some families are uncomfortable with the fact that she teaches science classes at an undergraduate and graduate level.
    I smiled when I heard the name of the class she will be teaching, “Mormons are Christians With More Scriptures.”

  25. Jason, this was brilliant. But I agree that solutions are difficult beyond the “own free will” passage. BCC has a reason for being. (grin)

  26. Anon: good for you! God bless, and carry on!

    juliathepoet: that’s awesome! I’m glad that your friend was able to work out that kind of balance.

    WVS: (grin)

  27. melodynew says:

    “The world in its woundedness may inspire an understandable desire for retreat, but we, like Jesus, are called to incarnate ourselves in it. Thanks be to God for the example of Florence Nightingale in this regard. May we become her fellow-travelers on the path of discipleship.” Beautiful. Amen.

    Well, now you’ve done it. You’ve brought one of my favorite people to BCC. Florence was a brilliant statistician and among the first to utilize statistical analysis to improve patient outcomes. She was enlightened, inspired, and courageous enough to follow her call. Oh, yeah, and she was a feminist. I still think about her fairly often. I claim her as one of my foremothers. I’m a nurse.

    Although I can’t say I was called to this work, I’ve been called over and over again within it. I suppose nursing is an easy place to feel a call to minister, but I agree with you, it can happen for any one in any chosen field. God calls us, then qualifies us where we are, if we are willing. Amen to anon above: “I have found that within my own area of expertise and responsibility, I am able to minister to people in a very personal and meaningful way. It’s been quite an experience.”

    I love this post. And I love her words: “I have seen His face, the Crown of glory inseparably united with the Crown of thorns–giving forth the same light.” ~ Florence Nightingale

  28. Melody: I’m so glad to meet an admirer of Florence (though I’m not surprised that you should be one). I knew very little about her when I began working on this post, but I learned very quickly that I was dealing with a profound person. Becoming acquainted with such people is a great blessing of writing these Lectionary posts, surpassed only by the stories in the comments of wonderful people doing good in the present. God bless you in your labors (and in your own writing, which I continue to enjoy).

  29. One of the potential factors in moving away from vocational or avocational specialization in the church is I believe our loss for eschatological zeal. Our pioneer ancestors believed the millennium- the end of suffering, pain, and death and a life with God was just around the corner, if they could just build Zion. The best craftsmanship, the best teachers, inspired missionaries, worldwide humanitarian success, the best musicians, etc. were needed and one’s individual God given talents were to be specifically applied to the cause. We’ve lost a lot if that millennial zeal and urgency. Our timeline isn’t hurried and we aren’t seeking the same level if enlightenment. When was the last time we heard a GA talk about ushering in the millennium??? With correlation, we’ve boiled everything down to the point that a teacher can essentially teach a lesson on the fly without much or sometimes any preparation. Musicians aren’t especially needed if you pop in the official dirge oops, I mean accompaniment cd. Novices to a particular calling? No problem, we’re not in a rush and it doesn’t need to be good.

  30. I have mixed feelings about eschatological zeal (although I have noticed this kind of language in GC lately), but I’d be on board with a little more urgency about building Zion. That may, somewhere, be the motivation behind “hastening the work of salvation,” but I’d like to see it a little more explicit.

  31. “after discussing it with her bishop, and him confirming that she is not being considered for teaching callings, because some families are uncomfortable with the fact that she teaches science classes at an undergraduate and graduate level.”

    Wow, juliathepoet, that is depressing. They were uncomfortable with her teaching science? And the bishop went along with their discomfort?? Sad.

  32. Bro. Jones says:

    Thanks, this is great and I will completely be stealing this material for a Gospel Doctrine class.

  33. Bro. Jones says:

    Also, to echo Ziff: juliathepoet, that is saddening and ridiculous. As a bleeding-heart liberal hippie, what if I have a problem with a leader who has a job overseeing corporate mergers and layoffs? Can I suggest that I’d be uncomfortable with his or her leadership due to his or her professional duties? Would my concerns be taken into account?

  34. Ziff: right?

    Bro. Jones: steal away, but nods to BCC are appreciated.

  35. Bro. Jones says:

    Jason K.: I steal, but acknowledge. Benjamin the Scribe and BCC have often been mentioned in my lessons, and I’ve even provided direct URLs for folks after class if they ask.

  36. Awesome. Benjamin the Scribe is a great resource, and I draw on him regularly in my own teaching. Carry on, good sir!

  37. Ohhhh, man! Now I wish *I* had a Gospel Doctrine teacher who cited BCC. Sigh.

  38. That’s okay. I’m sure that your on-the-fly statistical analysis of class comments more than makes up for it.

  39. Wow. Wow. Wow. Thank you, Jason, for letting our sister Florence preach this one. She is an inspiration and a true messenger. Funny Bc at the beginning of the article, when you were talking about fulfilling a vocation and the conflicts some feel with the institutional church, all I could think of was my ministry as a nurse. And how my most holy and blessed Sundays are spent ministering to my NICU babies amd their families, and how strongly I feel the Spirit there– in spite of people in the Church who have tried to tell me I shouldn’t work so many Sundays Bc I need to be spiritually fed … AT CHURCH.). So when you started quoting Ms Nightengale, my mouth dropped open and my heart started hammering. (I guess I am doubly lucky in that I was called to a vocation in a PAID ministry lol). Thank you thank you for probably the most spiritual thing I will read this week.

  40. God bless you. Few people need ministering as much as NICU babies and their families.

  41. Jason, I too have reservations about millennial over-zealousness, but I would love for us to be more engaged and excited about the day dawn breaking. I need one of those bumper stickers that says “keep Mormonism weird” because I think our millennial focus is unique and beautiful, but unappreciated by the mainstreaming efforts. I’d also love for us to bring back the larger dream of world-wide poverty eradication, and for the RS to be a partner in that humanitarian work as was laid out in their original scope and motto. Sisters Clyde, Jack and Okazaki in the Gen RS Presidency were trying to get the RS worldwide to become expert literacy coaches and teachers (for adults and children) . . . in an effort to erase poverty and meet humanitarian goals. It was an excellent program, but unfortunately, it died when they were released. Coordinating something like that with vocational/ avocational specialties is much more of a herculean effort than passing out yellow t-shirts and coordinating clean-up efforts. (A necessary and helpful task, but perhaps not a maximization of skills and resources.) I lament that when we wander so far away from vocational specialization, that we loose that glorious devotional heritage of craftsmanship and vocational/ avocational application.

    Also, juliathepoet, oh my goodness, that is tragic.If it makes you feel any better my home ward was filled with professors in the sciences who always held leadership and teaching positions. That attitude is not pervasive in the church, but I can see it rearing its ugly head here and there. Sheesh. Hang in there, give ‘em heck. > ; )

  42. Annon: I’m with you on “Keep Mormonism weird,” and on the advisability of efforts like those pioneered by that awesome RS presidency. On that note, I think that we should just keep re-posting this piece by John F. until his plan gets implemented: http://bycommonconsent.com/2014/01/13/toward-a-more-productive-fulfilling-and-successful-missionary-program/

  43. The Ammon approach? Amen and amen. Thanks for sharing . . . great article.

  44. Beautiful. Just beautiful. I would love to see these Mormon Lectionary posts gathered together and published in a book form some day.

  45. Rabbit: we are planning to do just that.

  46. Fantastic. I was especially moved by this bit from FG:

    Life is seen in a much truer form in London than in the country. In an English country place everything that is painful is so carefully removed out of sight, behind those fine trees, to a village three miles off. In London, at all events if you open your eyes, you cannot help seeing in the next street that life is not as it has been made to you.

    Your rephrasing at the end of the post was perfect as well. I haven’t followed the MLP as much as I should have. Do you actually write the collect and select the verses?

  47. Blair, we draw on the Anglican Lectionary for existing days (augmenting with Mormon scripture), but we write all of the collects ourselves.

  48. Hot dog!

  49. Tremendous contribution to the lectionary project! Well done. I’ve often imagined what would happen if we were all allowed to fulfill the callings we want, for as long as we wanted. Say if the bishop placed a list on his door of current needs. I almost believe that nothing would go unfulfilled, and if it did maybe its because no one values it and we could do away with it. If we went into calling because of a sense of vocation, for as long as we wanted or at least some maximum duration (to keep people from forever locking up some of the really sweet callings like Nursery). It would help avoid burnout, or people who just were feeling ill-suited to certain things. If I were looking at a list of needs and saw a primary need for nine year old’s class, say, something I’d likely dread because I know I would be there for 40 years with no hope of escape, I might think, I think I’d enjoy that for a year and sign up. In my thought experiment I could see that there might be some needed oversight, there are certain people you don’t want in certain callings, but imagine a Stake President who had a list of ten people who genuinely want to, had time for, and felt called to be an Elder’s Quorum President. He could screen it for problem children and still pull it from a list of those who wanted to be there. What a boon that would be for these people, and those they served. It’s just a thought, but if we went radically toward choosing members feeling called by the spirit to staff the ward, rather than having only one person who gets to make the call.

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