Pride in Our Husbands’ Callings

It is my sense that women in the church feel our identities defined in part by the callings that our husbands hold. What are the emotional implications for LDS women of their husbands’ callings?

In reacting to a new calling for my husband, I have felt gratitude for having a righteous and service-oriented individual by my side for life’s journey, and pleased (not proud!) in his ability to serve the church so well. It is also my experience that there can be more muddled feelings–perhaps some apprehension or even resentment about the amount of time a calling will consume. And when it comes to the particular calling a husband is receiving, pride can work its way in. So I have some questions for our readers:

If your husband does not hold a high-level calling, do you ever feel self-conscious about that? Do you secretly (or not-so-secretly) take pride in your husband’s high-level calling? Have others ever done things to make you feel self-conscious about your husband’s service in the church? It is a cliche to say that Bishops are selected as much by the qualifications of the prospective Bishop’s wife as those of the Bishop himself. Do you ever judge yourself based on the callings your husband holds or doesn’t hold? Do you ever worry that your inadequacies might be keeping your husband from “advancing”?

For the men, do these sentiments sound completely foreign to you, or do you feel the same way about your wife’s callings and accomplishments in the church? Do you ever feel pressure to live up to your wife’s expectations in terms of your contributions to leadership in the church?

Important disclaimer: Of course I realize that we don’t seek callings, all callings in the church be it apostle or nursery leader are vital and important, callings don’t necessarily indicate personal worthiness, etc. Any comments “helpfully” reminding me of these facts will not be appreciated.

Bookmark Pride in Our Husbands’ Callings


  1. My wife, over the course of our marriage, had several callings that were higher profile than anything I have been asked to do.

    She has been the one to get the late night phone calls and been asked to travel. I am happy to pack the lunches and be the chauffeur when we trek out to some little branch in the corner of nowhere. I am proud of her, and appreciate the example she is to our daughters. Because of her background she has the potential to impact others in ways that others cannot, and I am glad she has that opportunity.

    I secretly feel a little less guilty about how my all consuming profession keeps me from doing as much as I maybe should in Church because it allows her to not work, and pull a disproportionate load in an area where most women do work outside the home.

  2. Interesting post. Do you think that some women use their husband’s callings as proxies for the fact that many “high-level” callings are unavailable to them?

  3. Mark Brown says:

    do these sentiments sound completely foreign to you

    Yes, very foreign. I’ve never thought of this, so I continue to be surprised by things I don’t know and never imagined.

    There is something about the difference in calling to men and women that I have noticed, however. A demanding job for a woman is almost an automatic disqualifier for a demanding church calling, even if she is single or has no children. But for a man, a demanding job is almost a prerequisite to be called as a priesthood leader. We are respectful of the boundaries surrounding motherhood, but we don’t seem to care very much about the bishop’s fatherhood responsibilities when he works a 60 hour/week job and has five children.

    Do you ever feel pressure to live up to your wife’s expectations in terms of your contributions to leadership in the church?

    No, I gave up on that long ago. It did wonders for my mental health. But I’ll let you in on a little secret I have learned, Cynthia: In the church, it’s not where you serve, but how. We don’t seek after callings, nor do we consider them a marker of worthiness.


  4. My husband has been inactive almost the whole time so no pride here, except for the fact that he does attend now. I did know one sister in SL whose husband has been called to a couple of different high profile positions. After the first time, she was told she might want to limit her involvement in outside causes as that could impact her husband’s future. She did and a second opportunity was forthcoming a few months later.

  5. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    In our ward, one sister started calling herself “Sister Bishop” after her husband was called as bishop. She wondered out loud what authority his calling gave her. Well, it didn’t take her long to decide that it gave her ALL POWER!!!! (insert evil laugh here)

    She told us that we HAD TO pay to feed everyone who came to our son’s funeral. It didn’t matter that we had over $850,000 in hospital bills. “That’s the way we do things in Michigan. This isn’t Utah.” We told her that we didn’t want to do a dinner and she told us that if we wanted to use the church, we had to have a dinner. The bishop sat there silent. So, because my wife wanted a funeral in the church we relented and spent several hundred dollars extra. The sister in charge of the dinner was told by “Sister Bishop” that we wanted to rent linens, china, and silverware. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know if we would be eating the next week, as long as everyone had a good time.

    She approached a sister who had just gotten divorced and started going on about how “Sister Bishop” was glad that her husband was a righteous priesthood leader and a good husband and father. But I’m not surprized, because she approached my wife after the funeral and told my wife how happy she was to see her own son grow to be a man. And how glad she was that she had three sons because if one of her sons died, she would have two others left. When my wife started crying, “Sister Bishop” started telling the ward that my wife had a nervous breakdown.

    I could go on and on with examples of unrighteous dominion. We have new bishop. He’s new to the ward and doesn’t know about her past. He just called her to be Relief Society President. She’s started all over again.

    If all I knew of this church was this ward, I would have concluded that Mormons are not Christians and would have left long ago.

  6. “pleased (not proud!)”

    I think you’re playing what I now call the synonym game – a situation where a person claims one (acceptable) thing while simultaneously denying one (unacceptable?) thing when in reality they are both synonyms (words) for one and the same thing.

    No worries. It’s not that big a deal.

  7. In regards to the post topic, I think that being accepted or feeling accepted in a ward is a very big deal to us as LDS people. It makes us feel valued. If a person is extended a high calling, it may carry with it some weight of ‘acceptedness’ in the community. A person who gets called to a responsibility that he/she doesn’t value as highly may feel the opposite.

  8. #5 Floyd the Wonderdog:

    I used to jokingly call the wife of our last bishop “Sister Bishop.” She would cringe when she heard me call her that, would point to her husband and say, “He is the bishop, not me.”

    I hope this “Sister Bishop” you knew had, or will have an opportunity to experience the humbling power of trial and adversity. Nothing says “I love you” from the Lord more than a swift kick in the rear. Perhaps her new calling will provide her with this swift kick.

  9. This is a novel idea to me. I wouldn’t be surprised if some women somewhere felt this way, but I’ve honestly never picked up any sense of it from women I’ve been around — and having grown up in the military where wives assume their husband’s rank in the social pecking order, I think I would have recognized an analogous pattern had it been a part of any ward I ever lived in. To the contrary, officers and officers’ wives shed their rank at the chapel door. If anything, the wife of my current bishop blends even more subtly into the ward fabric than she did before he was called.

  10. Natalie B. says:

    I admit that I am troubled by how callings work in our church. Like Cynthia said, please don’t remind me that callings are “from God and not something we seek,” but in my experience in every ward except the singles ward that I have attended, the same people and the same kinds of people keep getting recalled to positions of leadership. And, I do think that it makes those who don’t fit the model feel less welcomed and supported in church. Several men close to me have mentioned that since they aren’t tall and don’t have an MBA or CES job that they feel they will not be promoted to more authoritative callings.

    The fact of the matter is, I believe, that people who feel more supported in church because they are “model” Mormons are more likely to stay active and hence become leaders. And then leadership perpetuates itself.

  11. Natalie B. says:

    #4 – I, also, know a high-profile Mormon woman who was told by Church authorities that she should quit her writing career because it would negatively impact her husband in his important calling.

  12. Here’s something I noticed in an old ward. The High Priests were rather fond of “Cottage Evenings,” which were HP-only social gatherings. Their wives were always invited. As HP’s tend to represent the ward elite, their wives benefitted in that way. Wives of “older” Elders, I think, would have felt this exclusion.

    (Another reason why I have some concerns about the social and bureaucratic HP/Elders split in the priesthood.)

  13. John Mansfield says:

    I know a woman whose husband and both brothers were simultaneously serving as stake presidents. Her husband noted that it was a good thing that his mother-in-law had already died because the pride wouldn’t have been good for her soul.

  14. Natalie B.: I don’t disagree with your points. But sometimes the pool of worthy brethren from which to select “leaders” is less deep than one might imagine. (And there are plenty of tall MBAs that don’t fit the bill — maybe not so much with CES folk. :) )

    I would think that a spouse can justifiably be happy/pleased/”proud” that his/her spouse is willing and worthy to serve in whatever capacity he or she is called.

  15. Lets look at this from a YSA perspective……..

    In the last 2 years Ive been in 2 different singles wards and have been Ward Mission Leader(presiding over 15 ward missionaries, all serving at the same time), the Bishop’s Secretary and 1st Councilor in the Elder’s Quorum.

    In the past 2 years I have had ZERO girls friends. Yep, haiving “high” callings drives the women crazy.

  16. I sure hope my wife is proud of my calling. Especially since we have the same calling, and I hope she’s proud of her calling, too.

    Primary rocks.

  17. Peter LLC says:

    Pssst, pedro: not “high” enough!

  18. Peter LLC says:

    On second thought, maybe WML is high profile enough, it’s just that it’s an annoying kind of high profile, the kind that makes people squirm in their seats and start hunting for excuses when you show up.

  19. One more thing. We are tought that we should desire spiritual gifts(1 Corinthians 14).

    Some people seem to want high callings but never seem to want more spiritual gifts. Why?

    Because everyone will know if you are sitting in front of the congregation, but no one else will know that you have been allowed to peer into the Celestial Kingdom.

    Man, give me a 10 minute interview with Moses or Joseph Smith Jr. and I’ll give up ever conducting another meeting as long as I live.

    I have a friend that was pretty frustrated that he was never given a high profile calling in the YSA ward. All the while he is engaged to one of the most beutiful young women I know. How short sighted can you be?

  20. adam e. says:

    I’m proud of my wife when she serves wholeheartedly. (And I mean the bad kind of “proud.”) I don’t really care if it is high-profile or not.

    I think my wife has mixed feelings about my service: she’s proud of me for serving and wishing I would spend less time serving others so I could be with her more. I haven’t noticed any difference in her behavior whether my calling was high-profile or not.

  21. I think I was most proud of my husband when he was called as nursery leader and magnified that calling. The kids LOVED him and he loved that calling.

    As for the HP/Elder split, I was on the other end of the spectrum. My husband received a calling where he moved to the HP Quorum when we were relatively young and I always felt left out when the EQ had parties cause they were more my age.

  22. Cynthia L. says:

    #9—Ardis brings up an important point (re: wives assuming pecking order of their husbands’ military ranks). Wives feeling their husband’s calling as part of their identity at least mirrors, and maybe carries over from, the way wives’ identities are historically defined by their husbands’ occupations.

  23. Margaret Young says:

    When my husband was released from the stake presidency, I broke down and cried–not because I would miss the calling, but because I was remembering the 10+ years he had served and was having a quick replay of his tremendous growth during that time. I was thankful for what the calling had meant to him personally. I love seeing him radiant in the MTC, and I don’t want to leave that calling. I’ve wondered how I would react if my husband was called to something else. It would be hard. It could very well happen, though.

  24. Researcher says:

    I missed the part of the Doctrine and Covenants that said that height is a requirement for certain church callings. I imagine a few others must have missed that section too, because my current stake president is only a few inches taller than I am, and I’m a rather short woman. (Neither is he an MBA or in CES.)

    My previous two stake presidents were both over six feet tall, but one of them was a farmer, and the other worked in government.

    As far as I’m concerned, I don’t see my identity as being at all linked to my husband’s calling. I can imagine that there might be some women who feel differently, though.

    The bishopric in my ward was changed on Sunday and the wife of one of the former bishopric members admitted to being in tears at her husband’s release. Of course, they were tears of joy, since she no longer has to take care of three small children by herself during sacrament meeting.

  25. Cynthia, I think women may be socialized to see their husband’s callings as extensions of themselves in someway, although I don’t think I have ever met anyone IRL who flaunted their husband’s position or (shudder) someone like the above “Sister Bishop”. It’s a lot more subtle.

    I think we can trace some of these teachings to the YW program, but also adult women are certainly encouraged to feel gratified by their husband’s call. Case in point, when my husband was called to be the bishop, I was told that they looked for the best woman in the ward and called her husband. This is problematic on so many levels ie. I wasn’t the “best” woman in the ward, the idea that anybody who is the “best” is called to certain positions is damaging, if I was the best, why would I be “rewarded” through my husband, (why do we think of callings as rewards, and why do we congratulate people when they get new calls — seems like the wrong word), etc. etc. This incident reveals the patriarchal nature of institutional church that women are not truly agents unto themselves, but of their husbands. I’ve also seen women who carry the extra responsibilities of family life that come from their husband’s calling be told that at least their husband isn’t spending that time in a bar or a casino, etc. thus extreme church service is valourized. Good husbands work long hours at church.

    Finally, I have experienced the same isolation as DeeAnn – the good side is it forces you to make friendships outside your demographic. The bad side is the separation — but that seems inevitable as a bishop’s wife anyways.

    P.S. I’ve never had a bishop who had an MBA or was a CES guy. Natalie you need to head North :)

  26. Given the culture and climate of my uber-conservative Mesa ward, I’m convinced the tattoo on my ankle will keep my husband an Elder & ward clerk for a very long time. Not that that’s a bad thing…

  27. Hmm, you know, this makes me curious: how many callings can an LDS man not hold if he’s married to a filthy Gentile?

    #5 Floyd: My husband asks, why did people sustain “Sister Bishop” as RS President if she was so awful when her husband was the bishop? He is apparently very willing to vote “no” on people he thinks should not have certain callings.

    #10 Natalie: Seth R. linked this article to me a few weeks ago about “Ten Same People Syndrome in callings in LDS wards, goes along with what you’re saying.

  28. I’m not exactly sure what a “high profile” calling is, other than Bishop or SP. My husband’s in the Elder’s Quorum Presidency, does that count?

    I laughed when he was called to it, because it was right when our stake had been reorganized, and he was convinced a lot of people would fall through the cracks during the transition period. Then he got a calling where he was in the position of making sure that didn’t happen.

    I think the “proudest” I’ve been of him in a calling was when he taught primary. It just made me happy to see him working with kids. Kids love him.

  29. Melissa says:

    I wish my husband were still a Primary teacher. That was his first calling in our current branch, and we got to go to Primary together (I’m Primary music leader). Now he’s an assistant to the Melchizedek priesthood group leader and has lots more meetings and is often frustrated with his calling and with other men in the branch. Being in Primary together was much more fun. :)

  30. Elouise says:

    Forty-five years ago, in the French Mission, a major theological debate raged among the member-sisters: who had the higher position and the most authority–the wife of the Branch President or the President of the Branch Relief Society? So far as I know, this issue was never brought up for discussion with the menfolk, who were not considered to be fully aware of all the nuances involved.

    I was startled to read about Sister Bishop in Michigan, however. Virginia or Massachusetts, perhaps, but Michigan?

    On the general matter of associative prestige, the following overheard conversation has stayed with me for years. At a
    large conference in SLC–can’t remember the nature of the conference, except to know that it wasn’t General Conference–several women were milling about and getting acquainted. Some were businesswomen, some at the U, a few were lawyers. There were also, of course, women who did not work outside the home. “And what do you do?” someone asked a rather elegant woman. There was the briefest pause, then, “My husband is a surgeon.”

  31. My husband has served in the YM’s for about 7 1/2 years out of our 10 year marriage (the first few years we were in a married student ward –no YM). I’ve loved it because I get the chance to associate with the youth –our ward is such that they would never (or hardly ever) put a married couple in the youth together –and I’ll admit to some frustration/jealousy. Luckily I’ve been able to help out –like with Youth Conference, because I’d love to serve in YW’s! But other than that, I’m really glad he’s not in the EQ or Bishopric –I love knowing exactly where he is and what he’s doing and having him on Sundays. I have absolutely no desire for him to be anything more than what they give him, you know? And he feels the same way.

    My father is the same way –he’s never held a “high” calling (in fact, I think he might still be an Elder), but it’s not because he isn’t “worthy”. I guess the Lord just wants him where He wants him. My mom, on the other hand, moves from President to President (Primary, YW’s, RS), and I think that’s why my they are both content with the way it works. No pride there, either.

    But –for sure there are those out there that are trying/wanting/hoping for “important” callings. I’m sure the reasons vary (as I’ve read in this post, too), and to be honest, I’m not surprised. We all find worth in different ways –and for some of us, it’s through Illustrious callings (which, ironically, always equates lots to do!).

  32. Natalie B. says:

    I’m sure that other people have had bishops that aren’t MBAs or CES, but I haven’t. All I can speak to is my experience, which is heavily skewed towards wealthier, urban areas that might have biases towards those professions.

    I’m curious about the point that the leadership pool isn’t always that deep. How, precisely, do people determine the leadership pool? I mean, my observation is that people of different ages and genders in the ward rarely socialize with each other apart from official church activities and callings, so I find it somewhat hard to imagine how those who make callings could really be aware of the enitre pool of talent in the ward. I don’t think my current bishop knows anything substantive about me, because the ward is so large that he doesn’t really have time to know everyone. In fact, I am far more inclined to think that there is an excess of potential leaders rather than a shortage in many areas.

    Ironically, I was called to the only calling that I specified as not wanting when I filled out the form asking for what callings we’d be interested in when we moved to the ward. Perhaps there is some higher purpose in this call, but I’m really inclined to believe that for the most part they have so many members in need of callings that they just match people to available needs or make callings up.

  33. As bizarre as Eloise’s French Mission debate may sound, I think I understand the reasoning behind it. Since early in the 20th century, the wife of the mission president in each European mission (and possibly elsewhere, but I’m less familiar with the elsewheres) was also — by calling, not by personal assumption — the president of the Mission Relief Society. With that as the model during the whole lifetime or church membership of the French sisters in question, it’s understandable, I suppose, for them to see the wives of leaders as holding authoritative positions themselves.

    Either that, or I’m defending them because this story seems so, well, delightfully French and so typical of the wonderful, outspoken French women I knew that I’m tickled by it.

  34. Matt W. says:

    Cynthia, I take pride in my wife’s high profile callings. She is brilliantly talented and awesome. She is invited to lead Regional Choirs, she is a brilliant musician and a brilliant teacher, and is often asked to teach sunday school. She is very devoted (much more than I am) and spends hours every week preparing to be the primary chorister. Yes I do sometimes fret at the time sink her callings are, but at the same time I am pleased (and proud!) of her accomplishments and skill. Every Calling she has she puts her whole self into and makes that calling “high-profile”. And I do feel pressure to live up to her uber-awesomeness. I don’t want to let her down.

  35. #27,

    I will take a crack at this. I just skimmed the H of I to see if it mentions leadership positions while being married to a non-member. It apparently does not. I could be wrong about this though or simply not seeing it in the book.

    I can address what I have seen then in practice in various wards. Generally speaking men called to prominent positions AKA.. Stake Presidencies, Bishoprics etc are usually married in the temple with active spouses. The exception to this is usually in areas where the church is quite small and the pool of PH leaders is shallow. On my mission in Africa it was not uncommon in small branches for the BP to be married to a non-member or be single.

  36. Peter LLC says:

    28:this makes me curious: how many callings can an LDS man not hold if he’s married to a filthy Gentile?

    Depends on how far out in the mission field one is.

  37. Natalie B. says:

    #32 – Quick modification – I’ve actually had one bishop who wasn’t an MBA or CES.

  38. Natalie B. says:

    Which is not to say that someone who is an MBA or CES makes a bad bishop – in fact, many have been terrific.

  39. Natalie,
    I have generally been in wealthier urban areas, too, and have to say, my experiences don’t track yours. I’ve never had a CES bishop, and MBAs don’t outnumber non-MBAs by any means. (I confess that I’ve never had a farmer for a bishop, but I’ve never lived anywhere where there were farmers, either.) And in my current and past wards, people across ages and genders have hung out and socialized, both at and away from church.

  40. Interesting post, and even more interesting comments. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve even been a Mormon all these years!

    I think that it is interesting that no one brought up the role/responsibiltiy/calling of Father and Mother for these men and women.

    As far as my feelings for callings are concerned, I have made covenants, as has my husband, where I have promised to sacrifice and consecrate all of my time and talents and substance to the Building of the Zion on Earth. It is as simple as that – sometimes this consecration comes in the form of playing piano in the primary (obviously, my current and MOST FAVORITE CALLING EVER!!!). Other times this may require another type of service. Always it requires loving the Lord with all of our hearts, might, mind and strength.

    I also feel that this type of consecration will require me supporting my husband – my companion and helpmeet – to do all that he can to consecrate his time and effort to the Lord.

    It all seems so simple, and yet we often let petty feelings get in the way of the real work of the Lord.

  41. CJ Douglass says:

    While serving a mission in St. George, UT, we arrived at the home of an older couple for a dinner appointment. The lady of the house greeted us at the door and proceeded to announce her husbands previous callings in the church ( one of which happened to be an assistant to the 12). I felt so sorry for her – that she thought we cared.

    On another occasion, my MP said this to a fellow elder – “Of course your father can afford to send you money, he’s the Stake President isn’t he?”


  42. No name for this says:

    I don’t know if there is a leadership pool, but I have learned that for some leadership callings there are things that are considered important.
    Full tithe payer, temple recomend holder, home teacher (who actually home teaches), supportive spouse.
    I’m sure this is not a complete list and it probably differs from stake to stake.
    We may look around and think there are so many who could serve, when the reality is that many may not be asked to serve because of things that we are not aware of.
    I have recently been told that many man are not able to serve because their wives will not support them in there serice. And the opposit is true also- just happened within the last month where I am.

  43. Flloydthewonderdog–

    That isn’t unrighteous dominion, that’s just crazy.

    When my husband had a high profile calling, I was just amazed at how good he was at it. And very honestly, sometimes I resented him, angry he was gone so much and I felt like we, his family, were not number one on his priority list. And I don’t think spending inordinate amounts of time away from home is really what God wants anyhow.
    Other times I felt the spirit blessing our home more than ever when he was away and serving–and I knew, despite how hard it was, we would be blessed.
    I also know he enjoyed his calling and associating with other members. I was happy he was happy.

    Now he doesn’t have a high profile calling. If he was called to one right now I think I would just cry. It would be way too much time away from home, not a good time in our lives (with more young kids). I would worry he would let his calling get in the way like sometimes happened, but I think now he’s changed, I’ve changed. He’d be more balanced, and I’d be less negative about it.
    I’m not sure I ever felt “pride”, but I sure felt grateful I married a good man, and happy he was often able to assist sister who hadn’t had such luck.

  44. anontoday says:

    ugh…all the hating on Elders Quorum presidencies and bishoprics has got me down.

    recently i was called as the EQP in our ward. this came as a huge surprise. i hardly fit the mold of a typical LDS leader, preferring generally to remain in the periphery at church as much as possible, and having a somewhat non-conventional testimony of which my bishop is (or seems to be) aware. my calling filled me with a lot of dread, in part because i really don’t want to become “that” EQP that everyone knows is gunning for a bigger calling.

    i have chosen as counselors two individuals who i would characterize as the kind of guys who you would most likely find teaching primary. they are quiet guys and have somewhat type-b personalities, but i know they are genuine, authentic individuals that seem to show honest and sincere concern for others.

    i plan to work hard at this calling, but don’t want my counselors wives, or others in the ward, to feel like some of you (#28, #31). it’s cliche, but i guess the point is not everyone had ambition for the callings they hold. but that’s not going to stop me from working hard at it, either.

  45. Well, I have noticed that we have less sex since I was released from the bishopric and put into the nursery. Of course, we’ve had two kids since then, and that might explain things, but I’m going to go ahead and attribute it to the callings, because that makes me feel better.

  46. John Mansfield says:

    We have a bishop’s counselor currently whose wife is not a member of our church, and it’s not because we’re lacking available priesthood; there are about forty high priests and elders on hand every Sunday.

    There are two separable issues. One is pride in callings, which of course is yucky and oh so spiritually immature. The other is unity of spouses such that each sees the other’s labors as something that touches both. That seems like a very good thing.

  47. Jennifer says:

    I used to wish for a high profile calling until I got one. Now I know that they are a lot of work without much reward (well, except for blessings.) I’ll take Primary teacher over a presidency member any day!

    As for my husband, I know his personality well enough to know that he probably won’t be given any of those sorts of callings, and I’m fine with that. I think one’s perception of this subject might have something to do with how one was raised. In my family, it was always my mom who had the high profile callings, while Dad got the others. It worked for them and their personalities just like it works for my husband and me.

    (Though I will admit that I was quite proud when my brother and brother-in-law and I were put in as YM president, Stake YM secretary and Primary 2nd councilor all in the same week.)

  48. Kevin Barney says:

    The pride in callings thing is a real, if usually subtle, phenomenon. (The Sister Bishop story was pretty outrageous.)

    My wife couldn’t give a flying fig for what my calling is, but she doesn’t really derive her self esteem from Church at all. She goes and has a calling of her own, but it is her non-Church interests that are her passion in life.

    For the longest time I was on the “teaching” track in church, where I was some sort of teacher. I liked it and was quite good at it. Then I had a bishop who engineered a call for me to be EQP, with the idea that I could get on the (more desirable?) administrative track so many men secretly aspire to, heading towards bishoprics, high councils and stake presidencies. I’m sure he thought he was doing me a great favor. I was a fine EQP, but I have no interest in trying to get on the administrative track of church promotions. I’m very happy with my current calling of stake community relations czar, as it has limited meetings and too many pointless meetings drive me absolutely crazy.

  49. #35 bbell, #36 Peter LLC, #46 John Mansfield,

    Thanks for taking cracks at my question. If anyone else has any answers or experience with men who had callings when they had non-member spouses, feel free to respond, I’m genuinely curious.

    We’ve been married over five years and the only calling my husband has had was Elder’s Quorum teacher, which he had for most of the first two years of our marriage. We moved around a lot after that and went through a period of inactivity (in both our churches), but we’ve both been active for almost a year now and he hasn’t had any callings yet. I figure the callings he has in the church are his business and not my concern, but it’s an interesting subject.

  50. My feelings on this are somewhat complex. While I was growing up I definitely had the impression that important callings were for the ‘best’ people. At the same time I couldn’t remember a time when my dad wasn’t in an ‘important’ calling, (bishop, stake presidency etc). This posed some conflict for me, because my dad had suffered severe depression his whole life and was a walking time bomb. He’d be great, soft-spoken, thoughtful and humble at meetings or with other people but then he’d come home and be an absolute bear. We were terrified of him.
    Eventually I decided that callings went where they’re needed most, and our family needed large swaths of time where dad wasn’t home. Shortly after he was released from the stake presidency he had a nervous breakdown and started getting treatment. All of this cured me of the notion that callings are for the ‘best’ people or that the callings of my family members mean anything good about me.

    My husband and I serve in the nursery. He loves it, and I’m happy enough with it. Once someone (my brother’s father in law) tried to convince him that he should be unhappy with it and ask to be released, but he wasn’t cooperating. Incidentally this person didn’t feel the need to tell me that I should be petitioning for release also.

  51. bandanamom says:

    I found that there was an awful amount of pressure to live up to some ideal that I was never quite sure of when my husband was the Bishop. Suddenly everyone started calling me “the mother of the ward”. I can barely mother the 3 kids I have, I don’t need to be trying to be the mother of the entire ward!

    It was a bittersweet time when he was the Bishop. It was marvelous and a blessing in many ways and awful and difficult in just as many more. It deeply impacted our family at the time, mostly negatively. Yet taking a longer term perspective, it was mostly positive.

    But I think that I have often felt a little bit that my husband’s callings reflect on me and I think it’s because often, when he was called to various things, such as EQ President, a counselor in the Bishopric and then as Bishop, I was sat down by the Stake Presidency and told this calling reflected as much on me as on him.

    I was told that there are many men who would not be called because of their wives, and I was to feel this reflected very well on me. I have some issues with many aspects of that statement. Aside from all those issues (which I prefer not to get into just now), I have often wondered if this is really true, or if this is something they tell the wife to bolster her positive feelings about callings that will be a sacrifice for the family.

    I am interested to know how my husband feels about my callings – I’ve never bothered to ask him and it’s never come up in discussion. I’m currently the second counselor in the Stake RS Presidency (a calling I am enjoying very much – a cushy calling really) – I have the sense though that he’s never given it much thought and that it doesn’t matter much to him whether I am a RS President, the Librarian or the nursery leader. Of those three callings I would prefer nursery leader and my sense is that is what would matter to him, not ‘status’.

    But things in the church are different for women than they are for men. I can see why some women get a blown up sense of ego over their husbands callings – why they feel ‘proud’.

    I completely disagree with people seeing their callings as evidence that they are more righteous with others – but that seems to rear it’s ugly head fairly often as well. I’ve often thought that tough leadership callings which require a great amount of time and commitment are a test which some people don’t need to be subjected to – they are particularly a good test with those who have a tendency towards pride.

  52. John Mansfield says:

    Much like Captain MacWhirr’s wife in Conrad’s Typhoon, there must be some bishops’ wives who are quite happy with having their husbands busy away from home.

  53. Kevin Barney says:

    Jack, I agree with what others have said. The limits on callings for Paul are mainly going to be in effect when you’re in areas with large Mormon populations, where they have more people than they know what to do with. If you move away (say for school), the options open up considerably. I remember a bishopric counselor in the ward in Illinois where I grew up who was married to a non-LDS woman. And she was very clear that she would always be non-LDS, but she also supported him in his involvement, which is crucial. She was a lot like you, in fact Iincluding being beautiful). She would come to events and sometimes to church, and to talk to her you wouldn’t even realize that she wasn’t LDS.

  54. Keven,

    I think that you are right about the “track” that men seem to be on. I see 4 tracks

    Clerical: Clerks, Exec secretary
    Leadership/Admin: Bishopric, HC, SPresidency, PH leadership

    Men often but not always stay in a “track” for a long time. personally I am in the YM track

  55. I think my Mom would take more pride in my being bishop than my wife would. I think she sometimes calls my brother who is a bishop Bishop Matt. I would be totally annoyed with that. If I was called I probably wouldn’t tell her for a while.

    My wife would probably be more annoyed than proud if I had a high demand calling. So would I. But she would also be somewhat happy because it would demonstrate a commitment to church service and spirituality, in which I am often lacking. She likes when I’m spiritual.

  56. John Mansfield says:

    I’m sure that working in the nursery is pleasant and fun for many, but the way some go on about their love of serving there seems to mostly be a way of signalling their humility. “I don’t need no fancy visible callings. Serving the least of the little lambs is what I want because, you see, I’m a true humble disciple.”

  57. Steve Evans says:

    #52 is officially an awesome comment. I extend the hand of thanks to you, sir.

  58. Peter LLC says:

    Bridget (#50):

    My reply above was probably a little flippant, but my wife is not a member and we live in an area where Mormons are few and far between and where inactive members outnumber the ones who show up by two or three to one.

    Despite the fact that I consider myself a slothful servant for reasons that have nothing to do with marrying a Gentile, the bishopric has been happy to load me up with responsible callings. I try not to be a too big a disappointment, but I’m fairly confident that in a ward back home I’d be polishing pews.

    That said, I attended my current ward for probably 9 months before the callings came, but I reckon that was more a function of planning and execution a bit higher up the organization chart than an evaluation of my fitness for any particular calling.

  59. John Mansfield says:

    Speaking of tracks, my stake president’s 29-year-old son was called as stake president, not in Guatemala or Japan, but on the Wasatch Front. Sounds like the track for running the store in twenty to thirty years.

  60. My husband has, I think, finally accepted the fact that his wife is too unrighteous for him ever to hold a really “important” calling.

    My husband doesn’t currently hold a “high-level” calling–unless choir director and CTR teacher is a high-level calling. I’m overjoyed that he’s choir director because it gives him the opportunity to use his talents and express his creative/artistic side (his day job is “engineer”). I’d be happy if he stayed choir director forever, but if they ever release him, I hope they call him to be the Gospel Doctrine teacher because he’s a really good teacher, and he’s not boring, so maybe I would actually go to GD and pay attention instead of ditching it or just zoning out.

    I wouldn’t want him to be Elders Quorum President or in the bishopric or anything like that. That would upset me. But like I said initially, there’s very, very little danger of that happening.

  61. bandanamom says:

    ***”Im sure that working in the nursery is pleasant and fun for many, but the way some go on about their love of serving there seems to mostly be a way of signalling their humility. “I don’t need no fancy visible callings. Serving the least of the little lambs is what I want because, you see, I’m a true humble disciple.”***

    I honestly think that has a lot to do with a persons age and experience and what callings they have had in the past. Personally, in my 40s, I now enjoy the little tiny kids WAY more than I did in my 20s. In my 20s I would have HATED to serve in the nursery. Now I am amused by the kids and feel competent, plus I don’t have to go home and be surrounded by little kids all day. My kids are all teens – it gives one a different perspective.

  62. Also, I know it’s in the past and all, but the Sister Bishop story really makes me want to punch that lady in the face repeatedly. It’s kind of frustrating to me that I can’t. I guess I’ll just have to hope that she’s repented, or that someone else has already punched her for me. Actually, I hope both of those things.

    (Did I mention that my husband is never going to receive a “high-level” calling?)

  63. I served in the nursery when my son was in it, and was pretty miserable. I served again years later, when all my kids were older, and absolutely loved it. I think it’s the best calling in the church, hands down. I get to play with playdough and have a snack? I’m there!

  64. I was very proud of my wife while she served as YW Pres. – not because of the calling, but because of the impact she had on the young women. I was released from the Bishopric and called as a Primary teacher when she was called, since we had six relatively young kids all at home. I loved that calling.

    She appreciates the effort I put into my callings, but she would rather have me home more – all things considered. I really love that about her.

  65. bbell,
    How do we switch tracks? I want onto the teaching track (the best of all tracks, where there is no hierarchy, almost no meetings and where you can call your scripture study “service to others”).

    My wife is similar to Tom’s, more annoyed at a “high profile” calling than pleased/proud. It’s easy for my mom to be proud because she doesn’t have to deal with the baby by herself during Sacrament Meeting and then not having me home for most of the rest of the day Sunday (in addition to everything else that takes me away from my family). Kind of like how grandparents enjoy their grandchildren.

  66. I would love to serve in the nursery, but I hear only the most righteous get called there.

  67. I’ve honestly never thought of this.

    Our most recent Stake Pres. was a cement worker.

  68. As far as the question about callings for men with non-member spouses, one of the men on our High Council is married to a non-member – and another High Councilor has been married to a member for over 30 years but isn’t sealed to her yet.

    Otoh, I thought for years that a man in our stake would be an excellent leader, but his wife was extremely anti-Church service. They finally got divorced; he got sealed to a woman who supports his church involvement; he now has a visible calling in his ward. Some leaders might not consider someone who is married to a non-member, but here it is far more important if his spouse will support him or not. I wish that were the case everywhere.

  69. In regards to callings a member can have if his wife is a non-member – I know of one case of a man who was a counselor in a bishopbric and his wife was a non-member/atheist.

  70. Mark Brown says:

    I’m just catching up on the comments.

    Sister bishop sounds like a real piece of work. I have seen a similar case, not so bad, where the bishop’s wife attended ward council, welfare council, and PEC meetings, and acted like she belonged. She would offer suggestions, make recommendations, etc. Nobody every dared to ignore her or tell her where to get off.

    On the other hand, perhaps these sisters are just taking advice seriously. Husband and wife are to preside equally, right?

    Yes, I am just being provocative. Mostly.

  71. In the case I described above, the wife had never been a member of the church. I wonder if that is more palatable/possible than giving a high calling to a man who is married to an ex-Mormon.

  72. iguacufalls says:

    #54 – Wow, I’ve been on 3 of the 4 tracks bbell mentions in the last 5 years. I was a SS teacher for over a year, called as EQP for almost 2, back to SS teacher for 6mos and now I’m in YM. How’s a guy supposed to know his “career path” with this sort of jumble. And no, I’m not serious about the “career path” for you literalists out there.

    Other notes: Our Stake President is a farmer and was recently unemployed. The bishop of one of the wards in our stake had never been called as any type of leader other than YM advisor before he was called. At least here, there’s just the right amount of randomness.

  73. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    #27- I honestly considered raising my hand in opposition to “Sister Bishop’s” sustaining as RS Pres. But I decided to give the bishop the benefit of the doubt. Ward Conference is coming up. I guess I have another chance. I’m sure that would get me released from my Stake calling.

    I’m still waiting for “Sister Bishop” to receive some shcooling in humility. A couple of weeks ago she announced to the Gospel Doctrine class that she receives revelation and inspiration more readily than the priesthood leaders.

  74. Jennifer says:

    On the “Sister Bishop” thread; Our RS pres recently emailed the Bishop to remind him to use the spirit when he gives callings, not to just take suggestions from people.

  75. A close personal friend of mine (whom I helped teach on my mission) is in his bishopric despite having a non-member wife. That said, after he was called there (where he has served for the better part of a decade), the first thing the MP who called him said to me was “it’s such a shame that his wife is resisting the gospel, because he’d make a fabulous branch president.”

    My wife would be rather peeved if I got called as a bishopric member (she has to wrestle 4 kids alone during SM?). On the other hand, she took it quite seriously when I, as a fairly popular GD teacher in a former ward, was taken aside buy a BR member and asked to dumb down my lessons and then tracked, followed-up with, and then finally released.

  76. John Mansfield says:

    Besides you, to how many people did the RS president CC that e-mail, Jennifer?

  77. ola senor says:

    “For the men, do these sentiments sound completely foreign to you”

    Nope. I am completely familiar with the hierarchy that exists. In our ward it goes something like this Bishopric then Relief Society/YM/YW then Eq/Primary.

    There is a distinct gap between the first four groups and the second two. The first four are the cool kids.

    I don’t notice it so much among the men, but it is pretty clearly divide among the women, with social invitations being limited, etc. The men’s division goes more along the lines of fireman vs non and those who mountain bike and those who don’t. As a non-fireman who doesn’t bike, I am left out of a lot of extra social activities. But to be honest it likely has more to do with my unavailability than anything else. For my wife and other women in the ward, it is not that way, and hurt feelings arise.

    I think it is completely inappropriate to take pride in one’s calling or in the calling of a spouse. This is to be distinguished by the joy we get from doing our calling well, or seeing our spouse serve well. The question shouldn’t be, what am I (or is he/is she) accomplishing, but am I (or is she/is he) doing the best they can?

  78. I have been blessed with wife that seems happy whatever I do. I’ve been in EQ presidencies and the Stake Mission Presidency (back in the day), but as my doubts about the Church’s claims have increased, I’ve asked to be in the Cub Scout and Boy Scout programs. I work my tail off, and do everything I can to run a good program, and I think my wife can take pride in the good results. I think she is at peace with my limitations for future “high callings”, and secretly wouldn’t want me spending the extra time required.

  79. I take no unrighteous pride in my ward calling. But I am a secret informer/operative for the Strengthening the Members Committee, and that gives immense satisfaction.

  80. When you’re in the in crowd, you often don’t notice you’re in. My wife and I, I suspect, would be one of the couples in “The Same Ten People” list. I think we have both had times when we knew people wanted to punch us in the face, and also times when we were thanked for things we hardly even realized we had done.

    Church service is complex and frustrating for both those serving, and those served. Two quick thoughts about it. First, we learn patience by having to serve under folks who are often incompetent and clueless, and then humility by being called to those positions where we discover how incompetent and clueless we are ourselves.

    The second thought, from a wise friend and former bishop who gave me this to think about when I got called as a bishop: “The reason you only serve as a bishop for five years is that you’ll piss off 20% of your ward each year, and after five years no one will want to talk to you, so you get released”. I discovered it was not entirely true, but not without basis. Some years after being released, people are talking to me again.

  81. Brad, *you* were tracked and finally released? Or this BR member was released? I don’t get it.

    To address the original post, I can say that my sweet mother was indeed very proud of my dad’s callings as Bishop and SP member. I think it gave her some sort of validation that she and my dad were on the right track, of sorts. But she never lorded over people about it, as in Sister Bishop.

    My wife is very anti-authority and ascribes to the notion that the “higher” the calling, the more you are the lowest, i.e. supposed to serve the lowest. Hence, her extreme impatience with “priesthood clout.” She has never been proud of my callings, just proud that I’m trying to help out, I guess.

    So, is “wife calling pride” a generational thing?

  82. Cynthia L. says:

    Thanks for those thoughts, kevinf. Your second paragraph really says it all. Church service requires charity in spades from all sides. Maybe that’s the point.

  83. The BR member in question attended my lessons, had follow up chats with me about his continued dissatisfaction with my teaching, and after about 8 weeks, I was released.

  84. Chad Too says:

    Oh how I wish I could switch tracks right now. After 7 years in bbell’s track 2 I am all but burned out. I keep plugging along but I’d love a teaching calling.

    It looks as though our ward is going to split soon and I’m conflicted: I’m either going to get another calling on this track [likely, :(] or be released and get a calling on a different track [hope hope :)].

    But please, Lord, not Scouts. I’d much rather continue trying to keep the High Priests awake through afternoon church than take a Scout calling.

    Our last Bishop got a Primary teaching calling right after his honorable release. I’ve got a healthy righteous envy going. Can guys be Primary chorister?

  85. Cynthia L. says:

    I’m skeptical of bbell’s “tracks.” Are they really tracks, or just categories? I can think of some men who seem to be in one category most of the time, but then, they seem happy there and it suits them. On the other hand, I’ve seen men who move all around.

    #84–Chad Too, I’ve known a couple male primary choristers and they were/are absolutely fantastic at it. That’s my personal favorite calling in the church, but nursery is pretty good too. I wouldn’t want to be in nursery right now because I have young kids and it’s a bit much. But it’s honestly a great calling. For one thing, you get to lead music time, so that’s like mini-primary-chorister.

  86. #53 Kevin Barney: And she was very clear that she would always be non-LDS, but she also supported him in his involvement, which is crucial. She was a lot like you, in fact Iincluding being beautiful). She would come to events and sometimes to church, and to talk to her you wouldn’t even realize that she wasn’t LDS.

    You know, I read one of your old posts somewhere (can’t think of what it was now) where you said you had re-thought whether or not you ever would have married a non-member, and I laughed and said, “I know one reason he changed his mind on that!”

    But anyways, I think I’m about as supportive of Paul as I can be. I really can’t afford to visit his church more than once a month since I’m so active in mine, but I do that faithfully (I even spoke in F&T meeting last month), we tithe, we read our scriptures and pray together, and we’ve recently implemented interfaith FHE and started to actually keep fast Sunday. I asked the Relief Society president and bishop last week to get me some visiting teachers, because I’m bored and need more female friends. What more do they want?

    No baptism jokes por favor, I’m a committed Jan Shipps-Craig Blomberg hybrid.

    #58 Peter: Thank you for the context. My husband and I live in western Washington and while I think there’s a decent LDS population here, it’s definitely not Utah. We’ll probably be moving to Chicago or Portland later this year; not sure how the LDS population outlook is in those areas.

    #73 Floyd: I honestly considered raising my hand in opposition to “Sister Bishop’s” sustaining as RS Pres. But I decided to give the bishop the benefit of the doubt. Ward Conference is coming up. I guess I have another chance. I’m sure that would get me released from my Stake calling.

    In my possibly uninformed non-member opinion, if it’s big enough to cause you so much personal heartache, it’s big enough that you should try to do something about it. If you don’t want to publicly speak out against her by not sustaining her, maybe meet privately with the bishop to discuss it?

    I’m pretty ignorant of inner ward politics and drama though, so take my advice with all the salt you want.

    #75 Brad: A close personal friend of mine (whom I helped teach on my mission) is in his bishopric despite having a non-member wife. That said, after he was called there (where he has served for the better part of a decade), the first thing the MP who called him said to me was “it’s such a shame that his wife is resisting the gospel, because he’d make a fabulous branch president.”

    Oh my. I would laugh so hard if I heard of anyone ever referring to me as “resisting the gospel.” Thanks for telling me about your friend. I don’t think my husband is ever going to be ward leader material (he doesn’t either), but I hope he does get to enjoy some better callings in the future. I figure that callings will either make him a more spiritual man, or they’ll make him hate the LDS church and then he’ll finally join mine.

  87. I wonder if Jesus takes pride in his calling of Atoner in Chief.

  88. Steve Evans says:

    My wife takes pride in my callings; such is the order of our house.

  89. Eric Russell says:

    I wonder if Heavenly Mother takes pride in her husband’s calling of God.

  90. #84 – Yes; I loved that calling!

  91. “I figure that callings will either make him a more spiritual man, or they’ll make him hate the LDS church and then he’ll finally join mine.”

    Hilarious – and true. Thanks for the laugh.

  92. Re. No. 88 “Such is the order our house.”

    Steve Evans – Well, at least you called it “our” house (and not the more accurate “my” house).

  93. Interesting discussion.

    My husband’s an introvert with an exquisite talent in music. Any calling that requires regular conversation with people has been painful for him. Now he’s in a highly visible calling: ward chorister. I’m mighty proud of him, but power in the Lord’s church on earth isn’t in his future. It’s given me a sense of freedom to know that nothing I say or do with mess with his church “career.” I also appreciate the time he spends with us at home.

  94. Natalie B. says:

    I, too, am interested in this language of “tracks,” and in the way that some also conflate them with the language of “career.” This is a vocabulary that I hear a lot, especially applied to certain people. Such as, so and so is on “track” to become a GA, because he was a bishop and then a stake-president, etc. Although I personally don’t feel that I am on a track (and, by virtue of the fact that I like to say what I think at church, certainly not on a leadership track!), do those people to whom this applies start to internalize the expectations that come with others putting you on this track? Does it start to influence career choices and self-identity? Might you start thinking of your promotion up the church hierarchy as a career? Once you have a calling like bishop, are you ever not seen as a leader if you are then called to a calling outside the hierarchy? While I concede that having a string of MBA bishops might be unique to my situation, I do think that leaders tend to mentor those more who have the qualities that they deem important to leadership and who get on “tracks” where they have past experience. What extant leaders deem important probably varies from place to place, but in each local situation could exert strong influence.

    Also, are there experiences or qualities that tend to disqualify people for certain callings?

  95. It seems to me that there is a difference between “pride” and “prideful” — analogous to the difference between “judgment” and “judgmental”.

    I would think that there are some rare cases where pride is appropriate. When taking the right things into account, and with an appropriate humility. (I’m not saying that I’m capable of that kind of pride.)

  96. are there experiences or qualities that tend to disqualify people for certain callings?

    (channeling my inner gst here:)

    I’m pretty sure that a conviction for embezzlement puts you out of the running for financial clerk. But I don’t know for sure.

  97. Also, are there experiences or qualities that tend to disqualify people for certain callings?


  98. Cynthia L. says:

    > (channeling my inner gst here:)

    Wow. I have to say that Ardis doing a gst impression is not something I saw coming. Nicely done. :-)

  99. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, way to go, Ardis!

    I blogged once about how if you’re CES and get a divorce, they fire you, no exceptions. I was stunned to learn that.

  100. Personally I think the idea of tracks needs to be removed from the midset of career. From me and my 3 brothers as a example

    Brother #1 myself I am on a YM track. What that means is that I have bounced around in different callings in YM for about 10 years

    Brother #2. teacher track. Various Sunday school callings, GD and EQ instructer

    Brother #3. YM callings like myself

    Brother #4 Bishopric callings

  101. Is that legal, Kevin? No normal employer could do that. Could they do it to a janitor or a secretary?

  102. John Mansfield says:

    My current bishop is divorced and remarried. In LA, one of my bishop’s counselors was a divorced single man; in that case, the ward was very short on available leadership.

  103. Chad Too says:

    Natalie B.:

    FWIW I only used the verbiage of “tracks” because it was a convenient shorthand already established in the thread.

    I truly believe that the Lord is involved in this process and I take my temple covenants very seriously and will serve where asked when asked, even in Scouts.

    And to jami @93: the things you list are not disqualifiers. If softspoken shyness is a problem for your husband and the Lord chooses to call him to such a calling then the Lord will help him through it or raise up an Aaron to help fill in the gap. I’ve seen it happen.

  104. John Mansfield says:

    Also, Joseph F. Smith’s first wife divorced him, but that was about 140 years ago.

  105. Cynthia L. says:

    That’s interesting, Mansfield. Thanks.

  106. Also, are there experiences or qualities that tend to disqualify people for certain callings?

    A relative recently told me that there’s a “color line” in her ward and stake; it’s been noticed that men of color do not receive “high” callings, no matter how qualified they are.

    My husband is inactive and at the moment a pretty hard-core atheist, which means I get to take our daughter to church alone, which is of course completely exhausting. I guess what I should wish for is that he’d return to activity but remain ineligible for “high” callings such as bishopric that would effectively strand me in precisely the position I am now (wrestling my daughter all by myself). From the view in the pew, there’s no practical difference between being married to an atheist and being married to the bishop. Either way you’re a single parent for three hours.

  107. Molly Bennion says:

    Neither my husband nor I have ever coveted administrative Church jobs. We’d have been happy to teach and give personal service to needy members all our lives. Both of us get almost all of our strokes from service we have chosen and mostly outside the formal Church, service over which we have more control. Seems risky to define oneself by roles one can control so little. When I was called as a RS President, one sister cornered me and wailed she should have been called instead; I was obviously unrighteous as a working mother. Another RS President friend was welcomed into her calling with a similar complaint. Obviously there’s lots of judging and social climbing going on.
    Despite our personal preferences to serve quietly and well, my husband has been an EQP, Bishop and now long-time HC member. I’m deeply grateful he has been able to serve because I know he’s always been the guy who contributes a great new thought or asks a needed hard question and because each of those roles has contributed to his own spiritual growth. But, as a Bishop’s, and to a lesser degree, an EQP’s wife, I was a de facto single parent of 4 somewhat resentful young children. Nothing either my husband or I could do has erased some of their sorrow at not having as much of their father as they feel they needed. Those who yearn for leadership: be careful what you wish for.

  108. #106 – I hope, if that line actually exists in that stake, that is a rare line, localized to a few idiots.

  109. Thomas Parkin says:

    Some random almost related thoughts.

    My wife is a former hard core atheist, now a little more soft-core, and I’ve been taking our son alone to church since he was less than 2. I’ve never found it exhausting. Clearly, our son was more valiant in the pre-existence than the sons of some of you murmurers.

    I think my wife would be proud of me if I once again held a leadership position. But I’m not sure she would feel proud of herself even if angels were blowing moon dust in her hair and golden starlight in her eyes of … green.

    Further update on my wife: we sat and talked quite a while while sitting under the eves of the Church Office Building last night. (It was a stunningly lovely night in SLC.) We talked about the Vatican and the necessity of bureaucracy in large organizations. It hasn’t been that many months ago that she wouldn’t even look sideways at a Mormon meetinghouse, let alone banter near the SLC Temple about bureaucracy. I felt incredibly blessed and proud of both of us – or, rather, I should say pleased with both of us. ~

  110. No name for this says:

    #99 and #101
    Ces employees are aware of this condition when they are hired. And they are reminded of it when they receive their conditions of employment every year. It’s part of their contract.

  111. Jennifer says:

    Reply to John #76:
    The RS pres. told us she was going to send it. Then in a related conversation with one of the bishop’s councilors, we asked him about it and he laughed and said, “Yeah, I saw that email.”

  112. No name for this (110),
    That they’re aware of it didn’t seem to be the question–the question was whether such a condition is a legal condition of employment. But I don’t have any idea.

  113. Molly, coveting a position at church is only satisfying until you actually get it. Then you realize what really goes on and what you have to do, and then you think about getting out of it.

    Every calling has its rewards and challenges, usually in equal portions. I heard the wife of a bishop who was being released bear her testimony that she was glad she was getting her husband back, but she would really miss the blessings

    That has been my experience as well. Each calling requires some sacrifice, and you get blessings in return.

    I think if I were to ask my wife about this, she probably would have an equal amount of wifely pride to go along with the fear that somehow, I will screw up someone’s life if I make a big mistake. It all balances out in the end.

  114. Re. Molly Bennion’s No. 107 where another sister in the ward wailed she should have been called to be RS President instead because Molly Bennion “was obviously unrighteous as a working mother.”

    This reminds me of when my dad was bishop of our Ward growing up, and he called a sister into his office to issue a calling to be RS President. After he issued the call, she said, “Yes.” My dad then asked, “So, are you going to quit your job?” She paused, and replied, “No. Are you going to quit yours?”

    I still know this (now elderly) sister and she and I just laugh and laugh about that now.

  115. I’m not sure if anyone is still reading the comments, but here are some of my responses (nearly 42 years in the Church, in several different states):

    “Sister Bishop” — She’s an outlier. I don’t think I’ve ever known a bishop’s wife like that. I do have fond memories of a bishop’s wife who was sort of the opposite: rather flamboyant and outspoken (not in trying to tell members what to do but just about life in general), and refused to tone it down when her husband was called as bishop. In fact, she went out and bought a high-end convertible sports car, just for herself. One of my all-time favorite people.

    CES/MBA — I’m not sure any of my bishops over 40+ years have ever had either background. The last several bishops I’ve had have been: an insurance salesman; a printing business owner/operator; a real estate salesman; a corporate communications specialist (think “Thank You For Smoking”); and a psychologist.

    “tracks” — I’ve spent significant time in all four tracks, plus one not mentioned: missionary work. And I have spent enough time in bishoprics (been a counselor twice myself) to know how little prior callings matter for most ward callings. Can’t speak to stake level. I wish they’d leave me in teaching, since it’s the only thing that I seem to be good at (though I’m pretty decent at membership clerking).

    divorce/spouse — I’m divorced and remarried, so thought I was safe from every being bishop (or “higher”). Guess not. And I’m not sure the beard is enough to protect me, either. :-) ..bruce..

  116. Elouise says:

    BFWebster (post #115)–still reading here, and your comment about the flamboyant wife of the bishop compels, absolutely compels, mention of Jessie Evans Smith, wife of President Joseph Fielding Smith. More than once I sat in the old BYU Fieldhouse as President Smith spoke soberly about young women using too much makeup and flouncing about in gaudy clothes, calling attention to themselves. After his address, Sister Jessie Evans Smith, would get up and sing to us. (She had once been a professional singer with the American Light Opera Company.) Sister Smith used make-up as Gauguin used oil paints, and she sang as if every blessed word were a testimony and didn’t want you to miss one. In Shakespear’s words, ‘O, she doth teach the torches to burn bright.’ To my knowledge, it never occurred to her to play the “Sister President” card! How we loved her!

  117. iguacufalls says:

    bruce – maybe you should carve the Batman symbol into your hair. That would make an impression on the Stake President!

  118. Molly Bennion says:

    You raise an interesting and widely-held belief, that of blessings corresponding to sacrifice. Unless you include the eternities, I cannot say I have any proof. The concept actually grates on me. My husband’s term as Bishop was a great blessing to people who I think, at that time in that ward, only he could have helped. He’s extremely non-judgmental and he earned the trust of and served people other Bishops had not been able to reach. But I have no proof his service resulted in more blessing than sacrifice to any member of our family. And I don’t believe we had any right to expect that. I certainly do not resent or regret it. Sounds corny, but I think we have to be ready to go on serving our best without expectation of return. Surely blessings come we do not recognize as blessings but, likewise, I’m uncomfortable trying to keep score with the Lord. It makes it too easy to blame Him for the trials or slack off for lack of reward. I trust our good deeds will be to our good in the end. Meanwhile, my task is to try to live a good life simply because it’s good. I sense from your many wise comments here that you do that too.

  119. Kevin Barney says:

    As no. 110 said, the no divorce rule is in their contracts, which makes it legal. To become a CES employee you have to specifically contract to that effect, and if you don’t you don’t get hired.

  120. I disagree with you, Kevin, that it is legal because it’s in the employment contract. It’s legal because courts generally will not inquire into the employment decisions of religious institutions regarding the people that they hire to teach or minister–the “ministerial exception.”

    Requiring employees to sign an employment contract that purports to give the employer the right to discriminate on some illegal ground will not protect the employer at all–in fact, the attempt to get employees to sign the agreement itself might create liability.

  121. Latter-day Guy says:

    RE 110: Even if employees are aware of the fact, does that make it a reasonable stipulation? Or does it fail the Scientology rule?

  122. Kevin Barney says:

    OK, gst. I didn’t have my lawyer hat on when I wrote that (just off the cuff) so I’m sure you’re right.

    But I’m disappointed. Since Ardis in no. 96 channeled her inner gst, when I saw your name on this thread I thought you were going to channel your inner Ardis, and post a comment on how the Church dealt with this issue in the early 20th century…

  123. Totally feel the same way when my wife gets callings. thanks.

  124. Kevin, quit flirting with Jack.

  125. Speaking for my wife I can say that she is VERY glad that I do not have a high profile calling. We both teach primary together and we both love it. I am dissertating and have had a series of low-profile callings for about 3 years. Prior callings were less-low-profile and demanding on time. I agree that tt is nice to have a break. There is a scripture in there somewhere… there is a time for things….

  126. I’ll channel my inner Kevin and write that comment for you in Hebrew.

  127. Kevin Barney says:

    MCQ, you always get jealous when I do that!

  128. My wife is proud to be married to someone whose 1-year-old son will be ordained a high priest before he is.

    Jesus would roll over in his grave if someone called me to serve in a bishopric or sit on a high council. And sustaining me to such a position would make the Saints of God physically ill, so that the rank smells of adult vomit and female diarrhea would quickly fill the Lord’s chapel, causing the Spirit to flee in haste, the Saints of God to riot, and the worship service to end. And the picture of Thomas Monson in the primary room would stink of human refuse forever and ever.

  129. Of course!

  130. There is something about the difference in calling to men and women that I have noticed, however. A demanding job for a woman is almost an automatic disqualifier for a demanding church calling, even if she is single or has no children. But for a man, a demanding job is almost a prerequisite to be called as a priesthood leader. We are respectful of the boundaries surrounding motherhood, but we don’t seem to care very much about the bishop’s fatherhood responsibilities when he works a 60 hour/week job and has five children.

    I dunno. We’ve had plenty of RS presidents in our ward who’ve had demanding callings (HR executive, high-powered real estate agent).

    The bishops I’ve known in recent years were engineer, IT guy, sales guy, doctor (family, not one of those high-brow types). A ward that just split out of ours had an IT guy called.

    I think the idea of “high-powered” is more correlation, not causation. Our SP is wonderful, and wealthy, but it’s not a case where one influenced the other. He was wonderful and spiritual long before he became wealthy.

    I don’t know of a single ward leader right now who works insane hours and has 5 children. The trend in North Texas ward priesthood leadership are guys with flexible schedules/work from home/etc.

  131. Re 54/85:

    There is another “track” you’ve missed — the professional specialist (library, family history, employment, preparedness, activities).

    At any rate, I seem to be rotating between all of the tracks except YM.

    I’ve gone leadership-specialist-teacher-specialist-specialist-specialist-teacher-specialist-teacher-clerk-teacher.

    Anyone who aspires to a particular “track” calling is an idiot, because you might miss out on some fantastic opportunities along the way. Our recently released bishop was so grateful to be released, because he felt that he wasn’t part of the ward anymore (an ironic comment).

  132. (sorry, should have had a blank line in between my last 2 sentences)

  133. If people didn’t take pride in their callings, the atonement would be mostly unnecessary.

  134. Naismith says:

    Bishop’s wives are screwed, no matter what we do. Sure, Sister Bishop was way out of hand, but if we are totally hands-off, then we are seen as a cold and uncaring.

    When people called the house, they tried to pour out their hearts, and I stopped them gently as I can, but they were often offended. Don’t I care? Yes, I care, but so often (just about always) if I start to listen, they will cross the line of what I should know, so I try to nicely encourage them to save that for my husband.

    The “mother of the ward” thing is an expectation in most places. I lived in fear of not knowing about a new baby or something and offending someone by not sending a present. They expect the wive along at bereavement visits, etc.

    When my husband was called as bishop, he had been on the high council, and with work travel, he hadn’t been to our ward for months at a time, and so the stake president instructed him to counsel with me about who to call as counselors, etc. That was certainly a lot of power.

    Our stake president told me that my husband served at my pleasure, that he would be released at my request. And this SP follows up by conducting temple recommend interviews of wives of bishops and high councilors himself, can’t do a counselor, because only a third of the time is TR interview and the rest about impact of calling on the family. So there is a lot of pressure to actively sustain, and have a confirmation that continued service is the best thing.

    Because we are best friends, he often counsels with me about non-sensitive things. One year he was frustrated at not seeming to be able to find a date for the ward Christmas party. I suggested we have a Saturday brunch from 9:30 to 11:30 in the morning, and it was a huge success. Sue me for meddling.

    My husband is also a flaming introvert, and he comes home on Sundays bleeding inside from the demands of all the people. Allowing him time to recharge is part of the challenges of sustaining. I signed up for Netflix when he got called, just like I bought theme park season passes for me and the kids when he became a reluctant department chair. I would rather he be home more, but I will fill my life with other things rather than whining about his service.

    I can’t imagine any sane person “aspiring” to be an RS president or bishop.

  135. It’s very true that the wards and stakes and on up is full of politics. Who knows who gets high callings…..presidencies just take turns at organizations…while there are so many in the wards/stakes that need to have a chance to grow. But it never happens. It gets a bit tiresome. I agree with whoever said….if the whole church was like some wards, I’d have quit long ago. But you plug along because in the end, it is the truth. Hard to get away from that point.

  136. No name for this says:

    RE 112, 121
    I’m not a lawyer, so I don’t know the legalities of the requirement.
    As to whether it is a reasonable stipulation, I guess the church board of education wants it that way. I would say most people who want to teach in Seminary and Institute full time don’t have a problem with it. And if it doesn’t bother them, why should it bug someone who doesn’t work for CES?
    I even know some who have lost their employment because of divorce, and they don’t seem to hold a grudge against the church.

  137. Neither my fiancé nor I currently have callings in our wards. I have been in two Relief Society Presidencies, and he is usually organist/pianist. I think both of us would be more than content to stay in Primary for the rest of our lives–I would not enjoy the time consumption of a Bishop- or stake-level calling, especially when we have young children.

  138. Steve Evans says:

    Portia, congrats on the engagement!

  139. Carol F. says:

    I knew a girl, a convert, who really wanted to climb the church ladder. She asked my friend, whose husband had been a bishop previously, “What do I need to do for my husband to become a bishop?” My friend, of course, tried to discourage her, but this girl started sitting with the current bishop’s wife during church, passing gossip to the bishop’s wife and eventually the bishop called this girl’s husband to the bishopric. The girl was incredibly puffed up about it. It was all very disturbing to watch.

  140. Floyd the Wonderdog says:

    Kindly Unhitch That Star, Buddy
    by Ogden Nash
    I hardly suppose I know anybody who wouldn’t rather be a
    success than a failure,
    Just as I suppose every piece of crabgrass in the garden would
    much rather be an azalea,
    And in celestial circles all the run-of-the-mill angels would
    rather be archangels or at least cherubim and seraphim,
    And in the legal world all the little process-servers hope to
    grow up into great big bailiffim and sheriffim.
    Indeed, everybody wants to be a wow,
    But not everybody knows exactly how.
    Some people think they will eventually wear diamonds instead
    of rhinestones
    Only by everlastingly keeping their noses to their grhinestones,
    And other people think they will be able to put in more time
    at Palm Beach and the Ritz
    By not paying too much attention to attendance at the office
    but rather in being brilliant by starts and fits.
    Some people after a full day’s work sit up all night getting a
    college education by correspondence,
    While others seem to think they’ll get just as far by devoting
    their evenings to the study of the difference in temperament
    between brunettance and blondance.
    Some stake their all on luck,
    And others put their faith in their ability to pass the buck.
    In short, the world is filled with people trying to achieve
    And half of them think they’ll get it by saying No and half of
    them by saying Yes,
    And if all the ones who say No said Yes, and vice versa, such
    is the fate of humanity that ninety-nine per cent of them
    still wouldn’t be any bettter off than they were before,
    Which perhaps is just as well because if everybody was a
    success nobody could be contemptuous of anybody else and
    everybody would start in all over again trying to be a bigger
    success than everybody else so they would have somebody
    to be contemptuous of and so on forevermore.
    Because when people start hitching their wagons to a star,
    That’s the way they are.

  141. Reading these posts could lead someone to think inspiration is frequently lacking when calls are made. I believe the opposite, that most calls are inspired. Pride of the kinds that says “we are sooo much better than you” is certainly out of place at church but being proud that a spouse has overcome challenges well enough to serve in a position of authority is natural I think.

  142. I’m a generally straight-arrow Mormon, Noray, and I very much believe that calls ought to be inspired, and in fact are inspired. Yet in order to complete my mission, and even to come to a point where I could make sense of my direct experience while maintaining faith in the gospel, I was forced to conclude that either some calls are not inspired, or at least that not all those who are called are worthy of the call. There was no other way I could deal with brutal mistreatment by a mission president who should never have been trusted with a stewardship over sisters. It’s been more than 25 years since I came home, and nothing I have learned or felt or considered since then has affected my conclusion.

  143. As a newbie here, just a couple of thoughts:

    First, a quote from Neal A Maxwell, paraphrased “If we are dependable and available, the Lord will make us capable.”
    I think a lot of us struggle with the dependable and available part, based upon what is happening in our lives at the time. It’s often a matter of attitude – after all, how many of us can critique the American Idol finalists even better than Simon? ;-}

    Second, I think my husband and I would fall into the same 10 people category – he has served in YM forever, as well as some other areas, and I have been in all of the organizations, but often end up in RS. I think it’s because I’m a party person, and we RS sisters love to party!

    Third, I can tell you that while serving in leadership positions, we (along with other leaders) are constantly striving to give others opportunities to grow. The spirit definitely demands attention and callings and invitations are extended frequently. However, many times, the process is short circuited. People are unable or unwilling to fulfill requests (I’ve been there myself), and things fall apart (like the ward Thanksgiving dinner – major drama!)

    So my message is this – I think a lot of the same people are asked over and over again because they will make the assignment happen. They are willing to juggle their lives so that they are effective at that moment in time. I think we’ve all been reliable and flaky as well – and the Lord consistently offers us chances to be more and more reliable over time.

    So we should love one another, be grateful for those who are willing to serve, and not judge anyone too harshly who is still transitioning from flaky to reliable (which just might mean your bishop as well ;-}). Because after all, having all of your weaknesses on public display is the least pride inducing event ever.

    Been there, done that and realized it’s the most humbling thing in the world.

  144. Re: 143

    It’s called the 80/20 rule. We can rely on the same 20% of potential leadership to carry 80% of the load. That’s why the same people keep getting called over and over! I find that rule applies to just about anything in life.

  145. I got in big trouble with my father-in-law when he discovered that I don’t take pride in my husband’s callings. DH was EQ 2nd counsellor and was telling his dad that the bishop had asked the EQ pres if he could take DH to do a “higher” calling and EQ pres said, “Heck no!” I said, “Thank goodness for M because that saves me from having to tell the bishop that I wouldn’t support you in that calling.” I was kidding (sort of–our lives have been insanely busy since the moment we got married) but my FIL just about had a fit. He has always been ambitious about callings and sees his own time as bishop and high councilor as confirming his great righteousness (how a bishop can come away from that calling feeling like that, I don’t know).

    DH ended up being calling to the bishopric two weeks after we moved into a ward we were only going to be in for 8 months. We were absolutely shocked and I was totally upset. I honestly thought I was going to have to quit my job (didn’t end up having to because the members of the ward were awesome and were willing to babysit our kids at 6 am on Sundays). FIL was ecstatic and told everyone about his son the very young high priest and thinks I’m terrible because I think it is sad that he doesn’t get as much opportunity to get to know people his own age when we move into a new ward.

    Anyway, I guess my point is that I don’t take pride in my husbands callings and have been called to repentance on that. I am proud of how well he serves in his callings, but he doesn’t have to have a high calling for me to do that. His rank in the military however, I can totally use to my advantage. Heck, yeah, I’m an officer’s wife and therefore totally outrank just about everyone I know. ;)

  146. Mike M. says:

    Jami in #101 and all the rest on this topic:

    Regarding the legality of making divorce a disqualifying condition for employment with the church, I would guess the relevant case would be Corp. of Presiding Bishop v. Amos, 483 U.S. 327 (1987). In this case the Supreme Court found that the church could fire a building engineer employed at a church owned gymnasium because he failed to qualify for a temple recommend.

    The reason the church does not have to follow the normal rules against discriminating in employment is because section 702 of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 exempts religious organizations from the other provisions in that act (specifically section 703). Amos found that this exemption is still constitutional even when extended to nonreligious activities, such as janitors. This allows the Church a pretty free hand when it comes to their employment policies.

  147. I have a sweet, righteous husband who is recognized as a very good leader outside of the church. He has repeatedly been given important responsibilities in some very “highly named” institutions in this country because nonmembers see his goodness and integrity. He is a faithful elder in the church. We are in a faithful temple marriage with quite a few wonderful children that we have had the joy of raising.

    Oddly enough he is never called to be anything other than nursery assistant or Webelos assistant in the church – if he’s even given a calling.

    I wondered at this for years until I realized a pattern: When we move into a new ward he is first asked where he served his mission (he didn’t serve one). When he responds that he didn’t serve one he is usually shunned (for lack of a better word). When I say shunned I mean literally the other priesthood holders will literally have nothing to do with him. He isn’t talked to – he’s almost ostracized on Sundays. He isn’t given any callings – or if he is they are callings that hide him away from other priesthood holders.

    It doesn’t bother him. As I said he is an exceptional man who has done some amazing things in this world. And, yet, I’ve noticed that because he didn’t serve a formal mission, because he isn’t related to a general authority, stake president, or bishop, because he is not from a “Mormon” part of the nation, because he attended an Ivy League institution rather than BYU – he will always be given hidden callings with little to no responsibility.

    Why does that pain me? Because I have seen awful men be called to leadership positions in this church. Men who have embezzled, men who were pedophiles, men who committed adultery – have been called to positions of responsibility in this church. And, I have witnessed this with my own eyes – experienced it my entire life. Yet, this sweet, honest man full of integrity and recognized as a good leader outside of the church because of these good values is shunned by other priesthood holders (including leaders). I have been baffled by it all.

    And, what worries me most, perhaps, is that if this is what happens with my husband – how many, many other good, righteous priesthood holders out there are denied any real responsibility because they do not meet what are really just social categories?

    This does trouble me. Perhaps mostly because I have seen so many truly awful men become leaders in the church simply because they were on some sort of “promotion track”. While the humble, righteous priesthood holders who do not aspire to be “powerful” in the church are hidden – or even shunned.

  148. Steve Evans says:

    Laurel, maybe callings have nothing to do with your standing before God?

  149. That is part of my worry: What if callings have nothing to do with your standing before God and everything to do with your social standing in the church?

    I wish I were saying that flippantly. I wish it were just idle pseudo-intellectualism that was my cause for saying that.

    But, lately I have been wanting desperately to find a way that the conclusions I have are wrong. I want to be wrong!

    The things I saw happen when I was growing up – I used to just dismiss them as the quirks of a particular ward. But, now, having lived in so many places with so many different wards in different regions of the country- there is a distinct pattern to it all.

    I can probably put it best by quoting a friend of ours from one of the places we lived in the Northeast. He told us once that his dad was a General Authority. I hadn’t put two and two together so I didn’t realize until that point. He then begged my husband and I not to tell anyone else this. He said as soon as people found out they would start treating him differently and he didn’t want that. Well, loe and behold as soon as someone else figured it out he was put into the bishopric – immediately. They moved away shortly thereafter but it was astonishing to see it happen as he predicted.

    That is one of many instances I could recount over the last few decades.

    I was so excited when we moved to this new ward and saw a young, relatively normal guy as the bishop. I was happy to finally see my conclusions be proven wrong. But, the first conversation I had with his wife later dashed these hopes. She almost immediately informed me she was the daughter of the recently released stake president.

    There are so many instances of this in the life I’ve lived. And, it is so disheartening realizing that this may not be about the Lord placing you and more about simple politics and even leader-worship. I really wish I were wrong.

  150. Laurel, you might be happy to know that my dad was a GA and my three brothers (who are plenty old enough) have not had any high profile kinds of callings. They’ve been primary teachers and EQ counselors and I don’t even know what. It’s not really a big deal to us so I never really know what their callings are. I haven’t had any high profile callings and neither has my husband. I never had anyone treat me differently because of my dad’s calling. But then, he wasn’t really a high profile GA.
    My current bishop is a great guy with three young kids, not related to anyone. His wife is daughter to two very inactive people who no one has ever heard of.
    Callings don’t prove your status with the Lord either. Whether you are the RS pianist or the RS President you aren’t perfect. Our RS president is really down to earth and casual and she is not related to anyone, and I know she is not perfect, but she tries to do good work. I don’t think she is in better standing with the Lord than others who serve in the ward. Same with the bishop. He is a good guy, and does a pretty good job. It is sad when people think that the Lord loves him more or something. I know the Lord does not love less if my calling is less high profile. I believe that when we are promised blessings for doing a calling, we are promised that the Lord will help us with our burdens in our callings and in our lives, not that we’ll get to heaven faster or win the lottery. It is not any different that how the Lord blesses us without that calling. Our Savior is always there for us.

  151. I very much agree with Natalie’s comments about the leadership positions being rotated amongst the few repeatedly, ignoring others in the ward who would breath a new vigor into a stagnating situation.

    And to answer the question posed, yes, I do see a certain amount of pride, but mostly by those holding the callings not so much the spouse.

  152. Any calling that gets Bill out of the house on Sundays, I’m proud of. He can be a general authority, I’d totally support that. And enjoy the peace and quiet.

  153. Whew! Reading this thread makes me really glad that I am no longer a member. I especially wanted to gag after reading the “Sister Bishop” thread. It’s a shame there are people out there like that.

  154. #153 – In all religions and other organizations. You didn’t get away from it by leaving the Church.

  155. #154 – Pretty much I did get away from such. I haven’t experienced anything like it in the past two churches where I have been a member.

    I’ve seen some things in the LDS Church that were akin to “Sister Bishop” but really haven’t seen things like that outside the LDS Church. I do feel free to say to the Pastor, “I don’t agree with that and I am not going to do it.” I can not follow his advice because he is not my common judge in Israel. Generally, they are OK with it. And that is that. Not to say things do not happen, though. I just haven’t seen them happen at the churches I have been in since leaving the LDS faith.

  156. To all of you thinking that perfectly good candidates are being passed over for callings, and that they always go to the same people because of strictly political reasons:

    As a Ward Clerk, I have been able to see inside a bishopric and the callings much more clearly. It is a small singles ward and we are desperate to fill up all the important callings. Keeping the ward mission fully staffed, for instance, is something of a nightmare. They routinely try to give important callings to new members.

    And people often just don’t do it. You call them to a calling (like ward missionary) and they never show up for a single meeting. You make them executive secretary (that’s an important calling; it makes the bishop’s life much easier, and one that falls on my back when nobody else is around) and they stop coming to church. This is less common in a singles ward, but sometimes you ask people, and they just say “no.”

    And I have known people who literally couldn’t accept certain callings. From the outside, it looked like the Bishop was skipping over them. In reality, though, he had a thirty minute conversation with him, and the two mutually agreed to wait until later. There is one person who was given a strictly behind-the-scenes computer calling for very good reasons relating to past history (and relating to some of the complaints given above). On the outside, it probably looked like we were wasting these people. On the inside, we were trying to do the best we could with what we had. We may have passed over some people, but it’s not easy.

    Thus, to all of you who complain that the same people are always doing the same things: This may be true. But don’t you dare assume you know all the reasons why. Most leadership callings take more than you realize, and attending church and being social are necessary but not sufficient to be really effective at it.

    To those who do know what it takes, I’ll admit the system isn’t perfect. It’s just that “Doing your best” can also look like what people are bashing.

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