Soon after my mission I made the decision to attend a YSA ward in my area. I’m glad I did, considering this is where I met my beautiful wife. I had only been in the ward a few weeks when I got a call from the Elder’s Quorum secretary asking if I could meet with the president of the quorum. I met with him later that day. I remember the elder’s quorum president telling me how my name came to his mind before he had even met me or knew that I was in his quorum. After the prompting, he looked over the list of 90 or so elders and found my name. He was shocked to see the same name on the list considering he had never met me before. He then extended the call to be the Assistant Elder’s Quorum President (sort of a made up calling for this YSA ward). I remember wondering if this revelatory experience actually happened or if he was just flattering me. I later replaced him as elder’s quorum president a few months later.
The process of calling individuals to specific callings in the ward is unique. Difficult to understand without first experiencing it. All callings are important, but some callings have more weight than others and definitely more riding on whether the person accomplishes the task well. Will you get along with the newly called? Will they help motivate others or will you need help motivating them? There are many variable to consider.
I recently called a new counselor to serve in the bishopric with me. During the process I had a list of good brethren that would all do fine. They had attributes that would play out differently and I took time to consider all of them. At times, it feels like standing in a deli wondering if I want mayonnaise or no mayonnaise on my sandwich–both types of sandwiches will take away the hunger pangs, so does it really matter?
The Magical Moment of Inspiration….or Not.
As I researched this topic I found a variety of perspectives related to how to choose individuals with whom to serve. This first discussion I found was, of all places, on BabyCenter.com which is a community website for pregnant women. Someone had submitted the request to “tell me your stories of choosing your counselors”.
I read through the majority of experiences and most included a moment of inspiration where a name comes to mind, or an innocent glance at an individual during sacrament meeting confirms whom they are suppose to call to a position. These are interesting experiences and I have no doubt they happen–especially those that are new to a ward and don’t know many–but I also hope individuals don’t expect such experiences to happen every time a position needs to be filled. Many times the Lord knows you are completely capable of weighing the options and making a decision that works.
The person on BabyCenter asking the question refers to a past Ensign article titled Called of God. The article talks about a sister that moves into a ward and is soon called as primary president. She then has to determine who her counselors will be. With the help of the bishop and prayer she has different revelatory experiences and later states “the Lord knew whom He wanted to call”.
After reading this article it gives me the impression that the Lord has specific people in the ward He wants called to those positions and it is up to the leader to find Waldo in the ward–the one individual God wants. That sure puts a lot of pressure on those that have been called.
Called of God
Looking for one specific person to serve in one specific calling is the wrong approach. We are beings created to act in the revelatory process rather to be acted upon by the revelatory process (2 Nephi 2:14). President Gordon B. Hinckley stated:
It is imperative that the president himself select his counselors because theirs must be a compatible relationship. He must have absolute confidence in them. They must have confidence in him. They must work together in a spirit of mutual trust and respect.(“In…Counsellors There is Safety, October 1990)
Compatibility, respect, and mutual confidence play a major roll in a presidency working well. We should not depend on that information coming through pure inspiration.
By reading biographies of past and current general authorities one soon realizes moments of inspiration are developed not by a flash of revelation–rather by years of experiences that influence the personal judgement of a leader to make a given choice. The same goes for anyone seeking revelation about a specific calling or situation. Counselors are called of God because their leader is called of God and ordained with powers (sometimes keys) to make decisions. Those powers come through the priesthood, and also draw upon the personal capability of the leader to make decisions. Never discount your personal abilities to act and to make a decision.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell stated:
Revelation works in a natural way. There is an unmet need [such as Church growth]. As we ponder over it, the mind and experience can put forward an adequate alternative [for the season, and] the confirmation is the inspiration. (A Diciple’s Life: The Biography of Neal A. Maxwell, p. 286)
If the revelation isn’t coming, make your best choice and it will be adequate. Trust the process even when overwhelming inspiration doesn’t appear to happen.
What has been your experience with choosing who to call? It would be interesting to hear about the obvious moments of inspiration and also the laborious process of indecision.