Have you ever tried to small talk before extending a calling? I would not recommend it. When an individual receives a phone call from an executive secretary saying, “Would you be available to meet with the Bishop/Stake President on Sunday?” suddenly that person gets tunnel vision. Nothing else matters in their life until they figure out what that priesthood authority wants. So, when you start out an interview to extend a call with, “So how’s your family doing?” you may get a very, very short answer.
However, if you are stiving to create a meaningful spiritual experience as you invite the member to serve in a new capacity, the approach may be more impactful with the following suggestions. The updated General Handbook helps set the tone:
Heavenly Father gave Jesus Christ a sacred mission to fulfill (see Luke 4:18–19; John 6:38; 3 Nephi 27:14–16). During His ministry, the Savior trusted His disciples with important responsibilities (see Luke 10:1–9). Likewise, the Lord calls men and women to serve in the Church today through inspired invitations from His servants.
Prior to extending a calling, it is invaluable to invite recommendations from the auxiliary leader who will oversee the person receiving the calling. This is an ideal opportunity to teach/invite that leader to do some spiritual homework. It is helpful to remind the auxiliary leader that there may be several reasons why they may feel prompted to put someone’s name on “the list” and not all of them may be related to the current calling need. Promptings for the list may include unexpected and unknown reasons:
- That person would be a good fit for the calling, and it is a good time to call them.
- That person would be a good fit for the calling but now is not a good time to call them. (The bishop may be aware of information that the auxiliary leaders are not privy to at the time.)
- The person may be an ideal fit for a future calling in the same auxiliary and their name is bubbling up now to stay on the leader’s radar.
- Plus a plethora of other reasons why this person’s name needs to be on the forefront of the mind of the auxiliary leader and/or the bishop.
Suggest they use the full ward list to ponder names and create a short list, then invite them to pray over each of the names on their short list. One or two often stand out as a key possibility to extend the calling to.
It’s important to trust that the Lord will qualify them, and the right person will be called at the right time.
Questions Worth Considering
Once your auxiliary leader and the bishopric have created a list of those to be considered for the calling. It’s always beneficial to review the handbook suggestions on how to proceed:
“Leaders seek the guidance of the Spirit in determining whom to call (see also 4.2.6). They also consider:
- The member’s worthiness (as determined in an interview).
- Gifts and abilities the member has, or could develop, to bless others.
- The member’s personal circumstances, including his or her health and work.
- The impact the calling may have on the member’s marriage and family.
Each calling should bless the people who are served, the member who serves, and the member’s family. Callings also give members opportunities to grow.”
These may seem like obvious steps, but they are a good reminder of things to consider when seeking the Lord’s help on a calling that can be a meaningful part of a member’s progress and service.
Extending the Calling
Each calling is of equal importance, whether the calling is for a president of an auxiliary, an assistant for girls camp, or any variety of callings. Consistent effort and instruction is equally important.
“When a leader extends a calling, he explains that it has come from the Lord. If needed, he may give the member time to prayerfully consider the calling, seeking his or her own spiritual confirmation. The leader may also:
- Explain the purpose, importance, and responsibilities of the calling.
- Help the member focus primarily on the people he or she will serve. (As applicable, the leader provides a list of these people from Leader and Clerk Resources.)
- Encourage the member to seek the Spirit of the Lord in fulfilling the calling.
- Testify that the Lord will help the member and will bless him or her for serving faithfully. • Tell the member who will provide training and support for the calling.
- Tell the member who to report to on his or her efforts.
- Inform the member of any meetings he or she should attend and any resources that are available.
- Help the member know approximately how much time commitment the calling requires.
- Discuss any special concerns or challenges of the calling.
- Answer questions the member may have.
If the member is married, the leader invites the spouse to be present when the calling is extended.”
Rodney, a member of our Leading Saints Helpers group, shared his overview of how extending a calling can be a blessing to the member to be called.
“It was always a matter of who would grow the most and whether there was a support structure that would promote that growth and not let it wither. As a bishopric member this was a vital leadership requirement. When we were directed to make a call we understood it was not just to have that calling accepted. The primary purpose was to meet with the member and to see how they were. I felt that this was sometimes the Lords way of just scheduling an interview when we are not otherwise listening.
In talking to members, especially new ones or new move ins, I never had any problem asking people what they would like to do and why or why not. Always warning them (with a smile) the why nots would probably get them the calling. I always emphasized their right to decline; that they had the right to receive confirmation that this was what the Lord wanted. I always outlined the support they would receive and that I also had a personal obligation to help them in conjunction with their other leaders to help them get started. The main point was to actively listen, really listen. It was always about the person and not the calling. And yes, there were times I did not extend the call.”
Now let’s be honest, extending a calling doesn’t require a step-by-step guide, but it seems every person I have received a calling from has their own style. Some work well but others keep you wondering. Please share what works best for you in the comments below.
Discussing extending callings also opens an opportunity to address the Law of Common Consent. During anyone’s time in the Church they will find themselves in a sacrament meeting when a sustaining vote is called. People raise their hand in unison without giving thought to what they are actually doing. Read more about it here.
When following the above guidelines, it allows the calling to become a meaningful spiritual experience for BOTH the member and leader issuing the call. The key truly is to be mindful of people and not to have a mindset of filling jobs. It is very difficult to do, but the rewards are of eternal worth.
This is a repost of an older article, updated with contributions from Beth Young and members of the Leading Saints Helpers Group.