Callings can be challenging. They can stretch us in unexpected ways. They can make us uncomfortable or anxious. They can also reveal latent talents, spark new relationships, and expand our perspectives.
Moses was hesitant to accept the call to free his people from bondage. “Who am I?” he asked the Lord (Exodus 3:11). Enoch protested that he was too young (Moses 6:31). Jonah apparently worried that the people of Ninevah would not accept his message and then was disappointed when they did. (See Jonah 1:1-3, Jonah 4:1-2.) But all of them ultimately fulfilled their callings and experienced miracles in the process.
When Alma was called to return to the city of Ammonihah, he” returned speedily,” even though he knew that many people in the city opposed his message (Alma 8:18). The result was undoubtedly far worse than he anticipated. He was imprisoned and beaten, and many women and children who believed his words were burned to death (Alma 14:8-9). After that experience, he lamented his powerlessness. “O that I were an angel,” he cried (Alma 29:1). But he quickly corrected himself: “Why should I desire more than to perform the work to which I have been called?… Why should I desire that I were an angel?… I know that which the Lord hath commanded me, and I glory in it” (Alma 29:6-9).
A friend of mine, Sue Clark, had a change of heart as she responded to a calling. At first, when she was called to serve as the nursery leader at church, she was confident and enthusiastic. She had significant experience and education in child development, and she had lots of ideas for crafts and activities. But as the weeks went by, she became discouraged. None of the activities seemed to work. The children fussed and cried. Her calling was a burden, not a joy.
One day, she took her frustration to God in prayer. “What more can I do?” she asked. In response, the following thought came into her mind: “Your lesson plans are about you. Focus instead on the children; learn to know them and love them.” Here is how her husband, Kim, described her experience after that prayer:
The next Sunday…she met the children at the door, knelt down on their level, and greeted them by name. She talked to them about their families, their favorite food, and much else. She had singing time and read them stories. Some of the children cried and fussed, but there was a different feeling in the nursery that week. And when it was over, [she] was exhausted but not tearful.
Little by little, as [she] got to know the children better, her feelings about them changed. [She] looked forward to Sundays. She was excited and happy to be with her nursery kids. She loved them.“Teachers Come from God,” Address to CES Religious Educators, 26 February 2016
Our family benefitted directly from Sister Clark’s service in this calling. We became part of her congregation shortly after she had this experience, and our son had the privilege of being part of her nursery. Not only was she his nursery leader, but she also served him in a more personal way. When he became very ill, Sue donated blood which helped to save his life.
Sister Christine C. Gilbert said, “It is not the greatness of the man or woman, but their willingness to rise to the call that leads to power in the Lord.” She gave the following guidance to help us be more effective in our callings:
- “Look up, and accept the call.”
- “Let go of the things that would hold you back.”
- “Seek for enabling power from the Lord.”
- “Recognize the source of that power.”
(“Rise to the Call,” Brigham Young University – Idaho Devotional Address, 21 April 2015)
Today, I will seek for God’s help to fulfill my callings more effectively. Like Alma and like Sister Clark, I will work to align my attitude toward my calling with the will of the Lord.