Personal example: Traveling home from funeral
- D&C 84:33-38 For whoso is faithful unto …magnifying their calling, are sanctified by the Spirit unto the renewing of their bodies. They become the…elect of God.
So how can we find the motivation we need to magnify our callings?
Henry B. Eyring in his October 2002 General Conference address titled "Rise to Your Call" lists three things to help us rise to our call:
- Know that God called you.
"The person who was inspired to recommend you for this call didn’t do it because they liked you or because they needed someone to do a particular task. They prayed and felt an answer that you were the one to be called."
Just as our leaders need to have faith to extend a calling, we need to have faith to accept a calling.
- What unforeseen lessons could we learn that will benefit our lives?
Who knows? We may become more humble or we may strengthen a weakening testimony. We don’t know what we can learn unless we accept and fulfill our calling.
- What unforeseen ways can we bless the lives of others?
Represent the Savior: Your voice and hands become his voice and hands. Let us speak and do as our Savior would. Your call has eternal consequences for others and for you. "Thousands may call you blessed. Even more than are here."
Personal example: Blessings in not receiving the calling we think we should have (deacon, teacher, and priest quorum presidencies).
- Know that God will guide you.
You can receive revelation through prayer and scriptures. "Guidance will come only when the Lord is sure you will obey."
Personal example: New zone leader, troubled zone, and scripture study
Alma 5:59 For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him.
After a few weeks, things began getting better and people apologized to me.
- Know that God will magnify you.
Your calling will surely bring opposition from outside the church, within the church, or other influences.
"There will be times when you will feel overwhelmed. One of the ways you will be attacked is with the feeling that you are inadequate. Well, you are inadequate to answer a call to represent God with only your own powers. But you have access to more than your natural capacities, and you do not work alone."
As Joseph Smith was a prisoner in Liberty jail, I am sure he had feelings of inadequacy. All the members were being persecuted as he was locked away in jail. He received a revelation, recorded in D&C 123:17 , pertaining to the duty of the Saints in relation to their persecutors:
- Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.
I am sure this revelation not only comforted him but the members as well.
Now that we know God will help us rise to our call, what are some specific things we can do to better fulfill our callings?
- Russell Ballard in his October 2006 General Conference address titled "O Be Wise" lists a few things to help us best fulfill our callings:
- Focus on people and principles—not on programs.
Boyd K. Packer said in 2004 that "the study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."
- Be innovative. Not expand but simplify.
Thoughtfully allocate our resources of time, income, and energy. We are never done. Just do the best we can.
"Occasionally we find some who become so energetic in their Church service that their lives become unbalanced. They start believing that the programs they administer are more important than the people they serve. They complicate their service with needless frills and embellishments that occupy too much time, cost too much money, and sap too much energy. They refuse to delegate or to allow others to grow in their respective responsibilities.
As a result of their focusing too much time and energy on their Church service, eternal family relationships can deteriorate. Employment performance can suffer. This is not healthy, spiritually or otherwise. While there may be times when our Church callings require more intense effort and unusual focus, we need to strive to keep things in proper balance. We should never allow our service to replace the attention needed by other important priorities in our lives. Remember King Benjamin’s counsel: ‘And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength’ (Mosiah 4:27)."
- Divide the work and delegate responsibility.
After Jesus Christ was resurrected, he gave responsibility to the apostles to lead His church and teach the gospel. The church was expanding rapidly that these apostles couldn’t meet all the needs of the members:
Acts 6:1-6 And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration. Then the twelve called the multitude of the disciples unto them, and said, It is not reason that we should leave the word of God, and serve tables. Wherefore, brethren, look ye out among you seven men of honest report, full of the Holy Ghost and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business. But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word. And the saying pleased the whole multitude: and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Ghost, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolas a proselyte of Antioch: Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them.
- Eliminate guilt.
Rather than calling someone out for something they didn’t do or something they overlooked, catch others doing something right. "I really appreciate…"
- Gain/strengthen your testimony. Involve the Lord.
Acts 9:1–6: And Saul, yet breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciples of the Lord, went unto the high priest, And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem. And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.
Saul, later named Paul, then became one of the greatest missionaries that the early church experienced. Many of the books of the New Testament are recordings of Paul.
President Ezra Taft Benson, then President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
"There is no more crucial question that a man should be constantly asking than that which Paul asked: ‘Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? There is no more essential answer than that which he received: to go to those who are authorized by the Lord to give directions" (God, Family, Country: Our Three Great Loyalties, 162).
In closing, may we follow the counsel of Jacob, a prophet of the Book of Mormon. Jacob, who saw our day, writes one of the most succinct verses of the Book of Mormon, Jacob 6:12 O be wise; what can I say more? Let us be wise in our stewardship.