Thursday, January 12, 2012

Hardest Church Callings



by A-Dub (bio)
The Plague of Locusts by Vittorio Bianchini

Having recently moved to a new ward, I was without a church calling for several weeks. As my wife and I wondered what the Lord had in mind for us, I found myself pondering about what “the hardest possible church calling” would be. I hesitate to voice and/or write what I think this would be, because I am certain that the God of the Old Testament would appear, say “Oh, really?” and immediately insert me into said calling in lieu of sending a plague of locusts. So, I’m just going to conjecture what I believe other people think is the hardest calling.

Before anyone tries to call me to repentance, we all know that a calling is what you make of it, you can have a good experience in any calling, and ultimately they can all be rewarding. But we all have preferences. I for one find it hilarious when a good friend mistakenly says “I would HATE to get called as ______,” only to find himself a week later hearing “All that can sustain Brother You-Should-Never-Say-That-Out-Loud as the new {insert name of plague of locusts calling}, please indicate by the uplifted hand.” Yep.

So, here’s what I think most people think are the hardest callings, based on my own astute observations over many years and some thorough market research I‘ve done with at least two other people. So these babies are rock solid. Note that I am restricting these to the ward level ... I bet being the prophet is pretty tough.

1. Nursery Worker
Many adults look at church as a respite from their own kids – two hours of free babysitting! Bless the poor nursery workers who have to pry screaming children from their parent’s arms only to get snotted on, screamed at, and second guessed by smug parents who “would never do it that way!” I guess the one upside is no diaper changing. (Note: personally, I think any calling where there’s snack time and you don’t have to endure a boring priesthood lesson has some serious upside)

2. Scout Leader
This calling often requires that 12 nights a year you have to sleep in the woods. Also that you probably have to endure endless jokes about flatulence, lame pranks, and sometimes even sacrifice a week of vacation time to go to Scout Camp (which I loved as a boy, but literally makes me shudder at the thought of attending as a leader – yeah, I know – plague of locusts here I come). As for Cub Scout callings – well ... this is pretty much like herding cats. Just make sure no one’s bleeding at the end of Wednesday night and you’re 98% successful.

3. Bishop
Being in any calling for six years would get old, but counseling, welfare issues, mis-managed church organization, endless meetings and bureaucracy, and generally overseeing the salvation of 300+ people? Yeah, um ... I’ll keep my Sunday School teacher calling, thanks though. And looking at all a bishop has to do, I can’t imagine there’s a single bishop in all of Mormon-dom that feels he’s doing everything he’s “supposed” to be doing. Amazingly, some people actually aspire to this calling. However, I for one believe that the Lord is never going to call someone to be a bishop who actually wants to do it. I get it - I’ve never heard a bishop say “I wish I had never been called” (I assume that’s privately reserved for their wives during particularly trying times). They all say that amazing growth and blessings come from being a bishop. But I don’t think anyone could actually conceptualize beforehand in a meaningful way the blessings that do come.

4. Ward Mission Leader
This is likely feared by many in the church. You’re basically trying to get people in the ward to share the gospel, when they already know they’re supposed to be doing it. So essentially, you’re nagging. Hence, trying to get ward members to do this requires a lot of tact and gentle encouragement. You don’t have much control over whether you have success or not. There’s a constant struggle between the missionaries eagerly trying to baptize as many as possible and the ward council who doesn’t want to baptize people who aren’t ready (whenever that is?). On top of that, I’m sure there’s enormous guilt if you aren’t continually handing out copies of the Book of Mormon to the guy pumping gas next to you. Tough, tough, tough.

I know my market research was totally solid, but which callings have I missed? Apologies if I’ve offended any nursery workers, scout leaders, bishops, or ward mission leaders that love their callings. Bless you all.

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