Last week, I resigned from an LDS Church stake calling. It was time. I’d been doing it for eight years. It was someone else’s turn to be driven nuts.
Mormons don’t have church “jobs” in the sense that we receive a salary. A church job is something you’re asked to do for free.
Note: A church job is different than actually being employed by the church, say, at a church farm or the Church Office Building in downtown Salt Lake City. Or so I hear. In any case, I’ve never been paid.
Volunteer or unpaid jobs on a ward or stake level are referred to as “callings,” as in, “Dang, I just got called into the Primary.”
These callings supposedly come from the top down. Ideally they’re divinely inspired. The bishop — who isn’t getting paid either — spiritually ponders an opening in the ward ranks, comes up with a name and maybe runs it past his counselors.
Bishop: “Hey, Brother Kirby writes stuff. Let’s call him to be in charge of the ward bulletin.”
Either counselor: “Hmm, that might be a bad idea.”
Hey, I’ve been in charge of a ward bulletin before — for two whole weeks. While I personally found the experience spiritually enriching, it was a bad idea for nearly everyone else.
I’ve held a lot of other church callings: bishoprics, elders quorum presidencies, Primary, Sunday school, Scouting, building maintenance, magazine-drive coordinator and usher.
About the only calling I’ve never had is Relief Society president. I would, however, be willing to learn if asked.
I told you that to tell you this: We’re not technically supposed to just up and quit a church job. If it was a divinely inspired call in the first place, who are you to uncall yourself?
Suppose — and I am just supposing here — one night your regular job required that you throw in jail several people associated with your church job. Also assume that a bit of serious head punching was required to get this accomplished.
You can see how such a situation might pose a conflict. It’s a bit hard to fulfill a calling if the people you’re called to work with won’t/can’t come to church anymore because of you.
Ideally, the proper thing to do would be to talk to the bishop, let him know about the conflict and allow him to prayerfully make up his mind to uncall you. This is referred to as a “release” from your calling.
I had such a situation about my current stake calling last week. I approached the person I reported to on the stake high council and informed him of my situation.
Me: “If I keep doing this, I’ll kill somebody. Your choice.”
Him: “I can see where the Lord might consider that a problem.”
It was probably one of those “quit or be fired” things or that I was divinely inspired to hate the job. Either way, I don’t have to do it anymore.
This brings us to the flip side of being released from a calling. As unfettered as I feel right now, there’s probably another calling in the works.
I can almost feel it being pondered somewhere.
And because technically you’re not supposed to say “no” to a church calling, I hope it’s the Relief Society.
Robert Kirby can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/stillnotpatbagley.