Sunday, October 19, 2008

I Believe in Authority from God

Articles of Faith #5
[I] believe that a [person] must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

I have been called to several callings in the Church. Rarely, have I felt it was a calling from God by prophecy. Usually, it is a calling from man by expediency, with God's approval. The one time I was called to preach the Gospel, however, the divinity of my calling was unmistakable.

When I was fourteen years old, I heard a testimony during a Young Women's camp fireside which struck a fire deep into my heart. From that moment, I knew I was to serve a mission for my Church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Our missions consist of 19-year-old boys serving two years and 21-year-old girls serving for 18 months in a place chosen by Apostles of the Church.

Although this desire to serve did not immediately change my behavior, I feel it had a subtle effect on my life over the next few years. I cleaned up my language, began listening to different music, continued to go to Church when all pressure pointed otherwise, and made small but very personal changes towards purifying my thoughts and my behavior. I attended college, taking a missionary preparation class. One requirement in this class was to attend a fireside. My memory being what it is, I don't remember who spoke, but during that talk came the distinct and strong impression that I was not to go on a mission.

I was devastated. I had been planning to go, assuming I would go, for years. I had felt called. After a great deal of tearful soul-searching and discussions (relieved on their side) with my parents, I stuck by the feeling I had not to serve.

It was a couple years later when a telephone conversation with my mother sparked an even stronger feeling that I was now to go. It was late for sisters, I was 22, about the time most sisters would be returning from their missions, but the feeling never left me. Thinking I was perhaps wrong, that my feelings came from me, I hesitantly begin to make preparations.

My parents would not support me on this mission, since I was living as a complete adult, and I did not know how to get the money to serve. After sharing this feeling with my visiting teachers, feeling like a tearful nutjob for opening myself up to them this way, I was approached by one who said she would contribute $25 per month. I was filled with gratitude. It would not cover the complete expense, but it was a spark of hope. Her offer was followed by one from my aunts and grandparents. Eventually, my parents called to let me know they would cover the rest. It was nothing short of a miracle to me, and an outpouring of support. I knew from how things all came together that the Lord had provided the means for me to accomplish the things He was commanding me to do by working through those who believed on His name.

Although my bishop was less than supportive of my choice, it was only two weeks from when I submitted my papers to receiving my call, and only a month until I was to report at the MTC. Two weeks after that, I found myself on German soil, feeling rather unprepared, but knowing I had been called of the Lord to be there at that time.

That calling was a protection and a strength to me during a rather trying mission.

I know that many people feel called of God to teach or preach whatever their particular agenda is. I know many take it upon themselves to teach what they think is right, against the counsel of those who are in authority. I believe that it is important to follow those the Lord has set in place to lead His Church. They are human, they are not perfect, but there is a principle greater than perfection, greater than being "right", and that is the Atonement. Christ's suffering, death, and return to life covers the imperfections of our leaders as well as our own sins, should we repent and be faithful to His teachings.

I was not a perfect teacher when God called me to teach. I made many mistakes I still regret. But I am humbled to know that God called me at that time to serve Him in that way, and to know that His purposes are fulfilled even in my imperfections. That understanding has led me to be a little more careful in how I judge the Lord's Anointed, a little more charitable when I don't understand their admonitions and guidance. I fully support the leaders of our Church. I believe they have been called as men to serve in the calling of God, and I am glad we have men upon the watchtower to see those dangers coming and to guard us.


  1. Due to a condition of my mother's (about which I have written on my own blog) and their relative poverty, my parents assumed they would never be able to serve a "regular" mission as a couple. However, after talking with their bishop extensively they decided that they would be able to serve at Cove Fort (not far from their home), since it would not be stressful on my mother and would cost very little. They planned everything accordingly, submitted their papers with that specified by themsleves and their bishop (with an explanation about why a regular mission would be impossible) and waited for confirmation of those plans.

    They were called on an active proselyting mission to South Carolina - at the full cost for such a mission.

    They had no idea how they would be able to do it - both in light of my mother's condition and their finances (they literally didn't have enough money to do it), but they accepted the call, attended the required training and left Utah to drive to South Carolina - not knowing beforehand what they would do.

    It was a five-day drive for them. Three days into their journey, an elderly sister called their new Mission President and told him that she had received a strong impression that she was to offer the use of her small house to the mission - to be used for any couple who needed to serve in that area, totally free of charge. She would live with her son and daughter-in-law for as long as the mission needed her home.

    The Mission President was unaware of my parents' dilemma, but he immediately felt impressed to have my parents live in that house and serve in that area. They did so for 10 of the 18 months they served - building lasting friendships and having a wonderful experience, and seeing their meager savings extend almost to the penny for what they needed on their mission.

    Obviously, I agree wholeheartedly with the central premise of your post, SilverRain.

  2. After reading your last two posts I have to say thank you!

    This issue of church callings is difficult. I went into adulthood with an "infatuated faith" believing that every calling was a lightening bolt from heaven. Now having more experience in the church I understand it is more the way you have presented it.

    What does this do to the notion that we should never turn down a calling? My husband was called as a member of the branch presidency with 45 minutes notice. We had no time to receive a witness for ourselves. We have struggled since he was called with all manner of trials. Monthly we discuss the possiblity of him asking to be released. But it is ingrained in me to never do that. Reason, in this case, screams otherwise. Are we sustaining our leaders? Or are we foolishly laboring under a burden unbeknownst to them?

  3. Thank you, SilverRain, for posting about this beautiful example of how the circumstances of a call can so definitely show us evidence that it came from God by prophecy.

    And thank you, Papa D, for sharing the touching and inspiring example of your parents’ mission call.

    Jendoop, I have come to believe that it is very wise to share with priesthood leaders any real concerns about our present circumstances which may indicate that a particular calling may be (or may have become) inappropriate. Sometimes, after prayerful consideration, the leader sees fit to withdraw the calling, or extend a release. Sometimes we may be counseled to accept the call in faith, or to “soldier on” through our difficult situation. Sometimes, I have seen how the inspiration to interview someone for a call ends up accomplishing a different, but necessary, purpose. The Lord may wish to reassure someone that they are worthy to be called to a position, even though they are unable to accept the call because of health, family, or other reasons. Sometimes the interview calls forth a needed confession that may help someone along the path to repentance and peace. Sometimes we may hold a calling for a very brief, but necessary and sufficient, period of time.

    Although I think that many times it really doesn't matter where we serve, or who serves in a particular calling, sometimes it truly does matter. In those cases, the person suggesting the name and/or extending the call often has an impression that may or may not appear “logical.”

    Today I received a new calling in our ward, and even though it is one that could be merely "a calling from man by expediency, with God's approval," I am very grateful to have received a sweet personal confirmation that this calling is exactly right for me at this particular time.

    I have seen enough evidence in my own life, and in the lives of others around me, to firmly believe that I need never be too concerned about the extent of inspiration involved in calls. I know that the Lord is indeed in charge of His Church. From the time of Adam, He has consistently allowed his children (including our leaders) to exercise their agency and have many and various "learning experiences." But I believe that God can always help us to grow and progress in important ways even in the midst of situations that may cause us pain and suffering. I am convinced that as we strive to support each other in our callings, we can be blessed to feel the Spirit and draw nearer to God, even in the midst of any struggles we may face because of our own or others’ shortcomings, thoughtlessness, or even egregious errors.

  4. Silver Rain--

    May I add another way of looking at this experience: it is not that you were told not to go, but were told not now. The experience you had at 22 was completely different than would have been at 21. The people that you met, and the experiences that occurred, were exactly what you needed. Had you gone earlier, they would not have been in place.

    I began my mission at 23 and turned 24 in the MTC. I was the oldest "young" missionary we had. Most days it felt like it. But I soon realized that I was not ready for a mission at 21, nor were the people that I taught. And those individuals needed me at precisely that time, not earlier, not later.

    Also, on a more selfish note, had you gone earlier, we would not have met. As hard as it must have been for you to go through this experience, I am greatful you did. My life was changed forever by you. And my life continues to be enhansed by your friendship. Not all of the teaching done by a missionary is for the benefit of an investigator...much of it is done within the companionship.


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