Sunday, May 6, 2012

Church Service

This morning in our High Council meeting we were talking about reasons why people sometimes decide to stop attending church.  One of the High  Councilors said that his oldest son has not been very engaged in the Church and wondered if it was because when he (the High Councilor) was serving in three Bishoprics he too often let it be known at home that he wasn't excited or happy to be spending so much time with is calling.  He fears that his son inherited this negative attitude about the Church from him.

My first calling in the Church as an adult was President of the Base Section in the ward choir of my BYU singles ward.  Back then I was trying very hard to be a base even though we all know I am a tenor.  I don't remember much about how well I served in that calling.

After my mission, Kathy and I got married and moved to Provo so I could continue my schooling.  We eventually made our way to Wymount Terrace, a married-student housing complex on campus.  I remember being called to serve as Second Counselor in the Sunday School Presidency.  I don't remember any other callings while we lived in Wymount Terrace. There were probably a few others since we lived there for three years.  I think by then I had developed a desire to magnify my callings to the best of my ability.  My mission to Korea helped a lot in that regard.

When we moved to San Francisco for my Ph.D. program, I received new opportunities to serve.  The only calling I remember from those four years was Counselor in the Elder's Quorum Presidency.  I served with President Milt Brinton, who later became a surgeon, and then later I served with President Kent Wood, who later became a dentist and whose son, Dan, is good friends with Betsy and Russell.

In Iowa, where I did my postdoc, I remember serving again as a Counselor in the Elder's Quorum.  The President was Monte Crandall, who was doing a residency in OB/GYN.

In Kentucky, I was called to be an early morning Seminary teacher.  The early hours were hard, and the kids were often noisy, but I absolutely loved that calling.  I love to teach and I loved the spirit I felt from these faithful high school freshmen and sophomores.  That calling ended when I was called to be a Counselor in the Bishopric working with Bishop Lyle Stucki.  Here is where I began to really learn about Church administration, about relying on the Spirit to confirm feelings about extending callings to others, about being a leader.  I learned so much from Bishop Stucki.  He was so good at delegating responsibilities. I knew that if I didn't fulfill the assignments given to me nobody would.  Somewhere in there I served as the High Priest Group Leader, and then was called by President Norton to be the Bishop of the Louisville 2nd Ward.  What a growing experience that was!  During that calling, I tried to not neglect Kathy and our children.  I hope I was successful.  I truly loved that calling and hope my children could sense that.  I don't know if I ever explicitly talked with them about the joy I received from serving.

When we moved to Utah, I was called to be the Teacher's Quorum Adviser.  That was a neat, but difficult, calling.  I had eighteen young 14-15 year-olds to teach and to do activities with.  I still keep track of those boys even 12 years later.  Many have gone on missions, some are inactive, one is dead. My next calling was as a High Councilor in the BYU 1st Stake.  My first assignment was to be the Stake Mission President.  That was an interesting calling since our wards were virtually 100% members with just a few non-members.  After about a year in this calling, the Church eliminated Stake Missions and I was out of an assignment.  I was then assigned to work with the Stake Institute.  I also worked with the BYU 164th Ward and Bishop Brad Anderson.  As my three years as a High Councilor came to an end, Kathy and I were asked to meet with President Bailey, presumably so I could be released.  I knew something was up when President Bailey asked to meet with me alone first.  He asked my about my worthiness, and then invited Kathy in to the interview.  Then he called me to be the Bishop of the BYU 130th Ward.  I loved that calling.  I received so much strength and renewing from interacting with those faithful young single adults.  By then, Abby and Caleb were the only children still at home.  I tried to involve them (and Kathy) in my calling by bringing them to Ward Prayer each Sunday evening.  I also tried to not let this responsibility take me away from home too much.  I hope Abby and Caleb know how much I enjoyed serving in this calling.

This posting is getting too long.  After being released as Bishop, I was called to serve as a High Councilor in the Windsor Stake.  In fact, I met with President Dunaway and received that calling the same day that I was released as Bishop.  I have served in this calling for six and a half years.  Today I will be released.  I don't know what will come next, but I know something will come and it will be the right thing for me because I believe that we truly are called of God.  I am such a better person because of all the opportunities I have had to serve.  I am grateful for a Church that allows its members to grow through service.