Church callings bring blessings, bishops say

Several bishops interviewed by the Church News say they know that members will be blessed as they magnify their Church callings. They say members can be more effective in their Church calling by doing the following:

Be prepared spiritually: Bishop Thomas D. Hunsaker of the Centerville Ward, Tucker Georgia Stake, said members need not be perfect, or have a perfect knowledge of the Church and its programs, to effectively serve the Lord in a Church calling. He explained, however, that is is essential that members have their lives in order so they can receive spiritual confirmation that the calling is right. "They need to be able to say, `Yes, I know this is what the Lord wants and He will help me do it,"' he said.- Have a desire to serve:Bishop Herbert D. Wright of the Montgomey 3rd Ward, Montgomery Alabama Stake, said, in their callings, members should be self starters, do more than what is expected and realize that, above all else, they are serving the Lord. "You need to look for opportunities to serve in your calling . . . to be pro-active," he said, noting that most visiting teachers and home teachers could do more than they do.

"You have to put something into the calling," added Bishop V. Mack Sumner of the Belleville Ward, O'Fallon Illinois Stake. "If you don't, then you don't grow."

Love the gospel: Bishop Sumner said members can prepare for most Church callings simply by participating in the Church and its programs. The Church moves forward, he explained, as one member grows in the Church and then helps others do the same.

Listen to the Spirit: Bishop Hunsaker said members need to be teachable as they approach a Church calling. "There is spiritual guidance that come with callings," he said, adding that members often forget they can rely on the Spirit as they serve the Lord.

Learn what is required of the calling: Bishop Hunsaker also said to be effective in a calling, members need to make an effort to understand their callings. "Sometimes people accept callings and don't understand what is expected. This can make them frustrated once they start the calling," he said.

Be humble: Many people feel inadequate when they are called to serve in some callings, Bishop Gerald F. Walter of the Lewisberry Ward, York Pennsylvania Stake, said. "I never saw myself as being able to do the things I am asked to do, but with the Savior's help, I have done them," he explained. "I don't think members realize how much help they will receive."

Bishop Jeffrey L. Hipps of the Phillipsburg Ward, Altoona Pennsylvania Stake, echoed his remarks. "As you serve someone else, you realize the Lord is really helping you," he explained. "Sometimes you have to serve in a calling for a while before you realize it is a calling from the Lord."

Develop personal relationships: Bishop Hipps said members will be successful in any calling if they love the people they are working with and serving. He said as members strive to understand each others' challenges, they will learn to love each other.

Bishop Parley B. Smith of the Cardston 4th Ward, Cardston Alberta Stake, said it is essential that teachers, especially ones called to work with the youth, get to know their students - which could mean going to their homes to visit and making phone calls during the week. "They don't care how much you know until they know how much you care," he quoted.

Conduct personal prayer, scripture study: Personal prayers and scripture study can prepare members for Church callings, said Bishop Walters. They also help them stay in tune, so they can receive guidance from the Spirit.

Write a `eulogy': When Bishop Smith extends callings to Church members he asks them to write down the things they want said about them when they are released. "Then I tell them to go out and make it come true," he said.

Remember every Church calling is important: Bishop Smith said he has seen Church members take offense when they are released from one call and asked to accept another one they view as "less important." Emphasizing the teachings of many prophets, Bishop Smith explained that a member's current Church calling is the most important calling he or she will hold. "When we stand before the Lord, I don't think He will ask us what Church positions we held, but how we magnified the ones we had," he said.

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