New Calling

This is for encouragement, ideas, and support for people going through a faith transition no matter where you hope to end up. This is also the place to laugh, cry, and love together.
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TestimonyLost
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New Calling

Post by TestimonyLost » Thu May 31, 2018 9:07 am

I've been in Cub Scout callings for a few years which has been a nice relief from churchy callings. I've been warning my wife for a while that I would probably say no to the next calling. She seemed okay with it, not happy but okay.

Well the dreaded day finally came--counselor in the Young Men's Presidency. And...I couldn't say no all the way. I said I wasn't sure I was up for that calling right now. He asked me to think about it (he was super nice about it). I agreed.

I really, really don't want to take that calling. I was teaching youth Sunday School during my faith crisis several years ago and it was really hard. Now I'm a full on (closeted) nonbeliever and I think young men/women is more of a commitment than just Sunday School.

But I'm also not sure I'm ready to start down the path of disconnecting from church. My kid's in YM and I don't want to feel like I'm letting my wife and fellow ward members down. I feel oddly self conscious about the whole thing. I didn't expect to feel this conflicted over the event.

Any advice? Anyone served in young men/young women as a nonbeliever? How was it?

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græy
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Re: New Calling

Post by græy » Thu May 31, 2018 10:02 am

I'm currently a (closeted, non-believing) bishopric counselor, and it sucks. One of the redeeming points is the chance I have to get to know people better. I am not an extrovert by any stretch, and while I've always had "friends" in whatever ward I've been in, they've always been measured by quality, not quantity.

As soon as I was called into the bishopric some magical switch flipped and a lot of people suddenly felt that I was good enough for them to approach and open up to. I have also felt more responsible for approaching and engaging people on my own. While I struggle with many parts of my calling due to my unbelief, I have enjoyed getting to know people and have been able to actually help them through some of their struggles.

A calling in the YM might be similar. Teaching lessons from the manuals would suck, but the Come, Follow Me manuals allow for quite a bit of open discussion which you could really take any way you like. While attending YM, I have found chances to comment with more accurate history when another leader mentions how the early saints were persecuted "just because they were Mormon" and the YM have responded noting that there are ALWAYS two sides to the story.

In our ward we have VERY small quorums (1 teacher, 4 deacons at the moment) so quorums are often combined. The YM teach the lessons 3/4 weeks every month. The remaining week is taught by an adult leader, which might be a presidency member, or a quorum adviser. Which means any given adult leader only teaches a few times a year at most.

The rest of the job is connecting with the YM individually and helping out at activities, which are probably the best parts of the job anyway.

On the other hand, coming from my bishopric position again, I would prefer members to be honest with me and say no to a calling that would either do them more harm then good, or that they just won't do anyway. From an administrative standpoint it's easier to call a single person who is dependable, then to continually look for substitutes or helpers who already have callings themselves.

FWIW that is my 2 cents.
I'm better than dirt... well most dirt. Not that fancy store bought stuff, I can't compete with that... full of nutrients and everything. -Moe Sizlack

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Red Ryder
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Re: New Calling

Post by Red Ryder » Thu May 31, 2018 10:10 am

I did the Deacon's Quorum advisor gig for about a year. I taught fun lessons that spent about 5 minutes on the theme in the manual and then veered drastically off course to wherever their limited attention spans took them. Then wrapped it back in at the end with some generic gospel blah blah blah and had a kid recap the lesson and bear testimony. The kids loved it because the lessons were about them. The other dude leaders liked it because the kids participated. I spent very little effort and didn't take anything serious. I also enjoyed the camping trips once a month until I realized it was babysitting in the forest.

Since then I've been able to say no to any callings. I basically told the Bishop I have very little time to commit to a church calling due to work, work travel, family, and a few other excuses. I told him I simply can't do any more in my busy life but would let him know when I could commit more time. He was understanding and probably realized it was my polite way off saying no.

The thing is it's a volunteer organization. We don't get paid for our time. It's ok to say no and not feel guilty. Most people are starting to say no and it's becoming normalized. It's the culture that says you can't say no. We have to change that one "NO" at a time.
Those who do not move do not notice their chains. —Rosa Luxemburg

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TestimonyLost
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Re: New Calling

Post by TestimonyLost » Thu May 31, 2018 2:41 pm

græy wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 10:02 am
I'm currently a (closeted, non-believing) bishopric counselor, and it sucks. One of the redeeming points is the chance I have to get to know people better. I am not an extrovert by any stretch, and while I've always had "friends" in whatever ward I've been in, they've always been measured by quality, not quantity.

As soon as I was called into the bishopric some magical switch flipped and a lot of people suddenly felt that I was good enough for them to approach and open up to. I have also felt more responsible for approaching and engaging people on my own. While I struggle with many parts of my calling due to my unbelief, I have enjoyed getting to know people and have been able to actually help them through some of their struggles.

A calling in the YM might be similar. Teaching lessons from the manuals would suck, but the Come, Follow Me manuals allow for quite a bit of open discussion which you could really take any way you like. While attending YM, I have found chances to comment with more accurate history when another leader mentions how the early saints were persecuted "just because they were Mormon" and the YM have responded noting that there are ALWAYS two sides to the story.

In our ward we have VERY small quorums (1 teacher, 4 deacons at the moment) so quorums are often combined. The YM teach the lessons 3/4 weeks every month. The remaining week is taught by an adult leader, which might be a presidency member, or a quorum adviser. Which means any given adult leader only teaches a few times a year at most.

The rest of the job is connecting with the YM individually and helping out at activities, which are probably the best parts of the job anyway.

On the other hand, coming from my bishopric position again, I would prefer members to be honest with me and say no to a calling that would either do them more harm then good, or that they just won't do anyway. From an administrative standpoint it's easier to call a single person who is dependable, then to continually look for substitutes or helpers who already have callings themselves.

FWIW that is my 2 cents.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts, græy. Interesting perspective. I can’t imagine being in your position. So much time sucked into the church. I served as WML several years ago. I hated how much time I spent on that calling and I still had some faith in the church left back then. Can’t imagine the extra load of being in the bishopric especially as a nonbeliever.

I like your idea of a calling doing “more harm than good.” That’s really the analysis for me I guess. Would the stress and anxiety of accepting this calling be better or worse than dealing with potential fallout from saying “no”?
Red Ryder wrote:
Thu May 31, 2018 10:10 am
I did the Deacon's Quorum advisor gig for about a year. I taught fun lessons that spent about 5 minutes on the theme in the manual and then veered drastically off course to wherever their limited attention spans took them. Then wrapped it back in at the end with some generic gospel blah blah blah and had a kid recap the lesson and bear testimony. The kids loved it because the lessons were about them. The other dude leaders liked it because the kids participated. I spent very little effort and didn't take anything serious. I also enjoyed the camping trips once a month until I realized it was babysitting in the forest.

Since then I've been able to say no to any callings. I basically told the Bishop I have very little time to commit to a church calling due to work, work travel, family, and a few other excuses. I told him I simply can't do any more in my busy life but would let him know when I could commit more time. He was understanding and probably realized it was my polite way off saying no.

The thing is it's a volunteer organization. We don't get paid for our time. It's ok to say no and not feel guilty. Most people are starting to say no and it's becoming normalized. It's the culture that says you can't say no. We have to change that one "NO" at a time.
Thanks for the comment, RR. What you describe sounds something like what I’d do to make it work if I did accept the calling. But it still sounds like a lot of stress trying to find the nugget of goodness in some awful lessons.

I agree that the culture of “you don’t say no to a calling” seems to be shifting. That’s a good thing. I think I’m less concerned with violating that norm than I am putting a spotlight on myself and disappointing my wife. I think I have a reputation for helping out so turning down this calling will probably raise some questions. And I hate looking into the sad eyes of my wife even when she’s doing her best to support me in my faithlessness.

But your life of no callings sounds pretty darn nice. :lol:

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FiveFingerMnemonic
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Re: New Calling

Post by FiveFingerMnemonic » Thu May 31, 2018 2:55 pm

I've said this before on the old NOM 1.0. Lindsay Hansen Park was once interviewed about the FLDS men building a giant brick wall around the leader compound. She said something along the lines of, "all it would take to end it is for everyone to put their bricks down". Taking that individual step of bravery and saying no is like putting your bricks down.

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IT_Veteran
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Re: New Calling

Post by IT_Veteran » Thu May 31, 2018 9:05 pm

I really struggled with my testimony as a 2nd counselor in YM (I went on to accept and serve as the EQP for two years after that, so I guess I’m just a chicken). I can say it was not easy as someone that was merely doubting (I wouldn’t call myself an unbeliever at that poIsn’t, but I can’t point to any elements of testimony that I can recall).

I know the curriculum has changed this year, but I wouldn’t say I got out of teaching. I had five boys on average, none were willing to teach. The times that I tried they would prepare for about three minutes worth of class, and then it was fighting just to keep them somewhat focused. We watched a lot of church videos that had at least a loose relationship to the lesson.

And that was before I felt like I was being deceptive.

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StarbucksMom
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Re: New Calling

Post by StarbucksMom » Fri Jun 01, 2018 7:44 am

Life is too short to waste precious time volunteering for a cult you dislike. Find meaningful things to do with your family when you have free time.

Reuben
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Re: New Calling

Post by Reuben » Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:54 am

Relevant for any conflict between self and others' expectations:

http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/05 ... eal-selves
Psychologist Tom Gilovich and a former Cornell graduate student have found people are haunted more by regrets about failing to fulfill their hopes, goals and aspirations than by regrets about failing to fulfill their duties, obligations and responsibilities.
Of course, we don't need psychological studies to quantify this. Almost anyone at retirement age can fill you in. Give It Time on this board has an awesome signature:
At 70 years-old, my older self would tell my younger self to use the words, "f*ck off" much more frequently. --Helen Mirren
You were born to trust, not fear. It is your birthright.

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MalcolmVillager
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Re: New Calling

Post by MalcolmVillager » Sat Jun 02, 2018 6:37 am

Reuben wrote:
Sat Jun 02, 2018 1:54 am
Relevant for any conflict between self and others' expectations:

http://news.cornell.edu/stories/2018/05 ... eal-selves
Psychologist Tom Gilovich and a former Cornell graduate student have found people are haunted more by regrets about failing to fulfill their hopes, goals and aspirations than by regrets about failing to fulfill their duties, obligations and responsibilities.
Of course, we don't need psychological studies to quantify this. Almost anyone at retirement age can fill you in. Give It Time on this board has an awesome signature:
At 70 years-old, my older self would tell my younger self to use the words, "f*ck off" much more frequently. --Helen Mirren
I Love it!

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Ghost
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Re: New Calling

Post by Ghost » Sat Jun 02, 2018 7:38 am

I had a calling the in the YM presidency when I was starting to seriously question my faith. Like IT_Veteran, I wouldn't have called myself a non-believer. (I guess I'd still feel uncomfortable applying that term to myself--I'm not a fan of most negative-sounding labels.) And like Red Ryder, I'd use the lesson in the manual simply as a starting point, if I used it at all.

If I were asked to take on a teaching calling now, I'd be torn about it. I enjoy that sort of thing a lot, but I'm afraid that I'd feel disingenuous no matter how I approached it. Unless I took that opportunity to be transparent in my heterodoxy and they still wanted me to teach a history-focused class or something.

I don't know how to react when someone who was in my class or a parent occasionally says something positive about my influence as a teacher back then. I don't think I was ever dishonest when I taught, claiming to believe something that I didn't, but I've drifted a little more since then. Like my experience as a missionary, I'm glad I did it when I did it because I look back on it fondly, but I don't think I could do it now.

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Advocate
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Re: New Calling

Post by Advocate » Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:24 am

I think a lot depends on where you see yourself with God and/or Christianity.

Some people go through a faith transition and lose their belief in God such that they no longer consider themselves Christian. For those people, I think any sort of a teaching calling in the mormon church would be very hard.

Some go through a faith transition and maintain a belief in God and Christ. For these people, I think it is possible to teach in the mormon church by focusing on Christian principles. There is a saying that goes "that which is unique to the mormon church is not good, and that which is good is not unique." I believe there is a lot of truth in that. With that being said, there are a lot of good principles taught in the mormon church that could be taught in other churches as well.

I served as a YM counselor and taught a number of lessons and didn't feel conflicted. I simply picked my lessons carefully and focused on Christian principles rather than things that are unique to the mormon church.

Cadahangel
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Re: New Calling

Post by Cadahangel » Tue Jun 05, 2018 11:49 am

Advocate wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 8:24 am
I think a lot depends on where you see yourself with God and/or Christianity.

Some people go through a faith transition and lose their belief in God such that they no longer consider themselves Christian. For those people, I think any sort of a teaching calling in the mormon church would be very hard.

Some go through a faith transition and maintain a belief in God and Christ. For these people, I think it is possible to teach in the mormon church by focusing on Christian principles. There is a saying that goes "that which is unique to the mormon church is not good, and that which is good is not unique." I believe there is a lot of truth in that. With that being said, there are a lot of good principles taught in the mormon church that could be taught in other churches as well.

I served as a YM counselor and taught a number of lessons and didn't feel conflicted. I simply picked my lessons carefully and focused on Christian principles rather than things that are unique to the mormon church.
As Someone who is training to be a Pastor now I actually would get into a lot of trouble if I taught based on Biblical Christianity. There is a difference in that versus Mormon Christianity. Even though they claim to be one and the same. https://www.namb.net/apologetics/compar ... ristianity

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TestimonyLost
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Re: New Calling

Post by TestimonyLost » Wed Jun 06, 2018 6:58 am

Thank you for all your thoughtful responses. It played no small part in giving me the courage to call the counselor back and say no to the calling! He was actually really nice about it and didn't push back at all.

It will be interesting to see if I get any extra attention. The new EQ presidency barely knows me so if any of them start acknowledging I exist, I'll know something is up. It's my hope that calling refusals have become so commonplace that it will just be a blip.

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