Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

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sparky
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Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by sparky » Mon Mar 18, 2024 7:40 am

After years as a PIMO and hard work in therapy, I have the strength to decline things that aren't for me.

I got an email from a guy asking to meet with me the next day. No reason given, not even an introduction of who he was, just (paraphrasing but not much) "Hello brother Sparky, can you meet with me tomorrow morning? If not tomorrow morning then when?"

Like I said, no introduction, so I had to look this guy up in the directory to find out he was on the stake high counsel. I'm tired of these people acting like members should bow to their every request. I knew it was for a calling, I could have just said no, but decided to treat it like any other person asking for a random meeting out of nowhere. I replied briefly asking the purpose of meeting, because I don't attend meetings I don't know the purpose of. Just my small way of fighting back against the culture of demanding meetings where members are going in anxious and blind to what could be on the table.

He replied that, indeed, it was to discuss a calling they had in mind. I've already decided I'm not taking any more callings, so I informed him of that and wished him the best in filling the calling.

Radio silence after that. I have to think they are so used to people declining now that they don't even try to convince anymore, it's a waste of time so maybe put an asterisk on this member and just move on to the next guy on the list of potentials (who probably already has two callings).

I still had some programmed guilt over this that I had to process. Because yes I am still participating in the community via my spouse, so shouldn't I have to contribute? I do get some value from the social interaction with other members as fellow humans, in spite of our different beliefs. But I had to keep reminding myself that I'm really participating against my will and interests, that I don't care at all whether whatever responsibility they had in mind gets done. I don't care if attendance or tithing or whatever gets counted and reported properly, I don't care if old names and dates from censuses get added to the Mormon database so kids can be pressured to get dunked for and in behalf of anyone, I don't care if there's a teacher to pass on the nonsense for another gospel doctrine class. I don't care if the church shrivels up and disappears; my life would be a lot simpler if it did.

I know there are people who do care, even PIMOs or progmos who want to devote their time to reforming this decrepit institution. Respect for them, they can have it. It's not worth my life and mental health to me when the type of organizations and activities I want to participate in already exist, outside of the tiny Mormon box.

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alas
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by alas » Mon Mar 18, 2024 8:19 am

Good for you in drawing better boundaries than the church likes. The secret meeting stuff is really a power play to cause anxiety and remind you they are the au-tho-ri-ty. And this guy’s attitude on the phone was a bit arrogant in assuming you know his calling and au-tho-ri-ty. Especially to an inactive, people should always introduce themselves and if they are making the phone call because of their position in the church, that is a mandatory part of the introduction. I don’t even recognize the names of my sister or brother&wife ministers although they do visit usually every month. So, in my phone contacts, their names are sister minister, and brother minister’s wife.

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Red Ryder
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by Red Ryder » Mon Mar 18, 2024 9:12 am

Congrats on determining for yourself your own level of participation. It’s a great place to be in. Before the pandemic, I had managed a few co-callings with Sys Ryder in primary that I enjoyed because it took me out of Sunday school and elders quorum which I had always skipped to sit in the car, go to sonic, or sometimes went home.

Primary callings with the wife were tolerable. The sunbeams were fun depending on the time of church. The 11 year olds were fun to teach as long as you didn’t teach and only had fun playing games. They could see through any attempt to teach a meaningful lesson while unprepared. So we played games and sprinkled in the moral values of the lessons without all the doctrinal dogma. Somehow we developed this good cop bad cop routine where I was the villain and the kids and wife ate it up. It was a fun year then we all quarantined during covid which ended the class. When church resumed, the wife was asked to be in YW. She said yes. They offered me another male teacher to replace her and continue teaching. I said no thanks and was released. That was my last calling. It’s been spectacular not having a calling. You can choose to attend or not and no need to worry about finding a substitute or planning a dumb lesson.

I’ve had a few big callings like ward clerk and finance clerk. I was the bishop of the nursery for 5 years. The real bishop called me to be the finance clerk (again) but noticed I hadn’t paid tithing. I said, yeah I’m not really planning to pay anymore. That killed that calling so I think I’m hindsight he was banishing me to the nursery. My son was 2 at the time so it was fun. I always prepped the fishy cracker and fruit snack sacraments!! Barb and Norm were a fun older couple who were amazing to chat with each week while the kids played. Looking back, I think they were a mixed faith couple similar to myself. We clicked.

Scouts was fun for about 3 months. It allowed me an excuse to buy the camping and backpacking gear I wanted but never made time for.

Not all callings are bad. Just the ones that reflect Mormonism. 🤣
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Linked
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by Linked » Fri Mar 22, 2024 12:51 pm

Way to go Sparky! That's huge!

The church culture trains us to agree to everything and to ignore our frustration when a church leader is shockingly demanding. It's a journey to notice the frustration, then to not feel like it's our fault, and then to say no. Sometimes when it is difficult for me I feel bad, like I'm failing at something that should be easy. But these really are big changes.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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sparky
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by sparky » Mon Mar 25, 2024 5:18 am

Things have taken an unexpected and decidedly welcome (for me) turn!

After years of co-teaching primary with spouse, a BP member asked to talk to us after church. My heart dropped to my feet as I anticipated having to navigate yet another calling decline, but this time with spouse involved because the ward leaders have loved calling us to co-callings, which is how I got roped into primary in the first place.

But apparently they got the message. The BP member thanked us for our efforts but instead of offering another calling, he asked us what calling we would feel comfortable in. We were taken aback and said we'd have to think about it.

Well, I've thought about it way too much over the last almost decade since I first posted on this board, and the answer is there is no calling I would feel comfortable in. The people in our ward are fine, kind people doing the best with what they know, but the institution is rotten to its core and foundation, and I don't feel comfortable having a title of any kind in the Mormon church.

So for the moment I am calling-free, and I now have no official ties or obligations to the Mormon church, other than my name on the records. It's taken me way too long to get to this point. I'm fine going with spouse on Sundays as long as she wants to, I'm fine going to social activities and maintaining social relationships (such as they are in the church), but I'm done volunteering for a backwards, homophobic, absurdly sexist, controlling organization.

So I think the ball is in our court and my plan is to just let this sit, I've no intention to volunteer for anything and I don't expect they will be offering anything. As for spouse, I do feel bad for her because teaching young primary was one of the few callings she actually liked, and being a nuanced person wanting to still participate in her community, she feels an obligation to have a calling. But luckily we have made a lot of progress in terms of differentiation in our relationship, so while I support her, that's her problem to figure out.

Wish me luck having the strength and self-respect to maintain my progress out!

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Hagoth
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by Hagoth » Mon Mar 25, 2024 5:33 am

sparky wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2024 5:18 am
The BP member thanked us for our efforts but instead of offering another calling, he asked us what calling we would feel comfortable in. We were taken aback and said we'd have to think about it.
Bartender! Fashioner of graven images! Strengthening Church Skeptics Committee coordinator!
sparky wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2024 5:18 am
Wish me luck having the strength and self-respect to maintain my progress out!
Best of luck! It is a wonderful feeling when the shackles turn to dust right before your eyes. My only calling is Home Teach... uh Ministering, and I enjoy telling THEM who I am going to visit and who my companion will be (my wife), instead of the other way around. They have no option but to just fall in line and let me have my way. It's hilarious. They could always fire me from ministering but they'd have to deal with wrath of the people who are so happy to get fresh baked goods every month.

Let the sparks fly, Sparky!
“The easy confidence with which I know another man's religion is folly teaches me to suspect that my own is also.” -Mark Twain

Jesus: "The Kingdom of God is within you." The Buddha: "Be your own light."

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wtfluff
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by wtfluff » Mon Mar 25, 2024 11:50 am

Hagoth wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2024 5:33 am
sparky wrote:
Mon Mar 25, 2024 5:18 am
The BP member thanked us for our efforts but instead of offering another calling, he asked us what calling we would feel comfortable in. We were taken aback and said we'd have to think about it.
Bartender! Fashioner of graven images! Strengthening Church Skeptics Committee coordinator!
I plagiarized my "Preferred Calling" from our esteemed former NOM participator: Enough.
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I mean... Anyone who knows me, knows that my true calling would be "Ward Social Reject."

I'd be comfortable with either calling, but lets face it, because of my social reject status, no-one in "my ward" would dare get near me to offer a "calling."
Faith does not give you the answers, it just stops you asking the questions. -Frater Ravus

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You can surrender without a prayer...

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Linked
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by Linked » Tue Mar 26, 2024 12:18 pm

Congrats Sparky! There may be a few times your lack of calling gets called into question, remember the various ways to say no and pick your favorite!
Let me get back to you on that.
I can't help with that right now.
You may want to check the magic 8 ball again.
No
Keep offering emotional support for your wife without violating your own boundaries, hopefully she can find another way to participate that she enjoys.
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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Ghost
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by Ghost » Tue Mar 26, 2024 12:31 pm

I probably need to follow your lead at some point and actually say I won't be taking any callings. I've had several meet with a leader for no stated reason messages (that I just ignored) in recent years, plus a few cases in which someone I knew from the ward pushed hard to try to get me to take a calling. In the latter cases I just remain noncommittal until they give up.

Cnsl1
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by Cnsl1 » Wed Mar 27, 2024 4:53 am

My wife and I did not readily accept the last calling we were offered, which was something about family history, I think. I'm not against family history, so considered it, but had no interest in helping others find names for the temple. My wife had zero interest. She is still involved with music, but I don't think I've had a calling since covid. Every now and then someone will tell me who my ministering families are but that hasn't happened in several months. I imagine we probably have ministers but I've no idea who they are, which is great.

I've never been afraid to turn down a calling that didn't feel right, even when I was a TBM and having been in the position extending callings, I've realized that it's often about filling needs or finding a job for someone, and doesn't always come with a great deal of inspiration. We'd sure try, but I found that a lot of people will turn down callings.

I've also resigned in a calling before too, which I'm sure seemed strange for the leaders at the time. I just said, in essence, I'll be done in x number of months. Find someone else by that time. I didn't ask to be released. I gave them a time frame when I would stop. It still makes me scratch my head when I hear about people who beg to be released but aren't. Just quit. It's a volunteer system. You can be nice and give leaders some lead time but you don't have to keep doing something that's not working for you or making you miserable. But I do understand the culture where we think the leader called of God needs to be the one to make that decision.

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nibbler
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by nibbler » Wed Mar 27, 2024 6:25 am

I flux in and out of it being easy to decline invitations. I was good for a while but let my guard down, so I currently hold a calling. :)

It can be tough. Some leaders like to pull out all the stops.

It's like the opposite of that episode of The Office where Ryan uses up all the excuses.

I can't. I'm not feeling so well. I've got a ton of work to do here. MSG allergy. Peanut allergy. I just ate there last night.

Some bishops are good at preemptively cornering you in such a way that saying no feels more and more uncomfortable.

Whenever I think of names yours keeps coming up again and again. I talked to everyone in the ward and they think that you would be the perfect fit. God wants you to do this. This is the direction the lord wants you to grow. This calling is extended to you directly from the creator of the universe.
We don’t see things as they are, we see them as we are.
– Anais Nin

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sparky
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by sparky » Wed Mar 27, 2024 8:49 am

Linked wrote:
Tue Mar 26, 2024 12:18 pm
Congrats Sparky! There may be a few times your lack of calling gets called into question, remember the various ways to say no and pick your favorite!
Thanks Link, and thanks for the suggestions! Currently my go-to is along the lines of "I appreciate you thinking of me, but for now I'm not accepting xyz for personal reasons. I'll let you know if that changes though." I like this because it is a direct "no" but also anticipates and neutralizes further persuasion. "Personal reasons" politely but firmly conveys that I'm not open to discussing it, and "I'll let you know..." conveys that I'm the one in control here, so don't try again in a few days/weeks if I haven't said anything. I'm torn on the "for now" part because it does imply that it's a temporary thing (which it's not) but I think I leave it there because I feel like the suggestion of temporariness discourages them from trying to make me a rescue project.
Cnsl1 wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2024 4:53 am
I'm not against family history, so considered it, but had no interest in helping others find names for the temple.
This captures a lot of my feeling. I'm enjoy singing, but do I want to direct a ward choir or even be in a Mormon choir? No. The songs no longer inspire me at all, in fact they have the opposite effect. I'm not against visiting neighbors but I cannot honestly do ministering within the framework it's presented. So I opted out of that. To each their own, but the church is not for me and not how I want to spend my time and emotional energy.
Last edited by sparky on Wed Mar 27, 2024 8:58 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Linked
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by Linked » Wed Mar 27, 2024 3:38 pm

nibbler wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2024 6:25 am
Some bishops are good at preemptively cornering you in such a way that saying no feels more and more uncomfortable.

Whenever I think of names yours keeps coming up again and again. I talked to everyone in the ward and they think that you would be the perfect fit. God wants you to do this. This is the direction the lord wants you to grow. This calling is extended to you directly from the creator of the universe.
I find myself matching the level of pressure and directness that gets aimed at me. I was chatting with a friend in the ward and he went full invitation to Elder's quorum "so he wouldn't have to sit alone", so I responded with a "no thanks, I go home for the 2nd hour". We can coexist happily as long as neither person is pushy, but once that line is crossed I'm going to be blunt with my boundaries. The pushier the request the more blunt the response.
sparky wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2024 8:49 am
Currently my go-to is along the lines of "I appreciate you thinking of me, but for now I'm not accepting xyz for personal reasons. I'll let you know if that changes though." I like this because it is a direct "no" but also anticipates and neutralizes further persuasion. "Personal reasons" politely but firmly conveys that I'm not open to discussing it, and "I'll let you know..." conveys that I'm the one in control here, so don't try again in a few days/weeks if I haven't said anything. I'm torn on the "for now" part because it does imply that it's a temporary thing (which it's not) but I think I leave it there because I feel like the suggestion of temporariness discourages them from trying to make me a rescue project.
That's a good way to say no. The "for now" may hint at a future where you might take a calling, but I don't think that's a big deal. If you make it out of the interaction without having committed to a calling you succeeded!
"I would write about life. Every person would be exactly as important as any other. All facts would also be given equal weightiness. Nothing would be left out. Let others bring order to chaos. I would bring chaos to order" - Kurt Vonnegut

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sparky
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Re: Declining callings and talks is getting easier for me

Post by sparky » Thu Mar 28, 2024 5:40 am

Linked wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2024 3:38 pm
nibbler wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2024 6:25 am
Some bishops are good at preemptively cornering you in such a way that saying no feels more and more uncomfortable.

Whenever I think of names yours keeps coming up again and again. I talked to everyone in the ward and they think that you would be the perfect fit. God wants you to do this. This is the direction the lord wants you to grow. This calling is extended to you directly from the creator of the universe.
I find myself matching the level of pressure and directness that gets aimed at me. I was chatting with a friend in the ward and he went full invitation to Elder's quorum "so he wouldn't have to sit alone", so I responded with a "no thanks, I go home for the 2nd hour". We can coexist happily as long as neither person is pushy, but once that line is crossed I'm going to be blunt with my boundaries. The pushier the request the more blunt the response.
This is a great approach, and something the probably requires some skill to appraise the level of pressure coming from them. I haven't gotten much pushback or questions yet, fortunately. I've been without a TR for nearly a year and nobody from the ward has said a word. I guess with having no recommend and no calling I'll probably be on an red flag list for Ward council or something (especially when I start hanging out reading in the foyer during second hour now that I'm not stuck in Primary). But I'm developing those boundary muscles and feel increasingly capable of handling it. Like, I'm happy to talk with you as a fellow human, having normal people conversations, but if you switch into Mormon Invitation Mode, I've got my own mode to switch into in response.

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