Many years ago, in Germany I was sitting on the stand prior to the beginning of our stake conference, the first one presided over by the newly called stake presidency. While watching the audience I noticed a very friendly usher opening the side door for members who were entering or leaving the chapel. I recognized him as our previous stake president who had been released only six months earlier after leading the stake for many years. He served with humble distinction when he was called as stake president, and now he continued serving with distinction when asked to be an usher. He was both a great leader and a humble servant of the Lord.
As I contemplated his example, I was reminded of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, who taught: “No calling is beneath us. Every calling provides an opportunity to serve and to grow. The Lord organized the Church in a way that offers each member an opportunity for service, which, in turn, leads to personal spiritual growth. Whatever your calling, I urge you to see it as an opportunity not only to strengthen and bless others but also to become what Heavenly Father wants you to become.”1
Dear brothers and sisters, it is one of the hallmarks of this, the true Church of Jesus Christ, that you and I are privileged to receive callings AND releases. Both the call and the release come by the will of God through those who preside over us. As laborers in the Lord’s vineyard, it is not where we serve but how. Our ability to bless those around us is never limited by the callings we hold, or whether we currently even have a calling. While some callings are more visible than others, there are no “small” callings in the Church. Calls to leadership do not set us apart or elevate us above the other members of our ward or stake. In the book of Alma, we learn that “the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength” (Alma 1:26).
President Gordon B. Hinckley (1910–2008) bore witness of this truth when he taught, “Your obligation is as serious in your sphere of responsibility as is my obligation in my sphere. No calling in this church is small or of little consequence.”2
The beauty of this work is that you and I do not get to choose which callings we receive, when we receive them, and for how long. Faithful Latter-day Saints leave that up to the Lord who knows all things. When a call is extended, our attitude should be, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:9). Then we can move forward with the utmost assurance that the Lord will always bless and magnify us if we serve humbly and willingly.
After being called we can reach out to those who lead us to help us learn our duty. We can study handbooks and online resources to understand the Lord’s will for us. We can counsel with others to facilitate receiving personal revelation about the Lord’s expectations in our new assignment. We understand that once the call to serve has been extended, we are covenant-bound to magnify it, to do our very best with the help of the Lord. While accepting a calling is pleasing to the Lord, magnifying that calling is what really brings Him joy. Magnifying our callings allows us to bless others, thereby laying up treasures for our own souls.
In the Church, we attend many meetings, but we do not go to these meetings just for the sake of attending. The Lord has expectations of us:
“And now, behold, I give unto you a commandment, that when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other, that ye may know how to act and direct my church, how to act upon the points of my law and commandments, which I have given.
“And thus, ye shall become instructed in the law of my church, and be sanctified by that which ye have received, and ye shall bind yourselves to act in all holiness before me” (D&C 43:8–9).
Please note that regardless of your calling, when you attend meetings, you share in the privilege and responsibility to instruct and edify each other, to be sanctified by what you have learned, and to then bind yourself in all holiness before the Lord to be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (see James 1:22).
While faithfully attending meetings is an important part of magnifying your calling, the real opportunity for service and ministering is found outside the meetings. Ask yourself: Have I lifted someone’s burden? Have I touched someone’s heart? Have I strengthened someone’s faith? Magnifying our callings means ministering to the one and to the many as the Savior did.
President John Taylor (1808-1887) warned, “If you do not magnify your callings, God will hold you responsible for those whom you might have saved had you done your duty.”3 Therefore, brothers and sisters, “let every man learn his duty, and to act in the office in which he is appointed, in all diligence” (D&C 107:99).
On Saturday, August 1, 2037, I will be released as a General Authority Seventy. The next day, Sunday, I will invite my bishop to ask the Lord if there is anything he would have me do in the ward. Maybe I will be called as a Sunday School teacher, or to work with the young men, or to teach in Primary. Or maybe I will be called as an usher. It does not matter. I am happy to serve anywhere in the vineyard. I hope you are, too.