Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Misconception of Callings

In here I am not trying to dig into the doctrinal issues of church callings. For those who are not familiar to LDS Church, calling is referred to an assignment and responsibility given to members of the Church to serve the congregation. It is a voluntary-based task. Assignments are given through the inspiration from the leaders of the congregation. There are many different callings such as Bishop, Young Women President, Sunday School Teacher, Librarian, and Nursery leader...etc. 

As members of the Church, we have been counseled to serve others with all our heart, might, mind and strength (D&C 4) and treat each calling as if they are equally important. As Jesus taught in Matthew, "and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant", it indicates there is no such classification in Christ Church and Church members should focus on magnifying their callings. However, social-cultural norm plays a significant role in influencing Church members' perception of callings.  

 Classification is a normal practice and way of perceiving the society and its members. One of the ways people's social status are being identified is through classification. This identification differentiates social class status. It is a norm for people to perceive a person titled as the president has a higher social status than a person titled as general officer in a company. Same applied to members of the Church who might see their bishop and auxiliary leaders have a more superior status than the others who do not yet entitled such callings.  

Several weeks ago I met my friend from my homeward. She has been out of town for a while. She asked my current calling and I said I serve in the Stake Young Women Presidency. Her response is priceless but yet problematic to me. She said, "Wow! You are so awesome (!你好勁呀!)" (The English translation cannot fully interpret the meaning in Chinese. Her reaction indicates that because she thinks that I am capable so that I am assigned to this calling.) I politely thank her compliment. 

Personally, the calling itself, and the title do not matter to me, as long as those who are called are magnifying their callings. However, once you are called to the so-called "high rank" leadership position in the Church, people have great expectation on you as if you are qualified to lead them. When your efforts do not satisfied their needs, criticism and judgmental comments follow. In the Chinese society, a person's title is critically important because it involves the issue of "face culture" and family and personal pride and shame. Especially for male, the situation of one man not being called to the so-called high ranking position, create identity crisis similar to Asian American men face in the United States. They think themselves as inferior of others and they are generally perceive as the weak. It contradicts the social norm in Chinese society that men are the household head and leaders in the family and in the society. 

Also,finding people to fulfill a calling is not an easy task. In general a person is being called to a certain calling through inspiration. I do not doubt the power from on high, however, 'seats are always reserved for the capable" seems to become the unspoken rule and criteria for callings. Many times I have heard people saying, "so-and-so is so awesome and has such skills, he/she will be good for this callings and we will have less trouble". This idea troubles me. I observe that people who have been called to be Sunday School teachers are always the Sunday School teachers, and people who seem to be the leader-materials are usually called to be a leader. There is a certain group of people, who are perceived neither into any of these groups, will never get a chance to serve in such calling because no one think that they are capable of doing so. In return, that group of people generally think that they are not capable neither. This is not how it supposes to work. In the movie, Joseph Smith: the Prophet of the Restoration, Prophet Joseph Smith said, "God calls us in our weaknesses and qualifies us for the work". I believe this is a good reminder to all of us and help others to believe that "THEY CAN DO IT", instead of placing our values on them and influencing them on being who they are. 

"...the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his statue; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Yes, the Lord looks on the heart. Let us remember that we are all precious individual to Him and wipe away such misconceptions on callings, and on each individual.


1 comment:

  1. I love your perspective! It is definitely easy to fall into the trap of judging people on what you can see them doing, and it's also easy to feel that because of a certain calling, you're not making a difference. Thank you for reminding all of us that every calling is inspired and significant.