To Accept A Call Or Not

January 29, 2012

Is it ever appropriate to turn down a call from the Bishopric or the stake presidency? I suffer from a chronic health problem that is embarrassing to discuss with anyone outside of my immediate family, and from time to time it is incapacitating to the point where I cannot go to Church. This makes fulfilling most callings problematical. I made the mistake in a previous ward of sharing with others the nature of my problem, and while that mollified some who might otherwise have thought I was a slacker in my church work, I am sure that some of the less charitable members just thought I was malingering and making excuses for staying home from church which could not be more untrue. I love going to church. I have been very active since January of 1968.

The best calling for working around my occasional handicap was a few years ago when both my wife and I were called to teach the Gospel Doctrine class. We alternated with her teaching every other Sunday, and I taught on the off Sundays. And when I was too sick to come to church she filled in for me. We did this for over five years, and it worked out very well for us and for the ward as well.

But when we moved here to Idaho about three years ago, I decided to keep my health problems a little more private than I did for the twenty-three years we were in our last ward. There I had a couple of bad experiences that convinced me I should not share my most personal problems with everyone. In a ward of any size, there will always be at least two or three who are uncharitable in their reaction.

Well, they called me to be the Sunday School president here in our new ward. I explained to the member of the Bishopric who called me that several times a year I have to miss Church for two, three or even four months because of my condition. I did not turn down the call, but thought they should know I would not always be able to do a good job. They went ahead and called me anyway saying they would make sure I had a strong counselor who could stand in for me when I could not come. Well, my counselor is a wonderful man who has been in the Church less than a year. He has a testimony but not a lot of Church background. And this morning I am feeling bad about not being able to go to Church. I feel like I’m dropping the ball.

What should I have done otherwise? Should I have just turned down the call? Should I have blabbed all my most personal health problems? Or should I have done what I did and just let them deal with my not being there many Sundays? I am missing Church again this morning, and it is about the fourth or fifth consecutive Sunday that I have missed.

I love the Church. I love going to Church. I want to honor and magnify my callings. But I have other responsibilities, some such as my family are even higher responsibilities than my responsibility to take care of my normally considerable load of Church work.

What do you think? I have agonized over taking my Bishop into my confidence or perhaps my stake president, but I know from years of past Church service that some leaders do not truly understand the importance of confidentiality. And until we buy the home we are shopping for, we are renting and have attended several different wards. The more people I share my problem with, as I foolishly did in the ward where I attended for over twenty years, the more chance there is that I will have the same problems here that I did there.

I guess these may seem like dumb questions to some of you. If that is the case, please forgive my foolishness. When I’m not feeling well, sometimes my judgment is below par as well.