"We are not measured by the trials we meet -- only by those we overcome."
- - Spencer W. Kimball
June 28, 2012
by Orson Scott Card

Because every ward and stake uses the same organizational chart, it's easy to think that all we have to do is plug ourselves into the calling we have at the moment. Read the manual and show up to do the work!

It's never that simple.

A ward is not a chart, any more than a restaurant is a menu. Just because a menu says "potstickers" or "tacos" or "crepes" doesn't mean that what shows up at your table is going to look like anything you've ever seen before.

Likewise with wards. Jobs don't do themselves -- they're done by individual people, each different from anyone who's ever done that calling before.

I was a bishop's counselor twenty-four years ago. I'm a bishop's counselor again right now. (Try not to let this challenge your faith in the principle of inspired callings.)

Same title. Same place on the chart. There are even a few things I learned from my mistakes last time that are helping me do a better job this time.

But bullrider and astronaut are not really the same job, even though, from time to time, both involve hurtling above the surface of the Earth at a high rate of speed.

Each time you do the "same" calling, you're working with different people, whose needs are different, and you bring different memories to the work. The people surrounding you on the chart will expect different things from you. You will certainly get different things from them.

Yet there are some principles that remain the same in every calling.

For instance, in any ministry it's easy to get confused and think that the most important thing is to carry out the program. Show up, teach the lesson, turn in the report, give the talk, lead the meeting, conduct the activity -- whatever the task at hand might be, you must get it done.

But the kingdom of God is not a set of tasks. It is a community. You build up the kingdom by strengthening your fellow servants.

1. Do your own assigned duties as best you can. Show up, ready to go, willing to serve. That's what makes you a fellow-citizen with the Saints.

2. It is as important for others to succeed in their callings as for you to succeed in yours. Make room for them to do their work; when friction arises, be willing to change your plan and move on.

3. Sustain the organization so that it will thrive after you are released. Treat every office with respect, even when the individual currently in it is not doing it well. You may have that calling next; even if it isn't you, someone will have to do it. So keep all the other offices strong.

4. There are many right ways to do the job, but trying to get your way is never one of them. Swallow your pride when those in authority don't decide as you think they should. Carry out even the decisions you disagree with. Nobody "wins" or "loses" in the Lord's work -- we all serve together.

5. Conceal nothing that might help others. Show your own mistakes openly, so that people can see what you're learning. When questions are being discussed, share your knowledge, so that those making the decision can do it with full information.

6. Everyone is accountable. "I don't want to interfere" is a lame excuse. If you can see that someone is floundering, tell him kindly and clearly what you see, find out how he sees it, and then do all you can to help him overcome his difficulties.

All six of these principles, however, are derived from one: Magnify your calling (D&C 84:33, 88:80, and 24:9).

D&C 121 makes it clear that we never magnify our calling by trying to gather more authority. If we seek "to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men," then "amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man" (v. 37).

Instead, we accept that many others have authority and influence over us in our office, and resent nothing; we take into account the instructions, counsel, needs, and desires of everyone who is affected by our work.

What we magnify is responsibility.

We are all ministers in the service of Christ, male or female, young or old, new convert or lifelong member.

We all need the help of others to carry out our ministry, and they need our help, too.

So we must enlarge our responsibility to include building the community around us. There is no job too humble for us to help with. All Saints are worth our effort to sustain, encourage, teach, listen to, and speak well of them.

Let's expand our vision to include the thriving of the whole Church and the bettering of the lives of all God's children, within the bounds that are set for us.

When we spend our efforts raising others instead of lifting ourselves, then our calling is magnified.

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More by Orson Scott Card

About Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card is the author of the novels Ender's Game, Ender's Shadow, and Speaker for the Dead, which are widely read by adults and younger readers, and are increasingly used in schools.

Besides these and other science fiction novels, Card writes contemporary fantasy (Magic Street, Enchantment, Lost Boys), biblical novels (Stone Tables, Rachel and Leah), the American frontier fantasy series The Tales of Alvin Maker (beginning with Seventh Son), poetry (An Open Book), and many plays and scripts.

Card was born in Washington and grew up in California, Arizona, and Utah. He served a mission for the LDS Church in Brazil in the early 1970s. Besides his writing, he teaches occasional classes and workshops and directs plays. He also teaches writing and literature at Southern Virginia University.

Card currently lives in Greensboro, North Carolina, with his wife, Kristine Allen Card, and their youngest child, Zina Margaret.

More about Orson Scott Card

Orson Scott Card currently serves as second counselor in the bishopric.

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