Overwrought. Exhausted. Maybe underappreciated. Crabby. Frustrated because things don't go
the way we had planned. Sad because we can't reach this person, or influence that one. I can't
think of anyone who hasn't felt these feelings at one time or another, while serving in different
callings in the Church.
When I was called to be Young Women president for the first time, I thought I'd have a
coronary. What did I know, as a young mom of a small child, about the Young Women program?
Having just joined the Church at the age of 17, I had no real experience with the activities of the
whole thing. I felt too young and too inexperienced.
There's nothing like the dance of fire to get you going. Little by little, I settled into that
wonderful calling. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
Not all my callings have gone that way, though. Just ask a group of grown men who had me as
their den leader when they were Cub Scouts. It's possible I was the worst den leader in the
history of den leaders. Those poor boys! One of them was my son.
Taffy-pulling became an exercise in sad frustration as my group of boys ended up with a muddy-
looking substance, sticky and gross. The other leader's group happily made beautifully crafted
candy. Sigh. Craft activities were an exercise in frustration for me. I guess that, if we stood in
line to gain particular gifts before our mortal journey, I missed the craft line. Big time.
Near the end of that calling, guess who was ready to run in the opposite direction when den
meetings were scheduled? Even as I felt genuinely burnt out, I also felt guilt for doing a poor
I learned five valuable lessons, though. And it kept me from ever getting to the burnout stage
again. Here they are:
Lesson One: Lean more on the Lord than on self.
Somehow, back in the early days, it seemed I needed to "go and do," growing simply by being in
the middle of it all. Slowly, I learned to call more on heavenly help.
I gained a testimony of the grace and goodness available from the Savior, and came to
understand the words of 2 Corinthians 12:9: "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is
made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the
power of Christ may rest upon me."
Lesson Two: I don't do everything well.
I know this in my mind. Nobody does everything well, and that certainly includes me. But it
hadn't yet translated into my heart. I was still of the opinion that whatever the calling or job or
project at hand, I could whip myself into shape and do a fine job of it. I think they call that
Oh, how much better it is for us when we simply determine to do the best we can do. It may
never be as good as someone else's best, but that's not what matters. The Lord knows the intent
of our heart. Although we may be uneven in our delivery of gifts in a calling, the desire to serve
with love is always appreciated. Knowing that can take a lot of weight off our shoulders.
Lesson Three: Ask our Father for the help needed.
And be specific in those prayers for help! President Henry B. Eyring taught, "The Lord will
guide you by revelation just as He called you. You must ask in faith for revelation to know what
you are to do." [General Conference, October 2002.]
We are given some callings - I'd dare say all our callings - as a means of learning and growing.
If we don't yet have faith in ourselves, we can exercise our faith in the Master Teacher. He will
give us direction as we faithfully, hopefully offer prayers to know specifically how to better
Lesson Four: It's not a competition.
Elder Neal A. Maxwell taught that the only competition we should engage in is comparing
ourselves today to how we were earlier. Of course some folks excel in one calling while we
excel in another. Many of the prophets have felt ill-prepared and insufficient for the job at hand.
But I imagine none of them has felt they had to fill the shoes of the one who went before them.
Because we are each unique, we have unique ways of serving and loving. As we identify those
ways, we may joyfully offer our little part in the kingdom, without worry of how we're doing
compared to Brother or Sister So-and-so.
Lesson Five: Give thanks - often.
When Adam and Eve left the garden, early on they stopped to build an altar and offer prayers of
thanksgiving. We see the pattern repeated over and over again in scripture.
How often do we offer thanks when we're feeling really upset over a calling, or just flat out
don't like it? I know I'm treading on quaky ground here, but c'monů. sometimes we get tired,
or get our feelings hurt, or feel as though we're not measuring up. And those times of doubt
provide the perfect moments for taking a deep breath, getting down on our knees, and thanking
our Father in Heaven for the chance to learn. We may also want to thank Him for His trust in us
- if only as a beautiful way of growing in trust in Him and confidence in ourselves.
Spiritual burnout need not be an option. The ups and downs of interacting with our brothers and
sisters is a valuable way of growing in the spirit. Communication may shut down between
persons, but when we call upon the Holy Ghost to help us out - and humbly choose to fix the
problem - the lines begin to open. And the heart begins to heal as the burden lifts.
These five lessons have helped me get through in times of frustration and upset - almost always
with myself. They've graced me with some understandings of how we are taught, and of why we
need to have foolish pride ground out of us. It's usually not a pretty process, but it helps us shine
more brightly after the lesson is learned. Best of all? We come to know for ourselves that serving
is all about the other folks, and not about ourselves, at all.
Vickey Pahnke Taylor is a wife, mom, grandmother, teacher, author, and songwriter. Her
undergraduate study at BYU was musical theater. She has a Masters degree in interpersonal
A Billboard award-winning songwriter with hundreds of songs to her credit, she uses music as a
teaching tool. But her favorite way to use music has been to sing to her children. You should
hear the family's rousing versions of "Happy Birthday"!
In addition to three solo albums in the LDS market, she co-wrote "Women at the Well" with
Kenneth Cope and "My Beloved Christ: with Randy Kartchner. She is co-writer of the theme
song for Utah's Make-A-Wish foundation, the song for the Special Olympics program, and
EFY's theme song.
She writes for several online magazines and columns, and has authored several books. Her
website, www.goodnessmatters.com, is her way of continuing to grow goodness in the world,
pointing people gently toward Christ and eternal principles of truth.
She has spoken for the Church's various Youth and Family programs for 25 years. She and her
husband Dean have eight children and four grandchildren. She adores being a wife, mom and
grandmother. She loves flowers, brownies, cooking Italian and Southern foods, the ocean, and
laughing every chance she gets.
Vickey was baptized a member of the Church as a teenager in Virginia. She serves as gospel
doctrine teacher in her ward, and Dean serves on their stake high council.