Thursday, August 28, 2008

Inspiration and the Ward Calling

As I ponder how to write this entry, I realize what I'm about to write may touch a sensitive nerve with some individuals (great lead in I know). But what I attempt to do with these entries is not mask my dealings with the church but give insight and a fresh perspective. What I want to emphasize is this is just my perspective, not doctrine or nearly authoritative. It is experience, not law. It is personal, not public.

Having served in my first bishopric for the past 1.5 yrs one could say my experience as a congregation level leader is quite infantile and I would agree. Though in that period of time I have gained some experiences which I would call unique compared with some that have never served in this role. Something that I continue to learn is the church is headed by Christ, inspired through revelation to men called of God and executed by men that do all they can in a voluntary role. Was that generic enough for you? What does it really mean?

What it means is the world wide church, the kingdom of God, is lead by a living oracle, namely a prophet, which receives revelation straight from God. Not through studying the Bible alone or attending myriads of theology conferences. Direct communion with the Omniscient One. The Word travels through him and through the Apostles which are likewise prophets to the various regions of the world. On a local level the keys to exercise the saving ordinances, namely baptism and sacrament, are bestowed and exercised regularly. This authority helps the church to grow. Yet through all of this, everyone involved, from leaders to regular members, is a volunteer.

The subject of volunteerism is one I enjoy in that what you give to the effort often is what you glean from the experience. If you give very little you can hope to obtain as little or less in return. Those that serve and do so faithfully do not always fully recognize the direct correlation of blessings received in return and often do not see it as a reciprocal relationship. Yet it has been my observation that the Lord is not withholding anything from those that love and serve Him. We just need to open our eyes to those blessings.

As serving in the church is a voluntary obligation, it must also be an orchestrated exercise else chaos and disorder take over and frustrate the object of the voluntary spirit. Where this gets complicated is finding a balance between accessibility and desire on behalf of those that are called to serve. In the early days of the church timetables and schedules rarely were a factor in how one served. If asked to do so, the member would walk 50 miles to milk the widows cow, cut some wood, mend a fence and return the next day. Would this create an imposition and hardship on the member? Likely. But if the call was extended, for the most part, the faith was matched to the task and eventually the blessings were realized.

In today's growing, bustling and often overscheduled church, the member sees the opportunity to serve as secondary to the worldly responsibilities they burden. I have had individuals state that their schedule just simply did not allow for the calling to be fulfilled. At to some degree I would concede that for reasons of health or familia duty this is rightly so.

In laying all of these individual concerns out on the table in trying to make sense of the complex chaos of membership responsibility, is it any wonder that inspiration is at times mired by logic and orchestration? What of inspiration and the individual calling? I've heard many people state that "if the calling was truly inspired..." And here is what I've learned (no big secrets here, just experience).

Inspiration, or revelation, is the duty, obligation, and right for anyone serving or having stewardship for another. For leaders it is essential. I have felt it's influence and seen the fruits of it's labors. I can also say that not all callings or assignments are thought to be inspired. Sometimes we have a position that logically needs to be filled by a warm body. But we hope when extending the calling that inspiration lead us to that point and by the same hope the individual will fulfill the assignment. I can also tell you that the Lord's Spirit whispers truth through the chaos when directing the saving efforts of his children.

Did I really answer what I had set out to reveal? Who knows. For me I'm satisfied. Maybe you have more questions. Feel free to ask them. But let me state unequivocally, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is led by revelation from the top to the bottom, in varying degrees mind you, and will continue in this order until the Christ Himself reigns personally upon the earth whereby inspiration is replaced with direct knowledge from it Source.

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