In my church, everyone is an active participant in the actual organization. Unless you choose not to, if you come to church even semi-regularly, you'll have a job to do, either something specific on Sundays, during the week at auxiliary activities (Youth and kids) or else something general that you do to support other people. It's hard to be a passive Mormon, and that's good. We refer to these assignments as callings because we feel that our local leaders are inspired through prayer to know who should fill a particular assignment. It's a good feeling to know that you're needed, whether as the designer and printer of the Sunday program, the teacher of a class of 6 year olds, or the Bishop (lay pastor) of the congregation. All the positions are filled from the general membership. No one is paid, and no one can campaign for or get elected to a position, so there is a kind of equality. Your congregational leader might be the guy who fixes your air conditioner or the president of a Fortune 500 company. There is no differentiation in church service. There is no actual prestige attached to more visible callings, only more of a time commitment and different responsibilities.
This video explains my motivation for always accepting these assignments, even if they require time and effort on top of all else that I'm involved in.
For most of my life, I've worked with the children and youth, except for a couple of brief interludes doing other things.
But now...drum roll please....I'm a Ward Missionary.
Yes, my assignment, or calling, has changed. It is a bittersweet thing to end one calling and begin a new one, for lots of reasons. I have a feeling inside that is part sadness that I won't be working directly with the girls and women with whom I've had close association for several years, and part excitement to be working with the fine young men and women who are serving missions in our area. I won't be working with youth, which will feel strange and a bit lonesome at first, but I will get to do similar things to what my son in California is doing and my daughter will soon be doing.
My assignment is to find those who would be interested in talking to our full-time missionaries and learning more about the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. That's the main goal. Finding those who are interested or who have felt led to spiritual seeking means I have to meet people, set a good example, and be willing to talk to just about anyone. I'll also act as a general support to the full-time missionaries that serve in our congregation as well as befriend and support those who have recently joined the church.
If you're a friend of mine not of my faith, don't worry. Hopefully I won't really change my behavior at all. Hopefully you already know that I love you no matter what and would never force my faith on you, but instead will continue to try to be a good friend and stand ready to answer any question you might have, even the hard ones. If you're not interested, that's okay, but I want you know that the truth is out there if you want to investigate.
I'll miss the girls I worked with. Much more than they'll miss me, for sure. They'll hardly know I'm gone and I don't say that out of self-pity. I was a helper, not a focus. A shining beauty of the lay ministry of our church is that no one really has ownership of a method or program. It's all focused outward, on trying to build and help each other. So, the program I just left will continue on, with barely a blip, and the girls will find helpers in their new leaders. The other gal who was released along with me mentioned this-that we're the ones with the big hole left in our lives (I would say I spent anywhere from 5-15 hours a week on this assignment, depending on the intensity of the various activities). Fortunately I've always got plenty of adventures, both new and old, to fill my time. Hopefully the lovely girls I worked with will know, most of all, that they're loved and that there are grownups who care enough to work hard on their behalf. Then hopefully that feeling will confirm the feelings they have that they're loved by God and that He cares about them. If you operate on that basic feeling, it's a lot easier to stay anchored in this crazy world.