In the fast and testimony meeting held yesterday in one of the Shanghai branches, I heard a story from a woman who received a calling just weeks before they would be moving out of her US ward. The bishop called her in to issue a calling to serve in the Primary presidency (the children’s organization), and said he strongly felt this calling was from God. The woman, who had never had a Primary calling before, was puzzled. She would only be in town a few weeks before they moved away to China, and didn’t see what good could come out of being in a presidency position for such a short time. But she accepted the calling.
Later the Primary President came to meet with her. That woman was normally a very calm, steady woman, not known for being emotional or breaking out in tears. But as the President shared her experience in making this calling, she couldn’t help but cry. As she prayerfully considered the many women in the ward who might serve with her as a counselor, one name kept coming up, but she dismissed that name because she knew that the candidate would only be around a short while before moving away. Finally, though, she sought the Lord’s guidance more fully, and felt a strong impression from the Lord telling her something rather specific: “This woman needs to be in the Primary presidency so she can learn the Primary curriculum.” With no doubt now that this calling was from the Lord, the President asked the bishop to extend the calling.
In those days, the Primary curriculum was not online and easy to access as it is today. The woman sharing her testimony explained that when they came to China, they would be part of the small handful of members scattered in a large city with very few foreigners, with little access to Church materials. If she had not come already knowing and owning the Primary curriculum and knowing how to run Primary, her own children would have grown up over the new few years with a pale imitation of a real Primary experience. Her early experience in China showed her that she, her family, and others would be blessed because of that brief calling she held in a Primary presidency. It strengthened her testimony that callings do come from the Lord.
I feel the same way, while accepting the reality that human mistakes can occur along the way, especially when I am involved. But while I have (rarely) questioned the wisdom of a particular calling (either one I extended or one extended to me), I have a testimony as well for the concept of inspired callings driven by revelation and certainly extended through authority that comes from God. And I also have seen the good that can come from callings that can only be held for a very short time. May we elevate our patience and faith when surprise callings come our way, and let the Lord later show us His wisdom in giving us that opportunity to serve.