About six weeks ago I had a brief appointment with my bishop. Aside from the point of our meeting, Bishop O. told me about some half-formed ideas he was working on concerning a ward goal. He asked if I thought such-and-such was valuable? Did I think so-and-so would work? How would I suggest handling thus-and-such?
Just a brief, passing conversation … but it rocked my world.
It was the first time – The Very First Time Ever In My Whole Entire Life – when anyone in ward/stake/mission hierarchy asked me for my opinion. On anything. Ever.
I’ve never been in an auxiliary presidency. Never even in the presidency of an MIA class. I’ve never been in a council meeting, ward or otherwise. Never conducted a meeting. Never planned a program. Never been asked to help solve a problem or meet a need or design a solution. Never organized an activity. Never worked with a budget or set a schedule. Never, until that moment six weeks ago, been asked for input or advice or opinion.
Well, at church, anyway. I’ve done all that, and more, in my personal life and in business life. Librarians from California to Connecticut used to fly me to their institutions to teach them highly technical skills, in a training program I designed myself. I’ve been in demand by some of the most well-known names in Mormon history because of my creative research designs and ability to produce on schedule and according to specification. Even something as purely optional as Keepapitchinin requires some executive exercise. I am not without talent and skill and drive. But you wouldn’t know that from my Church resumé.
Oh, I don’t discount the importance of Sunday School teaching, or visiting teaching. Even with the constant harangue of “Stick to the manual!” there is great room for creativity in the classroom, and a good visiting teacher can have a greater, longer impact on a woman’s life than any member of a ward council.
I also believe in being “anxiously engaged” and in doing “many things of my own free will.” There are some reading this who could – but please don’t – confirm that. You see a need, and, if it’s within your resources, you fill it — without waiting for a formal assignment. You don’t need a seat in any church council to “bring to pass much righteousness.”
But I want to serve my Church, too, as an institution and within its formal organization. To do that, I have to be invited. Called. And to be called there have to be callings available to me, callings that allow me to solve problems and meet needs and design solutions. I can’t “counsel with my councils” if I’m never part of a council.
This far I can be a sister-traveler with the Ordain Women movement – but beyond this point I cannot go. To want to serve, to be available for service, even to identify a problem that inhibits service and to suggest solutions, is one thing. But to insist that your problem be addressed in the way you prescribe, and to declare that you will not be satisfied until your problem is addressed in the way you prescribe, is something else entirely.
Not that anybody asked my opinion on Ordain Women – but what’s the point of blogging if I don’t bloviate from time to time?
I’ll put up something more history-ish later in the morning. Also, watch for Chapter 2 of a pretty good serial this afternoon.