Our callings in the church are a law of Moses put there to patiently tutor us until we are reading to really understand our work in mortality.
Some callings in the church are little more than busywork. They are creating something for people to do. Many callings in the church are a step up from busy work, but not a very big step up.
And that is all perfectly fine.
What is our calling? In reality is to save ourselves, our families, our dead and our fellow men now living.
The scriptures say of Joseph Smith
D&C 135:3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.
And that is our calling: to do all we can for the salvation of men. That is the calling we are supposed to magnify. Sure. some are the head, and some are the hands and feet. We are all part of the body of the church. But when the scriptures say that we must magnify our calling to gain eternal life, they are only speaking of our church calling in a subsidiary fashion.
Misunderstanding this causes some members to read the the phrase “magnifying their calling” in the Oath and covenant of the priesthood and assume it refers to their church calling. That is an odd reading. They don’t read phrases like “calling and election made sure” or the “many are called but few are chosen” and assume they are referring to one’s church calling. But for some reason the word “calling” in the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood is read differently than everyplace else we see the word “calling” or “called” in the scriptures.
That misunderstanding leads to a sad reversal. Members want the blessings promised in the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood so they start magnifying their church calling at the expense of their calling to save their families. They magnify the subsidiary, temporary calling at the expense of an eternal one. It is this problem Elder Ballard was addressing when he said “Don’t magnify the work to be done”.
Sadly, this misunderstanding is also affecting our ability to save our youth. We know that our youth are growing up in a spiritual sewer. But we have such a narrow view of spirituality that, rather than connecting them through the Holy Ghost as directly and powerfully as possible by getting them directly working on saving their family, saving their dead, and doing missionary work, we respond with what we think spirituality is. We invite them to meetings. Extra meetings. Early morning meetings (which makes those meetings extra-duper spiritual). We bring them into church bureaucracy because that is where we think they will connect with God. I know what I am talking about. I have three teenagers.
But we should have wisdom like Elder Bednar who wanted us to get the youth saving the dead. He knows there is a raw spiritual power that is involved in that sacred work, and that it has transforming power on the souls of those involved in it. THAT is getting youth involved in their real calling – their calling to follow Christ – their calling to save the souls of men. That is connecting them to the powers of heaven by introducing them to the Holy Ghost himself.
Sadly, at the ward level Elder Bednar’s insight is cast into our own image. I have seen it in practice my own ward. What did it turn into? Mostly a weekly early morning meeting involving the youth.
Sure, we should do our church callings. But we should not think they are the calling referring to in the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood except in a very subsidiary way. If you don’t believe me, spend a month doing your church calling in a minimalist, but complete, way. But also spend every other spare moment you have working directly on saving yourself, saving your family, saving your dead, and doing missionary work. By contrast spend a month doing your calling in the fanciest, most exorbitant way possible, severely restricting your family time, and certainly leaving no time for saving your dead and doing missionary work. Hold extra, noncritical, lengthy meetings whenever possible to pull people from their own families into time spent magnifying their callings as well. IF magnifying your calling referred to your church calling, the second month should be more spiritual. But IF it refers to your calling to be like Christ then the first month will be far more spiritually satisfying. Try it and see.
Someone will come away from this thinking I said we don’t need to do our church callings. I did not. But when we think that they key to being saved is to magnify our calling there is a world of difference between thinking the calling referred to is our church calling and thinking it is our calling to follow Christ just like the word calling refers to practically every other place in the scriptures. Christ would do his church calling and so should we. But that was only a small part of the total calling we need to magnify if we are going to receive the blessings promised in the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood, and critical parts of that larger calling often fall prey to neglect when we misunderstand this fact.
Our church callings are a law of Moses trying to teach us what our real calling is. They have a lot of unnecessary time wasting stuff in them that we have to do, just like the law of Moses did. But that is fine, they are what God requires of us now. We need to do them, and whenever we see a chance for real spiritual work to be done through them we should grab hold of it. But they must not be exaggerated into something that replaces the full blown gospel of saving our family, our dead, and our fellow man. They are supposed to be teaching us to awaken to that which is our real calling. Not supplanting it.