The Release

Jeff SpectorMormon 19 Comments

With every calling in the Church, a release comes at some point. With the exception of Apostles and Prophets, death is usually not the circumstance that warrants the release.  There seems to be a time frame in some cases like Stake Presidents (9 years), Bishops (5 Years), and Mission and Temple Presidents (3 Years). Most are a few years or so. In the past, it was not usual that a clerk or Bishop might serve 25 years!  Or that a Sister might have been in Primary for 50 years! But, nowadays, that is not the case.

In the past two weeks, someone very close to me was released from a calling of much responsibility in our Ward. She had served very well  for about 3 ½ years. While it is a very trying calling at times, she was neither ready nor looking to be released. She had more to do.  But, she was not unhappy either. It seems, and I certainly have seen this before, she was OK with it. This comes in from knowing that she did her best and tried hard to be helpful to many people in the Ward, particularly the sisters. And, even though she was not called to a new position…yet.

It also seems that many of us have different emotions when being released from our callings. I suspect it depends on the calling itself. Please respond to the poll below. And please feel free to add your comments to this question:

[poll id=”180″]

Comments 19

  1. I am amazed sometimes that bishoprics get involved and tinker around with callings sometimes way too often. In your example, if someone was doing a good job and wanted to stay in that calling longer, I would think it better to keep them in rather than release them. A high turnover rate leads to less experienced people doing callings and more chance of reinventing the wheel.

    Sometimes the person is less effective in their position than the leadership would like to see. I guess it depends on how ineffective they may be, but I still think in these circumstances the person should remain and continue to develop in their calling, as long as it is not causing confidence or self-esteem problems for the person. Besides, they are called by inspiration, right? Have faith in that.

    I’ve never been a fan of fixing personal problems inthe ward by releasing people. It just makes people feel they got “fired” instead of released. Not ok in my book.

    I think there are plenty of times personal situations (moves, job requirements, home life) that require releases so people are not carrying an undo burden…so for the others that don’t want to be released, I think they should stay in callings for longer periods of time and the leadership just coach and work to give them the direction needed.

    I think there has only been 1 calling I was released from that I had regrets. Most of the time I’m happy to move on to new things.

  2. I was glad to be released from my last two (concurrent) callings and called to something else. It had been about four years, and I was ready for a change.

    DH is about to be released as ward clerk (waiting for the stake to approve the newly called clerk) after over five years, which included two bishoprics and a substantial boundary change. He is already lined up for something else. Luckily, this something else will be far less work for him.

  3. Wow, Jeff, I never knew that your ward had nobility. Σ:)

    I suppose that would be a calling of much responsibility…

    I guess I’d have to answer either ‘no real feeling’ or ‘satisfied with service.’ Being released is a fact of life…

  4. Post

    “Wow, Jeff, I never knew that your ward had nobility. Σ:)”

    Leave it to a College student. I changed it. Thanks,!

  5. Most of my releases have come because we’ve moved, but a few have not. My first such release was early in my marriage — I was pulled into a room literally minutes before being released from an Elders Quorum Presidency — no time to process the change before it happened, and it was tough on me.

    Interestingly my last such release was when I was released as bishop of our ward. I’d served 4-1/2 years (a little less than expected), but when put together with two years I served in another ward before moving here it was 6-1/2 (and my wife would have said it was high time!). My SP mentioned the possibility in a regular stewardship interview, said it had come to him in his morning prayer that day. Within a month I was replaced and substituting in Primary. There was such a feeling of peace associated with the change.

    Kudos to my SP, who really did rely on the spirit for nearly everything he did. He checked in on me often during the transition to make sure I was all right, to reassure me that I had done nothing to precipitate the release, and to offer gratitude for my service. It was quite a good example to me of how it can be done.

  6. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. I’ve never asked to be released from a calling, but I have prayed to be released. My last release, though, was one that I felt pretty disappointed about, even more disappointed after I got my next calling (which I currently hold). For me it depends on what kind of calling I’m being released from. And there also seems to be a shelf-life for some callings. I can’t imagine doing certain callings more than a year. But if you remain active most or all of your adult life, you’re probably going to end up doing such a wide variety of callings that you’ll hate some and love some.

  7. I live in a disfunctional ward and the fact that the Leaders do nothing about it causes concern about whether inspiration/ desparation or pride are involved. The boundaries were changed 3 years ago when language wards were done away with, so now 80% of our members are polynesian.

    We have in the 3 years had 4 RS presidents, 4 HP leaders, 5 Elders Quorum Presidents and 4 Primary Presidents, and 4 bishops councilors. On a number of occasions when P,hood is ready to start there is no member of bishopric, no HP group leadership and no Elders Quorum presidency, so we decide who of the 2 or 3 HP is senior and he conducts the meeting. This has been going on for 3 years. We often come home from meetings feeling no uplift just despair, and wondering why we bother if our leaders dont seem to.

    We have an ultra conservative Bishops wife/ bishop, 8kids, no television, kids went to private school, super strong on obedience and sacrifice and trials being what life is about. I have upset the Bishops wife by asking questions in her adult sunday school class, and have been told by her that she is teaching what the Lord and Prophet want taught and if I dont agree I should be quiet.

    As the Bishop’s wife does not approve of me, ( our last temple recommend interview took over an hour, with the Bishop explaining how upset his wife, and consequently he, was with me attacking her in her class, by asking questions) in a ward where we are desperate for leaders I have not had a calling for 2.5 years and my wife for 2 years. Since an interview with the Stake Pres I have been called as ward pfr and my wife as visiting teaching leader. My wife has previously been RS president on 4 occasions and I have been on Bishoprics and HP group leader on a number of occasions.

    Where is the inspiration at ward or stake level? After the prop8 debacle, and our disfunctional ward we are still active but regularly question why.

    We’d love some nobility in our church life.

    We sometimes wonder if we could get released from the church, until its fixed, and just attend the temple. We’ve considered going on a mission. A number of people have sold their houses and moved out of the ward, we regularly get people phoning and asking where the boundary is, so they won’t be in our ward, but we have built our dream home here and are just hoping somone will change the boundary again to help us.

    Sorry this sounds like a winge, there aren’t that many avenues to cry for help, the system is supposed to work and there is no avenue for redress when it doesn’t. As for callings I am usually relieved, but a little bit disapointed, and even a bit hurt, when released from a significant calling. My wife who puts in at least 40 hours a week when she is RS pres has usually felt very deflated and upset, though perhaps relieved too.

  8. #7 Geoff of Australia: I have been called as ward pfr

    What’s that?

    After the prop8 debacle, and our disfunctional ward we are still active but regularly question why.

    Perhaps to strengthen your brethren. During some years in your life, you are carried by your fellow Saints; other years, you do the carrying.

    Sorry this sounds like a winge

    WINGE (also WHINGE): verb (Australian, slang) To complain whiningly.

    (In case anyone else was wondering.)

  9. “WINGE (also WHINGE): verb (Australian, slang) To complain whiningly.

    (In case anyone else was wondering.)”

    Thanks Vort! I was wondering…always good to pickup some international slang when possible!

    #7 Geoff…I admire your attitude…sometimes without callings it is hard to feel needed, and releases make some people angry. You seem to have a good outlook, that while you recognize it would be nice to have some “nobility” … you are still able to do things outside of callings to continue to show your devotion. I respect that. But it must be hard.

  10. Deflated. I believe Mosiah 18:26 matches my experience: “for their labor they were to receive the grace of God, that they might wax strong in the Spirit, having the knowledge of God, that they might teach with power and authority from God.” I always receive spiritual gifts with a calling. I understand this verse to imply that the gifts I need to have in order to do the calling in a way that pleases God are also the primary blessings I receive during the time of the calling. I would love to believe that these blessings come because I deserve them, but since they are withdrawn afterwards, I must conclude otherwise.

  11. I was recently release from financial clerk and called to be in the nursery. I loved being the FC an was doing really well, but familial circumstances was making it difficult to magnify the calling. My wife and I have lived in 3 different wards in the 5.5 yrs we’ve been married, and I’ve been called to the nursery in every ward. Normally I don’t mind it but now that both of my kids are nursery age, when most parents finally get a break and are able to participate in lessons, I’m still stuck with them. 🙂

  12. #7 GofA, sorry for your situation. Sounds like you’ve had a chat with the stake president, which is one alternative. I suppose you could cross borders and attend at another ward for a while. (We have a few wards who share our building and get ward hoppers from time to time.) Hard to believe there aren’t others in the ward who might have similar feelings. They might benefit from your support.

    BTW #8 — PFR: Physical Facilities Representative.

  13. My last calling was YM president – 60-70 YM, innumerable meetings, planning, activities, etc. Grew close to YM (between 15-20 currently on missions). Had great experiences with the kids. Wreaked havoc with my marriage and home life. Many hours away from my kids. Prayed for and celebrated the day I was released. Merry Christmas. Kind of like a mission – a million dollar experience you wouldn’t pay a dime to do again.

  14. I was called to teach seminary. I actually looked forward to it, particularly since I was a nanny for over 20 years.

    Things went from bad to worse. My companion and I try to instill standards for classroom behavior(.I.e) no cell phones, no listening to music and participating actively in class. We didn’t want to make it all lecture)

    well, we had one girl lay on the floor with her a@@ turned toward us and the BP was sitting in the room and he did nothing. In fact, we were trying to conduct an exercise at the board and trying to get everyone to participate and he’s holding a a separate conversation with a student that had nothing at all to do with our class. Out of respect for us, he should have taken her outside to discuss what was going on. He became an distraction, when he should have been supporting us.

    We had another girl come and tell us her mother told her she didn’t have to participate and she sat there and did her homework. She then complained when I made her put her books away. Mind you this girl goes to Catholic school, so she goes to CCD(seminary equivolent). Had she talked to the nuns the way she talked to us she would have gotten detention. It wouldn’t have mattered what he mother said.

    My BP and I had a huge argument over this because he has never really supported me in anything in the ward. I haven’t been back to church since.

  15. Every calling has different reactions.

    1. Ward Librarian – it was good to hang out with my wife and infant because Sunday School with a pre-nursery child is hard anyway. I felt kinda isolated and didn’t know very many people in the ward. I was glad to get released, but would have continued to serve without complaint if needed.

    2. Gospel Doctrine teacher – loved it! (This is my 2nd time and I wish I could stay there for a long time.) Didn’t want to get released, but apparently my heretical teachings (non-KJV bible to explain Isaiah) was just too much for a visiting member of the Stake Presidency. (For some reason, 2 bishops–Singles and Family Ward–always pick me for the Old and New Testaments. I’ve done a small taste of D&C, but never BoM. I think that is why I enjoy the Old Testament so much.)

    3. Membership clerk – liked it, not as much as Gospel Doctrine teacher, but it was a nice gig. Got released when the ward split. Campaigned for same job in new ward, to no avail (there was an opening). That bishop got released a month ago, and the new bishop was a counselor in the previous ward and mentioned he liked my mapmaker skills, so I’m hoping to get the calling back. There’s another ward split this Sunday, so there may be some shuffling around…. Yeah, yeah, I know you’re not supposed to campaign, but when you have a calling you enjoy, it sure makes church more enjoyable….

    4. Webelos leader – didn’t want it, and will be glad to get released when that day comes. (I hated scouts as a kid.) However, 6 of 6 boys will get Arrow of Light within a few weeks, so I’m apparently not screwing up bad enough. I’m hoping to get called back as ward mapmaker, but we will see.

  16. Many of my releases came because of moves or ward splits. I’ve always felt ward organist was the greatest calling in the church for many reasons, and I’ve had the joy of serving on 5 different occasions. This last time was the first time since I started playing the organ that I was released without moving or the ward splitting, and it’s the only time I’ve ever mourned the loss of a calling. Granted, my travel schedule made being there every Sunday a challenge and someone else needed a turn after four years, but I actually felt kind of lost afterward, not to mention feeling less than charitable feelings for my replacement.

  17. Vort,
    pfr is Physical facilities representative. I organise the chapel cleaning. Thanks for the support people. I enjoy these discussions. It’s comforting to know there are people who are willing to think not just obey blindly.

    I asked the Stake Pres when the boundaries changes so our ward was 80% polly, whether it was so we could help them to fit into the Australian life style and was told no they just drew lines on a map to get the numbers. So no we aren’t supposed to give extra support though of course we can use our agency when we see fit, and we do, but…?

    As for the winge (it’s one of those words that sounds like what it is) and we have to cope with so much American language and culture to watch American TV shows, that it’s good to send some the other way. We do ballance our US shows with Australian and British. Don’t know how you can cope with 100% US TV.

    Paul yes there are others who are very unhappy, but we have a culture of only complaining in private in the church. In fact the Bishop (in a temple recommend interview agreed the ward was a disaster but he didn’t know what to do. He said he was often the only one who turned up for Bishopric and P’hood exec meetings). But you still get people in testimony saying what a wonderful ward it is, and how wonderful the Bishopric is. I don’t know whether they believe it or just say it out of habbit.

    The Bishop has been there 5 years now so perhaps he will get to feel how a release feels. Just hope they change the boundaries when they replace the Bishop.

  18. I was recently released from my calling as Branch Clerk. More than once, I had asked if an assistant clerk for membership could be called so I could focus on some greater issues with the branch  budget. I was later released, called as the assistant clerk for membership, and replaced with someone who is now going to have to learn all the clerk duties I took months to learn.

    This has really hurt me. I’d like to get over it, but I can’t help but feel that God wasn’t in this decision to release me. I know that goes against what we’re taught to believe: that God guides all the decisions in the Church, but I can’t help the way I feel.

    Maybe I just feel this way because my pride was hurt. I was very proud of being the Branch Clerk, and I guess God could be offering me an opportunity to humble myself. Sometimes, I feel like this is as emotionally hard as, or harder than, repentance. Perhaps I’m supposed to repent from my pridefulness. Only time can show me why I was truly released. I’ll just say that I hope God was in this decision to release me. I wish I felt that way on the inside.

  19. I was told that this would help me out and save me some time during the week, but I wish I had been asked how I felt I was doing with my calling before someone tried to help me. I guess a large portion of the pain I’m feeling comes from the fact that no one even cared to ask how I felt about my calling. It makes me feel unimportant and unappreciated.

    I’m going to speak with my home teacher about these feelings; he’s also our District President. Hopefully, he can help me find some peace.

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