I have a calling in my ward as assistant scout master and it requires a lot of time and dedication. My wife however gets mad or upset if I have a meeting to go to and she wants time to spend with me. I want to accomplish the responsibilities I have, but I am only one man and I can only do so much. I want my wife to be happy, but at the same time I need to magnify my callings. Any suggestions?
Callings are one of the important parts of the way the Kingdom of God is organized in our time. We are taught to accept and magnify our callings.
So are there times to turn down a calling?
Yes. There are times when we simply cannot accept a calling. For example, it would be foolish of us to take a calling that interfered with a job. It would force us to either fail at our job or fail at the calling.
Ideally, when extending callings, our leaders should have a full understanding of our situations and be able to make perfect decisions in all cases. For example, Handbook 2 states,
“Before calling a married person to an assignment that requires a significant time commitment, Church leaders consider the effect of the calling on the marriage and family.”
But being imperfect and mortal afflicts even the greatest of men. Simply put, we cannot expect that every time we get a calling that it will work out.
There is a clear hierarchy of priority when it comes to callings. Gordon B. Hinkley taught,
“Each of us has a fourfold responsibility. First, we have a responsibility to our families. Second, we have a responsibility to our employers. Third, we have a responsibility to the Lord’s work. Fourth, we have a responsibility to ourselves.”
Note that although a priority is indicated, none of these four items may be discounted as unimportant. We have a responsibility to fulfill all of them dutifully.
Though there is a time and a place, I have rarely found myself comfortable with the idea of asking to be released from a calling (or turning it down in the first place). What I am comfortable with, and I think we should all be comfortable with, is being upfront and direct about our situations with our bishops.
So I would ask you in return, does your bishop know of the stress being put on your family life due to your calling? If he does not, he should. Go and talk with him about it. It may be that he will advise you to continue in the calling, and perhaps offer suggestions as to ways to ease the home situation. It may be that he will choose to release you. Either way, he should make that call with understanding behind it.
With wisdom, a balance must be struck. Callings are important. We should be doing all we can to magnify them. And we should not use the general difficulties of life and family as an excuse to do less than what we could with them. But we also should not be prioritizing our callings over the well-being of our families. However, most times when there is a balance that needs to be struck, we may find that what is truly required is merely a bit more sacrifice on our parts.
Could one in your situation, for example, give up other activities to spend time with ones spouse? Is it really only a choice between the wife and the calling? Is there nothing else to give of lesser importance? Could we watch less TV, or spend less time with sports or hobbies? Are there other aspect of our lives we could address to solve the problem? These are questions we must all answer for ourselves.
Elder Ballard taught the importance of this balance,
“As a result of their focusing too much time and energy on their Church service, eternal family relationships can deteriorate. Employment performance can suffer. This is not healthy, spiritually or otherwise. While there may be times when our Church callings require more intense effort and unusual focus, we need to strive to keep things in proper balance. We should never allow our service to replace the attention needed by other important priorities in our lives. Remember King Benjamin’s counsel: “And see that all these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength” (Mosiah 4:27).
Ultimately, you must decide if the concern is truly valid or not and make a judgment. You have the right to inspiration for your home — and as indicated, home and family comes first. Get on your knees and seek inspiration in this regard.