What are the consequences of turning down a calling? And, does it matter which calling one turns down; a nursery leader as opposed to Relief Society President, Stake President?
Considering a calling can be a daunting decision to face for several reasons. The calling being offered should have a part to play in the decision, and I’ll explain why.
Callings can be challenging. Indeed, it’s almost a constant condition. Many times the calling being offered is an opportunity for personal growth and testimony. Being intimidated by a calling is not unusual either. Jonah ran away from his calling at first, and Moses didn’t feel he spoke well enough. However, sometimes declining a calling is the right choice. Sometimes the time requried to give to the calling would put a family in too much of a bind. Sometimes social anxieties are simply too great.
On the other hand, there are tremendous blessings to be had by accepting the challenge of growing into positive areas of our lives where we aren’t yet comfortable. Growing is never easy, and spiritual growth is certainly no exception. While our own progress is certainly part of any calling, the positive influence we can have on those we serve in our calling should also be considered.
The consequences of turning down a calling, so far as my experience has taught me, are limited to almost none, if any. Of course there may be a loss of blessings associated with fulfilling a challenging calling. Our loving Heavenly Father would no doubt love to drown us in blessings, however we must prepare ourselves to be at the right place at the right time to receive them, however that is accomplished. There certainly should not be any punishment handed down from church leadership. After all, callings are volunteer positions. I can tell you for myself, that I haven’t seen any such behavior in such cases. If I, as an example, were to truly feel I wasn’t the right fit for a gospel doctrine instructor calling, I have to believe that Christ would understand fully, and select someone else to fill the need. I also believe he would have in mind other ways for me to grow that might be a better fit. After all, He does know us very well.
At the end of the day, it is between the leader extending the calling, and the one being called, and the Lord. A prayerful consideration of any calling is never a bad idea. I’ve had my share of challenging callings, and fulfilling them has been a true blessing to me, and my family. However, if you were to truly feel you shouldn’t accept a calling, the first step would be to discuss your concerns with the one extending the calling to you. As long as prayer is involved, the right answer will come out.