Sunday, July 25, 2010

Released as Executive Secretary

I was released from my calling today as the Executive Secretary. This job, which I've been doing for almost 5 years, had become second-nature to me -- it was just something I did and something that I was. For years, I haven't really thought much of it. I've just enjoyed being with the great people at the church weekly, helping the Bishop, visiting with people in the hallway, setting up interviews, calling people, and participating in Bishopric Meetings, PECs, and Ward Councils. I was always in the know about things around the ward, and I loved it immensely.

Lately, though, I've been feeling keenly aware of how much I really just want to be home on Sunday with my family. It kind of crept up on me, I think, and was probably prompted by the switchover with the new Bishopric. I love the new Bishop dearly -- I consider him a good friend -- and his counselors are wonderful men, too. So it wasn't as if I wasn't happy with the society I was in. I was just feeling ... antsy, I guess.

Even so, I was prepared to stay in that calling for the long haul. I fully anticipated staying there for years to come, helping the new Bishopric get their footing, and serving them as best I could.

So it was last week that the Bishop handed me a list of people who he wanted to visit with. I recognized all the names on the list as people who we had discussed relative to some callings that need to be filled, but at the bottom of the list the names of my wife and I were included. This surprised me, as I figured that she was going to stay in her calling for a while and we hadn't spoken recently about making any changes with her. But I was absolutely sure that I wasn't going anywhere.

I went about my business of arranging the interviews and helped to shuttle people in and out of the Bishop's office all that day. Come that evening, the Bishop and one of his counselors came to our house to visit with my wife and I (it just worked out that way, not that it was a special trip ...), and the conversation started pleasantly enough with them praising my wife for her services in her calling. But just when I thought they were going to tell her they have something new for her to do, the Bishop said they wanted to keep her in that calling and looked forward to her continued service.

I was stunned. The realization hit me like a ton of bricks that they weren't there to visit with her, but to visit with me! And when they told me what they wanted to do, I was inwardly laughing. My wife later commented that I didn't start jumping on the couch for joy, which surprised her, but I was honestly trying to listen to what they were saying and to understand exactly what they were asking of me. The new calling will be something that suits me well, and I am excited for it. They called me to ... well, I can't say until next week.

Today, as my last day as the Executive Secretary, it went pretty much like any other, but I could tell that things were different. I met with the High Councilor for our ward and he gave me the official release before church meetings started this morning. All day, I was somewhat dazed to realize that I was going through the meetings and talking with people and setting up interviews and doing all the stuff that has become so natural to me for, possibly, the very last time in my Earthly life. One "adventure", if you want to call it that, was coming to an end, with another just about to begin.

Sacrament meeting came and I was released from the pulpit. A good friend of mine from behind me leaned forward when they asked for the gratitudinal raising of the hand and whispered, "If I don't raise my hand, can they still release you?" I smiled, and appreciated the warmth of his question. Throughout the day, several people came up to me and told me how grateful they were for my service. One woman whom I home teach told me that she sees the Executive Secretary position as one where unsung heroes shine, and I was moved. Throughout the day, many people gave simple and quiet expressions of gratitude for my service, and I felt honored to have been able to serve. Later that day, another good friend brought his family with him to drop off some cookies to thank me for my services, and I felt truly and deeply loved and appreciated (cookies have that affect on me).

After church, I spent a few hours with my replacement, going through the binder that had been my constant church companion for these many years, showing him what was in there and how I managed all the various and varied tasks that were my responsibility. He nodded a lot and seemed a little overwhelmed, but he seems competent enough (he's new in the ward, so I don't know him well) and I am just going to let him find his own way. I'll be around for questions, but I have new things to worry about now.

But it was really weird. I went home from church about 4 pm, which is early for me, and spent the afternoon and evening with my family. It was wonderful. I literally wrestled with the kids (something we never do), and played games, and read the newspaper, and listened to good music, and just talked; and I was happy.

I am grateful for all the blessings that came into my family because of those years in that calling, and I am definitely better for it. While I will miss that wonderful calling that I had made my own for so long, my new one awaits. This church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is such an amazing thing. It takes ordinary people -- okay, and space nerds like me -- and gives them opportunities to serve in ways that are unexpected, undeserved, and unanticipated, and lifts them up as they do their best to lift others. Only the True Gospel can accomplish that. Let there be no doubt, for I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, and I know it to be true.

Now, I desperately need some training for my new calling ...

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