Editor’s Note: This article was sent to us and is reposted with permission. The author of this piece asked to be anonymous. The experience below is her experience while attending BYU. Names have been changed to protect the individuals involved
“Hi! Is Kim there?”
“Yeah one second, let me go grab her.”
(Kim comes to the door)
“Hey Kim! I was just wondering if you were busy this Thursday night and wanted to go out for ice cream with me?”
“I am free Thursday, I would love to!”
“Awesome. How does seven sound?”
“Great! I will see you then!”
(The door closes)
“Oh my GOSH! The Elders Quorum President just asked you out!!!!”
“Hey Kim! How did your date go tonight?”
“Oh it was fine we just went to Sammy’s and got some shakes and rode our bikes around a park.”
That sounds like fun! So, do you like him?”
” Well, he was an AP on his mission, his dad is the stake president in a ward in Orem, and he is studying to be a Seminary teacher…….”
The curse of calling currency. So many times on first dates with LDS guys I felt like I was getting a spiritual CV letter. Some would say, “How shallow.” But who could blame them! I was looking for a spiritual CV letter. What leadership callings did they have? What kind of calling lineage did they come from? Was their Dad was a bishop? Points scored. Dad was a Stake President? Automatic second date based off of principle. Were they related to a General Authority? Jackpot.
It’s not like I wouldn’t date a guy if their spiritual CV wasn’t up to snuff, it just made me more likely to go out on a date and continue dating them if the “Elders Quorum President” asked me out. More FPP- Future Prophet Potential.
I even remember being asked by guys if my father had been a bishop or held a Stake calling. To which I replied “No”. He has never held any type of leadership calling. But he faithfully went to church EVERY Sunday, taught us to have a testimony of our savior, and served faithfully in all of the callings he had, going above and beyond expectations just being a cub scout master. But when I answered “No”, I couldn’t help but see some disappointment in some of my dates eyes. I felt ashamed, like a second class citizen. My dad wasn’t “Royalty” so how could I expect to marry a “Prince?”
When my little sister came home the other day and exclaimed the guy she just went on a date on was the President of Seminary council and his dad was a Stake President, I cringed a little.
Why do we put so much stock in what calling someone has in the church? Why does someone who has been a bishop or had a leadership calling such as relief society president automatically just seem to be spiritually superior?
I confided in my husband once about this problem. I felt selfish, vain, and prayed for a desire not to judge people by their status in the church. My wise husband, who I am grateful is no respecter of persons, gave me some guidance in this area.
He said when he was looking for a special young girl to marry, he did not disqualify them based on if they had not been on a mission, or if they had a father who had been in a leadership calling etc. He said “My number one criteria was that they have an unwavering faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ.” I was shocked and flattered. But that just made me feel worse for my subconscious preferences, which he noticed my guilt by my silence and the tears rolling down my cheeks.
My Husband, who knows me better than myself sometimes, tried to help me understand where these preferences could have come from.
He asked me “Would you have married an EQP if you knew he was not going to keep his temple covenants and become inactive in the Church?”
I stated, “Well of COURSE not!”
“There you have it, your preference is not based off of his leadership position and title. It is based off of something deeper. Think about it, what was is it about people who have leadership callings that makes them so attractive?”
“Well there are a few things. They spend SO much of their time serving the Lord, you know it has to be a priority for them or they wouldn’t waste so much time. They go out of their way to care for and serve others, and most leaders I know have an unwavering faith in and strong testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ. They know who their savior is, and they share that testimony with others.”
“So it is not so much their leadership calling that attracted you, even though you thought so, it was what kind of people are usually called to hold those positions.”
“Yeah I guess so.”
“Now, Consider this, what if you knew you were marrying someone with those qualities, but you knew they would never have a leadership calling in the church.”
“I wouldn’t care, as long as they lived a worthy life to be able to serve in whatever calling or mission Heavenly Father sent them there to do. In fact, I think I wouldn’t want them to have a leadership calling, because it would mean they would be around more!”
“Now don’t go to the opposite extreme, but yes, I think you see the point.”
My husband helped me to realize that Satan had cleverly taken my RIGHTEOUS desire to respect my leaders for WHO they are, and twisted it into something more superficial, a respect and desire for their title and prestige.
We need to change our culture. We need to change the way we talk about the leaders of the church. It is no mystery to me why movements like “Ordain Women” have come about. We as members of the church have fostered and instilled environment of pride and status when it comes to leadership callings, and I don’t think we intentionally did it. When for most women the “most prestigious” calling in the church ends at Stake Relief Society president, some hunger for more. Deep down I think most members are like me, and respect our leaders for WHO they are as people, but that is not the words that come out of our mouths. It is easier to say,” YOU WENT OUT ON A DATE WITH THE EQP?!!?” and “You went out with a Stake President’s Son!?” Then, “Wow, you can really tell Chris has a priority of family and a testimony of his savior, He is a great guy for you to have gone out with tonight!” and ” Wow, Ian is so lucky to have a dad that actually lives the gospel and exemplifies the love heavenly father must have for us. I LOVE his Dad (AND TOTALLY WANT HIM AS MY FATHER IN LAW!!)”
I know that I want my children to never base their self worth off of ANY kind of leadership position or title, inside OR outside the church. I wish I could go back to my college self and explain that I was worth just as much as the girls who had bishops as dads, and try to get myself to stop dwelling on others “calling currency”. There are NO second class citizens in the church. “for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”(1 Samuel 16:7).
I was reading in Mormon 8 a few days ago pondering about this dilemma I was struggling with. This struck me like a knife when I read it.
Yea, it shall come in a day when the power of God shall be denied, and churches become defiled and be lifted up in the pride of their hearts; yea, even in a day when leaders of churches and teachers shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches.
I know, that our leaders of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints have NOT risen in the pride of their hearts, they are guided by a LIVING GOD who would not allow his church to stray. I know that Thomas S. Monson, is a prophet of the living God, and I take the words spoken by him to be the words right from our Heavenly Father. I know the Book of Mormon to be true, and the words are a prophecy our for our day to warn us, comfort us, and to bring us JOY.
I will try to teach my children that “We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.
Hence many are called, but few are chosen.” (D&C 121: 39-40)
I am not perfect. Not by ANY means. My mind has been poisoned with pride, and I am working on cleaning it up so I can become someone who is chosen of the Lord, calling or no calling. I do not want to be one of those in the prophecy who “shall rise in the pride of their hearts, even to the envying of them who belong to their churches”. I will try every day to change my thought process, so that maybe one day I can be stripped of pride and envy (along with all the other BAJILLION sins I have.)
Who knows! Maybe I am the only one who has even thought this way, and I am the only one struggling with this. But in case there is even one person struggling with this, one person TRYING to become better. This is for you.