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3 Valid Reasons to Decline a Latter-day Saint Calling

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In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a “calling” refers to a formal invitation or assignment extended to a member to serve in a specific capacity within the Church. These callings are issued by local leaders, such as bishops or stake presidents, who receive inspiration and guidance in determining where members can best utilize their talents and fulfill their responsibilities.

Many members believe there is no good reason to decline a calling. However, when take a closer look at gospel principles, as well as the nuances of our own lives, we can see circumstances emerge where it would be valid to say no. 

Let’s take a closer look at some of the reasons and ways we can communicate with our leaders about how to live the Law of Sacrifice and Consecration, even if we can’t serve in a calling. 

Physical and Mental Health 

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It is likely we will all experience fear, insecurity, or even displeasure when it comes to our Church service. Serving may also be stressful, requiring time and work. These natural feelings aren’t a reason to decline a calling right out. However, if our physical or mental health is at jeopardy, we may want to ponder how a calling might affect us. 

This is especially true if you are currently in a state of crisis, sick, or recovering. 

It should be noted, having a mental illness or struggling with our health should not preclude us from service. Many can and do serve faithfully while striving to manage these conditions. 

The Lord doesn’t not want us to run faster than we have strength; a calling to serve should never lead to emotional or physical harm. 

Other Options: Ask to serve for a limited to see how you handle the calling; prayerfully present another idea for service that would help support what you would have originally been called to do; ask for help with emotional resilience to improve your health for future callings. 

Worthiness 

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Worthiness is not perfection. We will all sin, make mistakes, and face struggles. Still, we serve with the most power and inspiration when we live our covenants and strive to be worthy. 

If you have a more serious worthiness issue, be honest with your Church leaders about it. Certain callings may not be suitable based on your current circumstances. This may be especially true if you are being called to work with children or youth. 

Do not let your pride or shame prevent you from being honest about your situation. Sincerely strive to repent and find ways to serve in God’s kingdom that are appropriate for you right now.

Other Options: Ask for another calling that may be more suitable; volunteer in an unofficial capacity; fulfill your ministering assignments.

Personal Revelation

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We may have over-glorified the calling process. When a Church leader extends a calling, we often feel that he has received a vision from the Lord that we should serve as the nursery leader. This isn’t to dismiss the revelation our leaders receive. They do receive inspiration and revelation about how to shepherd the ward. It’s just to say that not every calling is completely inspired and we have the right to receive our own personal revelation and confirmation about a calling. 

When a calling is extended to you, ask for a few days to ponder and pray about it. If the Spirit leads you to decline the calling, trust that feeling and talk with your leaders about it. 

Other Options: Work with your leaders to find a calling that is right; pray to know how you can live your covenants; ask your leaders who needs help in the ward and what you can do for them. 

Have you ever declined a calling? How did it go?

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Aleah Ingram
Aleah Ingram
Aleah is a graduate of Southern Virginia University, where she studied English, Creative Writing, and Dance. She now works full time as a marketing and product manager, writer, and editor. Aleah served a mission in California and loves baking, Lang Leav poetry, Gaynor Minden pointe shoes, and Bollywood movies.

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