Saturday, July 4, 2009

No one here's getting pigeon holed

It's a bit of a running joke in the LDS Church that once in a music calling, always in a music calling. This has pretty much held true for me, with the exception of a few years here and there. My callings thus far:

12-13: Beehive Class President
14-15: Young Women's pianist
16-17: Laurel Class President
17: Stake Girls Camp Youth Leader Music Specialist
18: Sacrament Meeting Greeter (why we had an oboist as our choir director, I'll never know)
19-21: Ward Music Leader (and de facto everything else when necessary)
21-22: Ward Choir Director (was called as the ward music leader to replace the one who was moving out, but I ended up moving to DC before she left)
22-23: Relief Society pianist
23-24: FHE Group leader
24: Ward Emergency Preparedness co-chair

As you can see, more often than not, I've had a music calling. I've even volunteered to play or lead music in wards I'm only visiting in, which is why I've ended up playing in wards in North Carolina and even in London. It's always tempting in a new ward when filling out a new member sheet to not write down my music talents. Still, I always do, because they're going to find out sooner or later. In fact, my reputation preceded me this time around, because I'd met some of my new ward members during the Institute play and one of them made sure I met the ward choir director my first Sunday.

So, when the first counselor in the bishopric of my latest ward asked to meet with me, I had a feeling a music calling wasn't far behind. I was right, and soon accepted the calling of Special Music Coordinator. He mentioned that he knew how we musically talented people feel, since his wife is a violinist, that we're always in music callings, and that he didn't want me to feel pigeonholed. I assured him that, while it's true that I've had my fair share of them, I didn't feel pigeonholed, plus I'd recently had an 18 month break. It didn't hurt that I've been told more than once that the bishopric has been praying for someone to move in who would be perfect for that calling and they felt strongly that it should be me, once I'd arrived. How can you say no to that? I didn't, of course, and I'm really rather excited about it.

I've wondered why those who have Masters degrees in choral directing, people who could make real money doing it, volunteer their time to direct ward choirs. Or professional teachers teach Sunday School classes. Then I realize I'm doing the same thing. I have professional music training, and donate my time to the church. To me, to be pigeonholed is to be trapped, with no way out. And I don't feel that way about any calling I've ever had, and I've finally realized why.

Among other things, I have covenanted to live both the laws of sacrifice and consecration. Originally, the law of sacrifice was the faithful offering the first of the flock or crops, the best of what they had, to the Lord. "Because the great sacrifice of the Son of God ended sacrifice by the shedding of blood, today we live the law of sacrifice in other ways." (Elder Monte E. Brough) One of those ways is our obedience in doing what the Lord has asked us to do, including our service in the church.

As Elder Bruce R. McConkie said "Sacrifice and consecration are inseparably intertwined. The law of consecration is that we consecrate our time, our talents, and our money and property to the cause of the Church: such are to be available to the extent they are needed to further the Lord’s interests on earth." (Emphasis mine.) We also read in Exodus 32:29 "Consecrate yourselves to day to the Lord . . . that he may bestow upon you a cblessing this day."

So, when it comes to church callings, why not offer our best talents? I don't have what it takes to be a great Sunday School teacher, but others do. I don't know that I have the patience to teach Primary lessons to rowdy 6-year-olds. But I do have a knack for planning, organization, and music, so why not combine them into my current responsibility? Our exaltation depends on our obedience to our covenants, and while we aren't required to live the law of consecration to its fullest at this point, we are required to be willing to. I see no better way to show that willingness than to do what I do best, even if I could get paid elsewhere to do it. I'll always be happy to serve my Heavenly Father, even if I never have anything but a music calling again.


Jasmine said...

I agree and feel the same way. My musical talents never take more than one sacrament meeting to be discovered (it's kind of hard when I'm the only operatic soprano in the ward....) despite any efforts I may make to disguise them. And once they discover I can sing, the question "do you play any other instruments" closely follows, so I usually get roped into playing piano, too. But to be perfectly honest, I'm most comfortable in musical callings, and I, too, feel that those callings are where I can contribute the most of myself to the church. Yay for sharing our talents!

Brett said...

When I was Elders' Quorum President, I was also Elders' Quorum pianist. Now that I'm Elders' Quorum teacher, I am also Elder's Quorum Pianist. And choir accompanist. And now apparently de facto every-other-week sacrament meeting accompanist. I suppose I am pigeon-holed, but I've learned that pigeons have lots of holes, so I don't feel a shortage of open space.

Nancy said...

At the same time, though, the Lord prepares those he calls. So if you ever are called as a Sunday School teacher or Primary have what it takes. Or you will develop what it takes.

I agree, though, that we need to offer up our best gifts. :) Sometimes we just may not be aware of hidden talents.

Joy said...

While I'm aware that I shouldn't grumble about music callings, I sometimes wish that I had other callings too. Since leaving HS 7ish years ago, I've spent 5ish years as RS Pianist (in 3 or 4 different wards). I was so glad to get released from RS 2 weeks ago, even to be the Primary pianist. Now I get to spend 3 of my 4 church hours/week at the piano (choir pianist too). When I get down about never having taught ANY class at church I also try to remember that I'm NOT a nursery leader. We have 40 (yes, 40) kids in nursery right now, 2 of them are mine, and because of my callings I can never even be called to sub in there. It means 2 hours without my kids every week, which is great. So someday, when (like our choir director) I've spent 50+ years doing the music, I can be thankful for the small callings that I never had to do...

AmandaStretch said...

Nancy - Very good point. I don't think my two months as a Sunday School teacher for London 13 year olds were my finest church moments, but I bet I'd grow into it.

Joy - If I were only playing the piano and not doing other things, I'd probably go a little more crazy.

Melissa said...

This is an awesome way to look at it, and something I think we need to be reminded of. If we always held out to be paid for our professional talents, how would that help contribute to the world in general, and more specifically to the Church and kingdom on Earth?

Thanks for the post!