Monday, January 3, 2011

Put your shoulder to the wheel

In case you don't already know, I'm a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons. Each Sunday, I'm going to discuss some things related to my faith and what I believe. Regardless of your own beliefs, I hope this gives you a chance to get to know me and my religion a little better. For previous installments, click here.

One unique thing about the Mormon church, especially compared to other mainstream religions, is that we have a lay ministry. What does that mean? It means that instead of professional priests or preachers, the Church is directed and run by its members. We all have regular day jobs and responsibilities and help direct the various operations of the ministry in addition.  My current bishop and stake president even have Wikipedia pages about their professional lives.

The various jobs in the church include teaching classes, giving talks, organizing meetings, chairing committees, coordinating music, or even being a steward over the entire congregation. These responsibilities are generally given by assignment from the leadership of the congregation, who we believe are inspired by God.

Being in the senior leadership of the church, such as the President of the Church and other general authorities, is equivalent to a full-time job and the men and women in those positions generally do not have other work.  However, they're usually older and have had retired from the original careers and have money to sustain their lives and church service, though the Church does help take care of them and their financial needs as needed, as I understand it.

There are also employees of the Church, but those jobs/careers are related to supporting the Church, not directing it. These include, but are not limited to, managing the Church's websites, teaching at the Church schools, developing curriculum for the Sunday School classes, etc.

But the ministry and the worship of the Church is directed by normal people just like me. My Church job right now is music director for my congregation, or ward.  In the past, I have served in such capacities as a pianist, choir director, Family Home Evening group leader, Emergency Preparedness co-chair, and class president. Our training comes "on the job" in addition to the talents we already have.

This sometimes mean that not everything runs perfectly, because we're all human, but I do feel that I get so much more out of my worship and membership in the church when I'm actively serving my fellow members. We serve each other. We teach each other. We learn from each other. We love each other.  Because of all that, we grow together, and for that, I am grateful.

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