I want to quantify, or at least illustrate, just how much sacrifice people put into their church communities. I hope for this to be an opportunity for us to realize just how much we serve each other, and rely on each other. Let us each remember that we’re not the only ones out there trying to make the world a better place by giving a little of ourselves. Let this be a celebration of consecration.
Below, I’ve attempted to answer the question posed in the title of this post: How many hours does it take to run a ward for a week? The answer, obviously, is an educated guess at best. I’m not shooting for an ideal amount, or those hours put in by people I’ve known, but based on my experience and understanding of the practical operations of all church units with which I’ve ever been familiar in any way, I’m trying to estimate what a realistic average is. I’m not counting attending Sunday meetings unless a calling involves work during that time, nor am I counting things like family home evening, temple attendance, or home teaching. I don’t want to artificially pump up numbers to be more impressive; I think they’ll be impressive enough as it is.
The biggest factor holding this back from being more accurate is that beyond major leadership, the roster of callings and how they’re implemented in sundry church units varies remarkably. Just as with the hours themselves, I can only give my best estimates. Perhaps someone with more experience from a higher position in the church could refine my roster and numbers. But please don’t say, “Hey! I have that calling and I put in a lot more time than that!” It’s meant to be an average.
Here are my estimates:
CALLING–AVERAGE HOURS PER WEEK:
Bishopric counselors–14 (x2)
Relief Society President–12
RS Counselors–10 (x2)
High Priest Group Leader–10
HP Assistants–5 (x2)
Elders Quorum President–10
EQ Counselors–5 (x2)
Today at church our bishopric was released. After 2 ½ years of being a counselor, I find myself with a huge drop in responsibility, a drastic rise in free time, and a bittersweet ache in my heart. It’s sentimental and it’s melancholy. Call it sentimentacholy.
I didn’t see this coming. My first reaction when I found out about this last night was profound sadness. As I explained in church this morning, I deeply loved serving with everybody in my church and I’ll miss it terribly. And of course, I feel that I left too much undone.
Here’s what I’ll miss: doing temple recommend interviews, hanging around joint activities at Mutual, being the first person to bring a welcome spiritual message to the home of someone who hasn’t been to church for years, giving priesthood blessings to people with no other access to the priesthood, powerful monthly meetings with the stake presidency, taking the youth to the temple for baptisms, giving the bishopric message in Primary, giving treats to the youth for catching me without my scriptures and having their copies of For the Strength of Youth, trying to set a visible example of obedience to our leaders, sitting in on disciplinary councils (a surprisingly spiritual experience–always positive for everyone involved), being able to give useful information to auxiliary leaders about their work, and just getting to know the real lives of dozens of the best families anybody could ever meet–especially the overwhelming acts of service and sacrifice for each other that I never would have known about were I not in this position.
Here’s what I won’t miss: Continue reading
Perhaps the most powerful spiritual experience I’ve ever had–or at least the one which has had the most visibly permanent influence on me–was almost two years ago.
A member of the stake presidency had come over to my house to meet with my wife and I, to extend me a calling. Now, this was a serious and reverent event, but I, being a goofy little dork by nature, decided to “break the tension” with a dumb remark. I joked, “Wow, I feel like I need to start being better now or something!”
As my wife and I laughed nervously, President Petersen leaned forward and, with a mixture of Christlike firmness and warmth that I hope someday to achieve, simply looked me in the eyes and said, “Yes, you do.”
That could certainly be taken as a humorous criticism, and when I tell this story, I usually play that line for another laugh. However, there’s no denying that it’s true. It’s true of me and of everybody. Always. And while it’s crucial to having any confident joy in life to be merciful in our expectations of ourselves, it’s also necessary to keep striving for improvement. When he said that to me, I could see it was meant in a spirit of friendly concern and of authoritative counsel, and I can only say that I’ve tried to live up to it.
Perhaps the first, most important thing to do with inspiring events like this is merely not to forget them. In remembering, we nourish our souls and keep the hope alive that we’ll draw nearer to our holy goal.