Questions and Answers
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“Questions and Answers,” Ensign, Dec. 2005, 62–64

Questions and Answers


How can we magnify our callings while at the same time following the counsel of Church leaders to reduce and simplify the work?


When some people hear the phrase “magnify your calling,” they often feel they need to devote more time, make more handouts, or do something extra that would take more energy or add to their stress. This is a misconception!

When you put a magnifying glass over an object, you are able to see it more clearly. Perhaps we could all simplify our lives by looking at our callings through a spiritual lens. Are we focusing on the essential things the Lord would have us do, or are we distracted from the essentials by adding unnecessary work that takes us away from our families or causes us undue stress? There must be a balance in all things. If we pray to know how the Lord would have us magnify our callings, He will help us do so.

Meaghan James, Parkland Ward, Lakewood Washington Stake

As a Young Women leader, I have simplified my teaching preparations by using the Church magazines and the Church Web site www.lds.org. I read the lesson ahead of time; then I have the lesson in my mind as I read the scriptures to prepare for Sunday School or while I read the Ensign and the New Era. I often find scriptures, articles, or thoughts that pertain directly to my lesson. I love how the topics in Church magazine articles connect with Relief Society, Sunday School, Primary, Young Women, and Young Men lessons. I use the Sunday Lesson Helps found at the back of each New Era, along with the suggested talks found in the Resource Guides for Young Men and Young Women in the May and November issues of the Ensign and Liahona. (The guide also points out which Personal Progress area each Young Women lesson pertains to.) I like to find articles and talks on lds.org and to cut and paste portions of the articles directly into my planned lesson.

Linda T. Payne, Oak City Second Ward, Delta Utah Stake

The Church exists to support and help individuals and families, not the other way around. Here are some helpful questions to ask when trying to magnify one’s calling but simplify the work:

  • Am I overscheduling individuals or families in my ward? Can we coordinate so that most meetings and activities are held one night a week?

  • Does a particular meeting or activity encourage members to live the gospel, receive saving ordinances, and prepare for exaltation?

  • Are we focusing more on the people than on the program?

  • Have I asked the individuals and families I serve or direct what kind of activities would best serve their needs, or am I promoting my own needs and pursuing my own personal agenda?

  • Do I count the success of the meeting or activity by how many people attended or, rather, by the effect it had on those who did attend?

  • Does a particular meeting or activity interfere with the family dinner hour?

Ross and Janene Baadsgaard, East Bench Ward, Spanish Fork Utah Palmyra Stake

When I was serving as elders quorum president, our presidency found that a little practical organization paid great dividends. We made clear assignments regarding who was in charge of what so that our efforts didn’t have to be reorganized on an ad hoc basis every week or when something would arise. For example, I had primary responsibility for home teaching, one counselor handled quorum instruction, and the other took care of welfare and temporal needs. By having clearly defined roles, whenever something came my way I knew exactly which member of the presidency would handle it. This helped simplify our approach significantly.

Additionally, I found that too many meetings can easily and unnecessarily complicate our callings. I didn’t find it necessary to hold a formal sit-down meeting every week. Rather, I would coordinate with my counselors via phone calls and e-mail throughout the week. When we did hold formal meetings, I made sure to prepare adequately so we could focus on what needed to be done and be as effective as possible in our time together. With proper planning, we could have a productive and effective meeting in half an hour.

John Replogle, Chevy Chase Ward, Washington D.C. Stake

Here are two ideas to keep in mind while serving in the Church:

  1. Magnify your calling, not your “busyness.” Callings can keep us busy 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But most of us have other priorities as well. So, as guided by the Spirit, do what’s most important. Be careful not to confuse “busyness” with progress. Remember the honeybee and the mosquito: both are very busy, but the bee is revered while the mosquito is swatted.

  2. Counsel with your spouse. Your spouse is your partner and can be a great source of help in simplifying your schedule as you set your priorities.

D. Gordon Wilson, Ensign Peak Ward, Salt Lake Stake

While preparing a stake Relief Society lesson on family traditions, I realized one of our “family traditions” was for me to neglect our children while I made laminated bookmarks for Relief Society lessons! My husband and I knew it was time to make some changes.

First, we needed to be sure that the time we spent during the week reflected our true priorities. We outlined our family goals and made sure we were fulfilling the basic gospel requirements: personal and family prayer, scripture study, and regular family home evenings. Then we scheduled time for home and visiting teaching, as well as other Church and family commitments. Often we found that we were not able to support all the activities that were available. In these situations we prayerfully selected those areas in which our service would be most effective.

Soon we found that chaos was replaced with harmony, both in our home and in our callings. Instead of making hand-painted, laminated handouts for lessons, we opted to be more prepared spiritually. We were better able to respond to the promptings of the Spirit because our days were no longer packed to overflowing. In planning activities, we chose simple refreshments and decorations, and we concentrated on filling members spiritually.

We have reaped the rewards of simplifying our service—both temporally and spiritually. We have found increased love in our home and fulfillment in our callings. We now live by the mantra “It doesn’t have to be laminated to be true!”

Ashli Spillane Thompson, Bitburg Military Ward, Kaiserslautern Germany Military Stake

Over the years I have realized that family time is sacred. Keeping this in mind simplifies things quite nicely. Nothing should get in the way of specifically planned family time such as family home evenings, private time for married couples, and regularly scheduled family outings. If our callings start to interfere too much with our family time, we need to talk to others about sharing the load or simply learn to say no to certain nonessential things in the nicest way possible.

Iain R. Saunders, Brno Branch, Brno Czech District

In trying to “reduce and simplify,” we might ask ourselves questions such as these: Do all cookies have to be homemade? Do we really need cookies? Could a handwritten note have more meaning than an expensive gift? Could a few telephone calls or an e-mail message take the place of a meeting? Will the handout we are making go into the wastebasket, or will it be kept and treasured? Can we save time by accomplishing two tasks during one trip?

Dorothy Moore, Malad First Ward, Malad Idaho Stake

When I served as Primary president, I learned that fasting and praying as a presidency helped my counselors and me to serve far more effectively than spending the same amount of time planning grandiose activities and making extravagant visual aids. Not only did we receive new ideas for dealing with problems, but the Spirit touched the children in greater measure and prepared them to learn what we taught.

Katherine Padilla, Kensington Ward, Washington D.C. Stake

Don’t Magnify the Work

“May I give you a word of caution as you plan your activities. Make sure that the essential needs are met, but do not go overboard in creating so many good things to do that the essential ones are not accomplished. … Remember, don’t magnify the work to be done—simplify it.”
Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, “The Doctrinal Foundation of the Auxiliaries,” Ensign, Aug. 2005, 67.

Photography by Christina Smith

Photograph by Getty Images