I was only 20 when my bishop extended a call to me to serve in my ward Relief Society presidency. I panicked.
As soon as I was asked to serve, the adversary reminded me of my insecurities and shortcomings. He tried to convince me that I was not good enough to fulfill this assignment.
I was sure this calling was a mistake. I was pretty new in the ward, I was still figuring out my own life, I had a lot of social anxiety, and I felt completely unready to serve in such a role.
Perhaps you can relate.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your calling, know that so many of us in the gospel of Jesus Christ have felt (or are feeling) the same way. But thankfully, we can know that callings are inspired by God and that we are not alone as we serve.
President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, taught:
“There will be times when you will feel overwhelmed. One of the ways you will be attacked is with the feeling that you are inadequate. Well, you are inadequate to answer a call to represent God with only your own powers. But you have access to more than your natural capacities, and you do not work alone.
“The Lord will magnify what you say and what you do in the eyes of the people you serve.”1
What a promise!
In the following three stories, see how members who also felt inadequate to serve have experienced that promise. They share how they found tools and truths to help them magnify their callings as they relied on Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
I am a student. I am a seminary teacher. I am a full-time employee. And I am also a youth Sunday School teacher. Sometimes it feels like I’m always rushing to make time for all my responsibilities.
When I got my calling to teach on Sundays in addition to teaching in seminary, I followed a strict, busy routine for weeks. Things were going well for a while. But after a few months, everything suddenly became too much to bear. I found myself very exhausted and overwhelmed with all I had to do. There were times I simply wanted to give up my callings because they were too much to handle with school and a full-time job.
I also felt like I wasn’t doing a good job in my callings. While I considered asking to be released, the idea broke my heart.
My heavy thoughts and feelings made me feel like I was about to explode. One night while crying because of these overwhelming feelings, I felt so alone and unsure of what to do.
I prayed sincerely for help and direction. I also asked for priesthood blessings for comfort and strength. Ultimately, I realized I had been so occupied with worries and everything else in my life that I had forgotten how my Church callings actually helped me find rest and also connect with the Spirit when I needed it the most.
After realizing this, I knew that asking to be released was not the right choice for me. But Heavenly Father helped me see how I could adjust and simplify my schedule.
Relying on His guidance has helped me make my routine less stressful. As President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, reminded us, “While there may be times when our Church callings require more intense effort and unusual focus, we need to strive to keep things in proper balance.”2
I am so grateful for the opportunities I have to serve in the gospel of Jesus Christ, especially now that Heavenly Father has led me and helped me simplify my life.
Abegail P., Camarines Norte, Philippines
When I found out our ward Young Women president was moving, I immediately had the feeling that I was going to be called as the next president. I even shared that prompting with my husband. A few weeks went by and, sure enough, I received an invitation to meet with the bishop.
I was anxious. Being called into a leadership position felt foreign to me. Plus, I was baptized at age 21, so I had never attended Young Women myself. And I would be serving in Utah, USA, which was very different culturally from where I grew up in Mexico.
I thought of all my inadequacies to serve—I didn’t have younger siblings, I had many periods of inactivity as a member, and then I spent several years attending young single adult wards where there was no Young Women organization. On top of that, I could think of many other little hang-ups, like not even knowing the Young Women theme.
I was scared. The calling hadn’t even been extended to me yet, and I was already listing off the reasons I was unfit for it. I knew that thoughts of uncertainty come from the enemy, Satan, trying to prevent us from serving and edifying others in the Lord’s kingdom. But I couldn’t deny that some of my fears and thoughts had truth to them.
As I prepared for my meeting with the bishop, I was still going over all the reasons I could give the bishop to decline the calling. Then a thought crossed my mind: “Would I say no to Christ?”
The answer was pretty clear: I would never turn down an invitation from Christ, even if I did not feel like I was ready for it.
Matthew 8:8 has always touched my heart. It says, “Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.” That truth has helped me know that the Lord can heal me of all my fears. He can dissipate the negative thoughts I have about myself. And most importantly, He can help me connect to and serve the young women in my ward.
So I walked into my meeting with the bishop. He extended the calling to serve as Young Women president. I accepted the calling, but I also felt vulnerable and expressed how I was anxious about not being the right person for the calling. My bishop reassured me that if I could put those worries toward serving and relying on the Savior, then I would be able to serve to the best of my abilities.
Now as I serve, I think of a lesson the Savior has been teaching me since even before I was a member of the Church: I am loved, and it is my duty and privilege to share His love with others—especially through my callings.
I might not always have the right words or the best solution for what the young women in my ward need, but with help from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, I am able to make a spiritual difference in their lives.
Jessica M., Utah, USA
Being called to be an interfaith specialist (previously known as a public affairs specialist) in my area in New Zealand required me to build relationships between community and political leaders and the Church.
I felt inadequate. I felt pressure to not make mistakes in this calling, because the decision of these community and political leaders to align themselves with the Church often depends on the quality of your communication skills and answers to their questions.
Thankfully, I didn’t have to bear the responsibility of this calling alone. I knew I could ask for help from Heavenly Father. And I had the support of other specialists who would offer to help me take on a challenge or even take my place when things were daunting. This type of calling reminded me that as brothers and sisters in the gospel, we can share the load of callings. Even Jesus Christ chose to call Twelve Apostles to assist Him in His ministry, which indicates the way in which He intends His gospel to operate at any level—working together.
I’ve served in many callings that were instantly made so much more enjoyable simply because of fantastic members who were willing to help me. For example, the other interfaith specialists and I participated in an event where we hosted guests who were not of our faith. During small breaks in the event, we filled the free time with laughter, shared meals, and conversations about one another’s welfare. Just as in many times before, as we worked together, our taxing callings ended up feeling more like a privilege than a duty.
When we focus on serving our brothers and sisters, the drive to help one another succeed in our callings comes naturally. Countless experiences like these have shown me that we can all be instruments in helping one another magnify our responsibilities and furthering Heavenly Father’s work in establishing Zion.
Bronson B., Auckland, New Zealand
Callings are life changing. They are unpaid. They require a willing heart and mind. They can be overwhelming. They can turn our routines upside down. They are time-consuming. And the blessings we are promised through serving aren’t always immediately apparent.
But callings are also a privilege and allow us to experience some of what the Savior did in His ministry. They strengthen our relationship with Him and Heavenly Father as we move forward on the covenant path. They serve as a reminder of what we are capable of with Their help. They help us love and serve others and draw closer together.
That day I met with my bishop, I accepted the calling to serve in Relief Society. I was amazed at how—despite my being young, inexperienced, and terrified at times—the Savior strengthened me beyond my inadequacy. He helped me deepen my love for my sisters in the gospel and offer them support in the ways they needed.
So when you’re feeling inadequate, remember the words of President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, former Second Counselor in the First Presidency: “You may feel that there are others who are more capable or more experienced who could fulfill your callings and assignments better than you can, but the Lord gave you your responsibilities for a reason. There may be people and hearts only you can reach and touch. Perhaps no one else could do it in quite the same way.”3
This was true for me. Just like those who shared above, callings have taught me valuable lessons that remind me that no matter how or where we serve—or how uncertain of ourselves we may be—Heavenly Father is certain of us. We are needed in continuing His work and glory.