What do I do when I feel too busy to accept a Church position?
March 1977

“What do I do when I feel too busy to accept a Church position?” New Era, Mar. 1977, 11–12

“I am so busy with Church and other assignments that I don’t have time for anything else, yet I am taught to never say no when asked to accept a Church position. What do I do?”

Answer/Elder Franklin D. Richards

As a mission president and supervisor of missions, I have heard thousands of missionaries bear their testimonies, and invariably they say, “The great joy and happiness that I get out of missionary work is to see the change that comes into the life of a man, woman, or child as he accepts the gospel and lets it work in his life.”

What accounts for this change? Yes, they do receive the Holy Ghost at the time of their baptism to guide and direct them, providing they live the gospel principles. But another reason for this change is their involvement in Church activities. Inasmuch as there is no paid ministry in the Church, service opportunities are available to men, women, and children of all ages.

Like Nephi of old, I was born of goodly parents, and two of the most important things that my parents taught me were to follow the leaders of the Church and never turn down an opportunity to serve in the Church.

These teachings have had a profound influence in my life, but I must confess that it has been difficult at times to accept and magnify callings. However, to my best recollection, I have never turned down an opportunity to serve in the Church when asked.

We must recognize that there are times when people can be involved in so many activities that they don’t seem to be able to take care of them the way they would like, let alone take on more. Elder Richard L. Evans referred to this in one of his sermonettes when he said, “Always there is less time left—a fact that we sometimes face with feelings of frustration because we are so busy—too busy sometimes to think enough about what we are busy about—

“Could it be that we have enslaved ourselves somewhat with many unessentials?

“Can we avoid letting unessentials enslave us? Can we resolve to seek somewhat to SIMPLIFY and to make a new appraisal of what we really consider essential, with a little more living, a little less of mere mechanics, a little less time on the treadmill, a little less of meaningless motions?”

Before turning down a request to serve because you feel you are too busy, you might want to do as Elder Evans suggests: SIMPLIFY somewhat and make a new appraisal of what you really consider essential. Reconsider your priorities and remember your covenants with the Lord wherein you have covenanted to give of your time, talents, and means liberally to the upbuilding of the kingdom of God.

As you simplify your life by putting first things first and eliminate less essential activities, you will probably find time to accept the Church assignment. If after such a careful and prayerful consideration of the request you are still undecided, it would seem appropriate to discuss the request further with your local Church leaders.

Also, sometimes we are asked to accept Church callings that we do not feel qualified to handle, and we are prone to say no because we are afraid. I have found that to a very large extent life is a series of assignments for which we don’t feel fully prepared, but as we accept and do our part, the Lord blesses us with wisdom beyond our natural selves, and in such cases we really reach beyond ourselves. Thus we grow by having to exceed our past selves.

It is my opinion that being generally too busy and not being qualified are really not valid reasons for turning down opportunities to serve in building the kingdom of God.

The Prophet Joseph Smith said, “I made this my rule, when the Lord commands—do it.” (History of the Church, 2:170.)

To us the Lord commands through his authorized servants; so my advice is, follow the leaders of the Church and never turn down an opportunity to serve. By so doing, you will, like the missionaries, not only see a great change come into the lives of those you are working with, but into your own as well. You will experience joy, happiness, contentment, growth, and development. To these things I can truly testify.

  • of the First Council of the Seventy