I’m a Mormon, So…

I’m a Mormon, so I have a calling: a volunteer position that helps others, usually in my local Latter-day Saint ward and neighborhood.

A calling is a service opportunity and a way to run the LDS church organization.

Heavenly Father gave Jesus Christ a sacred mission to fulfill (see Luke 4:18–19John 6:383 Nephi 27:14–16). During His ministry, the Savior trusted His disciples with important responsibilities (see Luke 10:1–9). Likewise, the Lord calls men and women to serve in the Church today through inspired invitations from His servants. These opportunities to serve are known as callings.

LDS General Handbook, “Callings in the Church.”

Every member of the LDS Church may be asked to serve in one of the various positions needed to teach, organize, plan, or manage other members. These positions range from teachers of young children (Primary Teacher) to organizer of meetinghouse scheduling outside of Sunday worship (Building Coordinator) to the leader of a ward (Bishop) or even leader of the entire LDS Church (President).

Most are called to serve in their local wards or branches. Within that, the most common position is that of a teacher. Whether an apostle or a teacher, the process is about the same. If you are a member of the LDS Church and receive a calling: a member of the bishopric (or stake, or area, or overall organization) asks to meet with you and your spouse, the bishop or counsel extends the offer to serve and gives you a few details, you consult with yourself and God, and you tell the bishop or counselor yea or nay.

An important side note I missed upon first publishing is that the member’s calling is announced to the appropriate meeting of other members (local, stake, church-wide) with a request to sustain the proposed person to the proposed position. If any are opposed, they are welcome to say so. Sustaining and opposing are indicated by raising our right hand. If someone is opposed, the opposition is noted and said person talks to the appropriate leader in private.

A local ward or branch is split into four main groups: Elder’s Quorum for the men, Relief Society for the women, Young Men’s/Young Women’s for the teenagers, and Primary for the children. Most callings, as I said, are to teach primary-aged children and the youth. There are teachers in the other groups as well. After that, pretty much any job necessary in the ward or branch is a calling.

And, until one reaches the general authorities-level, all callings are unpaid, volunteer positions.

A member decides whether s/he can perform the duties of the calling as offered. Members are also discouraged from vying for certain positions. Furthermore, we LDS understand that God wants us to serve, asks us to serve, and will help us to serve.

©2022 Chel Owens

……

We Mormons are officially members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are to drop any name but that. Since many recognize the nickname of ‘Mormon’ and it works with the alliteration so well, however, I will use the term.

My other note is that I will keep to official doctrinal practices. I will add my own application of them, especially in response to comments.

My final note is that I LOVE discussing anything I write. Don’t be rude, obviously, but any and all queries or responses are welcome.

My final note beyond the final note is that I do not seek to convert anyone. I am motivated by forming connections, answering curiosity, and straightening pictures. So, you’re safe.

Many Hands Make Enlightened Work

We walked across the summer courtyard, two t-shirt youth among many, to stand before the spacious building. Stairs upon stairs climbed to the fountain’s zenith and proposed rooftop garden.

Commands came and we moved to assemble ourselves, each teenager on a stair, an arms-width apart. You: a little more. You: a little less.

Then, hand to hand to hand we passed a bucket’s brigade of grass. Smiling volunteers moved sod and flower from truck to tippy top.

Now, years later, our children look up. They marvel at roof-ledge bush and sky-reach trees, and the story that grew them there.

Conference Center
Photograph by Craig Dimond © IRI

Remembered for Carrot Ranch‘s prompt this week.

June 13, 2019, prompt: In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about the work of many hands. Is it a cooperative effort or something else? Go where the prompt leads!

Respond by June 18, 2019. Use the comment section below to share, read, and be social. You may leave a link, pingback, or story in the comments. If you want to be published in the weekly collection, please use the form.  Rules & Guidelines.

The Cure for Depression: Help Someone Else

Today on Curing Depression, I’d like to discuss service.

You may wonder why this is its own item. When I initially listed it with 10 other suggestions, I felt fairly confident in the decision. As I went to type this article tonight, however, I had my doubts. Topics like seeing a counselor or psychiatrist and taking medication are real shoe-ins for curing. Service, though? I mean, what the weird?!

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Odd as the topic may be, I actually have some beefy research that serving helps. Many church websites or volunteer organizations like to post evidence (’cause they want unpaid workers). BUT, the less-ulterior-motive types at Harvard Health, The American Psychosomatic Society, and even TIME magazine list benefits as well.

Turns out there’s something real about serving others, something that definitely helps combat a depressive mindset.

Still don’t believe me? Did you even read my links? The legitimate sources want you to pay a subscription to find out about helping people, but they’re referenced on other sites. The coolest thing I learned was that benefits of service are not merely observed. Service causes literal changes in brain activity, in positive areas.

When someone in need receives help, he or she benefits directly from the social support; simultaneously, the giver benefits in specific brain regions associated with stress, reward, and caregiving (Psychology Today).

The group that published for The American Psychosomatic Society used neuroimaging to measure differences in specific neurobiological areas. Translation: research dudes watched parts of the brain respond to giving or receiving. They measured change, and to which areas, and what the heck that actually meant in practice.

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Isn’t that cool? Service was associated with reduced stress-related activity, greater reward-related activity, and greater caregiver-related activity.

Okay -science lesson done. I am now going to convince you that people are worth serving.

Ummmm.

Does anyone want to fence this one? I don’t always get along with people.

Anyone?

Zut.

All right, let’s try a different approach. What would you want a friend or relative to do for you? Do you wish someone would text you? Look at you? Help move a washer/dryer combo to your new apartment?

People are selfish. Their world and everything that is most important revolves around them. They aren’t smart enough to see that others might want help, so we’re going to take the first step.

Let’s hold off on the washer/dryer combo and start simple. Start small -remember? Pick someone on your contacts list and send them a nice message. Don’t just “wave” with the little emoticon or say you like their hair or smile. This isn’t junior high. Write that you were thinking about them and wondered how they’re doing. Keep it light, airy, and small-talkish.

Did you do it? How do you feel? Better? Try another person.

After messaging or texting or talking to a few peeps, you may find approaching humans to be less daunting. You may even find yourself looking forward to interactions. You may simply like the feeling you got when one of them texted back, and even wrote a smiley face. That was your seeing the mental benefit of service.

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Service Idea Two: Give a handmade present away. If you’re still firmly in the not liking people camp, think of this as a way to show off.

Actually, scratch that. You’ll fire up different brain areas with a prideful mindset.

So think of someone you want to do a nice thing for, and then try to figure out if they like anything you could make. Honestly, if making’s too tricky or embarrassing, go for buying him/her food. Make sure the recipient doesn’t have allergies to chocolate chip cookies, then proceed with the merrymaking and present-bestowing.

Service Idea Three: move that washer/dryer. Hopefully, the appliance only stands as an analogy. Real friends usually ask for rides, a last-minute babysitter, a spare power drill, a cup of flour, etc. Avoid moochers, of course, but be the one who’s willing to help a good friend out.

After this point, service tends to fall into more serious categories. I’m talking serving at a soup kitchen, flying out of country to vaccinate native children, offering pro-bono work to homeless fathers seeking custody, or volunteering to build houses for homeless people.

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If you are struggling with mental illness, such large ideas of helping will overwhelm you. You need to start with simple.

Thinking about others and actually doing things for them is a healthy brain-changing exercise. There’s sciency proof, “I feel better” proof, and civic improvement proof. Service also gets you out of yourself. And since the negative thoughts of depression fester when allowed private time in our minds, service redirects our focus to a cause greater than our own perceived limitations.

Service gets us out of our pit and connecting with others.

Our human connections are terribly important. I even listed connection as the first cure for depression. The best connections are forged when groups work together in service, especially in a giver/receiver setups.

In parting; don’t get discouraged. Don’t tell yourself you can’t possibly do one more thing with your busy life. You can, because there are small things (like sending the text) that you can slip in your schedule while eating breakfast, riding the train, or sitting in a bathroom. No matter how small a service you perform, you’ve made the world a better place to live and have helped your depression that much more.

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Photo Credits:
Mike Wilson
Pixabay
rawpixel
Greyson Joralemon
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*Chelsea Owens is not a licensed anything, except a Class D driver in her home state, and shares all information and advice from personal experience and research.