Monday, June 28, 2010

Sparkle Tip #4 - Work is Work

#4 - I know I have an attitude problem when I say to myself “I’m not getting a thing out of this calling. I wish I could do something else.”

I used to feel this way more when I was younger - not so much now. Now that I’m grown up I have learned a truth that you probably won’t want to hear. This is a simplified, mother-talking-here version. Callings in our church are not designed with you in mind. Rather, callings in our church exist because there is work that needs to be done. Work, especially prolonged work is usually not what we think of as fun. Work is work. It just is what it is.

Yes, I understand that work can be satisfying, fulfilling and gratifying. But sometimes it is simply work. So, don’t expect to get something out of it every week. I can find the satisfaction, gratification and fulfillment that I need in my personal gospel study and in simply rendering the service. When I begin to feel bored in a calling, I remind myself to view the calling for what it really is, a chance to serve our Heavenly Father and to build the Kingdom.

During one period of my life I relied on our three teenage boys for their help with my household work. None of them liked to do dishes. However, because they were boys and liked to eat, lots and lots of dishes needed to be washed. The design of our kitchen and our hard water did not allow for a dishwasher. I tried to teach the boys that doing dishes was no more work than sweeping floors or cleaning the toilet or washing windows or scrubbing the tub or weeding the garden. Eventually they all understood that work is work whatever you are doing. The point is that you are willing to put the time in.

I had an experience a number of years ago that helped me understand this concept in terms of my own work for Jesus. My husband was newly called as our Branch President and we live about 40 miles away from our church building. We could afford to take but one car to church. My husband had to be there early on Sunday mornings and was not ready to leave until late afternoon and sometimes into the evening. So, we went together and had to stay all day. This situation was difficult in the beginning as we all tried to adjust to it. One day I was visiting with members of the branch as they waited to speak to the Branch President. I was fretting about what I was not getting done at home. I knew the boys were tired and hungry and I was also worrying about taking care of them. Into my mind came a very strong thought. Sunday was Sunday, all day long, no matter where we were. Right then and there I decided to give Sunday to the Lord, all day long. I realized that I could do this at the church building as easily as I could do it at home. Work is work.

This change in my attitude totally changed how I felt and I think it influenced the attitude of our whole family. Consecration is a sacred thing. I no longer felt frustrated that I couldn’t be home doing Sunday things. I could still do Sunday things, different maybe, but necessary work that the Lord needed to have done. I gave up thoughts of a nice family dinner in the early afternoon and made do with simple food, like granola bars. :O) We never managed a comfortable family time in our own living room. Instead, I became a kind of “hostess in the hallway” and simply enjoyed visiting with the people who were there. We tidied the church and emptied the diaper pails and maintained the bulletin board. The boys were available to take the sacrament to shut-ins or as a companion on a visit to someone. There was time for personal study and lots and lots of time to ponder and think. After the last person left the building, we gathered in the office and visited together as my husband picked up his things. These were special teaching times for my husband and our boys, along with the long drive home, talking and visiting together. I am so thankful for that sacred time in our lives. Our family was blessed by it. At the time, I could not have identified anything that the boys and I were really “getting out of it.” But I can now.

I know that it is cliche to say that you get out of a calling that which you put into it. But really, if you are getting nothing of substance out of being the primary chorister, perhaps you need to put something more substantial into it. I have learned that even though a calling may feel like the same old dress I’ve worn for 10 years, it really is the sincere smile on my face that counts. Consecration is high-powered sparkle. I promise.


Gene and Sheri Family said...

THANK YOU! Your sparkle tips have REALLY helped me lately in my calling as Primary Chorister. With 4 little ones I feel like its just one more thing sometimes, and that I'm not doing a good job. But really I am doing my best with the time and resources I've been given...and thats all the Lord requires! :)

The Children Sing said...

Ah Sheri, you have all my sympathy. My 3 boys were all little together and then they were all teenagers together. The above situation lasted for nearly nine years during which time I had another baby to nurse and take care of in the church building all day long. The stage you are in is so difficult. I do hope you will keep reminding yourself that the best you can is really enough, the Spirit can take it from there. I promise that it is and he will. Thank you for your sweet comment!

Ethatch said...

Thank you for this blog...since I found about 6 weeks ago I have come to rely on it for ideas and STRENGTH! I'm an unmusical grandma serving as Primary Chorister since last November. I love, love, love the children, but feel quite inadequate (and many days unsuccessful) in teaching the songs. Your ideas, experience, and encouragement have helped lots--thanks for taking the time to share and teach not only children, but others who serve in this calling.

The Children Sing said...

Ethatch, loving the children is probably THE most important aspect of serving in Primary. You probably know that already. That love is both the invitation and the catalyst for the spirit to work and having that love puts you in a wonderful position to able to influence your primary kids. Other skills come with experience, if you can hang in there long enough! Just remember that in the meantime, Christ will make up for any lack. Somehow He does it, because that is the promise we have from Him.

Of course, I know that the kids need to learn the songs. I don't know where you live, but try to get your hands on that old video "How to Teach a Song to Children". Look in the meetinghouse libraries, look in the primary closet, ask old primary workers if they might have it or know someone who does. If you can view it and learn the method they demonstrate, teaching songs becomes easier.

In any event, I have come to greatly appreciate faithful people who fulfill this calling in spite of challenges. I am deeply grateful that this blog might help you in some way.

Gary and Debi Whiting said...

Thank you for your comment about attitude on Sundays when you had to wait for your husband as he fulfilled his church duties. I needed to read that today and realize that "Sunday is Sunday" no matter where I am. I have to wait for my husband's meetings, too, so I will have a better attitude next Sunday instead of thinking of the food that is waiting at home in the crock pot!

The Children Sing said...

Debi, I'm glad that you've been encouraged somehow. Sometimes, serving in the Church is easy and sometimes it just really isn't! And these attitudes are a lot harder to learn than anything else. Just hang in there. Sacrifice is really good for us! Sending you warm, good thoughts. :o)

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