Sunday, November 4, 2007

He Knows My Name

by Marsha Ward

In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we don't have a paid ministry. Our clergy is called from among the members of the local congregation to serve until they are released. Likewise the leaders and teachers of the auxiliary organizations for the instruction of the children, youth, and women's and men's groups are called to serve from the membership.

I live in a small congregation known as a branch. We've had about 60 members, mostly retired people without children or teenagers. During the summer, our locality is a destination for camping, hunting, and hiking. We would get children and youth among our visitors. We had teachers who were called to give gospel instruction to this segment of our visitors.

Very soon after I moved here from the big city, I was called to be the Young Women President. My only duty was to prepare a lesson for the girls between the ages of 12 and 18, when they came.

All this changed in October. Members of our branch were invited to attend a joint meeting with two other congregations, both "wards," that is, larger congregations of the church. The geographical boundaries of our branch were extended to include Star Valley, a town outside Payson, Arizona. This bumped up our membership numbers to 224, including children and youth. We're still a branch. We must have 300 members to become a ward.

The duties of my calling as Young Women President changed overnight. A full service president is in charge of the spiritual growth and achievement goals of all the girls, plus holding weeknight activities, plus girls camp, plus . . . the list is pretty long. Not having a need to do so, I have never learned the ins and outs of the full program, nor have I worked in a Young Women position before, except as a teacher for a short time soon after Noah landed in the Ark.

I was stunned at the magnitude of the responsibilities that lay before me. Where was I going to find the time to do all of them, let alone learn about them? A two-hour phone call with the "stake" leader who has oversight of my branch consolidated my anxieties as I learned of conflicts between what I already was committed to do in my professional life and upcoming Young Women activities. I expressed my concerns about my time to the leader, and she said to talk to my branch president (a branch's equivalent to a ward's bishop).

My nature is to be a nurturer. I hate conflict and confrontation. I knew what the branch president was going through in having to get our adult branch staffed for the changes in demographics. He had said there were not going to be changes in existing positions. I didn't want to approach him.

Some wise friends buoyed me up, and today I went to church with a mental list of why I was too snowed under to continue serving in this altered calling. I was one sentence into my preamble. Then the loving branch president told me that he had been praying about the position of Young Women President. He said a name had come to him as one who had more time available and would welcome the calling, and that as soon as he could talk to this woman and offer her the position, and as soon as she accepted, I would be released from my responsibilities. It happened today. The weight of the calling has been lifted from my shoulders.

I believe in continuing revelation from God. I believe this man was humble enough to seek for answers and to listen to inspiration. I believe that God knows my circumstances, and as a loving Father, he is concerned that I not be distraught at my inability to function in the capacity of a full-service president. I have other callings that I can fulfill. I am so grateful for humble, receptive leaders and for a Heavenly Father who knows my name. I testify that He does. He knows your name and loves you, too.

4 comments:

  1. Marsha, thank you for that beautiful testimony. It is very humbling to think about our Father in heaven, who presides over galaxies, still knows each of us by name and the things we need most. Thank you for your example!

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  2. Thanks for posting this wonderful experience. Yes; I don't know how He does it, but He actually knows his billions and more children individually, by name. Getting released is a happy-sad feeling, isn't it. But you really have had a full plate lately. Wnd what's this I hear about you being sick? Hurry up and get better. I know you keep going anyway, but it's a whole lot more fun when you feel well.
    Blessings.

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  3. Wow, you can't know how inspired I find this entry. I too attend a very small branch and we too have a much bigger group during holiday/summer times living on the Gulf of Mexico. I have been in a certain organization for several years and was needed. I know find myself with more personal responsibilities and less time for the calling. I was extremely hesitate to say anything because of our situation. Yet, your experience reminds that God is in charge, not me. He will find someone better suited and I can always find "work" in small branch to do my part. Thanks. I feel better.

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  4. Thank you Marsha. I feel that must have been a hard piece to do, to write about those conflicts and feelings of inadequacy. But what a wonderful testimony of inspiration and revelation in one of your leaders.Sometimes I don't have that feeling, that I'm known individually in a universe of souls, but when I do, it is wonderful. Rene

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