I started this semester as a seminary teacher. Two months in, I realized that it wasn’t going to work. I was tired and miserable, useless to my family, and unproductive at work. So, for the first time in my life, I asked to be released from a calling. No, that’s not quite accurate. I didn’t really ask; I informed them that I could manage for about two more weeks and then I’d be done.
Now it’s been a week since I stopped teaching, and I have no doubt it was the right choice. The entire experience of teaching seminary was humbling. It’s a calling I had wanted — in fact, when we moved into this ward, the bishopric asked me what calling I’d like to serve in, and I told them that it’s always been my dream to teach seminary. (Contrary to popular belief, I’ve found that telling your leaders what calling you want to serve in is usually a good way to get that calling.)
A long time ago my mom served as Relief Society president in her ward. After three or four years of service, she told me that she was going to ask to be released. My sister was a teenager, and my mom wanted to be able to be present in her life. At the time, I was a recently returned missionary who believed that every church calling represented the will of God in the most literal way. (My experiences in PEC meetings as an elders quorum president helped change my perspective on that.) That was the first time it had crossed my mind that a person even could request to be released from a calling. In retrospect, I believe it was the right choice.
So tell me about your experiences in callings you’ve asked to be released from. Or callings from which you consciously decided not to ask to be released. How did your leaders respond? Would you do it differently if you could do it again? What did you learn?