Serving in the Church

When Is the Time to Serve?

From “Preparing for a Heavenly Marriage,” Liahona, Feb. 2006, 19; New Era, Feb. 2006, 5; and remarks delivered at Brigham Young University–Idaho on April 7, 2007.


Robert D. Hales

When Is the Time to Serve?

When he recalls the rigorous years he spent at Harvard Business School, Elder Robert D. Hales of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles says of his graduate program, “I was stretched to my capacity.”

About this time Elder Hales received a call to be elders quorum president. He was concerned about the added pressure such a call would create on his schedule. “It was one of the few times in my life I didn’t say yes on the spot,” he explains. “I went home to my wife and said, ‘I will probably fail in school if I accept this calling.’”

Sister Hales responded, “Bob, I would rather have an active priesthood holder than a man who holds a master’s degree from Harvard.” She then put her arms around him and added, “Together we will do both of them.”

They knelt in prayer and then went to work. The ensuing months were difficult, but they managed to “do both of them.”

A few years later Elder Hales was busy working as president of a company when he was asked to serve as bishop of his ward. Ten years after that, in 1975, while working as corporate vice president of a large corporation, he was called to be an assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. He had no difficulty accepting these callings.

“It was easy,” he says. “I had made that decision when I was younger.”

Elder Hales concludes, “For every one of you the question will come in life, ‘When is the time to serve?’ The best answer I can give you is, ‘When you are asked.’”

Issuing and Accepting Callings

Elder William R. Walker
  1. 1.

    Those with the authority to issue callings need to prayerfully seek the inspiration of the Lord. When an inspired decision is made, the call needs to be extended properly in a dignified and reverent manner, with all involved realizing that the call comes from the Lord.

  2. 2.

    We serve willingly. We do not volunteer. We are called.

  3. 3.

    Callings and releases don’t always come to us when we would prefer. We need to trust in the Lord’s timetable.

  4. 4.

    When a husband or wife is called to a demanding position, it may be best for the family if the other spouse is released from a demanding calling.

  5. 5.

    The Lord will magnify our efforts as we do our best and seek His assistance.

From Elder William R. Walker of the Seventy, “In the Service of the Lord,” Liahona, Aug. 2006, 38; Ensign, Aug. 2006, 15.

Photo illustration by Steve Bunderson