Question and Answer

Questions of general gospel interest answered for guidance, not as official statements of Church policy.

Being released from a Church calling sometimes seems to cause feelings of depression, embarrassment, hurt, and even anger. How can I deal with this situation with a positive attitude?

Bo Wennerlund, sealer in the Stockholm Sweden Temple and public communications director for Sweden, Vasterhaninge, Sweden.

Being called to serve, in whatever capacity, brings blessings and greater meaning into our lives. As we magnify a calling, we learn to love those we are serving, those we work with, and those who preside over us. The calling becomes a stimulating and joyful part of our life. No wonder we feel sad and perhaps even frustrated when our release comes! In my opinion, this is natural. In fact, I feel if we are not a little sad, we have not appreciated our calling enough! Personally, I have never actually felt happy to be released from a calling, simply because I have loved all the callings I have had.

Now, how can we cope with these feelings without letting them become a problem? How can we accept in a worthy and graceful way a release from a calling we have loved dearly? When a release comes, it may be helpful to sit or kneel down and remind ourselves of the following:

1) “I know I was called by God, so I realize that my release has also come from God.

2) “It has been a privilege to serve in this calling. I am happy for the person who has now received that privilege.

3) “I wouldn’t want to be in any other place than where the Lord wants me.

4) “This release will give me more time to be an attentive husband or wife. I will strive to make my spouse happier than ever before. I will be a better grandparent. I will be a more devoted home teacher or visiting teacher.

5) “I am willing to accept whatever calling the Lord and his servants will call me to fill in the future, for as long as I am where he wants me to be, I will be happy.”

In Sang Han, Seoul, Korea

Often, those who do not have a firm foundation of experience in the Church see a release as a bureaucratic demotion or a loss of social status. But, except for a limited number of General Authorities, most members of the Church throughout the world are constantly receiving new callings and also “callings of release.” Yes, I feel that a release from a responsibility in the Church is actually another type of calling.

A proper release interview can help those being released to view the situation in this perspective. In the interview, the leader can explain that, in the Lord’s Church, a release is really a call to serve Him in other areas.

A member should never learn of his or her release at the time of the sustaining and thanking vote in sacrament meeting. Nor should the leader take a member aside just before the meeting to inform him or her of the impending release. By carefully following the simple directions suggested in the General Handbook of Instructions, Church leaders can avoid causing ill feelings that can come with releases.

Julio Davila, Regional Representative, Bogota, Colombia

Our obedience and our faith in our leaders is put to the test through callings and releases. I recall an occasion when I was tempted to ask for a release from my calling as branch president. On my way to talk to the district president, I stopped at the post office to pick up my mail. Among the mail was the latest issue of the Liahona. As I looked over it, my eyes fell on a short message by President David O. McKay, in which he told how much the first leaders and missionaries of the Church had to suffer for the gospel. His words touched my heart, and I realized the foolishness of my decision. I kept my appointment with the district president, but never mentioned my original reason for coming. Instead, I took the opportunity to ask for additional counsel concerning my calling.

Years later the brother who had been district president asked me, “Brother Davila, what did you really want to talk to me about many years ago when you came to my house in Bogota?” I told him I had come to ask for a release. Then, with love and a smile, he said, “I knew what you were going to tell me. From the time you called me to make an appointment until you arrived at my house, I was praying that something might happen along the way that would change your mind.”

This experience has helped me to testify that our leaders are inspired, and that we should follow them humbly and willingly accept callings and releases that they extend to us.

Sometimes resentment results when a member does not feel he has fulfilled an assignment well, either because he has not understood his duties well or else because he has been negligent. In such a case, a release may be seen as punishment. When a member is having difficulty with a calling, leaders can offer encouragement, help, and occasionally reproof, followed by an increase of love (see D&C 121:43).

In order for us to avoid resenting a release, we must carefully cultivate our spiritual roots. As we draw closer to the Lord, we understand that any calling is an invitation to participate with Jesus Christ in helping to “bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” (Moses 1:39.) We also gain faith that the leader who extends callings and releases is acting in behalf of the Lord.