A little over seven years ago, my wife and I were living with two young children in Orem, Utah. One day, my wife suggested that maybe we should move to Nebraska for a few years to be close to her family and add some strength to the little ward where they lived. I didn’t want to leave Utah, the mountains, and my family, but I prayerfully considered her suggestion, and felt inspired that she was right.
When I shared with her the impression I’d received, she was surprised. She knew I liked living in Utah, and hadn’t expected me to seriously consider moving anywhere else. I’m not so sure she really even wanted to make the move.
After a little more discussion, we decided to move to Nebraska for five years, and then head back to Utah.
Just before the five year mark in our stay, I was called as a counsellor in our ward’s bishopric. It was an unexpected call — I’d expected all along to stick with our original plan and move back to Utah. But when the call came, I felt that our stay had been extended.
In the two and a half years since then, although I’ve never stopped wanting to return to Utah, my perspective has changed. I’ve realized that our decisions about where to live shouldn’t be based solely on our own wishes, but also on the Lord’s will.
In the April 2013 General Conference, Elder Stanley G. Ellis of the Seventy said:
Another question is “Where are we needed?” For 16 years I served in the presidency of the Houston Texas North Stake. Many moved to our area during those years. We would often receive a phone call announcing someone moving in and asking which was the best ward. Only once in 16 years did I receive a call asking, “Which ward needs a good family? Where can we help?”
In the early years of the Church, President Brigham Young and others would call members to go to a certain place to build up the Church there. The irony is that even now we have faithful Church members everywhere who would go anywhere the prophet asked them to go. Do we really expect President Monson to individually tell more than 14 million of us where our family is needed? The Lord’s way is that we hearken to our leaders’ teachings, understand correct principles, and govern ourselves.
Do we think this way as we sing the hymn, “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go”?
It may not be on the mountain height
Or over the stormy sea,
It may not be at the battle’s front
My Lord will have need of me.
But if, by a still, small voice he calls
To paths that I do not know,
I’ll answer, dear Lord, with my hand in thine:
I’ll go where you want me to go.
There’s surely somewhere a lowly place
In earth’s harvest fields so wide
Where I may labor through life’s short day
For Jesus, the Crucified.
Scattered throughout the world are thousands of wards and branches that don’t have enough active members to fully staff all the quorums and auxiliaries. In our high priests group, for example, our group leaders have served without assistants for several years. And many of our members hold several callings.
We’re working to grow our ward by reactivating members who we haven’t seen in a while, and by sharing the gospel with out neighbors. But most of the growth we seen in numbers has come from families moving into the ward. In sacrament meeting a few months ago, I counted the members who’d been here longer than us, and those who’d moved in since we came. We’re not what you’d call a transient ward, but only about 25% had been here longer than seven years.
If you’re living in a well-staffed ward where there are more faithful members than callings, remember that the Lord doesn’t always call us by the voice of a prophet. Sometimes, “by a still, small voice he calls to paths that [we] do not know.”
You may be right where the Lord wants you. But if the Lord calls you to Nebraska or some other place where the Church could use your strength, we’ll be happy to have you join us.
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