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New Harmony: What it means to magnify church callings

Published: Wednesday, July 9 2014 11:30 a.m. MDT

Jerry Johnston explains how we can magnify callings, even those that seem mundane.

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The theme for the month was “magnify your calling,” and the sacrament meeting talks definitely "enlarged" our understanding. We came away looking to expand our influence and extend our reach.

We wanted to double the size of what we do.

But for me, it has always been the second definition of “magnify” that catches my eye. That’s the “magnify” that Mary the mother of Jesus uses when she says “My soul doth magnify the Lord” (Luke 1:46).

It’s the root of the words “magnificence” and “magnificat.” It means to glorify or hold in high regard.

I think we need to do that with church callings as well. We should never belittle what we're asked do.

And when I meet people who do "magnify" the tasks they perform — whether it's cleaning the restrooms or passing out hymn books — I feel uplifted.

I’ve read that Brigham Young — while serving as president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — was also called to serve as the second counselor in the Ensign Ward Sunday School. (Talk about a bold bishop.) And President Young, I’ve heard, not only accepted the new calling, but “magnified” it — he held it in high esteem.

I saw the same thing in action in our own ward last week.

By luck of the draw, our stake patriarch ended up being called to take charge of planning social events for our high priest group. He, too, humbly accepted the call and took it to heart.

For example, I returned home last week to find the stake patriarch’s phone number on our caller ID half a dozen times. I thought maybe the lost tribes had returned. It turned out the stake patriarch/party planner was just checking to see if I’d gotten the punch for the Saturday social. I told him I planned to pick up some orange drink at Wal-Mart, the kind that costs less than bottled water.

He brooded over that notion as if contemplating the end of days.

“It’s kind of a special event,” he said. “Do you think we should have something special to drink?”

I quickly raised the bar on what I considered refreshments and promised to come up with something tasty.

The night of the event, our patriarch arrived 45 minutes early to set things up for the event and make sure things were running smoothly. He stayed 45 minutes afterward to put away the chairs, sweep the floor and pick up stray litter.

An hour after that, he showed up at my front door with some liters of our tasty drink. There had been refreshments left over and he was driving around at 9:30 on a Saturday night, giving stuff to group members.

As I watched him drive away, I thought of all the callings I’d had in the LDS Church and I realized I probably hadn’t held any of my callings with the same high regard — I hadn’t “magnified” them — the way the stake patriarch magnified his calling as our group’s social guru.

The thought made me feel both chagrined and inspired.

I also realized, when we do get to Zion there probably won’t be any “high and low,” “best and worst” or “first and last.” There will just be folks like our stake patriarch — people who see no difference between being high man and low man on the totem pole.

To borrow Paul's analogy, when it came to church callings, our patriarch was both the "head" of the body and one of the "toes" (see 1 Corinthians 12:12). And in his heart, he saw both as vital, invigorating and worthy of his full energy and attention.

Email: jerjohn@deseretnews.com

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