Mormons have been taught not to refuse a church calling. Whether you are called to the position of Relief Society President or home teacher, you just say yes. After all, your Church leaders are inspired.
A post on the Mormon blog bycommonconsent.com suggested that, in some cases, the answer should be no. The author argues that family should come first, then Church. Particularly, for a “family-friendly” church. She turned down her most recent calling.
While some agreed with her, one commenter argued that the “just-say-no” strategy places unnecessary burdens on the Bishop and potentially overloads “yes” members. The response to this comment was that the Church has too many make-work callings.
A year or two ago, I had my most recent “no” moment. I was called to be some sort of secretary. (As background, I hate paperwork.) I spend 2 months a year in Africa. I also volunteer monthly in the Navajo Nation. One of my sons and his family live in Washington D.C. I love my volunteer work and I love to travel. The calling seemed less than inspired and I turned it down. Why would the Stake President call me to a position that would cause serious disruption to my chosen retirement activities? Besides I hate paperwork.
My wife had a similar experience. She was teaching the Sunbeams (4-year-olds in Primary). A job she loves. The Bishop wanted to release her and call her to be the Relief Society secretary. My wife was devastated. The Bishop asked me if I could support him? I replied that this was problematic. I should have said “Hell no!” Luckily the Bishop reversed his decision. My wife still teaches the Sunbeams.
What I am as a humanoid is defined by my (non-LDS) volunteer work. Would a loving deity really want to disrupt that? My wife enjoys teaching the Sunbeams, it’s an important part of who she is. Would a loving deity really want to deprive her of that joy?
There are all kinds of reasons to “just say no.” Family responsibilities, interference with job (paid or unpaid), make-work callings, or person preference. And I’m sure there’s a myriad other reasons.