Working a full-time job will keep you busy. Having a family will keep you busier. And if you also volunteer — or, more specifically, serve in a demanding church calling — at the end of the day, there isn’t enough time in the day.
All callings are important, but they aren’t the same when it comes to taking up space on the calendar. Even though it’s difficult to quantify the “busiest” ward callings, we asked three local bishops to rank the top 10. (Maybe our survey is one reason “bishop” tops the list of busiest ward callings — everyone wants a piece of his time.)
The Church’s “Handbook 2” puts it best: “The bishopric has responsibility for all ward members, organizations and activities.” All three bishops we interviewed agreed on this one, citing both the sheer number of hours spent in meetings — one accounted for 18 hours spent in council, not including other responsibilities — and the emotional energy required to watch over the spiritual welfare of ward members.
- Relief Society President
All three bishops listed Relief Society president as the second-most busy calling in a ward, mostly because the nature of her calling demands a great deal of spiritual energy.“(Busy) is hard to quantify because there are two parts to it — time and effort,” said Michael Jensen, bishop of the North Park 2nd Ward in the North Park Stake in Provo. “The Relief Society president’s time commitment is not necessarily more than the bishop’s counselors, but her calling is very spiritually taxing. She cares for those who are struggling the most temporally and, often, spiritually. Her time spent is like a spiritual concentrate — more potent and powerful, but also very taxing.”
- Bishopric Member
The bishop’s counselors, executive secretary and ward clerks serve alongside the bishop in most of his responsibilities, sharing in the workload of attending meetings and counseling with other ward leaders.
- Young Women President
The Young Women president’s calling is focused on a smaller portion of the ward than previously mentioned callings, but her responsibility to plan activities every week and oversee Sunday instruction makes her calling one of the most time-consuming. She is ultimately responsible for Girls Camp, Youth Conference, mutual activities, youth dances, firesides and other activities.
- Young Men President
The Young Men president’s calling is similar to the Young Women president’s, but his responsibilities overlap with others in the ward. While the Young Women president oversees the 16- and 17-year-old Laurel class, the bishop has responsibility for the equivalent priests quorum. The Scout leader also helps the Young Men president with activity and camp planning.
- Elders Quorum President
Of the 10 callings on the list, Elders Quorum president was one of two that brought back the most drastically different responses — it was ranked third, seventh and eighth, landing it in sixth place on average.
- Scout Leader
Bruce Miller, bishop of the Cedar Hills 6th Ward in the Cedar Hills West Stake, noted that scout leader and Young Men president are similarly administered and thus comparable in overall time commitment. “They essentially are one and the same,” he said.
- Ward Mission Leader
Just as mission needs are different from ward to ward, this calling received different rankings depending on the area of Utah Valley where the bishops lived. In general, though, the ward mission leader — who coordinates member missionary work in the ward — has a less demanding calling in areas with a high concentration of Latter-day Saints, including much of Utah County.
- High Priest Group Leader
Like the Elders Quorum president, the High Priest group leader’s level of responsibility varies from ward to ward depending on the size of the group and the delegation he receives from the bishop and others.
- Primary President
Along with Elders Quorum president, Primary president brought the most disparity in responses among the bishops, bringing in votes for fourth, ninth and 10th.
When all is said and done — and calendared — the quantity of time spent in a calling isn’t the best measure of a person’s quality of service, discipleship or conversion.
“I have seen many members give many hours in their callings,” said Ed Carter, president of the Provo Central Stake. “It is heartening for me to see all the good that is done. When it comes down to it, I consider that a disciple of Christ already has committed to dedicating his or her life to service, so the amount of time in a calling is not the critical thing.”