I know that we are supposed to always serve joyfully. Whenever and whatever asked.
Lately I've been struggling with that.
I recognize that some of this is of my own making. My involvement in last night's Pinewood Derby is a case in point--I wanted it to be nice for my own kid and took too much on myself that might have been easily and (equally successfully) delegated. There are areas to simplify my own service and if I'm not happy then I can see places I need to make changes.
My husband on the other hand ends up a little bit more stuck than I do. He is the Elders' Quorum President and I'm surprised by how much of his calling-time is made up of things that others need/ask/want him to do. Outside of his regular meetings he ends up doing a lot of visiting--either as a stand-in Home Teaching companion or with his presidency to get to families that haven't been visited in many months. He does exchanges with the missionaries and teaches the quorum on a regular basis. This is in addition to his regular home teaching route. This spring, in the last month or two on Saturdays, he's been to three moves and been the only one from our ward to show up at a service assignment at the stake camp, He also had to work one Saturday. Not long ago I heard him pray for a Saturday to open up so he could get his stuff done around the house. Not fun stuff, mind you . . . mostly stuff for me.
He has planned to rip out the floor and toilet in our bathroom, and last Saturday finally was free for him to do it. In the middle of the week he checked an email message that had come through the previous Saturday (he doesn't check his email very often.) It was a "reminder" that his Elders' Quorum was responsible for taking down the Stake Relief Society activity in the middle of the day on Saturday! He contacted the person and asked her how on earth it could be a reminder when this was the first he'd heard of it. She explained that she is a fairly new secretary and that she was told that there was an assignment calendar that was supposed to be good through 2017 (!!) and somehow none of the current EQ presidents seemed to have a copy of it.
Plantboy sent out the word to his email group--a mixed response proposition at best and said to me with a tired sigh, "I thought the whole point of those round tables was that sisters were supposed to be able to set them up and take them down on their own?" I had heard this somewhere once myself.
I was reminded of being in the young women's and being constantly bombarded with service requests--can't the girls just volunteer to babysit for such-and-such activity? For couples to go to the temple? Won't the girls serve at the Christmas dinner? We know there is an activity, church and fireside this week but we also need them on Thursday night to hold a meeting about. . . . You get the gist. I sometimes felt that the girls ended up so over-committed because they were seen as perpetually available and willing to those not in their lives.
I recognize that some of what my husband has going on is directly related to the fact that our ward experiences a particularly low activity rate--something perhaps most pronounced among the elders. He can't compel them to serve, of course, nor can he seem to stop the constant bombardment of requests to do more service.
So here are the questions I have. When is it okay to say "no?" Is it okay to say it even if you know it means that something won't be accomplished? Something somebody else views as really important? When we raise hands to sustain somebody, what is the extent of that? Does it mean that I need to babysit for a friend whose husband is out of town nearly every week when she is supposed to be at Young Women's? Even if being asked to do so makes me wonder why she said yes/was asked in the first place? When does all the doing take away from the "why" of the Gospel?
Just in case you were wondering: Plantboy did not help on Saturday, and only two men showed up to help. I didn't go to the RS activity: I chose to spend the afternoon working on scrapbooks with a friend. When we got to Church on Sunday we realized that we had forgotten a building-cleaning assignment. The reminder had come in the mail Friday, which I had failed to check.