Everyone has heard of Murphy’s Law. There are several variations of this universal principle, but most of them are connected somehow tothe following true statement: “whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.” Meaning, you can’t reasonably expect good things to happen. What many members don’t realize, however, is that this secular predictive principle has made its way into the church service culture. It goes something like this: “one never gets called to serve in positions they think they would enjoy;” or other side of this same coin, which is “one is bound to be assigned to serve in positions, places, or at times they personally dislike.” The big news, however, is that like Murphy’s Law, I’ve given it an official name: “The Mormon Third Eye Law of Church Service.” The title is certainly appropriate, for the Mormon Third Eye itself has been haunted and punished by this law all of his adult life.
My first encounter with the Mormon Third Eye of Church Service occurred when I turned 19 and sent in my mission papers. I barely had a testimony and virtually no communication skills, so I secretly desired the easiest, most harmless call possible- perhaps the American Fork Northeast Mission? Ironically, when I opened the letter from the prophet, and read that I had been called to the Korea Pusan Mission, my initial reaction was… “where in the heck is Pusan, Korea?” Statistically speaking, there wasn’t a place farther away from home than Pusan, Korea, and there wasn’t a language more difficult to learn than Korean.
I ran into The Mormon Third Eye Law of Church Service again after I was married and began lobbying with the Lord and practically every ward leader who would listen my secret, heartfelt, righteous desire to serve in the nursery. The day I was released from my service as a bishop, I knew that the new bishop had been specifically instructed by the Stake President that his first duty was to find something for Bro. Tait to do in the ward. I pulled rank in my last bishopric meeting that morning and repeatedly but politely informed our executive secretary, who I knew would continue to serve with the new bishop, that I would be delighted to fill any holes in the nursery. So, the next week, our new bishop called me to serve… as a ward missionary. Ironically, for a short time when my youngest turned nursery age and couldn't wait to leave his parents behind and play in the nursery, I was called to serve... in the nursery
Lest a reader incorrectly assume that the law applies only to spending time in the nursery:
- When I entertained random thoughts of how boring it must be to attend high priests group, I was called to serve as the high priests group leader.
- When I casually noted out loud that serving as a high priests group leader was the easiest job in the church because all the brethren in our group were experienced members and leaders who always accepted and completed assignments, I was promptly released and called to serve as… the Young Men’s President.
- When I thanked the Lord in my personal prayers for the privilege and joy of serving young men as a scoutmaster and having to worry solely about their advancement in scouting, I was immediately given something more serious to worry about and called to serve as... a bishop.
Some people, even some inspired church leaders, try to teach us that opportunities to serve are actually opportunities to grow, and you only grow through facing and overcoming challenges- “there must needs be that there is opposition in all things. “ However, I know the truth- it is really the Mormon Third Eye Law of Church Service in operation. I’ve even tried reverse psychology and spread the word among ward members that I hate pre-school anklebiters and hope that I never get asked to serve in the nursery- but evidently the Lord can see through that.
Hence, I recommend not even trying to game or subvert the Mormon Third Eye Law of Church Service. Just go with the flow- be surprised with what the Lord has in store for you, and look forward to learning skills and understanding doctrine and principles you would never think to seek on your own dime or time.