Every 2 weeks there is a church-wide LDS Photo Challenge that anyone can participate in, and which is included among the regular Church Service Missionary photographer assignments. (You can go here if you're interested in being included in these photo challenge opportunities.)
I don't always take these opportunities sometimes because they're not things that are particularly convenient for me to find, or because I'm not inspired by the topic, or because my week is just too busy to fit in that particular thing. And since these challenges are low among the other CSM priorities, I often will just wait to even read these emails until I know for sure how my week is going to look.
The current photo challenge topic is Ward and Stake Leadership.
Nope. Not particularly inspiring. Inconvenient. Way too many release forms required. And my next two weeks were going to be swamped. I didn't even bother to delay opening that one. I just deleted it.
And then my very dear friend, who also happens to be the Stake Clerk, emailed me and said that the Stake Presidency wanted to make sure I was aware of the photo challenge and suggested that I get pictures of all the ward councils and bishopric meetings in the stake. (ack...)
The deadline for this project is April 17th...which would mean photo shoots would either have to happen after or between 4 full run through DMCO rehearsals, two ward choir practices, one sacrament meeting organ substitution, a Gospel Doctrine lesson, getting snacks and flowers for Jenny Oaks Baker, two DMCO concerts, the ward luau, and whatever other life events I might have forgotten...
ok...it might not be convenient, but it was possible...maybe...and maybe when it rains responsibilities, it also rains blessings??
I didn't manage to make any phone calls to get into bishopric meetings or ward council meetings for last Sunday because seriously, it was all I could do to make it through last Sunday alive, and if you asked Craig he would say that I didn't even really do that.
In the middle of the week, though, I had a slightly different inspiration with this assignment, and decided to try a different direction before diving into the foreign territory of calling Bishops and asking for permission to sit in their meetings with a camera...ugh!
I have some good friends in some non-priesthood leadership positions in my ward and in the stake, and I found it much less intimidating, and a heck of lot more convenient to ask them if I could drop in on their meetings and take a few pictures. They already knew about my calling, and they already like me, so they were willing to let me interrupt them and practice my 5-7 minute explanation of what the heck I was doing there with a camera in the first place and where these pictures were potentially going to show up. I'll work up to bishopric meetings and ward councils next week.
And after a couple of these photo shoots, guess what happened?
Well, first, I got pretty good at the 5-7 minute explanation thing, and really good at getting what I needed and getting out of there without being too disruptive. But, even more than that, I left both of those photo shoots with a greater love for the sisters who lead these auxiliary church programs and a greater desire to capture the things they do and submit mass quantities of pictures of them to the church.
I'm sure there are tons of people this week who will take pictures of the priesthood, and bishopric meetings, and that's awesome because those men do great things. But with three daughters who are embarking on future leadership positions in this church, it's been a pretty great opportunity for them to see me editing pictures of these women who they typically only see in a much more casual setting. Megan asked me what I was submitting these pictures for and I told her the topic was Ward and Stake Leadership and she said, "Oh, that's cool! I would have thought you would have taken pictures of the Bishop."
I've never been an activist kind of a girl. I don't believe I should have the exact same roles and responsibilities my husband has. I'm very content with my divinely appointed role as wife and mother. But with that also comes an opportunity to lead and teach not just in my home, but in my ward and in the community and on social media and wherever else I choose to stand. And I think that this rising generation of girls needs to know that they can look not just to their dads as examples of leadership, but also to their moms and grandmothers, to the sister missionaries serving in their ward, to the Bishop's wife, to their teachers and their YW leaders. And that ALL of the auxiliary presidents have a voice of influence in those ward and stake council meetings.
"Sisters, do you realize the breadth and scope of your influence when you speak those things that come to your heart and mind as directed by the Spirit? My dear sisters, whatever your calling, whatever your circumstances, we need your impressions, your insights, and your inspiration. We need you to speak up and speak out in ward and stake councils. We need each married sister to speak as “a and partner” as you unite with your husband in governing your family. Married or single, you sisters possess distinctive capabilities and special intuition you have received as gifts from God. We brethren cannot duplicate your unique influence.So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God—more than you ever have before. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!" - Russell M NelsonIt is an awesome thing to read Savannah's letters and hear about the training she is receiving as a leader in her mission. How grateful I am for the opportunity she has to learn to lead righteously, because she's such a natural leader. Holy cow! Who wouldn't want to follow that girl?
I'm so grateful for such an unexpected and overwhelming opportunity to see things that I didn't even think I needed to see, to share a teaching moment with all four of my children, and to support and sustain all of the ward and stake leadership in a completely different way this week.
Oh, how I love this calling!