Follow-up on August’s Council Meeting “How can we prioritize our different responsibilities?”
- I had forgotten to pray one morning and to ask Heavenly Father what to do [for Him] and while I was driving with my kids I offered a little prayer ‘Heavenly Father help me to figure out one thing that you would like me to do today?’ That’s something from the council meeting that I’ve tried to work on. Not long after that I had an impression to text a friend and just tell them, ‘hey I just want to let you know I was thinking of you today. Hope everything is going well. I haven’t told you that I love you lately.’ It wasn’t very long and they texted me back and said, ‘I needed that so much today. I was just praying to find direction and confirmation that what I’m doing is right and praying for comfort and assurance and right after I prayed I got your text.’
That is impressive. That’s motivational for the rest of us. We all want that too!
- I am getting to the age where my friends and I are starting to think about going on missions. A friend of mine got online and found that one of her friends is actually over the Polynesian Center in Hawaii. So she texted them and they said we really need you and they got real excited thinking they would be going to the Polynesian Center. Well, it fell through and then some other people called and asked, ‘How would you feel about the Congo?’ They’re probably going to get their call this Wednesday, but she said they went from paradise to somewhere else. So, we just had a big discussion over the weekend about how they’re feeling about what they were hoping for. She said she doesn’t know where they’re going but you have to think in your mind and change things and be willing to go where You want me to go.
Prioritizing the Lord and where You want me to go. We can have our hopes. That’s another example for the rest of us. I’ll do what You want me to do today, dear Lord.
“True ministers focus on the needs of others.”
In my search, I found out that in every Ensign since the ministering program was put out, there’s an article on ministering principles and guess what September’s is? It’s about meeting the needs of others. I’m going to use this article to help me put some cohesion to this topic. This is how it starts, he says,
“God has invited you to minister to an individual or family in your ward or branch according to their needs. How do you find out what those needs are? The principle of counseling, which has been such a focus in the Church, is key.
After discussing what we might consider counseling about, we will explore:
- Counseling with Heavenly Father.
- Counseling with the assigned individual and family.
- Counseling with our companion.
- And counseling with others assigned to the same individual or family.”
I hope this doesn’t ruin the Spirit, but I have to tell you guys that I’m a big hypocrite in this. I told my daughter this morning we’re going to minister and you’re my partner. So, this is a lesson to myself. Maybe that put you all at ease. I need you guys to teach me.
What do we council about?
“Understanding needs is essential to ministering to one another. But what forms can those needs take, and is there something more than needs that we should find out?
Needs can come in many forms. Those we serve may face challenges that are emotional, financial, physical, educational, and more. Some needs are higher priority than others. Some we will be equipped to help with; others may require us to enlist help ourselves. In our efforts to help meet temporal needs, don’t forget that our call to minister includes helping others progress along the covenant path, preparing for and receiving the priesthood ordinances essential for exaltation.
In addition to counseling about an individual’s or family’s needs, we should seek to learn their strengths. What don’t they need help with? What abilities and gifts do they have that could bless others? How are they uniquely suited to help build the kingdom of God? An individual’s strengths may be as important to understand as his or her needs.”
A sister and I were talking about this topic this week and I asked her to help me. She told me she remembered a scripture that helped her to understand ministering. Do you mind sharing that?
- I remember the testimony I received about ministering and it was more so about counseling and all the things the Lord has been putting together in the direction of the church. This was after they announced the new structure of Relief Society, I read a scripture, I think it was Moroni 6:9 and it talked about the church when they met together they were led by the Spirit in everything. I liken that to ministering in that when we minister to people we’re supposed to have the Spirit with us so that we can see their strengths. I minister to one sister and right now I don’t know what she needs because she is so amazing. But, to look at someone’s strengths and figure out what the Spirit wants me to know.
Moroni 6:9 9 “And their meetings were conducted by the church after the manner of the workings of the Spirit, and by the power of the Holy Ghost; for as the power of the Holy Ghost led them whether to preach, or to exhort, or to pray, or to supplicate, or to sing, even so it was done.”
- So, it sounded like, as they gathered, they didn’t have a set curriculum. They didn’t have a set visiting teaching message. They went by the Spirit. And I think that would create a connection between us and the sisters in the Relief Society that we can’t get if we’re just going off a script because we might be distracted from what that sister needs or what I need. I think the Lord needs us to connect and that connection can happen through the Spirit.
- I was talking to my mother-in-law about this this week and she was saying how my father-in-law is kind of sick of hearing about ministering. He doesn’t really know why we’re talking about it so much. She said ‘the reason we’re talking about ministering is because it’s the same thing that we’ve always been doing, it’s just that we don’t have to feel guilty, we don’t have to feel like we have to do it, but we serve in love. If you’re serving in love then you’re ministering.’
- To take away the guilt!
I think it definitely puts the point of ministering with love. How better to know and love somebody than to serve them and to look for their strengths and recognize their strengths? Not to judge them.
- You know we have so many aspects to the church and when it came to family history, genealogy stuff, they kept saying that we would get the spirit of Elijah. It never hit me. I just kept thinking, ‘what is wrong with me? I don’t get the spirit of Elijah. I don’t really care about those people.’ I was happy to go to the Temple, but as far as digging into it, I didn’t care. Then what happened to us? We are called to be in the family history! Th one thing I could care less about! I have found, and you could call this testimony, that the more you do, the more you care, the more you want to dig. You get in those stories and it gets into your heart. I think the more you do, the more you want to do. It’s probably the very same with ministering to our families and other people. We just learn to love them. We get to know their strengths and weaknesses and we can help where we need to. We can become a part of their family and they can become a part of our hearts and minds. It grows on you.
When I was preparing, I found this blog from a Latter-day Saint woman who talked about her ideas. She did have a great point when she said, ‘this is all a great idea, I get it, but what if you’re assigned to someone that intimidates you, or that’s hard to reach out to, or that makes you uncomfortable?’ She said, ‘I also know that to get to where I need to be, in order to be sanctified and become a better disciple of Christ, I need to stretch. So, what do we do? Well, I’m not a church authority by any means, but I will tell you what I do- I pray like crazy and do it scared. Yep, scared. I love John Wayne’s quote, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”’ I never thought I’d quote John Wayne in church, but there you go! 😊
So, the first point is counseling with Heavenly Father. “One of the central tenets of our faith is that Heavenly Father speaks to His children (see Articles of Faith 1:9). When we receive a new assignment to minister to someone, we should counsel with Heavenly Father in prayer, seeking insight and understanding into their needs and strengths. That process of counseling through prayer should continue throughout our ministering assignment.”
I want to show this 2-minute video. It’s one of the videos they put out when the ministering program started. Just listen and then be ready to share some of the insights you heard.
See the video titled, “Simple, Individualized, and Led by the Spirit” (2:20)
What hit you from that?
- As I was listening, some thoughts came to mind, and it wasn’t necessarily what they were saying, was two things: the theme that we’ve had for sacrament meeting, the gifts of the Spirit and the priorities that we’ve been talking about [this month] – they can all combine. I saw probably our Heavenly Father’s desire that as we cultivate our own ability to feel the Spirit, to prioritize, to learn our own spiritual gifts, I know my patriarchal blessing came to mind and some of the gifts that I have, and what am I doing with them? Am I burying them? Am I hiding them? Or, am I using them to create a better person and then that would or should spill over into my ministering efforts. I think that’s probably what the whole program is for, is for us to minister whether we’re assigned or not. That just becomes a part of us.
- I really like ‘keep it simple.’ Keep it simple, make it fun.
- I loved and I’m not sure who said it, but I loved the ‘focus on outcomes.’ What outcome am I trying to get? My outcome isn’t to say, ‘yep, check it off my to-do list.’ My outcome is to make sure that sister feels welcome or to know that I’m there loving her. If I can focus on the outcome, then I can simplify it. It simplifies it a lot. I don’t need to make sure that on a certain day of the month I drop something off at her door even if I didn’t talk to her for a while. But, I need to make sure that the outcome is what I’m looking for and whether I’m ministering to the sisters that I’m assigned to, or just sisters in the ward, or just to other people. My outcome is to bring happiness, to bring joy, and to bring the Lord’s peace.
- I think we all need friends more than we think we do. We’re all a little bit isolated in our world now. We don’t really get together with women a lot and I have great ministers that come. I know that they care about me. They’ve made it clear that they care about me. I’m just barely getting to know my sisters that I’m going to minister to and it’s neat that they’ve also shared things with me that are special. I look forward to developing those friendships as well. I just think that sometimes we don’t realize – like you said you don’t know where to start and I’ve felt that way before too- but, you’re a good friend to whoever you meet and talk to. You already do that with those you’re friends with. I think we don’t realize how alone some people feel sometimes. If we can just keep thinking about being friends to people. Try to love them and not make it complicated. Sometimes my sisters can’t visit me because I’m busy, but I still know that they care about me and that they would come.
- A couple of examples, before my husband and I moved from our previous state, this was before the new ministering, we had a home teacher that was very consistent. He would ask to see us, or ask to bring us something. He was always consistent and we knew that he cared. I was also thinking that I really struggled with visiting teaching because I’d always dread that call of, ‘did you do it this month?’ I think switching to the way they’re wording it and the way they’re bringing about now is we’re not so focused on did we get the numbers? Did we give the assigned lesson in the Ensign? Now it’s what do they need, or hey, can I help you with this? For example, a sister came over yesterday to help us can pickles and we were like, ‘we can count this as ministering.’ It doesn’t have to be can we come and sit down and do a lesson and report it. It’s much more relaxed and we can take the opportunity to love and to serve without worrying about the stress of that part of it.
- I was watching conference when they announced this and I was with somebody who said, ‘oh I’m glad they’re doing away with visiting teaching.’ She had the attitude and I don’t think she had the true spirit of visiting teaching, but she said, ‘I don’t want somebody coming to my house just because they were assigned to me. I don’t want them to come in acting like they’re my friends because they have the assignment to come.’ A lot of things ran through my head and I thought, ‘how can I respond to this?’ First I was thinking, ‘then she hasn’t been visit taught the right way or she hasn’t gone out and done it or felt the spirit of it.’ So, I felt it was kind of two-sided in that. So, I said, ‘I look at this as this is another step in what Heavenly Father is trusting us to do from what visiting teaching has taught is to do for so many years. It’s taking off that checklist and saying. ‘by doing the visiting teaching, I’ve shown you the way and now this is what you should be doing and how you should be ministering.’ Even though that wasn’t what it was called, that’s what we were doing.’ So, now the pressure is taken off, we really need to be friends to these sisters that we visit. We shouldn’t make the call or a text and say, ‘I’ve been assigned to come and visit you every month. We should be sisters, we should be friends, we should have genuine love and kindness. These are our friends. We should be visiting them and letting them into our home and trying to build new friendships. Not as someone we are assigned to minister to. We’re sisters, whether we’re assigned or not, we should be helping them, but more specifically, to those that we have been asked to check up on and visit.
- Along with what she said, more of a ‘hey I’ve been assigned.’ More of a, ‘I’m your ministering sister, what can I do for you this month?’ Not so focused on the assigned part.
- I have to say, sometimes I have to be assigned. It’s lame, but you know, if I wasn’t assigned I wouldn’t happen to go visit these two new sisters that I didn’t know. I’d stick with my oldy-goldies, you know? I’m grateful that He gets me out of my comfort zone.
- I just had another thought that sometimes with kids and noise I don’t always get to focus on conference, but I don’t know about you, but do you remember President Nelson’s face when he announced the new program? You could tell he wanted to share this new direction and I thought if he can show enthusiasm over it, why can’t we? We should.
- It’s a semantics thing and I understand not everybody feels the same way that I do, but it’s amazing because we aren’t assigned, we are called. That’s a very different thing. I can understand the feeling of being assigned, but we are called and with it comes a mantle of authority. It comes with a responsibility and we receive inspiration on their behalf. And I know there are sisters who are not going to let you in unless you are assigned to come. And once we are called to serve those sisters, I think we are entitled to inspiration in how best to approach that. And if that means never telling that sister that you had a little piece of paper with her name on it, but reaching out to her then absolutely that’s what you should do. That’s why we are supposed to counsel with the Lord. If that means calling them up and saying, ‘as a member of the church you’re supposed to let me in because I have this assignment.’ Then if that’s the way to get in, then that’s what you should do and that’s what’s so amazing about the program is that we have been called to have responsibility for these sisters, we’ve been called to have the authority to help minister to them. You think about how we are supposed to do it the way the Savior did it. This isn’t something that, you know the Savior never said, ‘I have been called to save you, so I’m beneath you, but He said let me wash your feet, let me serve you.’ And we have been called with that responsibility and that’s an awesome thing to be able to serve as the Savior did.
- I think the calling, like she said, goes both ways too. We are entitled to inspiration for them, but then also, how many times have you learned from the people you were called from? I know there are times that I learn so much from the dear sisters that I was able to visit with.
- I remember once upon a time that they said, you really need to be willing to let home teachers or visiting teachers come, don’t make it hard on them. I think when we talked about the needs, don’t make it hard on your people. If you have a need, say something. Don’t make it hard on them and make them guess. Because this isn’t a ‘let’s see if we can understand everybody’s needs all the time.’ It’s not that easy.
- I was assigned to visit teach a sister in my ward a few years ago and she was actually the Relief Society president and she said, ‘don’t come to me, you don’t need to come because I’m fine, I already know what I need.’ I always felt kind of bad about that because she didn’t want us to come and I never really got to know her in the way that I would’ve as her visiting teacher. So, let them come, let them help you, let them come in.
I remember a lady in my ward growing up, I think I must have been old enough to be in Relief Society, but she shared what not to do and I hope you see the humor in it because it’s exactly a nice story, but she was having a regular day like fighting with her teenager and not feeling very good about things and then she found out that her father-in-law passed away. Moments after this news, her visiting teachers come and it was this assigned time they had talked about it earlier and so she answered the door and the visiting teachers perceived it was a little bit chaotic in her house and they said, ‘oh, what’s going on?’ She said, ‘I just found out my father-in-law died and this other stuff is going on at home.’ And the sister said, ‘I can see that we caught you at a bad time, we’ll let you go.’
- What happened to me, I was sick as a dog and this lady came and she said, ‘oh I came to do visiting teaching but I can see you are really sick.’ I really needed help, but she left and I started balling. She didn’t understand that obviously, and I didn’t ask for help, but it did happen to me. Since then I’ve thought I need to be close to the Spirit and not and not judge, but I know she didn’t want to come in and get the flu or whatever. So, it does happen and I think we do need to recognize that some people really need some help sometimes.
- I think it’s like the one sister said, sometimes we get so intimidated that we think they really don’t want us. We’re really intimidated by them, or they’re really busy and have a lot going on and I don’t really know this lady. Deep down they’re thinking, ‘please just help me, I’m really sick and need it. Or, please just come and sit with my teenagers for two seconds so I can help the other kids.’ You know what I mean? We might not see it that way, we might just see it as you’re upset right now and should leave you be, but maybe just do instead of asking. I have this friend and her sister has cancer and and she calls herself prideful because she hates asking for help and that’s hard to do. She said there’s been many, many people this whole time that they didn’t give her the choice. They said ‘I’m coming and I’m bring you this, or I’m coming and I’m picking up your daughter and we’re taking her to the park, does this time work?’ You know? Otherwise, she would’ve said, ‘I’m fine, I really don’t need help.’ When really, deep down, she was just thinking that she needs someone. And they did- they just came and did. They said, ‘I’m coming with dinner will this time work?’ Not saying, ‘What night would work?’ We don’t want to be too pushy, we’re not going to bust in people’s doors and say I’m coming no matter what, but just doing. One thing that I think is really cool that I’ve learned from my dad growing up – he just does. He just plows everyone’s snow, he does stuff without even knowing their name. He just does it. He doesn’t ask the neighbors if they need it, he just does it. I think that’s the way they’re [church leaders] are wanting this to go is just helping and learning and seeing what really needs to be taken care of.
- I have another example of home teachers or ministers, I don’t know how many of you have had a husband in the military and deployed, but they say once they’re gone, that’s when things go wrong. It was probably not even a month after my husband had deployed and I was pulling into our garage [in the previous state we lived in] and I thought, ‘something doesn’t smell right.’ I get out and it smells like burning oil and sure enough as I pulled into the garage, oil is just pouring out from underneath. I was by myself with my two kids and I wondered, ‘what am I going to do?’ The first thing I thought of was to call my home teacher. He’s not a mechanic per se, but he came and said, ‘my friend is right over there at a garage and I’m going to take your car and we’re going to get it taken care of.’ And we got it taken care of and it was nice that I could call them and say, ‘I need help.’ I’m not normally one that will ask very often for things like that, but I was like, ‘ok, suck it up, stop being so prideful, and ask for help.’
All of your stories make me think of the times someone asked us, ‘what do you need?’ and we’d be like, ‘I don’t know, I think I’m good.’ But, there’s times when we need to call on people and that’s such a gift that Heavenly Father’s given us. It’s not just for our benefit, but we are getting these gifts that people that can come and help us and use their strengths to help us in our lives.
I have loved everything you all have said. We got through the first one, counseling with our Heavenly Father, but it’s probably the most important thing. The second thing would be counseling with that individual. I think we kind of hit on that too.
Some things you could think about as you’re getting to know this person,
- “What are the challenges they face?
- What are their family or individual goals? For example, do they want to be better at holding regular family home evening or be more self-reliant?
- How can we help them with their goals and challenges?
- What gospel ordinances are coming up in their lives? How can we help them prepare?
Remember to offer specific help, such as, “Which night can we bring a meal to you this week?” A vague offer, like, “Let us know if there’s anything we can do,” is not very helpful.”
I know that we have all been guilty of saying that.
- I know we’re out of time, but it’s been itching at me the whole time. Our teacher today said she’s a hypocrite and I just wanted to share a time when she ministered to my grandma. My grandma shared it with me a couple of times and I don’t know if it’s cuz it was so special to her or if she’s just getting old and just forgets [laughter], but you saw that she was having a hard time with something that was going on and she got a big yellow bowl from the dollar store and filled it with a bunch of yellow things that was just bright and yellow and happy. She took it to my grandma and I don’t think she was her ministering partner at the time, and my grandma shared that with me more than once. It was so special to her that she saw someone that needed recognizing that she would do something and she brought it to her. It inspired me. I was still living in another town at the time and the point I want to get across is, when you minister and people see you ministering it inspires them to do it too. It inspired me. My husband was working at a college and one of his coworkers lost their daughter and I had been wanting to do something for the little girl’s mom and I didn’t know what to do. I knew a lot of people were around and helping them and I didn’t know what to do. So, my grandma shared that with me and their little girl that they lost, she loved pink. I went to the dollar store and I bought a bunch of pink glittery stuff and a jar of peanut butter because she had shared that had smeared peanut butter on her hair one time, and then some glitter because she sprinkled it everywhere. It inspired me to see someone else ministering and this lady wasn’t even in my ward, but I just took it and left it on her porch and didn’t say who it was from, but I left a little note. I just wanted to say that our teacher isn’t a hypocrite, she’s great. Seeing other people minister helps and it spreads the love.
I just want to bear my testimony that I think it’s things like this that Heavenly Father really wants us to stretch and grow. It’s a gift to us. It shouldn’t be a burden. We all have needs and there’s all kinds of people out there that can help fulfill our needs. We all have strengths and talents that can help fulfill other’s needs. I hope we will keep the Spirit with us, that we can be in tune to where those needs can be filled and what we can do to help. I leave that with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Challenge for this week:
- Counsel with Heavenly Father for inspiration as you get to know the sisters you minister to.
- Counsel with your companion as you each contact and serve your sisters. Keep each other informed of progress in getting to know your sisters and strive to make time to visit your sisters in their homes.
- Counsel with those who you minister to- ask specific questions to get to know them and for specific ways to serve them.
- NEXT WEEK: Please study the following talk, “Until Seventy Times Seven” by Elder Lynn G. Robbins (Gen. Conf. Apr 2018).