Compassion is having an awareness of others’ distress along with a desire to lighten or relieve it. A covenant to follow the Savior is a covenant of compassion to “bear one another’s burdens” (Mosiah 18:8). An assignment to watch over others is an opportunity to minister as the Lord would: with “compassion, making a difference” (Jude 1:22). The Lord commanded, “Shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother” (Zechariah 7:9).
Compassion was a driving force in the Savior’s ministry (see sidebar: “A Compassionate Savior”). His compassion for His fellow man caused Him to reach out to those around Him on countless occasions. Discerning people’s needs and desires, He could bless them and teach them in ways that mattered most to them. The Savior’s desire to lift us above our distress led to the ultimate act of compassion: His Atonement for the sins and suffering of humankind.
His capacity to respond to the needs of the people is something that we can strive for as we serve. As we live righteously and listen to the promptings of the Spirit, we will be inspired to reach out in meaningful ways.
Taking upon ourselves the name of Jesus Christ through our baptismal covenant, we witness that we are willing to exercise compassion. President Henry B. Eyring, Second Counselor in the First Presidency, taught that the gift of the Holy Ghost helps us do so: “You are a covenant member of the Church of Jesus Christ. …
“That is why you have a feeling to want to help a person struggling to move forward under a load of grief and difficulty. You promised that you would help the Lord make their burdens light and be comforted. You were given the power to help lighten those loads when you received the gift of the Holy Ghost.”1
For example, a sister in Russia had a difficult family situation that prevented her from attending church for more than a year. Another sister in the branch reached out in compassion every Sunday by calling her to tell her about the talks, lessons, mission calls, babies born, and other news of the branch. When the housebound sister’s family situation was resolved, she felt like she was still a part of the branch because of her friend’s weekly calls.