Ministering That Matters
The Savior Jesus Christ came to earth to minister to others, spending His days in their service and giving His life for their salvation (see Matthew 20:27–28). As disciples of the Good Shepherd, we look to Him as our example and we follow His command: “The works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do” (3 Nephi 27:21).
Ministering means doing “the work of the Lord on the earth” and helping others to become true followers of Jesus Christ. That work, President Thomas S. Monson has said, includes reaching out to “the aged, the widowed, the sick, those with disabilities, the less active, and those who are not keeping the commandments.”
As “we extend to them the hand that helps and the heart that knows compassion,” he added, “we will bring joy into their hearts, and we will experience the rich satisfaction that comes to us when we help another along the pathway to eternal life.”
Seek the One
In His parable of the lost sheep, Jesus taught an essential principle of effective ministering: leaving “the ninety and nine in the wilderness” and seeking the one (Luke 15:4; see also Matthew 18:12). Whether a person is lost or has gone astray, whether a family needs a spiritual or temporal blessing, or whether members of a ward or stake seek counsel or strengthening, the principle of seeking the one applies.
During a visit to England in 2011, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said when members of the Quorum of the Twelve minister, they seek individuals, following the “one by one” principle found in the Book of Mormon (see 3 Nephi 11:15; 17:21).
Elder Bednar added: “While I’m in England, the Lord sent me to find a one, and along the way I get to participate in a bunch of meetings, and maybe some good will be done. But the keys of the kingdom were sent here to find a one.”
Act on Inspiration
When we minister, we should actively seek and heed promptings from the Spirit. As President Monson has said, “If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good.”
In an address to Relief Society sisters in September 2013, President Monson told the story of a woman named Sherrie who followed an “unmistakable feeling” to take bread to Tiffany, a woman she barely knew, who lived 30 minutes away.
“And so it happened that the Lord sent a virtual stranger across town to deliver not just the desired homemade bread but also a clear message of love to Tiffany,” President Monson said. “That bread—the very thing she wanted—was delivered to her by someone she barely knew, someone who had no knowledge of her need but who listened to the prompting of the Spirit and followed that prompting.”
In describing the nurturing that new members of the Church received in his day, Moroni wrote, “Their names were taken, that they might be remembered and nourished by the good word of God, to keep them in the right way, to keep them continually watchful unto prayer, relying alone upon the merits of Christ, who was the author and the finisher of their faith” (Moroni 6:4; see also Mosiah 23:18).
Likewise, Heavenly Father’s children in our day—both young and old—need nurturing. Latter-day Saints have covenanted to provide that care by bearing one another’s burdens, by mourning and comforting others, and by standing as witnesses of God (see Mosiah 18:8–9). Ministering that matters includes love and compassion, a listening ear, prayers and priesthood blessings, temporal and spiritual support, and teaching by the Spirit.
“Often small acts of service are all that is required to lift and bless another: a question concerning a person’s family, quick words of encouragement, a sincere compliment, a small note of thanks, a brief telephone call,” said President Monson.
Be Faithful in Your Ministry
During the priesthood session of the October 2013 general conference, President Monson told the story of Dick Hammer, who met and married a Latter-day Saint woman. Willard Milne, assigned as the family’s home teacher, faithfully home taught the family for decades, working to bring Dick into the Church.
If we are likewise faithful in our efforts to minister without giving up, President Monson said, we will bless and be blessed.
“Our efforts in home teaching are ongoing,” he added. “The work will never be concluded until our Lord and Master says, ‘It is enough.’ There are lives to brighten. There are hearts to touch. There are souls to save. Ours is the sacred privilege to brighten, to touch, and to save those precious souls entrusted to our care. We should do so faithfully and with hearts filled with gladness.”
Home Teaching: No Greater Calling
One of the most effective ways we can minister to Heavenly Father’s children is through the home teaching program.
Handbook 2: Administering the Church offers counsel that will help home teachers magnify their ministry to the individuals and families within their stewardship. That ministry includes:
- Remembering the names of those we visit and becoming well acquainted with them (see Moroni 6:4).
- Loving them without judging them (see John 13:34–35).
- Watching over them and strengthening them spiritually “one by one” (3 Nephi 11:15; 17:21).
- Becoming friends with them and visiting them often (see D&C 20:47).
As we magnify our ministry as home teachers, we will also prayerfully prepare for our visits and seek guidance and inspiration from our Heavenly Father in assessing and meeting the needs of the families and individuals—including the children—we home teach.