By Becky Squire
It's been over two years since The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints moved from home and visiting teaching to a new and holier way called Ministering. As I listened to talks about ministering and talked to my family and friends about this change, I felt that it was less of a checklist and more of an individualized concept. However, with less "rules," it can also feel like a guessing game. Does a neighborly chat on an evening walk or a text about a funny occurrence count as ministering? Are you doing it right?
In the spirit of ministering, we should all seek personal revelation on how we can best serve those around us. Ministering can be done in a variety of individualized ways. Sister Jean B. Bingham said, "it looks like visiting in person or talking on the phone or chatting online or texting."
While introducing the new approach to ministering, President Nelson said, "Effective ministering efforts are enabled by the innate gifts of the sisters and by the incomparable power of the priesthood. We all need such protection from the cunning wiles of the adversary."
While there's no checklist, no report to turn in, and no quarterly interviews, I believe there is one important rule to ministering effectively: Become part of someone's life. If that is your goal - and you try with a sincere heart - it won't matter whether you visit, talk, or text or how often it's done.
Becoming Part of Someone's Life
Elder Holland reminds us that Heavenly Father needs our help with the task of "answering prayers, providing comfort, drying tears, and strengthening feeble knees. If we will do that, we will be more like the true disciples of Christ we are meant to be."
It's all about 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 (Matthew 18:12; Luke 15:4). Ministering will look different for every individual. One person might appreciate a regular visit, while another might enjoy a text here and there. The point of ministering is to know that person well enough to know not only what they would prefer, but what they really need. It's about learning of and attending to your family, friends, and neighbors. It is doing the Lord’s work. When you minister, you are representing Jesus Christ and acting as His agent to watch over, lift, and strengthen those around you.
“Therefore they did watch over their people, and did nourish them with things pertaining to righteousness,” (Mosiah 23:18).
Ministering includes love and compassion, a listening ear, prayers and priesthood blessings, temporal and spiritual support, and teaching by the Spirit. 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.
When we minister, we should seek and heed promptings from the Spirit. As President Monson said, “If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good.”
So stop worrying about if you are doing it right. If you put in the effort to become part of someone's life and rely on personal revelation, you will build a genuine relationship and love for that person and ministering will come naturally.
Becky Squire is a writer and speaker. She has been published in several media outlets including the Ensign, LDS Living, and the Today Show. She's also the founding editor of Latter-Day Woman Magazine. Follow Becky Squire on Instagram