This has to spring from the heart

This post is part of the General Conference Odyssey. This week covers the Saturday Morning Session of the October 1997 Conference. 
Some time ago, maybe around the time the church changed "visiting teaching" to "ministering," I started thinking about ministering and assignments. It has never bothered me that we have ministering assignments in our wards—in fact, I love it because it means (theoretically) that no one gets forgotten. It makes sense to me that even though heartfelt, spontaneous actions are good, planned and dutiful actions can also be good. But, something about the change in focus with ministering made me think about other ministering stewardships I might have in my life—the unassigned ones. I thought about various people I interact with and feel a certain pull toward—and I recognized that "pull" as the spirit telling me, "These people are your personal ministering responsibility as well."

I'm not perfect at it, but as I've worked on "official" ministering in my ward, I think I have improved at remembering these other people in my life too, and I try to reflect on them and widen that circle from time to time as well. I try to remember them in my prayers and think of small thoughtful ways I can reach out to them. Even though I do honestly love most of these people, thinking about them isn't automatic; it takes effort and intent. It's easy to get caught up in my own life and forget. Even a smile and a friendly word across the back fence takes a certain amount of outgoing-ness and commitment that isn't effortless for me. So I have to work at it, and I am working at it.

I thought about all of that as I read this talk, "Care for New Converts" by Elder Carl B. Pratt. I really liked this quote:
Brothers and sisters, we have the richest blessings that God can give to His children. We have the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ought to be the most open, friendly, happy, kind, considerate, thoughtful, loving people in the whole world. Now, we do pretty well at fulfilling callings, at going to meetings, at paying our tithing; but have we learned to truly live the second great commandment: “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself”? This is not something that can be assigned to the elders quorum or to the visiting teachers; this has to spring from the heart of every true disciple of Christ, a person who will look automatically and without being asked for opportunities to serve, to uplift, and to strengthen his fellowman.

We are reminded of the Savior’s words, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Will nonmembers, new converts, and visitors to our chapels recognize us as His disciples by the warmth of our greeting, by the ease of our smiles, by the kindness and genuine concern that shine in our eyes?
I don't think I can claim to "look automatically" for these "extra" service opportunities, the ones outside of my official callings and assignments. But I'm trying to look for them…un-automatically; that is, I'm trying to THINK to look for them. I definitely have the desire to do so. I have seen so clearly the difference it makes in a ward, and in my own life, when there are loving friends who take their unassigned moments and use them to "serve, uplight, and strengthen" others! I have been the recipient of this kind of love many times, and it makes me want to be that kind of friend myself for those in my own personal "ministering" circle.

Elder Pratt concludes:
In building the kingdom of God, every positive act, every friendly greeting, every warm smile, every thoughtful, kind note contributes to the strength of the whole. It is my prayer that we may be open and outgoing, friendly, and helpful to all who come among us.… Let us conscientiously look for occasions to show that love which the Savior admonished us to have when He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another.”

Other posts in this series:

Wisdom—by Rozy

1 comment

  1. Marilyn, I finally figured out how I can keep up with the reading and posting! It takes a while to get into the rhythm of it. I enjoyed Elder Pratt's talk too. For four years I've tried to do better at ministering, but I fall short of the ideal. As I've read these past talks I'm amazed at how often "ministering" is taught. We should have been doing it all along!


Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top