“The flexibility of ministering should allow the Spirit to guide our efforts, not lead us to relax.” That’s the message from Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President in a message to be included in the December 2018 issue of the Ensign.
The article “Where Did My Home and Visiting Teachers Go?” is an “early access article” already published online at ensign.lds.org.
“We are all adjusting to a new way of doing things, and some ministering brothers and sisters may not have understood that although a home visit isn’t the only way to minister, it is certainly a wonderful way to show love and genuine interest—and many members still need it.”
How do I know if I’m ministering to others?
This is a question I hear a lot of sisters and brothers ask. When we reported visits, it was easy to know if we had “done our home/visiting teaching.” We checked a box. We knew it was “done” for the month. But the higher law asks us to care more and be involved in the lives of the people we are assigned to. Now, the questions are higher-level questions. To understand if we are really ministering, we might ask ourselves:
- Do my assigned sisters or families consider me to be a friend?
- Do I know what’s going on in their lives? Do they know what’s going on in my life?
- Do they feel comfortable calling me in an emergency? Do they feel comfortable sharing with me their struggles that aren’t an emergency?
- Have I developed common interests outside the “ministering assignment”?
Sister Bingham explains the following:
For some, the problem may be misunderstanding the purpose of the change. The purpose behind replacing home and visiting teaching with ministering wasn’t simply to change how we take care of each other but to help us be more guided by why.
The ultimate goal of our ministering is to help others become more deeply converted to the Savior Jesus Christ and grow toward their divine potential. The program’s added flexibility isn’t meant to encourage relaxing our efforts; it’s meant to provide greater opportunity for the Spirit to guide our efforts.
So whether or not someone needs a visit today should be based in large part on what will help them move forward on Heavenly Father’s path for them.
The chart below from the article compares the old way of home and visiting teaching with the new way of ministering. (Download a printable PDF of the chart.)
Read the article “Where Did My Home and Visiting Teachers Go?”