I am totally loving the new ministering emphasis on non-traditional visits as opposed to sit-down visiting teaching lessons.
I am also a super-busy working mom and have been trying to figure out how to best minister to my sisters. In fact, the other day I was walking down the sidewalk near my neighbor’s home (who happens to be one of the sisters I minister to) and saw a few weeds. I knew she had been out of town and decided to pull them for her. So I rounded up a few of my kids and we got to pulling.
Just to be funny, I texted her a little picture of my son pulling the weeds and said, “And this is how I minister-FYI.” She replied with, “Oh, thank you! That’s the best ministering ever!”
Now, had she been a young mom, I bet one or two freezer meals might have been the best ministering ever.
If she were an invalid widow, a simple visit to chat about life would have been the best ministering ever.
If she were a single, working mom, sending one of my sons over to mow her lawn might have been the best ministering ever.
And if she had been a a busy grandma who was out of town helping a daughter with a newborn, maybe just a simple text of encouragement would have been the best ministering ever.
I recalled the statement by Sister Jean B. Bingham who recently said:
No matter our age, when we consider how to minister most effectively, we ask, “What does she [or he] need?” Coupling that question with a sincere desire to serve, we are then led by the Spirit to do what would lift and strengthen the individual.
The Five Love Languages and Ministering
I really started contemplating this whole “catering ministering to fit their needs” concept and I suddenly remembered the 5 Love Languages™ which were defined by Dr. Gary Chapman, a seasoned marriage counselor. You might be familiar with what Dr. Chapman discovered as the five main ways that couples communicate and receive love:
- Words of Affirmation
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
- Quality Time
Although Dr. Chapman’s original book focused on the how the Love Languages apply to marriage and romantic relationships, he has also authored books on how these styles apply to parenting and even in the workplace.
And I think the Five Love Languages could totally apply to ministering. After all, ministering is a way of showing charity, the pure love of Christ, to those around us.
Now, Sister Bingham’s statement about being led by the Spirit is very true as it relates to knowing how and when to serve. But I know it would really help us to be more specific with our ministering if we knew a little bit about the recipient’s Love Language.
Many people have read the book and know their Love Language, so the first thing we can do is simply ask the sisters we minister, “What is your Love Language?”
If they don’t know and are willing to find out, just send them to this website where they can take a 5 Love Languages quiz.
Another way to find out a particular sister’s Love Language is to observe how she shows love. Most of us want to receive love in the same way we give it. For example, if she is the first to clean someone’s house when they are moving out, or make a casserole for a new mom…chances are she’s an “Acts of Service” gal.
Once you have figured out their Love Language, here are some ideas on how to apply it to ministering:
Words of Affirmation
Send an encouraging text or meme
Drop off a note detailing all of her amazing qualities
Stop by her home when she is facing a trial and let her know that she is strong and can make through!
Acts of Service
Pull weeds in her garden
Help her make freezer meals
Fold laundry with her
Help her make 300 cream puffs for her daughter’s wedding reception
Do a traditional visit (as my husband calls it, “Visiting Talking”)
Take her to lunch
Make a phone call to let her know you care and are willing to spend more time with her than it takes to just text, “How are you doing?”
A fun little gift bag full of baked goods or dollar store items will actually make her day, or even week!
Give her a cute framed version of your favorite uplifting quote or meme
Drop by a bouquet of flowers on her birthday (or any day!)
Note: This is typically more applicable in romantic and family relationships. If your ministering sister’s Love Language is physical touch, be sure to find out what her secondary Love Language is as well (but you can still stop by to pay her a traditional visit and a give her hug if she needs one!)
None of the above items will take hours and hours of our time. In fact, most are small and simple acts of kindness that affirm the following quote by Sister Cheryl A. Esplin:
“Service doesn’t have to be big and grandiose to be meaningful and make a difference.”
As we magnify our calling to minister by taking the time to know and understand our sisters’ needs, filling both big and small, we will truly become instruments in the Lord’s Hands.