A new year typically calls for a fresh start and if you feel like your ministering efforts were sub-par last year, now is a great time to renew your commitment to serving your fellow man (or woman). Here are a few ways you can enrich your ministering this year:
Do You Know Your Neighbor?
It can be quite difficult to serve people if you do not know much about their life, their interests, their needs, their challenges. We don’t need to know their deepest, darkest secrets, but it would help to know that their grandchildren are coming to visit next week, their wife has been ill for several days, or that they will be having surgery in a month. Find out a little more about your ministering brothers or sisters this year by making a visit, giving them a phone call, staying up on their social media posts, or sending them a text to see how everything is going.
A Few of Their Favorite Things
Just taking notice of your ministering brother or sisters likes and dislikes can really help you increase the quality of your service. If you know that chocolate cupcakes are their favorite treat, take some over when you see a post on Facebook that they are having a hard day. If you know they love reading, let them borrow the latest book you’ve enjoyed. We all feel a little more loved when someone has taken the time to get to know us more than just on the surface.
Setting an alarm on your phone or posting a note on your fridge to keep your ministering brothers or sisters in your thoughts may seem mechanical, but our busy schedules necessitate little reminders like these. In conjunction with our commitment to listen to the still, small voice of the Holy Ghost, these little outward promptings will help us stay focused on serving our fellow man.
By Small and Simple Things
Sometimes a small and simple prompting to do a small and simple thing can make a world of difference to someone. Many a story has been told about an individual getting a phone call at just the right time, or being given a vase of flowers in the exact moment they needed buoyed up.
Support the Whole Family
I remember a sweet sister in my former ward who really supported not just her fellow relief society sisters, but also their families. When it was the first day of school, she would take the children a little snack bag and good luck card. When the youth successfully performed in a concert or dance recital, she would send them a congratulatory note with a small candy bar. In addition, this sister would often make an effort to attend the special events that the children participated in, whether it be a soccer game or a school play. What an impression it makes on a child, and a parent, when they know you would take the time to support them.
Connecting through Social Media
We live in a fast-paced world where it is sometimes hard to connect in real life with other people, even when they live right next door! Don’t use this as an excuse not to communicate with the brothers or sisters you minister to. Reach out to them via technology if necessary! If they have a Facebook or Instagram account, make a positive comment on their posts every so often. A kind word is a kind word, whether it’s typed or spoken.
One is the Loneliest Number
Do you minister to a brother or sister who lives alone? Have you ever considered that the simple activities of going shopping, watching a movie or eating out at a restaurant might get lonely for them? This year, consider inviting them to lunch, on a drive in the country, or even as a companion while you run errands. You never know how much connecting with another person might mean to them when they spend the majority of the day alone.
Many Hands Make Light Work
In a previous article I wrote, I mentioned one of the Love Languages is “Acts of Service.” If this happens to be the Love Language of the brothers or sisters you minister to, consider pitching in when they have a particularly difficult task to undertake. Whether it be ironing 20 tablecloths for their daughter’s wedding reception, or raking the mountain of leaves produced after a fall windstorm, your assistance could be a great deal more meaningful to them then the plate of cookies you were planning on dropping off.
A Listening Ear
My husband used to refer to the Visiting Teaching program as “visiting talking.” I took that as somewhat of an insult, but looking back, it was maybe more of a compliment. Sometimes service and love are just shown by letting someone talk. Being a listening ear is a way of showing Christlike love and compassion, especially when we do so for someone who doesn’t often have a friend to talk to.
As you strive to improve your ministering efforts this year, keep in mind one of Sister Camilla Kimball’s favorite sayings, “Never suppress a generous thought.” No matter how insignificant it might seem (or how strange), if the act you are prompted to do involves uplifting someone else, then chances are it’s exactly what God knows they need. And if you accept the challenge, you are precisely the way He is going to get it done.