This is not meant to be a comfortable conversation. So, if you’re not in a place to face some potentially harsh truths, click away now. It’s totally okay.
However, you should also know we’re not here to shame you or make you feel so discouraged you’re unable to act. We’re here to do the complete opposite! Ministering is all about taking action. Personal, courageous, spirit-filled action. Consider these words from Michelle D. Craig:
Each of us, if we are honest, feels a gap between where and who we are, and where and who we want to become. We yearn for greater personal capacity. We have these feelings because we are daughters and sons of God, born with the Light of Christ yet living in a fallen world. These feelings are God-given and create an urgency to act. We should welcome feelings of divine discontent that call us to a higher way.
We all fall on a spectrum of ministering success. A lot of good-hearted ministering rock stars exist. But a lot of people also struggle and sometimes we just need a bit of clarity on what to do. If you don’t complete your ministering assignments and want to better understand what may be holding you back, consider these ideas and learn more how to overcome them.
When we think of being selfish, we often create a caricature in our mind of hoarding goodies, crushing the lesser-thans, or blatantly ignoring those in extreme distress. Selfishness, especially when it pertains to good, hard-working Latter-day Saints, is much more subtle than that. It presents itself in busy days, one-track minds, and an often unknown addiction to comfort.
Because of selfishness, we choose to stay in our comfort zones rather than do something uncomfortable for the sake of someone else. We may be too concerned with our own schedules to make time for others. We may focus on the good and the better, rather than the best. We may always be thinking of what we want to say in a conversation, rather than actively listening. We may not take the time to text back, call back, or reach out.
Elder Jeffrey R. Holland reminds us that, “True love blooms when we care more about another person than we care about ourselves. That is Christ’s great atoning example for us, and it ought to be more evident in the kindness we show, the respect we give, and the selflessness and courtesy we employ in our personal relationships.”
By earnestly striving to put someone else first (especially those we have been assigned to minister to), you automatically invite time, resources, and power into your life to serve in more powerful ways.
Here are 3 small ways to overcome selfishness:
- Say prayers where you only ask for things on behalf of others.
- Do something you’re not interested in, but your ministering friends are.
- Try to complete one small act of service every day.
Reaching out can be intimidating. Fear isn’t just jumping out of your skin in a haunted house. You may feel anxious about talking to people you don’t know. You may be worried about how people will react if you try to help them. You may be scared that truly ministering to someone will require more than you are currently willing to give or even cause you some form of pain.
Elder Enzio F. Busche one said, “The pain of sacrifice lasts only one moment. It is the fear of the pain of sacrifice that makes you hesitate to do it.”
Bolser your confidence by serving boldly. Try to act upon promptings without hesitation when it comes to your ministering efforts. Rely on the power of Jesus Christ to help you navigate your feelings and not be overwhelmed by them. Remember that consistently doing something can help diminish your fear of it.
Here are 3 small ways to overcome fear:
- Ask, am I more scared of what people think of me or what God thinks of me?
- Act on any prompting to do good (large or small) the very moment it comes.
- Contact your ministering friends right now and ask them how they’re doing.
You’re Forgetting the Spirit
Ministering, according to President Russell M. Nelson, is “a newer, holier approach.” Instead of regimented lessons and checklist visits, we’ve been invited to seek the spirit in much more active ways. Endless ideas exist on how to minister and it’s easy to become lost in it all. Do you visit? Do you drop off goodies? Do you write letters? How do you serve naturally with someone you’ve been assigned to look after?
To make sense of it all, you need the spirit. It’s absolutely essential. Unfortunately, our selfishness and fear can stop us from receiving such vital inspiration. If you want to do a better job at ministering, it begins and ends with the influence of the Holy Ghost.
Here are 3 small ways to remember the spirit when ministering:
- Ask, am I focusing on how I want to serve or how my friend needs to be served?
- Pray daily for those you minister to.
- Visit with your ministering friends and ask how they like to be ministered to.
At the end of the day, our struggles and successes with ministering will be unique. Everyone is different and what may work for you may not work for someone else. As long as we begin with an honest desire to be a better shepherd to God’s children, we will find joy and support in this journey.