Myth 2: “Ministering isn’t as important as my other callings or priorities.”
We must prioritize things in our lives. And we have Church callings, other than ministering, that are obvious and demanding places to spend our time. But it’s easy to let the days go by, responding to immediate needs and deadlines, and forgetting about ministering. Before we know it, weeks or months have gone by and we still haven’t contacted the sisters to whom we are assigned to minister.
One way to keep ministering in our minds is to pray each day, by name, for the sisters we minister to and for our companion. Ministering contacts often take only moments, such as sending an email or text to a sister, if we have an established relationship with her so she knows who we are and feels our concern. Nevertheless, as with parenting, there can be a connection between a quantity of ministering time and the quality of the ministering relationship.
The importance of ministering relative to other callings and demands on our time is a part of our personal testimony. Because ministering callings are often extended somewhat informally by a member of the Relief Society presidency they can seem less important than the callings extended by a member of the bishopric. But we must be careful not to dismiss a prophetic request just because it is delivered by a messenger we didn’t expect (as did Naaman the Syrian in 2 Kings 5). And consider this story:
LDS counselor and therapist Wendy Ulrich describes a new stake president who worked for some time to learn what he should emphasize in his stake. In the temple, he gained a vision of his stake in which children would be nurtured, youth would be confident in their gospel journey, and adults would joyfully and thankfully “be yoked with Jesus Christ to bear the burdens of the kingdom.” The stake president came to understand that the way to implement this happy vision was through home and visiting teaching (now called “ministering”). Ulrich continues:
He is not the only inspired leader to come to that conclusion. Going as healers and messengers to one another, [ministering brothers and sisters] were to bless each member’s life, temporally and spiritually, one person at a time. They were to become conduits of a mighty river of love that would reach into every home of the stake. That river is reminiscent of the one described in Ezekiel and John the Revelator’s visions. The river of living water comes out from the altars of the temple to heal a dying world.
Wendy Ulrich, The Temple Experience: Passage to Healing and Holiness (Springville, UT: CFI, 2012) 158–60 (see Ezekiel 47:1–12; Revelation 7:17).
Ministering sisters can be the Lord’s first responders, His eyes, ears, and hands. The bishop and the Relief Society president certainly can sleep better if they know that the sisters of the ward, knit together in love through the fabric of ministering (see Colossians 2:2; Mosiah 18:21), are the “agents in place” who watch over one another and create the relationships they wish they could have with each sister—because that’s impossible for either of them to do without help. With the increasing number of adult sisters who live alone, or who are parenting alone, the ministering sisters are essential to the unity and love within a ward. Ministering is the Lord’s plan to ensure that each of His daughters feels that she has sisters who care for her.
Ministering is crucial. President Gordon B. Hinckley said,
No calling in this church is small or of little consequence. All of us in the pursuit of our duty touch the lives of others. To each of us in our respective responsibilities the Lord has said: ‘Wherefore, be faithful; stand in the office which I have appointed unto you; succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees’ (D&C 81:5).
Gordon B. Hinckley, “This Is the Work of the Master,” Ensign, May 1995, 71.
Edited and updated, 4 August 2018.