Myths about Ministering, Myth 6: “It doesn’t matter if I report my ministering efforts, especially if I didn’t do anything.”

RS image 1

Part of ministering is a quarterly interview (or additional contact as needed) with a member of the Relief Society presidency to counsel together about the sisters to whom we minister, their needs, and our contacts with and service to them. It could be a brief, casual report or something a little more formal, and ideally would include both companions. And when a sister needs service beyond that which we or our companionship can provide, we need to contact a member of the Relief Society presidency or the bishopric to ensure that her and her family’s needs are met.

Why do we need to report our ministering efforts?

  • This is the Lord’s plan for seeing that every sister in the Church has at least two people who are looking out for her and to whom she can turn for help, and the Lord and those who administer the program have asked us to report. If that’s not enough, then
  • The ministering reports give the Relief Society president and, through her, the bishop, a good picture of how the ward is working (or not) as an extended support system;
  • The stake president needs to know about ministering in the stake, and it’s hard for him to know how things are going if he doesn’t have accurate reports; and
  • Reports of service let our ward leaders know the depth and breadth of, and needs for, service in the ward. If we think of ministering reports as unimportant numbers or statistics (even though they may represent an important program), consider that without the statistics we don’t know if or how well the program is working. Without our reports, our leaders can’t know if we are keeping the commandment to “sincerely come to know and love each sister, help her strengthen her faith, and give service” (Handbook 2: Administering the Church, section 9).

Even (or perhaps especially) if we are having problems with ministering, the quarterly interview gives us and the Relief Society presidency important information about what is happening with our sisters. And the interview is a good reminder to ponder and pray about our connections to our companion, our sisters, every sister in the ward, and most important, to the Savior.

“We are here on this earth to learn and grow, and the most important learning and growing will come from our covenant connection to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. From our faithful relationship with Them come godly knowledge, love, power, and capacity to serve.”

–Neill F. Marriott, “Abiding in God and Repairing the Breach,”

Edited and revised, 4 August 2018.

Poetry: Companion for the Journey


How grateful I am for the doctrine of eternal marriage and families, as symbolized by this picture of the Provo City Center Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“our” temple). When we get married, we know so little about the ups and downs and everydays that are part of what we hope will be a joyous, forever union of two best friends and lovers. Even after forty years of marriage, I am still working on being good at it, and marveling at the opportunities, successes, failures, and blessings that it brings us as we try to work out our relationship to each other and to the Lord. And it all plays out against the epic background and intimate spaces of our Heavenly Father’s glorious plan. Here is a poem about being married, I hope forever.

Companion for the Journey

I choose you as I’ve chosen you before—
a choice that echoes down time’s mirrored line,
unbreaking, first and last, like our clasped hands,
as you led me through gossamer in white
to kneel with you outside time, inside love.

For years we have created our time-world,
and peopled it and nurtured it as best
we could; we have learned life
and death and opposition in all things.
And we have learned each other, more or less,
while you remain a mystery to me—
a depth that my own depth might never reach;
a power that is other than my own.

You are the men with sun-caught swords upraised,
the men who huddled fearful in the trench,
who trod the silent trail in dappled light,
who cracked the stones in hope and sowed the seeds,
who touched, desired, slept, prayed, wept, worked, blessed,
who stood tall, silent, through the watchful night,
who saw the stars reflected in the sea.

Father, brother, husband, son, and friend—
you hold the earth and skies within your hands.
Behind your eyes the molten worlds are shaped;
their spring is breathed from chaos-fiery night.
And while we meet mortality’s dark blows,
still we can glimpse the light that beacons home.
I choose you yet again, as when I reached
to clasp your hand and thus begin the bond
that seals our timeless, time encircling love.

Lisa Bolin Hawkins
BYU Studies 33:2:311 (1993)

Myths about Visiting Teaching, Myth 5: “She’s a strong member of the Church and doesn’t really need us to visit.”

reading the Ensign

Even the sisters with the strongest testimonies need meaningful contact with their visiting teachers. Every sister needs to know that she can call on her visiting teachers if she needs help—and if we haven’t established a relationship with a sister during her good times, she may not feel comfortable turning to us when life gets tough, or even tragic. Plus, appearances can be deceiving. A sister with a strong testimony may still have health problems, an overwhelming schedule, a child with special needs, or other concerns that could be helped by a listening ear or some understanding help once in a while. And even the strongest testimonies could use encouragement. Do we know what life is like for the sisters we teach? Would they call us if they needed something, or do they not know us well enough to admit that they’ve reached a vulnerable moment in life? Sometimes life-long friendships develop as a result of visiting teaching assignments. But even when they don’t, part of our stewardship as visiting teachers is to be available to the sisters we visit, whether or not they seem to need us right now. According to the Lord’s plan for His Church, they do need us—right now. We are the eyes, ears, and hands of the Relief Society president, the bishop, and of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We can learn to love the sisters we visit by getting to know them, through meaningful contact with them at least once each month.