Over the years, I’ve had sisters share a number of questions and concerns with me about Relief Society, with additional ones being shared with the ministering changes. Some are logistical questions. Others are deep-seated concerns.Last month we shared five questions and answers about ministering. Here are four more.
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What if I don’t have time to minister?
Understand that there are different times and seasons in our lives. If you feel your schedule won’t allow you to spend a lot of time caring for a full list, consider talking to your Relief Society president. She is inspired but not psychic and is always open to hearing about your concerns and situation. She might adjust your route so you visit only one sister rather than four. Or she might assign you to a sister who asked to receive a letter once a month. But, here’s the wonderful thing about the change to ministering: it’s not about spending hours each month chatting in our homes. It’s about meeting the needs of the sisters. You might be surprised that as you trust God and are prayerful, you’ll find the time to minister to each in a way that is fulfilling to you and to your sisters.
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My ward/branch is huge. How do I meet their needs when they are so far away?
There are some places in the Church where the ward/branch boundaries encompass a few blocks and others where it covers a hundred miles. Distance can pose a problem in the types of help you offer your sisters. Trust that the Relief Society president and bishop are aware of this and take this into consideration. As her ministering sister, you can receive inspiration regarding her needs. If they are needs you don’t feel you can meet, give the Relief Society president a call and talk with you or bring them up at the quarterly ministering interview. Perhaps there are other sisters that are closer or other resources that can help fulfill her needs. The Lord knows what we need and will provide a way as we try to listen, think, and serve.
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I struggle with my own testimony. How can I strengthen hers when I can barely stand on my own?
I invite you to consider the words of Elder Jeffery R. Holland: “Hope on. Journey on. Honestly acknowledge your questions and your concerns, but first and forever fan the flame of your faith, because all things are possible to them that believe” (Holland, 2013) A strong testimony and deep knowledge are not prerequisites to serve. You have faith. You believe in something. If nothing else, you have hope that what you hear is true. Fan that flame of hope, belief, and faith. Fan it by praying and serving, loving, and doing. Perhaps you are asked to minister to the sisters you are because of your state of belief right now. Trust that God knows what He is doing. If you’re asked questions you don’t know the answer to, tell her you don’t know but you’ll find out. Then search on. If you can’t testify of a certain principle just yet, study and pray on. You can minister effectively even if you harbor some doubt. You are needed, you are loved, and you can make a difference still. Hope on. Journey on. You will not only bless the lives of others but you will be blessed as well.
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What is the process for reporting ministering?
Ministering assignments are organized in your ward/branch by your Relief Society president, who works alongside the elder’s quorum president and bishop. Monthly reporting is replaced by a quarterly ministering interview with the Relief Society president.
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There are many wonderful online resources for Relief Society and ministering. Visit ministering.lds.org for official guidance and training, as well as current messages from our First Presidency and the General Relief Society Presidency.
In the January 2018 Ensign, we find these empowering words: “Following His example, as visiting teachers we can come to know and love each sister we visit, remembering that love is the foundation of all we do. When we pray for inspiration to know how to serve her and help her strengthen her faith, ‘the angels cannot be restrained for being (our) associates."
I believe this, sisters. We are not alone. Our ministering companionships are more than two sisters. They include Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and angels round about us. Why? Because this work is sacred. It is about God’s very purpose, “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). We are asked to join them in this work not only to fulfill the needs of those we minister to but also so that they can fulfill ours.