Thursday, September 6, 2018

MINISTERING... Understanding with a Different Lens

I feel like I was trying to see things from a different perspective but I kept looking through the same lens and expected different results. My vision will never change, if I keep doing the exact same thing.

I don't know about the rest of you... but to me, the ministering topic is so done. It has been discussed and re-discussed every fourth Sunday plus multiple other times too. I'm not sure what else there is to learn about it.

Ministering... it replaces home and visiting teaching though it appears to be basically the same thing with a different name. That which we call a rose...
Ministering... it is a holier approach yet we are still expected to have contact, talk to our assigned people and help them if we can. It is still a rose...
Ministering... there are no reports but rather interviews. A different type of rose but still a rose...
Ministering... it is supposed to be more flexible by meeting the needs of the assigned individual but wasn't that the goal before? To help those we were assigned to? Definitely still a rose...

In my ward, we have discussed ministering as trying to become friends and really care instead of just being an assignment. We have made lists of what we can do to better minister to each other. Surprisingly (and sadly), most things on the list were basic requests...
*Say hi to me.
*Sit by me at church.
*Listen to me.
*Don't gossip about me.
*Smile at me.
*Visit me in my home.
*Remember me on my birthday.
*Text me during the week.
None of these things are hard and yet, at least in my ward, the change in ministering feels like we are not even meeting each others basic needs as sisters. Did the freedom from reports really make this much of a difference that we gave up on ministering all together?

As I have studied this past General Conference, there is definitely a ministering theme; as there should be because the change is new and we each need to learn about it. Various quotes throughout conference state how effective ministering will protect us from the adversary, it will prepare us to meet Christ as His coming, we will feel unity, it will help build our friendship, strengthen our testimony, and become true disciples of Christ. These are seriously just a brief example of why the change to ministering.

The basic theme I pulled out from conference is ministering is a holier, more personal, testimony strengthening, opportunity for friendship that will prepare us better to meet Christ. These basic answers though, just seem like the fluff answer and don't really explain it.

Typically, everywhere we drive in the car, we listen to General Conference. I don't know how many multiple times I have heard each of these talks. My May Ensign, is covered with color, hand lettering & scribbles alike, arrows connecting thoughts and is held together by tape. I have studied these messages and they truly are deep inside my heart, not just words on a paper.

Yet, I still don't understand the real reason of why. Why ministering? If I put forth the effort, what blessings will come? For every commandment kept, a blessing is sure to follow. But what comes from ministering? How does ministering effect, bless, and change MY life?

This morning as we were driving to the store the dots finally connected. I had a light bulb moment. And my testimony of ministering itself was increased as I sat in the parking lot pondering and listening to the gentle confirmation from the Holy Ghost.

{I am not saying this is absolute doctrine. It is my opinion. Please remember this is only my opinion as you finish reading this post. It was the thought that came to me. Take it for what it is worth... my own thought!}

Pres. Henry B. Eyring shared a list of "how to receive continual spiritual direction and comfort through the Holy Ghost." These are things probably everyone has heard of before. Humility. Pray. Obey. Serve. But his fourth point of serve is one step towards of my why/ how light bulb experience. He talked about how he has watched "prophets of God pray, ask for inspiration, receive direction, and act on it." Then he said, "I have seen how often their {meaning prophets} prayers are about the people they love and serve. Their concern for others seems to open their hearts to receive inspiration. That can be true for you."

As I learn to better minister to those I am assigned to, I am able to receive more inspiration, my heart will be open to it. Hmmm. Remember that thought.

Sis. Jean B. Bingham shared a long list of what ministering looks like. These are once again basic things like walking together, chatting or texting, sharing a scripture, etc. She reminds us that "simple acts of service can have profound effects on others, as well as on ourselves" and that "true ministering is accomplished one by one with love as the motivation... [and that] miracles will happen." But she also promised the same blessing of increased promptings from the Holy Ghost.

"When we consider how to minister most effectively, we ask, 'What does she [or he] need?' Coupling that question with a sincere desire to serve, we are then led by the Spirit to do what would lift and strengthen the individual."

Hmmm... ministering leads to being led by the Spirit.

Sis. Bingham also said, "As we accept the opportunity to wholeheartedly minister, we are blessed to become more spiritually refined [and] more in tune with the will of God."

Hmmm... more in tune with the will of God and therefore the companionship of the Holy Ghost.

And that is the real reason for ministering. It is a gift for ME personally, not the people I am assigned to. It is MY gift because I need the companionship of the Holy Ghost. 

Yes, it is about learning to serve others and be His hands here on Earth.
Yes, it is so we can take care of others and help lift them when they are weak.
Yes, it is to develop true friendships instead of merely an assignment.
Yes. Yes. Yes. It is all of these things. But these are the surface answers, the one same lens I kept looking through and expecting to see deeper meaning.

The real reason for ministering? It is not about the other people that I am assigned to at all.

Ministering is about ME!
Ministering was given to ME as a way I can learn to better listen to the gentle but subtle promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Ministering was given to ME to strengthen my relationship with Heavenly Father.
Ministering was given to ME as a way to become more pure and in tune.
Ministering is not an assignment but rather an opportunity.
Ministering truly is a gift that will enhance MY life in ways I have not even dreamed about yet.
Ministering is not just about what I can do for others, it really is about what I can do for myself.


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