However, ministering is more than just being nice. It goes beyond bringing cookies or sending a text—although those are sometimes very welcome. At its core, ministering is a tenderness; an ability to see someone for who they are at their best and a willingness to help them with anything they want or need in order to be better. I believe this tenderness is exactly how our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ look upon us in all our mortal frailties. They want to help us be our best, and ministering cuts both ways. It helps the person who ministers and the one receiving the ministering.
I recently read a newspaper article about a hospice prison where inmates from many different correctional facilities are sent when they are nearing death. Other prisoners care for them in the last months and weeks of their lives. It is hard work. They try to do everything they can to ease the patients as they depart this life. Often the patients are harsh and yell at the caregivers, but the work has changed the lives of the caregiving prisoners. Many of them are practicing empathy and putting themselves in the place of another for the first time in their lives. Their own gentleness and compassion seem to increase. Ministering refines our natures even as it does good to others.
People may have physical, spiritual, or emotional needs, or some combination. I hope in trying to meet these needs, we are able to:
- Lead with compassion.
- Refrain from passing judgment.
- Keep confidences.
- Show love to others, even if their lives are different from ours.
May we be as generous to each other as we possibly can.
I Pray He’ll Send Us
In a world full of pain and difficulty, it is easy to get caught up in the idea that one person cannot really make much of a difference or that other people know more and can help better than we can. It simply isn’t true. The things that make the most difference in a person’s life are often humble efforts.
For example, a friend told me she was discouraged in college. Homework was a never-ending drudgery, the required subjects of study were not at all what she was interested in, and the pressure of getting good grades was causing true stress. When she was at a critical breaking point, one professor kindly wrote a comment on the bottom of an essay she had written. He simply said, “This is a good paper. Have you considered law school?” Those 10 brief words changed her whole university experience. She felt noticed and validated. We can never predict how our encouragement might change a life.
When visitors come to the Humanitarian Center in Salt Lake City, they watch a short film that depicts various Church humanitarian efforts around the world. It is narrated by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, and there is a certain part that I wait for every time I watch it. It never fails to stir me. He says: “The Lord answers our prayers, most of the time, I think, by sending other people. Well, I pray he’ll send us. I pray we’ll be the answer to other people’s prayers.”
As we deal with viruses and disasters and personal heartaches—ministering is the way the Lord sends us to each other. It is how we can each become the answer to other people’s prayers. It is revelatory. It will encourage others. It will refine our generosity and tenderness. It is part of gathering Israel. I invite you to join me in the greatest humanitarian cause on earth.