We're pleased to be able to talk with you about ministering interviews. A ministering interview is a discussion between ministering brothers and their priesthood quorum leader, or ministering sisters and their Relief Society leader. It would typically be conducted in person but could be held by phone or online if meeting in person each time is impractical. Ideally, and circumstances permitting, both ministering companions would participate in the interview. The purpose of the interview, as President Russell M. Nelson has explained it this morning, is to counsel together about the well-being of assigned families and individuals. It's vital that ministering brothers and sisters have an opportunity to give an accounting of their service--how are they watching over, loving, teaching, comforting, and assisting in the Savior's way?--and vital for priesthood and Relief Society leaders to become informed and then understand the circumstances and needs of those over whom they preside. But the ministering interview is more than a report. It's also an opportunity to counsel together. It's a chance to talk about next steps, if needed--what resources the quorum and Relief Society can provide, or even beyond. Leaders offer suggestions and encouragement. In reality, in a ministering interview the participants are seeking inspiration from the Holy Spirit to guide their service. Elder Gary Stevenson and Sister Reyna Aburto and I recently reviewed some short videos of what a ministering interview might look like. After viewing each video segment, we discussed on camera our observations. We'll play one of those for you now so you can see what I'm talking about. Altogether, these video vignettes and our commentary last about an hour. And they'll be broken up into segments that you and the stake presidents and bishops, elders quorum presidents, Relief Society presidents, can use in your own training as desired. Let's play the example of two ministering sisters--an adult and a young woman--in a ministering interview with a Relief Society leader. Just tell me about Sally. How is she doing? Well, she has had a really hard year. But I feel like she's doing really well, especially dealing with all the challenges that come from being a single parent. But as we've been talking, I do get the impression that she doesn't feel super connected to the ward. How have you felt impressed to help her? So you asked us to pray for her, and I've been doing that. I don't know if you know, but she's an amazing artist. I didn't know that. That's amazing. Really good. I feel like maybe that's a talent we can use in the ward. Maybe we could do an activity where she taught us to paint or something. Well, that's a great idea. Let's do it. Yeah, because I feel like not too many people know her. And so if she could do that, she'd really get to know the people in the ward. They'd get to know her and just love her just like we do. Sister Aburto, what do you think? I really like the questions that the Relief Society leader asked these two sisters. She asked them, "How is she doing?" And she said, "How have you felt impressed to serve her?" And I think that's so important that we let them find that revelation that they need in order to know how to better serve this sister. And I also like the fact that they didn't concentrate on only her needs, but also on her strengths--that she has strengths and she can also contribute to the ward. She can serve. Oh, yes, yes. So I thought that was really a good way of doing the interview. I was impressed that the younger companion had responded to something that the Relief Society president or the Relief Society leader had asked them to do earlier. "You asked us to pray; we did and got answers"--got results that guided them what to do further as a consequence. So the invitations that a leader can give, the suggestions, the requests even, in an interview like this, are very significant. Oh, yes. And in this case, it led to an opening for some services, you said, that this sister could give--not just how we help her, but something she can do to help others, which is a way of helping oneself. Well, I too was impressed with this. Sometimes the best way to answer a question is to ask a question. That helps because you might not feel, as the elders quorum or Relief Society presidency leader, that you know all the answers. And you probably don't. But also, I think there's an important precept here. The companionship has the right to receive inspiration for the families. And this gives them an opportunity to, in answering a question, maybe begin to think about the promptings, the feelings that they've been having. She's encouraging them to receive that revelation. And I also like the fact that the leader was taking notes. And that's important because that way, she will remember and she will probably follow up. And it suggests that you don't have to go into the interview with all the answers. That's part of the reason you counsel together, is to find answers. And I think you can cover a lot of that which is necessary in a short period of time. If the ministering brothers and sisters come in knowing that they're not going to have to spend a long time in the interview, a lot can be done in a short period of time and the Spirit can come in that period of time. And then after you leave, a lot of answers might come. Continue to come, yeah. Next, we would like to play three vignettes of ministering interviews with an elder and his quorum president. We'll demonstrate, as another training option, how you might comment on what is shown in addition to using the prerecorded analysis. Of course, another, often preferred alternative is an open discussion with those you're teaching about what they're seeing and learning from these video vignettes. Sister Aburto will comment on the first segment, I'll say something about the second, and Elder Stevenson will give some observations about segment three. And then at the end, each of us will have a concluding comment. I'll chat with you about your ministering to the family of Brother Mueller. How are they doing? To be honest, I haven't been doing anything. I really want to help them; I just don't have time. I'm always traveling, and I feel really bad. Can I ask you something? OK. Do you know their names? Ah, I know the father is Bill. The mom is Sarah ... ? But I don't know the kids' names, though. So would you have time to just learn their names and pray for them by their name? Yeah, I can do that. That's easy. Yeah, then let's start from there. OK. Yeah, let's start from there. Sure. I know our Heavenly Father will bless you so much when you think about the family, pray for them, and just minister-- [LAUGHTER] Well, this is a good example of a priesthood quorum leader being guided by the Spirit during that ministering interview. The interview is short; it's flexible and customized to the needs of the ministering brother. The leader is showing love for him, and he's modeling the ministering that he could use to serve this family better. He is inviting him to look for his own revelation, and he's starting where he is and giving him a simple invitation. We can see that this interview is set following the example that the Lord has given us in teaching and ministering. So it is an inspired beginning. Yeah, so the last time we talked, I asked you to pray for the Mueller family. How is that going? It's going good, actually. Have you learned anything? Well, yeah. So when I started to pray for them, I actually started to care for them. Yeah. I've been actually sitting next to Brother Mueller in elders quorum meetings, and I noticed the other day, he was kind of bothered by something. So after the meeting, I asked him if everything was OK, and he mentioned that he was actually laid off work. The thing is, I've been there, so I know how it is. So I've been actually texting him inspirational messages or scriptures, maybe checking on him and seeing how he's doing. Have you asked him if they've talked to the ward employment specialist? That's a great idea. I know who he is--
Two or three things strike me about this little episode. It does illustrate the various ways in which interviews can take place. You see here use of Skype or some technology similar to that for an ongoing--and fairly frequent, I think, as needed--interview. Secondly, this is the place, the setting, where you can learn about what outside or additional help may be needed--in this case, the ward employment specialist. And this can initiate that step being taken. And finally, I think it's a good example of the interplay between counseling and action, counseling on the one hand and action on the other. The interview, it guides, it motivates, it accounts for this ministering--even beginning, as we saw, simply with prayer and the reaction of this home teacher/ministering brother.
"When I started to pray for them, I actually started to care for them." Hey, President. How are you doing? I'm doing good, Brother Charles. How are you? Oh, I'm good, President. I just wanted to let you know about Brother Mueller. He had a couple of job interviews this week, and they were really promising. Oh, that is great. Yeah, I actually wanted to talk to you about one thing with them. They are really worried about their daughter. Now, she's been struggling since she's been back from her mission. And I know they're kind of quiet about it. I'm just wondering if maybe there is something where we can address it in some general way.
Well, I hope you're all making your own observations with respect to what we have affectionately termed the "busy guy" vignette. In reviewing segment number three, I'll offer just three observations. First, and perhaps the most remarkable, is the fact that Charles is now busy not just with his job, but in the work of ministering to one of his families. The ministering interview experience has really transformed him from too busy to even know the names of the family to being anxiously engaged in ministering to his families. He's grown so much that he is the one that is now initiating contact with his file leader. Now, all of this notwithstanding, we observed that all of this would probably be even better if he were conducting these interviews with his companion as well. Next, note the flexibility of the interview that we just saw, perhaps even taking place when Charles is out traveling on business. Ideally, not all interviews would be in this format, but interviews will come in various forms. And finally, if you notice, the elders quorum president continues to invite this spirit of unity, where both of them are edified and rejoice together, and especially what's happening with he and the family with whom he's assigned. So now I'll just offer my final comments with respect to the whole ministering interview topic. We often consider the words found in Doctrine and Covenants section 81:5 to be in perfect alignment with the definition of ministering: "succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees." However, the instruction in that same verse just prior to this counsel seems to perfectly address the ministering interview: "Stand in the office [in] which I have appointed ... you." Recently, as President Nelson explained the changes being discussed today to a group of General Authorities, he stated that this would become a hinge point for the Church. And the realization of his vision, I think in large measure, might be predicated upon how well ministering brothers and sisters are taught and engaged in the ministering interview. As we have learned now, we don't count, but we render an account. Ministering interviews should become the primary source for content in a presidency meeting and even in a ward council meeting. I think it's going to be the key element to the development of ministering brothers and sisters and a key element in the quality of their ministering visits.
Ministering interviews give the priesthood quorum leaders and the Relief Society leaders an opportunity to counsel together to find ways to "watch over the church always" and to "comfort those that stand in need of comfort." The interviews should be guided by the Spirit, should be flexible and customized. Their purpose is to counsel together about the strengths, needs, and challenges of assigned families and individuals; to determine what needs the quorum, the Relief Society, or the ward council can assist with; and to learn from leaders and to be encouraged by them. It gives the leaders a chance to minister and to model the ministering. The Savior showed by example as He ministered one by one because of His love for His Father and for each person. As we follow the Spirit, as we counsel together, as we minister to the one, and as we teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, we will be following the Lord's example of ministering. We will be becoming more like Him, and we will be building the kingdom of God in a way that is pleasing to Him. I testify that when we prayerfully and humbly follow the counsel that comes from our prophet through priesthood keys, we will have the power and authority given by the Lord to do the things that we are asked to do. And I say these things humbly in the name of Jesus Christ, amen. Amen.
Thank you, Sister Aburto and Elder Stevenson. From now on, as has been stated, the ward and stake quarterly report will not ask for the number of visits made to individuals or families. The quarterly report will now ask how many companionships of ministering brothers and sisters participated in a ministering interview during the quarter. By itself, of course, the number of interviews held does not reveal the extent or quality of our service. But if interviews are held, there is a greater and greater likelihood that more real ministering will result. When brothers and sisters and their priesthood and Relief Society leaders regularly consult and counsel together about how to help and bless assigned families and individuals, we can reasonably expect that they will focus on primarily outcomes and more will be accomplished. The frequency of ministering interviews will vary considerably, but they should occur as often as needed and as circumstances reasonably permit. Once per quarter is a floor, not a ceiling. Brothers and sisters, I fear that if ministering interviews are not held routinely and as envisioned, we could well end up making the situation worse and that the added flexibility and scope that we envision for ministering could result in less attention rather than more. "Have you done your home teaching?" could be replaced by "Did you have any contact? What? Oh, sure, a text is good enough." Yes, there are many and varied ways to watch over and minister to one another. But it is only as we counsel about needs and outcomes and act with the end in mind that we'll see these many tools of ministering actually used and see real progress and positive outcomes. Ministering interviews will be the key to the quality and success of our ministering for generations to come.