“Ministering in Mini Ways,” Ensign, February 2019
“How are you?”
I’m sure the man behind the cash register had already asked dozens of people this question that day. It was a small gas station, and I was just trying to hurry and buy a water bottle and get back to my car. But this routine question—this time—was different. He could not have known how much I needed to hear those simple words.
He couldn’t have known I had pulled into this gas station because I couldn’t see the road through my tears.
He couldn’t have known how much pain I was in or how hard it was for me to find the strength to come inside.
He couldn’t have known how it hurt me when everyone else in the gas station avoided eye contact with me and my tear-streaked face.
“How are you?” he asked me, with genuine concern in his eyes and voice. I tried to muster up a grateful smile as I fought back the new tears that were forming in my eyes—these ones, tears of gratitude.
“I’m OK,” I answered, honestly. Because now that someone had been kind enough to notice me and my struggle, I did feel OK.
Talking about service can be overwhelming. I hear stories of impressive humanitarian projects around the world and stories about people who have dedicated their lives to important causes. And although I am grateful for their sacrifices, those stories are usually accompanied by a pang of guilt. I know how important it is to minister. And more than that—I know how happy I am when I’m serving others. So why don’t I do it more often?
I often get discouraged thinking of all the things I could be doing, and I tend to forget about the things I am doing. Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, spoke about the profound effects of simple acts of service. She explained that Jesus Christ was a perfect example of ministering in the way He “smiled at, talked with, walked with, listened to, made time for, encouraged, taught, fed, and forgave.” (“Ministering as the Savior Does,” Ensign, May 2018, 104).
When I think of meaningful service I have received, I tend to remember the small things the most: Getting an uplifting text from my roommate, who noticed I was having a hard day. Or my sister inviting me to go on a run with her, without realizing I desperately needed someone to talk to. Or my bishop pulling me aside to chat because he thought I seemed unhappy. Or crossing paths with an old acquaintance who not only remembered my name but actually cared to stop and ask how life was treating me. These people ministered by noticing me and showing they cared. It really made a difference.
When I remember those small yet meaningful acts of service, I remember that I am also capable of making a difference in someone else’s life. And not only am I capable—I am doing it. Little by little, one day at a time.
Maybe someday I will be part of a big humanitarian project that allows me to minister to people all around the world. But for now, instead of feeling guilty for not being able to notice everyone, I am choosing to notice someone. You never know the impact you can have by ministering in mini ways.