“The Kind of Ministering I Always Want to Do,” Ensign, April 2020
In April 2018, when home teaching and visiting teaching were discontinued and we were told about ministering, I think many of us were scratching our heads trying to figure out what this “new” ministering would look like. I’ve especially considered what this looks like as a young single adult.
Truly, though, ministering is not really a new concept. In asking us to “come, follow me” (Luke 18:22), Christ was asking us “to mourn with those that mourn; … [to] comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things” (Mosiah 18:9). I learned this through a sweet experience I had ministering to a friend in one of my young single adult wards, though it started out with just a simple friendship.
A young man moved into my ward who usually sat alone and was the type to sneak out right after Sunday School. Each Sunday he was there I’d go and say hello, and we started to get to know each other. He didn’t have much interest in having a calling, and his attendance at home evening and other activities was sporadic. I began inviting him to hang out with me and my friends and over for Sunday dinners at our home.
Through our conversations, I learned that my new friend had been a member of the Church all his life and had served a mission, but through a series of experiences in college, he had found himself losing his fervor in the gospel. He confided in me some personal questions he had about the gospel and his feeling that the heavens were closed to him. I learned that he really doubted his ability to be a strong and faithful disciple, especially as he compared himself with others. I received several distinct impressions from the Spirit prompting me to spend more time getting to know him and to try to understand his questions better. And honestly, I just enjoyed being around him.
In our conversations, I was surprised at the bold things the Spirit prompted me to ask him like, “Are you reading your scriptures?” “Are you praying?” “Are you spending time in the temple?” These questions opened the door to wonderful spiritual discussions in which I was able to not only share my faith but, more importantly, help him rediscover his. Ministering to this friend took the form of being willing to sit with him as he began to resolve some of his own self-doubt and to walk with him as he chose to reignite his once valiant testimony of Christ’s gospel. I cherish the friendship that he and I have built.
In an article called “Ministering in a Holier Way,” Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles challenges us to strengthen our efforts in spiritually ministering to others.1 Christ often ministered temporally to the poor and the sick, but to me, His greatest examples of service and miracles were the times when He helped strengthen the faith of those who were spiritually suffering—the poor in spirit. He helped them see a higher way and walked with them as they planted their feet firmly on the covenant path.
I am humbled to reflect on how my friendship with this friend of mine was just the kind of ministering Elder Andersen described—really getting to know someone, seeing them for the son or daughter of Heavenly Parents that they are, and ministering to their spiritual needs. This is the kind of ministering I want to do throughout my life: simply loving as the Savior does and helping the poor in heart find joy and peace in Him.