“Ministering as the Savior Did,” New Era, Dec. 2018, 32–35.
We’ve all noticed a friend having a rough day or someone who’s lonely or being made fun of at school. Maybe you’ve heard about someone in your ward or branch going through a serious challenge. At times like these, what can you do?
Sometimes it’s hard to know how you can help. It can seem a lot easier to wait for someone else to take action, but there’s a lot you can do, even if it’s just to let those around you know you care. The opportunities are all around us, and any time you show love, concern, and interest for others, you are ministering.
Ministering. You’ve probably heard that word a lot at church lately. In the past, we usually talked about the Savior or the prophets and apostles having a ministry, but have you ever wondered if you have a personal ministry?
To minister means to love and care for others and to do the kinds of things the Savior would do if He were living among us today. Ministering is a way to help others feel Heavenly Father’s love and meet their spiritual and temporal needs.
Jesus “came not to be ministered unto, but to minister” (Matthew 20:28). He ministered as He “went about doing good” (Acts 10:38). As His disciples, we’ve been asked to follow His example. We do have a personal ministry!
But you don’t have to organize a huge service project to minister. President M. Russell Ballard, Acting President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, said: “Some service opportunities are formal—in our family, our Church callings, and our participation in community service organizations. …
“[But] many opportunities to serve are informal—without assignment—and come as we reach out to others we meet in life’s journey.”1
Often, Christlike ministering takes place in the small, sincere acts you do every day.
When the Savior appeared to the Nephites, He told everyone to come and feel the marks in His side and in His hands and feet. “And this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth” (3 Nephi 11:15; emphasis added).
Then He invited them to bring everyone who was sick, hurt, or “afflicted in any manner … and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him” (3 Nephi 17:7, 9; emphasis added). After this, He “took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them” (3 Nephi 17:21; emphasis added).
This wasn’t a small group of people. The scriptures tell us that about 2,500 people were there (see 3 Nephi 17:25). But the Savior still took time to heal, comfort, encourage, and show love to each individual.
Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has taught: “There is a very profound and tender personal message here. Jesus Christ ministers to, and loves us all, one by one.”2 The love Jesus shows to the one is what ministering is all about.
The Savior helped those around Him. Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, has said that He “smiled at, talked with, walked with, listened to, made time for, encouraged, taught, fed, and forgave. He served family and friends, neighbors and strangers alike, and He invited acquaintances and loved ones to enjoy the rich blessings of His gospel.”3
Jesus Christ had eyes to see the needs of everyone around Him, and He reached out to all of them! We can follow His example and reach out to those who need our help too.
But the Savior is perfect. How can we see the needs of others and minister as He does? President Ballard has said: “In your morning prayer each new day, ask Heavenly Father to guide you to recognize an opportunity to serve one of His precious children. Then go throughout the day with your heart full of faith and love, looking for someone to help. … If you do this, your spiritual sensitivities will be enlarged and you will discover opportunities to serve that you never before realized were possible.”4
Imagine this scenario: You see your friend at school, and she looks like she’s a little down. You feel that you should do something for her, but you worry if you’ll bug her or embarrass her or yourself. Then you start to worry if it was a spiritual prompting or just you.
Sometimes it’s hard to know if you’re receiving a spiritual prompting to minister or just having your own thought, but Mormon teaches us how to recognize spiritual promptings: “That which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God” (Moroni 7:13). President Thomas S. Monson (1927–2018) said, “If we are observant and aware, and if we act on the promptings which come to us, we can accomplish much good.”5
During the April 2018 general conference, President Russell M. Nelson announced: “The Lord has made important adjustments in the way we care for each other. Sisters and brothers—old and young—will serve one another in a new, holier way.”6 This includes opportunities to serve in ministering companionships, but ministering isn’t just something we do on Sunday or during Mutual activities. It’s not just a responsibility that comes with certain callings. Ministering is for everyone. It’s for all the time.
When we’re baptized, we promise to be “willing to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light; yea, and [be] willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort” (Mosiah 18:8–9). Ministering to others is a part of what we have promised to do.
Bonnie L. Oscarson, former Young Women General President, said, “The Lord desires for you to look around at your peers and then minister as He would.”7 As you do so, He will open your eyes to see with love and compassion how to serve others. He won’t leave you guessing about what you should do. He will guide you in how you can best minister to them.
President Nelson has said, “We as [the Lord’s] servants will minister to the one, just as He did.”8 This not only blesses others; it blesses us as well.
Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.”9
Jesus Christ has shown the way to a richer, more fulfilling life. Ministering as He does will bring true happiness and a sense of peace and joy into your life.