18 August 2009

Personal Ministry = Charity

I was impressed by a thought given by Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, former General Relief Society President, in a BYU devotional given in 2007 called "Personal Ministry: Sacred and Precious." Sister Parkin teaches about personal ministry--that each of us has one--and how we can minister to one another.
We often speak about the Savior’s ministry. But have you ever wondered if you have a personal ministry? I have....

“To minister” is defined as attending to the needs and wants of others. The Bible Dictionary adds, “The work of the ministry is to do the work of the Lord on the earth—to represent the Lord among the people.”

Ministering involves extending charity—that pure love of Christ—to others, one person at a time. By doing so, we offer a kind, generous, peaceful, and pure heart. Opportunities to minister may come within the formal stewardship of a calling or assignment, or they may come as we spontaneously extend ourselves to someone in need....

We can often learn more about our personal ministry through our callings. I hope all of you are visiting teachers or home teachers. Look at these assignments with new eyes. They are great opportunities to minister to each other. Do you know the hearts of those you visit? Do you spend time with them? Do you listen and give them the great gift of knowing they have been heard and understood? It takes time and energy, but it is so important! I testify that as you seek for inspiration, you will not only know how best to serve others but will better understand your own personal ministry....

Love and relationships—simply and profoundly—are what personal ministry is all about.

Sister Bonnie D. Parkin, "Personal Ministry: Sacred and Precious," BYU Devotional, 13 February 2007 (emphasis added).
It has been a great challenge for me to be in a new ward--something I haven't experienced in quite a few years! I don't know anyone and have found it too "comfortable" to just attend church and activities without really extending myself to others. In my previous ward, I was part of the "inner circle" of long-time members. Extending service--ministering--to those around me wasn't a challenge because they were my friends and I knew they loved me. In this new ward, I have gone weeks without anyone but the Relief Society president or the bishop's wife (the aunt of one of my good friends from my previous ward) saying hello to me. Ministering in this ward has seemed nigh unto impossible--especially because I don't know anyone's needs!

I am working to change this, however; I want to be available to the Lord to minister to His children whenever He needs me to--and I know that I can't be very effective in doing that if I sit mutely on the back row and wait for others to speak to me first.

This is what Heavenly Father needs me to do -- but what does He need you to do? I encourage each of you to find out from Him. Often the answers are uncomfortable (like mine is/was), but the Lord will enable us to do His will. Two people can do anything if one of them is the Lord.

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