A few years ago our church changed the practice of “visiting teaching” to “ministering.”
At first I thought that word seemed too formal.
But oh how I’ve grown to love it.
I’ve had the chance to think about ministering so much with my role in the Relief Society (women’s group) of our congregation. (And sometimes, although I have grown to love “ministering” so much, I like to call it “friending” because really, that’s what it is.) Each sister is assigned (if she desires) to minister to (or befriend) another sister or two in the congregation.
My friend related something she read lately about “intentional kindness” rather than “passive kindness.” Ministering is the intentional kind. And that’s a beautiful thing.
I love that when girls turn fourteen they get to start having a formal ministering assignment as well.
What a better “trainer” to befriend and look out for others than a mother?
So, at the beginning of the new year we had a little ministering training for the Young Women and their mothers in our congregation.
We picked the right person for the job, I have to say:
My neighbor Brynne is the ultimate minister in my opinion. Not just to anyone she is assigned to minister to, but to everyone all around.
New neighbors who move in, and those who have been there forever, she knows them. Her family has lifted them. Their kids have been invited over. They feel tangible love.
So of course she did a great job.
She had every person in the room relate a quick experience when they felt love.
As each person told about that love they had felt, the room filled right up with that same love. It was tangible. I love that she helped everyone know that every kind service, big and small, is ministering.
I wish I had thought to take a picture of this room filled up to the brim with mothers and daughters before they left to visit over the brownies in the kitchen:)
It was a good night.
Love really does make the world go around.
As we were trying to think of a “motto” for Relief Society in 2022 we discussed a few different ideas, and then landed on what the leaders of our church have been saying for a while:
LOVE, SHARE, INVITE.
It’s such a beautiful message and goes so well with ministering.
How beautiful if we all LOVED unconditionally.
SHARED our lives and our thoughts, our vulnerabilities and our gifts, our time and our love.
And how much better would life be if we were more free to INVITE others in more. Our neighbors, our friends, and most especially our Savior.
We gave all the women a sticker to put wherever they thought would remind them of those three words:
Because really, that’s what ministering is all about.
Love it! We are sharing the same message at our upcoming activity. Is there any chance the sticker file is something you’d be willing to share?
You bet, my friend got them I think on Etsy, I’ll ask for the source.
Oh my, I’m so sorry I forgot to come back with a link for you. Hope it’s not too late, here you go!
This is a wonderful concept! If I may, I’d like to ask a couple of questions – for Shawni, or any other person who knows…
Visiting Teaching seems like a totally different thing to me than Ministering. Visiting Teaching sounds like going over Scriptures or instructing in some way. Ministering sounds more like being there for them, helping them with non-religious things in their life….
Both seem like great things to do, but not the same thing?
Also, why do they get to start at age 14? Seems young if you actually are “teaching”, seems a little late if it is just “friending” and being kind… And you said that sisters can do it “if they choose”…. is it not a calling for all LDS sisters? At what age do you become an official “sister”?
Thanks to everyone in advance for the clarification!
Good questions. I agree, “visiting teaching” is different from ministering. Ministering is meant to be a “higher and holier” (as described by President Nelson) way to befriend and love others…it is a big step up in my opinion. It involves more seeking to “hear” God to be guided as how to reach out and Love, Share, Invite. Inviting others into our lives and “being there” for theirs. Including spiritually and temporally, whatever that friend may need. Did you read the links at the bottom of the post? Maybe they can explain better than I do:)
I’m not sure why they chose 14, maybe just the age where kids can start to understand the needs of others more. Or maybe because kids at 14 NEED to reach outside of themselves. I believe teenagers are wired to think of themselves, and I feel like this is such a beautiful way to encourage them to understand they aren’t the center of the world. Ha! I love including my girls in any meals we bring to friends or any visits they can join me for. Of course, they can do this at any age, this is just the age when they get to have an assignment to reach out and be more aware of those other women in the congregation.
I said “if they chose” because having a ministering assignment isn’t mandatory. There have been some sisters in our ward who, for myriads of reasons, haven’t been available to “minister” for a season or so. There are others who it is just uncomfortable for. But in my experience these women, whether ministering officially or not, are incredible at serving and loving and lifting. I am so thankful for all the examples I’m surrounded by!
And I guess everyone is a “sister,” not sure there is a specific age, but when girls graduate from high school they leave the Young Women group and start coming to Relief Society.
I hope this answers your questions, let me know if you need more clarification.
Love the idea of intentional kindness! Thanks for sharing.
I have a stereo-type, maybe unfair, the LDS community is only open to supporting one kind of family and are judgement of others. Do you think that’s true? I ask because I notice the invite was for Young Women “and their mothers.” I’m guessing that in a large congregation like yours there are some teens/young women who live with their stepmoms, or single fathers, or grandmas, or parents you are not religious, or foster parents, or maybe their mom passed away. Seems like the invite was specific to a limited amount of family structures. What do you think?
I’m thinking one form of “intentional kindness” would be to intentionally include those who may sometimes feel overlooked
Thank you for that question, and thank you for looking out for those who aren’t living with their mother right now. Yes it is so important to be “intentionally kind” to include families of all sorts. I think in general there are all kinds of family units in a large congregation like ours. But for whatever reason in our ward right now every one of the girls invited has a traditional mother living with them so we were able to word the invitation like that.
Shawni I’m a big fan of your blog! I’m aspiring to continue ministering in my community and I noticed that you seem to do such a great job bringing meals to people. Do you have any favorite easy recipes to bring to families in need of a little help?
My usual go-tos are these two:
You can make a big batch of the vodka sauce and put small Tupperware containers in the freezer which makes it super easy to bring to people when you are in a time crunch.