In the April 2018 General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson called on us to begin “a new era of ministering”, to serve one another in a “new, holier way”. (Russell M. Nelson, “Let Us All Press On”, GC April 2018).
This is central to our baptismal covenant, to “bear one another’s burdens”, to “mourn with those that mourn”, to “comfort those that stand in need of comfort”. It is through serving each other that our hearts are truly “knit together in unity and love.” (See Mosiah 18:8-9, 21). Our personal ministry of love for others is also the key to enduring happiness in ourselves.
As we minister to one another in the Savior’s way, we become the instruments the Lord uses to bless, befriend, succor and console the children of God. President Spencer W. Kimball once said: “God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another mortal that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other.” (Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, Ed. by Edward L. Kimball, p. 252).
The life of the Savior provides the perfect pattern and example of ministering “one by one”. The ministry of Jesus Christ was characterized by his perfect love, deep compassion and concern for those in need of physical, temporal and spiritual help and healing. He taught his disciples by word and by example to minister with love and commanded them to “love one another; as I have loved you” (John 13:34).
We can also learn from the ministering examples of those whom God has called to be our prophets and apostles, both in ancient times as well as in this dispensation.
An extraordinary event that occurred in the very earliest days of the ancient Church, soon after Christ’s ascension into heaven, provides a pattern to guide us in our own intentional efforts to respond to President Nelson’s invitation to minister in a higher and holier way.
Peter and John were walking together to the temple at the hour of prayer when their attention was drawn to a crippled man asking for money at the gate of the temple. The man was well known by those who walked past him each day as they attended to their own business.
When he called out to Peter and John, Peter turned, fastening his eyes upon the crippled man, and said, “Look on us.” The man looked up, his eyes filled with expectation that he would receive a coin or two. Instead, Peter spoke, saying “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I unto thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
But the man could not move until Peter extended his hand in fellowship and faith. Lending strength, Peter lifted the man by the right hand and “immediately, his feet and ankle bones received strength [and] leaping up [he] stood, and walked, and entered the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:1-8).
There are powerful elements in this miraculous story that are common to all acts of ministering in the Lord’s way. We can improve our personal ministering by giving heed.
Pray for Direction. Begin each day with prayer, referring by name to those to whom you are assigned, and asking Heavenly Father to prompt you and use you to minister to their needs. Seek inspiration to know how and when we can minister. Commit to follow up on the promptings you receive.
Notice the one. As we go about our daily lives doing good, we are usually focused on the needs and demands of our own lives. Peter and John had an appointment in the temple, but they stopped to serve. When we take notice of those around us and those to whom we are assigned—if we are watchful and listening—the Spirit will prompt us in what to say and do. Take the time, even in a busy schedule, to act when prompted. Fix your attention and your eyes on the ones in need. Understand their circumstances. Let them know that you have noticed, that you care.
Give what you have and teach of Christ. Peter and John had no money to give to the lame man, just as we do not often have money to give. But what we have is our time, our compassion, our love, our labor, our spiritual strength and testimony. We have the Spirit to guide us individually and in council to find solutions to problems. We have quorums, classes, presidencies and councils. We can call for the Bishop. The sorrows and challenges of life are always reduced and made lighter
when they are shared, when companionship is given, when assistance is rendered through our helping hands. Ultimately, the cares and tribulations of life can only be solved by Jesus of Nazareth. We can teach of Christ through word and deed. We can love as Christ loved.
Our goal is the Temple.
Our goal is the Temple. After Peter and John had performed a miracle for the man, they walked together to the temple, leaping and praising God. In all that we do as we minister one to another, our overriding desire is to invite our brothers and sisters to come unto Jesus Christ and guide them to receive the ordinances of the temple for themselves and their families, both the living and the dead.
President Thomas S. Monson taught:
“As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. Such peace can permeate any heart—hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Blessings of the Temple”, April 2018).
May each of us become the ministering brothers and ministering sisters that President Nelson has envisioned and invited us to become.