Do you remember the way Visiting Teaching used to be? The older generation in my ward does, and they are struggling to switch to the Ministering format.
I remember when I was in college we used to Visit Teach and almost reluctantly stuck with the old style. We would gather and read the message in the Ensign, and then visit for an hour and spend time laughing. That was how I continued to do it after college till I moved into my current Ward about 10 years ago.
When I got here, I was very surprised at their Visiting Teaching style. They would come and stay exactly 15-30 minutes. We reviewed the message, and then they left.
It was very different from what I had experienced up to that point. Until then Visiting Teaching was just an excuse to get to know someone and become friends. We got to chat, and the lesson was an accessory, not the point of the visit.
New Ministering Style
Then they introduced the new Ministering format, and I breathed a sigh of relief. The new format was exactly what we had done in college!
The effort had shifted away from formality and emphasized friendship. There were still assigned visits, but the lesson was gone. (Yay!!)
And the time limit dissolved, at least it did in my ward.
On the Church website, the definition of Ministering is learning of and attending to others’ needs. It is doing the Lord’s work. When we minister, we are representing Jesus Christ and acting as His agents to watch over, lift, and strengthen those around us.
5 Tips for Success
I’ve noticed that many sisters are still struggling. SO, I wanted to give you some tips that will help.
1. Get to know your assigned Sister
Ministering is a beautiful excuse to get to know a new friend. You have things in common. Find them! And enjoy the journey of building a true relationship, not just a small study group.
I will forever be grateful for a woman who understands ministering. Her name is Rachael and she saved me when I was a new mom, living far away from my mom.
And my husband traveled every week from Monday through Thursday.
I needed so many tips on how to get my child to eat, potty train, you name it! And Rachael had 6 children, the youngest about 3 years older than my son.
She stepped in and became my mothering coach and my friend. She lived a block away, so we saw each other often. There was no formality in our friendship. But I could never have survived my son’s earliest years without her help.
2. Don’t be afraid to be yourself. You have skills others need to learn.
I am referring to my friend Rachael here. Her mothering skills were beautiful. But guess what, YOU have skills that will bless your sisters too.
I love to craft and make jewelry. And I recently got to help a friend (ministering sister) by making her some smaller earrings.
I found out that she has gotten irritated by heavier earrings lately. And I have a horde of beads, so I made her some. It was easy and fun! And it meant the world to her.
3. God knows both of you, and He can see where you will bless each other.
Ministering assignments are done prayerfully. The Lord is involved in those decisions. And He knows what He is doing.
I have a friend who is struggling with her ministering sister. They are very different personalities. One is outgoing and vibrant. She loves to chat and laugh and share.
The other sister is reserved and quiet, and in the 10 years I have known her, I still don’t know much about her. She is just not a sharing type.
But if these two sisters dig down deep, they do have something in common. They are both mothers, both retired, and grandmothers. If they build from there and share some mutual respect, it will be a beautiful thing.
4. Let go of the old traditions
Sadly, there are several sisters I know who are struggling to let go of the old traditions. They are missing having something assigned to discuss. And they are struggling as they try to find their footing.
I find the older generation falls more into this category. But that makes sense. It’s easy for newly minted sisters to learn because there’s nothing they were used to before.
I am not the newest sister in the group, but I was blessed that our visiting teaching style was already much like the Ministering style.
5. Seek the Lord
This one should have been first. God is in charge. He knows you; He knows your sisters. And He knows how to help you both grow and thrive. Ministering is essentially befriending others the way the Savior did. Finding common interests, being there for each other in tough times, and learning more about the Gospel and the Savior together.
In my life, I have grown so much through service. And service is a key part of Ministering. I’d love to discuss this more. If you have questions or tips you’d like to share, I would love to hear them! We can start a discussion and help each other. Just like the Lord intended when He introduced Ministering.