The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has recently introduced an initiative that may seem subtle to some, but revolutionary to others.
In the internal workings of our church, active members are assigned families and individuals to meet with often, to visit them in their homes, and to leave a monthly common message. This service, referred to as “Home Teaching” and “Visiting Teaching,” has been discontinued in favor of a broader “ministering” approach that expects us to find appropriate ways to meet the physical and spiritual needs of not only those to whom we might be assigned, but to expand our circle of influence to serve and minister to all of our Father’s children.
The expectation is that we find effective ways to reach out to our neighbors and friends, both within and without the circles of our own churches and institutions, and to serve as the Savior served.
What did he do during his ministry? He clearly taught the principles of His gospel that includes at the core of His life’s purpose, the Savior’s ultimate atonement for all of mankind. Yet in his everyday ministry, he smiled at, talked with, walked with, and listened to, made time for, encouraged, taught, fed, and forgave. He served family and friends, neighbors and strangers alike, and He invited acquaintances and loves ones and strangers alike to enjoy the rich blessings of His gospel of peace.
His great example of love and service that was focused on teaching and serving “The One” is an example we are all being encouraged to emulate.
Be we Christian, Jew, Muslim, or without religion, we are all children of our Heavenly Father, whom he loves and expects to personally serve through us. The Savior said to Peter, “If ye love me, feed my sheep.”
It has been said that through “small and simple acts great things can be accomplished.” We are expected on the Lord’s behalf to carry the message of His example and His life of service. True ministering and caring for His children looks like “going for a walk, getting together with friends for a game night, offering service, or even serving together. It looks like delivering a birthday card and cheering at a soccer game. It looks like becoming part of someone’s life and caring about him or her.
I believe that all of us can be inspired to know how to make a difference as we pay closer attention to the needs of others and then work to meet those needs. Often times, it’s just a question of asking how we can help. Great and simple people alike experience success in life by following the admonition of Nike’s Phil Knight and they “just do it!” We should all trust that we can be directed by His spirit if we prayerfully seek His guidance as to how to best serve others.
My appreciation for truly selfless service and in this case selfless sacrifice was enhanced last night as I watched “The Zookeeper’s Wife.” This true story of a woman and her family who selflessly housed over 300 Jews during a six-year period in the zoo in Warsaw, Poland, and consequently saved their lives, is a classic example of serving others. Certainly, our efforts don’t have to be so profound or so impactful, but making the difference in the life of one person at a time is truly the Lord’s way.
Again, the key to teaching and serving as did the Savior is by making concerted efforts to live as the Savior lived. He was full of love for all mankind. When he taught and served he engaged those around Him in real-life experiences like fishing, childbirth, and herding sheep to teach us how to love and serve others.
Ultimately, the Lord doesn’t really care where we serve, but “how” we serve. I am confident our world will be more peaceful and more purposeful if we can find ways to demonstrate that we are all truly our “brother’s and sister’s keeper.”