How Can I Figure Out What She Needs? – Relief Society Council February 2018
Because we follow the example of Jesus Christ, we value our sacred assignments to love, to know, to serve, to understand, to teach and minister in his behalf.
The recent changes in visiting teaching guidelines have placed new emphasis on helping us understand and practice the concept of “ministering” to one another. “The changes are meant to help visiting teachers look beyond a universal prepared message and figure out what the sister they visit personally needs,” according to the article, “Learning How to Minister: Relief Society Leaders Explain Changes to Visiting Teaching.”
“What are we supposed to do?” asked Sister Sharon Eubank, First Counselor in the Relief Society General Presidency. “Do what she needs.”
But how do we figure out what someone needs? This was the topic of our February Relief Society Council. Here are some of the ideas the sisters shared:
Minister to the One
Sister Dalecki opened the meeting by sharing some thoughts from an article, “Ministering that Matters” from the March 2014 Ensign.
The article included the story of a young mother of four named Tiffany who became depressed and overwhelmed after learning that a loved one had been diagnosed with cancer. Scriptures and prayer brought no peace. She felt abandoned by Heavenly Father. She even lost her appetite. The only thing that sounded good to her was homemade bread.
Meanwhile, across town, another woman named Sherrie felt an “unmistakable prompting” to drive 30 minutes across town to deliver a loaf of bread she had just taken out of the oven. Strangely, the name that came to her mind was a woman she barely knew.
“And so it happened that the Lord sent a virtual stranger across town to deliver not just the desired homemade bread but also a clear message of love to Tiffany,” President Monson said. “What happened to her cannot be explained in any other way. She had an urgent need to feel that she wasn’t alone—that God was aware of her and had not abandoned her. That bread—the very thing she wanted—was delivered to her by someone she barely knew, someone who had no knowledge of her need but who listened to the prompting of the Spirit and followed that prompting.”
Below is a summary of the additional thoughts that were shared by sisters during the meeting:
Act on the First Impression
- Act on the first impression. If you have an idea or a thought or an impression, ACT. Don’t second-guess yourself. Just go and do it.
- Get to know people and don’t hesitate to minister to people you know, even though you don’t have a specific assignment to visit. One sister related how a neighbor brought her a flower the day her son entered the MTC. This neighbor knew the family well enough to be acquainted with the family circumstances and the flower was a heartwarming thought for a Mom who had just said goodbye to her oldest son.
- You may be walking around with the answer to someone else’s problem and not even know it. One sister related how a recent visit from a ward member gave her access to another individual who does not live in the ward boundaries. Cell phone contact information was exchanged, and now the sister has a connection to someone she can discuss a personal concern with–someone she would otherwise not know.
Set Aside your Preconceived Ideas of Who Needs Help and Who Doesn’t
- Remember that just because someone looks “put together” doesn’t mean they do not struggle.
- Someone once brought me a book that transformed my experience around the holidays. The book helped me see specific ways I could simplify our holiday experiences and get more meaning out of them.
- Once when I was sick, someone came to visit and when I didn’t come to the door, she found her way to my bedroom and sat down to talk to me. I was embarrassed about my messy bedroom but grateful that she was bold enough to come and find me because I needed someone to talk to. She didn’t assume that because I didn’t come to the door I didn’t want to talk. She made a way to talk to me. Sometimes we need to let go of our pride and just allow ourselves to be helped.
- I was once assigned to Visit Teach a woman who wouldn’t let us in, but one day she opened the door and said, “I’m so glad you came.” She invited us in. She was an alcoholic and had been trying to get through the day without a drink. She said, “Please stay with me and keep me from having a drink.” We stayed the rest of the afternoon and then she went to the Relief Society President’s home that evening to help cook dinner for the Relief Society President’s family. Being with someone helped her fight her addiction.
- One sister validated my concerns about one of my children with special needs. She did not judge. She did not try to solve the problem. She just listened and validated my worries.
- When you are Visiting Teaching, try not to dominate the conversation. Allow the person you visit to have space to share their own thoughts and concerns.
- People feel safe sharing their troubles with you when you are willing to be vulnerable about your own needs, so while you don’t want to burden someone else with your own problems, sometimes opening up to them helps them open up to you.
Learn How to Let Others Serve YOU
- Let go of your own pride. Sometimes you have to be willing to be the person who needs help so that others can feel the joy of serving.
- I had a baby with meningitis. My Relief Society sisters helped take care of my family for a whole month so I could go back and forth between the hospital and home to nurse him. They did laundry, brought in meals, and helped clean while I was away. I was so grateful to them!
What Does Ministering Look Like and Feel Like?
Here’s a short video you can share with your family members as you discuss what ministering might look like and feel like. Jonny Brownlee was racing toward the finish line in the Word Triathlon Championships in Cozumel when the heat and dehydration from the exertion during the two-hour race started to catch up with him. Watch what happens:
As you make a plan to ACT, consider just one person or family that you could minister to during the coming 3 weeks and plan to share your experiences with us at our next Relief Society Council.