3.25.2018

The OPPORTUNITY for MINISTERING



image from lds.org

"Whoop-de-do! The Gospel’s true!"

Growing up one member would use this declaration at the beginning of every testimony he bore.  As a child, it was humorous and endearing.  As an adult I think, "Amen!"  The gospel is something to be excited about, something to cheer for.  

President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, “This is a season of a thousand opportunities. It is ours to grasp and move forward.  What a wonderful time it is for each of us to do his or her small part in moving the work of the Lord on to its magnificent destiny(CR Oct. 1997)." 

Likewise, Bishop H. David Burtain declared, “As we recognize and act on our opportunities, progress, happiness, and spiritual growth follow.  We need to be involved in moving the Lord’s work forward (CR Oct. 1998)." 

You know when you are drawn to a word and then seem to hear it again and again fora while?  The word opportunity has been that word for me lately.  An opportunity is a "suitable time combined with other favorable circumstances (Webster's 1828 Dictionary)."  

Further we learn this about the origins of the word opportunity: 

“The word opportunity comes from the Latin term opportunitas, which is composed of two other terms: ob, meaning “toward”, and portus, meaning “port”.  This word came about in the realm of navigation, where sailors used the phrase ob portus to denote the best combination of wind, current, and tide to sail to port. However, the only way to seize such weather conditions was if the vessel’s captain had already sighted the port of destination. Knowing the weather conditions without knowing the destination was useless. Therefore, a ship was in a state of opportunitas when its captain had decided where to go and knew how to get there. Later, however, the word evolved in a different direction to denote only external conditions while excluding the individual who would seize them (Leramero)."

As ministering sisters, we know our destination!  We know the port to which we need to land:  in the homes of those for whom we have stewardship.  As we prepare ourselves spiritually to serve in this capacity, we are then ready to sail when the wind, current and tide align and we are able to assist those we serve.  

"The Savior calls His disciples to work with Him in His ministry, giving them the opportunity to serve others and become more like Him...By assigning our women to do visiting teaching, we give them the opportunity to develop the pure love of Christ, which can be the greatest blessing of their lives (Daughters in my Kingdom, pp.105, 120." 

Called to be ministering is not just something we are asked so we can have more to do on our endless list of tasks.  The Lord gives us, His children, opportunities to learn and to grow so we can live with Him again.  Ministering is one of those opportunities and when we are prepared, He can use us to fulfill His great purpose in bringing His children home. 



In Alma 19:16-17  we read of one young woman who was ready for her opportunity.
  

16 And it came to pass that they did call on the name of the Lord, in their might, even until they had all fallen to the earth, save it were one of the Lamanitish women, whose name was Abish, she having been converted unto the Lord for many years, on account of a remarkable vision of her father— 17 Thus, having been converted to the Lord, and never having made it known, therefore, when she saw that all the servants of Lamoni had fallen to the earth, and also her mistress, the queen, and the king, and Ammon lay prostrate upon the earth, she knew that it was the power of God; and supposing that this opportunity, by making known unto the people what had happened among them, that by beholding this scene it would cause them to believe in the power of God, therefore she ran forth from house to house, making it known unto the people. 

Abish had prepared herself spiritually so when the opportunity arose she was ready to spread the word, ready to be a blessing to the people and she acknowledged the Lord's hand in creating such an opportunity.  This is our call as ministering sisters, to be thus prepared that we, too, can recognize the Lord's hand and take advantage of the opportunities He can (and will) place before us! 

“Visiting teaching gives women the opportunity to watch over, strengthen, and teach one another. Through visiting teaching, the Relief Society president helps the bishop identify and resolve short-term and long-term needs of the sisters and their families” (Handbook 2, 9.5).

A brief note on the new visiting teaching focus: 
In 1916 the Relief Society established that the sisters would take a message into the homes of those they visited.  In 1923 there was instituted a uniform message churchwide.  For 95 years the leaders have been directing this message.  That's a long time! As our stake Relief Society President has expressed, it's like the leaders are "taking off the training wheels."  This does not mean we don't go into the homes of our sisters.  We need to be going into the homes of our sisters.  This new focus is simply another opportunity the Lord is giving us to use personal revelation in blessing the lives of those we visit.  This new focus is not about doing less, this is about being more! 

"Since each sister's circumstances are different, visiting teachers need specific guidance from the Holy Ghost so they can know how best to help each one (Daughters in my Kingdom, p. 114)." 

As Elder Uchtdorf reminded us at the last conference, "No one else is responsible for your personal journey.  The Savior will help you and prepare the way before you, but the commitment to follow Him and keep His commandments must come from you.  This is your soul burden, your sole privilege.  This is your great adventure. Please heed the call of your Savior.  Follow Him  (emphasis added)."  

Ministering is our opportunity, a part of our great adventure.  We must prepare ourselves so that when the tide changes and the weather is right, we will be there to minister to the ones we are called to serve. 

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"The Lord has established the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to help you in this commitment to serve God and fellowmen.  Its purpose is to encourage, teach, lift and inspire.  This wonderful Church provides opportunities for you to exercise compassion, reach out to others, and renew and keep sacred covenants.  It is designed to bless your life and improve your home, community and nation…  Lend your talents to His wonderful work.  Reach out, encourage, heal and support all who desire to feel and heed the yearning for our supernal home.  Let us join together in this glorious pilgrimage to heavenly climes."  Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf, CR October 2017


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