September 14, 2010

Visiting Teaching - Acting as the Lord's hands

I came across this article at Mormon Chic and thought I would share it with you.

Let visiting teaching be a joy in your life!

Now be honest. As the end of the month draws near, do you feel pressured by your visiting teaching "obligation" and stress over how to fit it in? Give yourself a break - change your perspective.
How lucky you are that the Lord has chosen you to be the shepherd for those few sisters and care for them as His hands upon this earth. You are not just a sister responsible for visiting another sister. See how the Lord trusts you.

President Spencer W. Kimball reminded us, "The Lord does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other." ("President Kimball Speaks Out on Service to Others," New Era, Mar. 1981, p.47).

You are the Lord's appointed helper, given stewardship over one of His special children, and He depends on you to keep watch over her daily, not just for a half hour a month. He wants you to know her and love her, be aware of her needs and interests, pray for her, serve her, and help her to draw nearer to Him. See how the Lord needs you.

In addressing the stewardship of home and visiting teachers, President Gordon B. Hinckley counsels us that we have "an inescapable responsibility to go into the homes of the people and teach them to live the gospel principles more faithfully, to see that there is no iniquity or backbiting or evil speaking, to build faith, to see that the families are getting along temporally. That is a very serious responsibility; it really is. But it is not a heavy burden-it just takes a little more faith. It is worthy of our very best effort." ("Instruments of the Lord", Ensign, Mar. 1997, 27-28).

Wow! How do you fit all that in? Just the way you did before, but with a greater feeling of empowerment by our Heavenly Father and responsibility to report back to Him, regularly, through your prayers.

Simply by the fact that you are reading this article you show that you are a woman of faith. We, as LDS women, are women of faith and women of selfless service; as we have been instructed by our Savior. "The works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do" (3 Nephi 27:21). The Lord asks us to serve one another and He pours out his blessing upon us as we serve faithfully.

We send out our young men and women to serve missions for the Lord so that they might bring the gospel into the lives of those they teach. Then we observe as they receive great blessings from the Lord: love of the Gospel, dedication to Him, gratitude for the blessings of service, strengthening of their testimonies, humility, inspiration, understanding of human nature, appreciation for human frailty and suffering, and the joy in sacrifice.

You can receive these same blessings as you serve your sisters.

"The teacher's duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them' (D&C 20:53). This is the mandate of the Lord. I hope that home teachers and visiting teachers will experience two things: first, the challenge of the responsibility that is in their great calling, and second, the sweetness of results from their work, particularly with those among us who are less active. I hope that these teachers will get on their knees and pray for direction, and then go to work to bring these wandering prodigals back into the fold of the Church. If home and visiting teachers respond to this challenge, I honestly believe that they will taste the sweet and wonderful feeling which comes of being an instrument in the hands of the Lord in leading someone back into activity in His church and kingdom."

President Gordon B. Hinckley
"Instruments of the Lord," Ensign, Mar. 1997, 27-28

Admittedly, there are times when visiting teaching is hard. Perhaps you are very busy, or overburdened yourself, or depressed. Taking that half hour for a visit, or a phone call, or a short note will lift your spirits and renew your energy. Guaranteed. See it as an opportunity to be rejuvenated and blessed.

Perhaps you are rebuffed by a sister: she refuses to see you, is absent when you arrive, cancels your appointment. She still needs to feel cared for and valued. Think how great will be your joy when at last she accepts your overture. See it as a challenge, not an obstacle.

Sometimes the needs of our sisters are great and may seem more than we can manage. Remember the wise counsel of our Relief Society General President, Elaine L. Jack, "We cannot always lift the burden of one who is troubled, but we can lift her so she can bear it well" (Church News, 7 Mar 1992, 5). Our charge is not to take on her troubles or solve her problems. Helping hands, a warm embrace, an understanding ear, moments of sharing, and judgment free trust are the gifts we have to offer.

"Visiting teaching gives us an opportunity to learn how to follow the Savior. As we extend love and unselfish service, we become instruments of the Lord, helping in times of physical, emotional, and spiritual need to touch hearts and change lives. Visiting teaching is the very essence of the gospel and gives us the opportunity to practice the principles found in Mosiah 18:8-9: 'willing to bear one another's burdens, … willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort, and to stand as witnesses of God at all times, … that [we] may have eternal life.' "

President Barbara Winder
Relief Society general president 1984-1990

As we change our perspective to understand our crucial role as visiting teachers, we will receive joy and blessings in our lives. We will feel stronger, more confident, and more at peace with ourselves.

Suggestions to Strengthen your Visiting Teaching:

1. Recognize your important role in the lives of those you teach.

2. Make your appointments early in the month. Schedules fill up fast. You will feel more in control and those you visit will realize that they are important to you.

3. Pray for those you visit. As you think of them often you will be inspired with insight to meet their needs. The Lord will help you as you report to Him.

4. Pray with your companion before you visit. There is strength in your companionship and praying together will also help you to draw closer to one another.

5. Learn personal information about each of your sisters. Knowing her will allow you to better meet her needs. Take the initiative to offer help, don't wait to be asked. Let her know that it helps you to serve her.

6. Listen with sincerity. Let your sisters go beyond the small talk and speak about the reality of their lives. Remember to keep confidences.

7. Share a prepared doctrinal message. Bringing souls unto Christ is our ultimate mission. Share your testimony and the truths of which you teach. Share examples from your own life and allow your sisters to share their own experiences. Always follow the promptings of the spirit as you teach.

8. Don't give up on the tough ones. Start calling early in the month. Keep calling, keep smiling, keep trying. At the end of the month, if your efforts have seemed fruitless, at least you will know that you tried your best.

9. Love unconditionally. Notice the good things about the sisters you teach and allow yourself to love them and practice charity toward them.

Fun things to do with your sisters:

1. Go for a walk in the park or neighborhood.
2. Give her a foot massage.
3. Be the taxi for a day for her children.
4. Have a luncheon at your house with all your sisters.
5. Take a day trip to a museum.
6. Bring her breakfast early on Saturday morning.
7. Mow her lawn just before she returns from vacation.
8. Watch a chick flick together with lots of chocolate.
9. Take her out for ice cream.
10. Do a service project together.
11. Find out when she cleans her house and pitch in to help.
12. Schedule your visit on laundry day and help her fold.
13. Do her mending.
14. Kidnap her children for a day.
15. Share your talent. Teach her something you are good at.
16. Make a VT magnet for her with all your contact information.
17. Send a card for no reason at all.
18. Send a thank you note for allowing you to serve and visit her.
19. Go with her to one of her children's events to help cheer.
20. Get on the web and research a topic she needs information about.

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