Elder Robert C. Gay, Area Seventy for the Southeast Area, of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, spoke to the Augusta, Georgia Stake yesterday and discussed the focus of our newest revision of the LDS Handbook of Instruction to focus on ministering to the one, and not just managing or administering to the ninety and nine.
Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Alma 22:23-25 Now this was done in the presence of the queen and many of the servants. And when they saw it they greatly marveled, and began to fear. And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord. Now there was a multitude gathered together because of the commandment of the queen, and there began to be great murmurings among them because of Aaron and his brethren. But the king stood forth among them and administered unto them. And they were pacified towards Aaron and those who were with him.
Elder Gay cited this great example in the Book of Mormon where Aaron was teaching the King of the Lamanites where the King said "I will give away all my sins to know God." After the King was converted, it says that the King "ministered" to his household and they were all "converted." Not long after a crowd gathered outside alarmed that a Nephite was speaking with their Lamanite King. The King then "administers" and only "pacifies" them.
My wife and I were recently having a discussion about the difference between "ministering" and "administering." Too often it is easy to get into a rut of going to church, teaching our lesson, going to our meetings, and planning our activities and believe that we are living up to the expectations that the Lord has for us. How much "converting" are we involved in vs. how much "pacifying"? My wife is a great example of what it means to "minister." She is always working with different people one-on-one, helping them return to full activity, or to become temple worthy. Unfortunately, this can be very heart-rending work as not everyone responds to her ministering.
Elder Gay told our Stake that the LDS Church was going to change how it measures progress. Instead of focusing on percents, the church was going to highlight numbers of individuals making and keeping covenants. To minister, Elder Gay taught, involves visiting, blessing, and teaching. He also said something that was surprising. He also spoke on Councils and that revelation will be scattered throughout our ward council members as we focus on the specific needs of specific families and individuals. Elder Gay promised us that as we focus on ministering in the church, more fully consecrating our lives to God, and loosing ourselves in the Lord's service; we will be living up the the expectations that that Lord has for us, and we will more fully experience the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The power of the Atonement of Christ, which Christ told Joseph Smith many churches deny, doesn't just Justify us from sin, but will sanctify us and purge us of any desire to do evil. Instead we will only be filled with love of God and the desire to do good continually.
Elder Gay also relayed a desire of President Monson that LDS members give talks focused on specifically how certain gospel principles have blessed their lives, and not just telling the congregation everything they know on that subject or what LDS leadership have said on that subject. With this in mind, if I were assigning speakers, I might ask those invited to speak to share with me how a certain principle had blessed them and ask that they include those comments in their talk.