At a recent Brigham Young University devotional, a high-ranking LDS leader gave students tips on how to conduct proper “ministering.”
This, of course, corresponds to the Mormon church’s new program to improve function over the staid form of home and visiting teaching. Rather than assessing success statistically, we’re supposed to look for actual ways to minister.
Right upfront, we should recognize who needs to be ministered. Toward that end, LDS apostle Neil L. Andersen gave the BYU students signs that someone might be in need of emergency ministering.
Keep in mind that the brains of most young college students are still developing. That may be why some of Andersen’s “what if” suggestions, noted in a By Common Consent blog by writer Emily Jensen, seem overly simple or outright odd.
Here we go. What should you do if:
• You notice that a roommate spends an inordinate amount of time playing games on an iPhone but rarely engages in conversations regarding gospel topics.
• You smell alcohol or marijuana in a friend’s car.
• You notice that someone who once loved to talk about the Book of Mormon now never mentions it.
• You notice that a friend who once seemed to love to go to the temple now is not going.
• You notice a friend who finds reasons to go places on Sunday other than your ward.
• You have a sense that a friend has started to be dishonest in small things.
• You discover that your roommate has a dismembered human corpse hidden under his or her bed.
• You notice that someone who once considered caffeinated drinks to be the spittle of Satan now consumes them regularly.
OK, I made up those last two. I was getting bored. Truthfully, most of them apply directly to me. My car does smell like marijuana. I use it for pain relief.
I also regularly find places to go on Sunday rather than the ward. I sometimes go to my wife’s church or to non-Mormon family gatherings.
I’m also dishonest in small things, but then so is every person I know.
I don’t play games on an iPhone rather than engaging in gospel conversations, but I do sometimes listen to music on an Android during sermons. Depends almost entirely on the talk.
Sometimes ministering has to be deeply unconventional for it to be effective. In fact, most of the time whatever the other person needs might not even require mentioning in the first place.
A good example — at least for me — is when I ministered to a guy by arresting him for drunken driving. It was right after I became a cop and moved to a new town.
We got into a fight and ended up rolling around in an irrigation ditch before I ministered him to the point of unconsciousness. Then I took him to jail. The following day, we sat near each other in elders quorum. The subject never even came up.
While still a cop, I also ministered to a guy in my ward who came home from work and found that his fed-up wife had left him, taking everything from the apartment including the lightbulb from the refrigerator. I helped him get his clothes out of a dumpster.
Once, when a divorced mother I home-taught was having trouble with a rebellious teenager, I took him and a couple of his friends into the desert for the religious experience of blowing up stuff. Ministering through high explosives sure works. His mom said he felt and behaved better afterward.
There are lots of ways to minister. The main thing to remember is that it isn’t true ministering if it only makes the problem worse — for them and everyone else around them.