Dieter F. Uchtdorf said: “Christ did not just speak about love; He showed it each day of His life. He did not remove Himself from the crowd. Being amidst the people, Jesus reached out to the one. He rescued the lost. He didn’t just teach a class about reaching out in love and then delegate the actual work to others. If we are His hands, should we not do the same?”
My roommate recently came to me feeling really down. She found out that a mutual friend of ours from church was coping with depression and struggling to feel like he fit in. She couldn’t believe that she hadn’t noticed he was going through a hard time. How many people sit in the pews around us at church that are carrying silent burdens? I’d argue that everyone is, and that can be a bit overwhelming.
You may have the desire to lift one another’s burdens. But the truth is – you are not capable of lifting every person. Luckily, we have bishoprics, Relief Society and Elder’s Quorum presidents. We have home and visiting teachers, and ward mission leaders who look out for the people they preside over. Chances are though, they can’t be there for each and every person. They need our help to strengthen our wards and comfort those in need of comfort.
These are some tips I’ve found very helpful in lifting and including the members of my ward:
- Praying each morning to be aware of the needs of those around me
- Asking Heavenly Father for opportunities to serve. On Sundays, I tailor this to asking Heavenly Father to helping me know who I need to be aware of and talk to at church.
- Keeping blank cards in my bag at church. This way if someone comes to mind that may need a boost, I can write them a quick note telling them I’m thinking of them.
- Having monthly ward dinner groups and dessert parties. These are aimed at helping integrate people into our ward and make friends. It’s nice for those living away from family to have people to spend Sunday nights with.
- Throwing a lot of parties and game nights. When I do this, I give my bishop the details and ask him to tell the new or struggling members of the ward about it.
- Having an inclusive online hub. In my city we have a Facebook page that is predominantly made up of LDS young single adults. It’s called “The Things We Do.” Its purpose is for members to post fun activities they do and invite others on the page. For example, you could post about a movie you are going to see or a hike you want to do and where to meet for carpooling. If it’s posted on the page, every person is invited. It helped me make friends when I first moved here so I’ve made a personal goal to post one activity a month on the page.
Doing what you can do
Maybe you aren’t a very social person, and these ideas are overwhelming to you. But, strengthening your ward can be as simple as sitting next to a new person. Even saying “Hi” to someone can make a difference. If you have an earnest desire to be the Savior’s hands, the Spirit will guide you to find those who are lost that you can touch in your own way.
In that same talk mentioned before, President Uchtdorf also said: “When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation. That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
We all lead busy lives, and sometimes it’s difficult just to make it through our own trials, but as we look outward and try to emulate the Savior, He gives us the strength to do it. There are many different ways that you as an individual can strengthen your ward. Whether it’s an invitation to an activity, writing them a small note, or sitting by someone new, your actions-though seemingly small-are what the Savior would do if He was here today. You can’t lift the burdens of every person in your ward, but you can help create an environment of healing, love, and safety.
Be the change you want to see in your ward. You might just be the only one that can reach certain people. I know that we all can’t make it alone. We need the Savior, but we also need each other.