Following the changes to home and visiting teaching at General Conference, Elder Neil L. Andersen, member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, shared examples of what Christlike ministering looks like and how students and faculty can help their friends and families grow closer to God.
He counseled students to reject the narcissism of our culture. Christ teaches to serve and love others. At BYU, students and faculty can minister like Christ.
Elder Andersen shared an experience of a student who prayed for help. Immediately after her prayer, she received a text from her roommate. Her roommate expressed her love and testimony and shared a scripture.
“It brought me so much strength and comfort and hope in that moment of despair,” the student said.
Remember the first commandment before you exercise the second
Elder Andersen said that young people’s faith in God has been declining for decades. The ministering done, especially among BYU students, must include strengthening a friend’s faith.
This holier approach to ministering will come from a person’s love of God.
“There is a unique and supernal gift of ministering that can come from someone who loves God with all his or her heart, who is settled, grounded, steadfast and immovable in his or her faith in Jesus Christ and in the restored gospel and keeps the commandments with exactness,” said Elder Andersen.
Ministering as a disciple of Christ
Any good person can be a good minister, but only a disciple of Christ can be a good faith minister. This not only includes having game nights and dropping off cookies but also involves continued ministering to strengthen faith.
“I challenge you to strengthen your efforts to spiritually minister to one another,” said Elder Andersen. “Eventually this holier way of ministering requires opening your heart and your faith, taking courage in encouraging the positive growth you are seeing in a friend or in expressing concerns about things you see and feel that are not consistent with discipleship.”
Elder Andersen said this is not self-righteous, but spiritually courageous. He included a few examples of how one can minister in a holier way:
- You notice that a roommate spends an inordinate amount of time playing games on an iPhone but rarely engages in conversations relating to gospel topics.
- You are in a conversation with friends and notice that the language being used is edgy and inappropriate.
- You see prescription drugs that you know are not being used properly.
- You notice that someone who once seemed to love to talk about the Book of Mormon now never mentions it.
- You notice a friend who once spoke with faith about the prophet’s counsel, now speaks critically.
- You have a returned missionary roommate who has become very casual in wearing clothing that reflects temple covenants.
- 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 have a classmate that began the semester very engaged in your religion class but now seems disinterested and disengaged.
- You have a friend who jokes about sacred things.
- You have a friend who came to BYU with the expectation of finding an eternal companion and hasn’t. The discouragement with dating has moved to “God doesn’t love me.”
Increase your capacity to minister
Elder Andersen said that ministering will take time and love. He told of two of his roommates who had a major spiritual impact on him because of their example and friendship.
“The greatest need here at Brigham Young University, as anywhere else in the world, is more faith in our Heavenly Father and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and a greater willingness to follow his commandments,” said Elder Andersen.
However, to be able to minister to a friend the Holy Ghost will need to guide. This means making time away from unnecessary technology so as to let the mind and heart hear the Spirit’s subtle promptings.
“For the Spirit to dwell in us, we have to have time and space. Learn to put your smartphones down,” said Elder Andersen. “Insert time when your technology is intentionally not accessible.”
Faculty can minister in unique ways
Elder Andersen also encouraged the faculty to share their faith in Jesus Christ with students. When he speaks at stake conferences, he does not prepare a speech. As he looks into the individual faces of the audience, the revelation for what to say comes to him. Elder Andersen told the faculty to see the individuals in their classes.
“I encourage you, professors, to pray for opportunities to share your faith and spiritual experiences—I know you do. The words will come as you look into individual faces. As you speak to the individual student, all will be lifted,” said Elder Andersen.