Each General Conference is exciting, and we have come to look forward to General Conference as a time when we will be blessed to hear the word of the Lord through His Prophet, his counsellors and the members of the Quorum of the Twelve and other church leaders. President Nelson seeks the Lord’s direction, and he fearlessly teaches us the mind and will of the Lord for our time.
In the April 2018 General Conference, President Nelson reminded us that each holder of the priesthood has “a divine mandate to learn and to teach, to love and to serve others.”1 He then announced that relief societies and elders quorums have the responsibility to minister to the temporal and spiritual needs of the members of the Church in a higher and holier way.
Ministering is Christ-like service that seeks to help with a spiritual or temporal need of another. It is not just a feeling of the heart; it always includes doing something. Sister Jean B. Bingham, Relief Society General President, taught that “true ministering is accomplished one by one with love as the motivation.”2
“Quorum and Relief Society presidencies need to take primary responsibility for the work of salvation in the ward…so bishops can…focus the majority of their efforts on the youth.”Elder Craig C. Christensen
In a notice issued after General Conference, the First Presidency and the Twelve also announced that while the bishop holds the keys for the work of salvation in the ward, the work needed to accomplish member missionary work, convert retention, activation of less-active members, temple and family history work and teaching the gospel would be delegated to the elders quorum and Relief Society of each ward and branch.3 As Elder Craig C. Christensen explained, “Quorum and Relief Society presidencies need to take primary responsibility for the work of salvation in the ward…so bishops can…focus the majority of their efforts on the youth.”4
Not only will elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies take the primary role in moving forward the work of salvation, they will also be much more involved in ministering to, counselling with and helping men and women with their personal problems and challenges. For too long, members have gone to the bishop with every problem they have, but those best equipped to help them are the elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies. Let me give you an example of an elders quorum president who understood his responsibility to minister, teach and help each member.
On February 11, 2017, I attended a priesthood meeting in New Delhi, India. As the quorum meeting started, the quorum president stood before his quorum and wrote on the white board: “Shepherd’s List,” and then listed the names of four quorum members having employment challenges. He explained the difficulties that were faced by these families and asked whether anyone knew of employment opportunities for these four brethren. Immediately, hands went up, and different brothers said things like, “My company is hiring. I know that he has the skills needed. I can introduce him to the right people for an interview.” This went on for each brother facing difficulty, and employment opportunities were identified for each one.
Truly, this quorum president ministered to these brethren and their families. When his quorum members had a problem, he took it to the quorum to find help. He took the initiative and, in a kind and loving way, engaged the quorum to help each one who was in need. The power of working through the quorum to solve individual needs was evident, and there was a true spirit of love for each other. This quorum ministered to the needs of its members, and lives were blessed.
In a similar way, we ask elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies to engage their members to minister and move forward each part of the work of salvation. Too often, we talk about problems but don’t do very much to solve them. As an area presidency, we ask each elders quorum presidency and each Relief Society presidency to take initiative in all aspects of the work of salvation and begin to do the work needed to minister, save, retain, convert, find, lift and bless the lives of members and non-members. If elders quorum and Relief Society presidents have not yet done so, please designate one counsellor to be responsible for member missionary work and one counsellor to be responsible for temple and family history work, and become engaged in the work.
It is in doing the work that lives are blessed. It is through assuming this responsibility within elders quorums and Relief Societies that bishops will be able to focus their time and efforts on the rising generation. I bear testimony that as we now allow each elders quorum and Relief Society presidency to act in the expanded callings they have, the work will move forward, and many lives will be blessed. ■
1 Russell M. Nelson, Introductory Remarks, April 2018
2 Jean B. Bingham, Ministering as the Savior Does, April 2018
3 Notice, October 6, 2018