When I first read the title of this lesson, "True Ministers Focus on the Needs of Others" I immediately thought of their temporal needs. How I can I help them through their temporal struggles? However, the focus of this lesson should actually be on how we can meet their spiritual needs. How can we help them get to the temple more often or into the scriptures? What spiritual struggles are they having and how can we help them through the wrestle?
The Church suggests the following for teaching this lesson, "To help members better understand the value of focusing on the needs of others as we minister, you could compare ministering to giving and receiving gifts. Have we ever received a meaningful gift from someone who clearly knew what we needed or wanted? How is ministering similar to giving a thoughtful gift? Consider discussing stories from the most recent general conference that demonstrate how people ministered according to the needs of others (see, for example, Jean B. Bingham, “Ministering as the Savior Does,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018). Members could also share other stories that demonstrate this principle.
"How can we learn what others’ needs are? Invite each member to make a list of some of the people to whom they minister. Next to each name they could write an answer to the question “What does this person need to come closer to Christ?” As applicable, encourage members to include ordinances each person may need to receive. Invite members to continue to think about this question and seek inspiration to help them meet the needs of others."
"The Joy of Service" by President Thomas S. Monson
"The Greatest among You" by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
"Unselfish Service" by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
"Finding Joy through Loving Service" by Elder M. Russell Ballard
""I Was a Stranger'" by Sister Linda K. Burton
"Rescue in Unity" by Elder Chi Hong (Sam) Wong
Preparation of Gordon B. Hinckley: Forget Yourself and Go to Work (about 2 minutes)- Story of the missionary letter he got from his dad.
Whosoever Will Lose His Life for My Sake Shall Find It (about 2 minutes)- Bible Video
Service Through Song (about 3 1/2 minutes)- A group shares love through singing hymns to a group of elderly residents.
Service (about 20 seconds)- Side by side comparison of showing love like Christ does (These short videos are great to share before or after your lesson through email or social media to keep the conversation going).
Dominoes (about 30 seconds)- How service continues to bless (all check out the other videos on this page)
I Was a Stranger: Love One Another (about 3 1/2 minutes)- This is the one shown in the Women's Session April 2016
Lift (about 9 1/2 minutes)- Continual service- not just one time
Questions to Ponder
- What happens when we look at the needs of those we minister to as helping them come to Christ instead of simply serving?
- What happens when we continue to give instead of just focusing on our own needs?
- Why is meeting needs such a big part of ministering?
- Why are we the ones trusted to meet these needs? What does that mean?
- How can we meet others needs?
- What can we do when those we minister to don't seem as receptive?
- What can we do when we start to get discouraged or feel what we give isn't enough?
- How do we avoid burn out?
- How can you make serving others a way of life?
- How has others's service blessed you?
- How has service brought you happiness?
- How can you involve your family in serving?
- What are some acts of service that might meet the needs of those you minister to?
- What are the spiritual needs of those you minister to?
- How does assisting those we minister to in spiritual ways help them temporally as well?
- What are some temporal needs that may need to be addressed before we might be able to focus on their spiritual needs?
These are my ideas. My hope is reading my thoughts will be a springboard to finding the right plans for your class.
- Write on the board the ordinances that are needed for us to return to Heavenly Father. Then ask your class what we need to do in order to receive such ordinances. How we can help each other receive these ordinances as we minister? If we have already received them, how can we help each other live up to our covenants? What are some obstacles in our own way and how would we like others to help us through them?
- When we first walk into a room, what do we see? For example, what do you see in the room you are teaching in. Chairs, maybe a table, a white board, etc. These are the physical things that are easy to see first. What do we see when we think of the room in terms of helping us return unto God. A gathering place for spiritual instruction, a piano to bring in the Spirit, etc. Compare this to how we need to see each other's needs- not just the surface level but the spiritual, more important needs. What can we do to see more clearly the spiritual needs?
- Tell the story of the people helping bring the man with palsy through the roof to Christ (Mark 2). How does this story illustrate our need to focus on the needs of others? How were all of those in the party blessed? What happens to ourselves when we help others come unto Christ?
- Send my Ministering sheets home with those in your class to encourage them to sit down and really pray to see the needs of those we minister to. Take time to discuss the questions at the bottom and why they are important to ponder before we jump in to help. What are some other things we should consider. What can we do when we see a need to be filled but are worried about how it will be accepted?
- Discuss how it's easy to get trapped in a comparison cycle. When we first minister to others we may noticed the great things they do or have that we might not. Discuss how we can avoid this by focusing on their needs instead as well as how we can rejoice in each others accomplishments without taking away from our own successes.
- Discuss the difference between someone that ministers with the other's needs in mind versus when they attempt to minister with their own agenda. For example, when someone is not really focused on the needs of others they are doing more of the checklist, I visited that person instead of understanding how to truly connect with the individual. They may also do all the talking instead of all the listening. How do we ensure that we maintain the true spirit of ministering and not get caught back into the trap of the checklist approach.