Recently I reread President Dieter F. Uchtdorf’s talk from April 2015 entitled, “On Being Genuine.”
Really, I should just repost the entire talk here and not do any analysis because it is that good. However, I will try my best and focus in on just a little bit of what he brought up.
President Uchtdorf addresses in this talk the idea of looking or acting “perfect” or “the way we should” (what does that even mean, really?) and how in actuality, that isn’t the point. The Gospel and doing the Savior’s work isn’t about trying to appear flawless and do everything in just the right way. Maybe that’s not what perfect actually means, at least to God. Maybe perfect (or at least the perfect we are supposed to be going for) actually means Christlike—charitable, selfless, loving, compassionate, merciful, etc.
Programs vs. people
Currently being a member of Ward Council, I especially loved this portion of President Uchtdorf’s talk. He said,
For example, I know of a stake where the leaders set some ambitious goals for the year. While the goals all looked worthwhile, they focused either on lofty and impressive declarations or on numbers and percentages.
After these goals had been discussed and agreed upon, something began to trouble the stake president. He thought about the members of his stake—like the young mother with small children who was recently widowed. He thought about the members who were struggling with doubts or loneliness or with severe health conditions and no insurance. He thought about the members who were grappling with broken marriages, addictions, unemployment, and mental illness. And the more he thought about them, the more he asked himself a humbling question: will our new goals make a difference in the lives of these members?
He began to wonder how their stake’s goals might have been different if they had first asked, “What is our ministry?”
I think a lot about this idea, especially in regards to my calling. One of the things that surprised me most as I was learning the ropes of being Relief Society President (and talking to the Stake Relief Society President in particular) was that my role is really to be there for, see, and visit individuals. The activities and Sunday to Sunday lessons, etc. are not necessarily what I personally need to worry about. The rest of my presidency and the sisters in the ward can see to those things. For me, visiting teaching and individually going to see, meet, talk to, and help the sisters in our ward are the primary concerns.
The harder but better way
This, of course, is much more labor intensive and time constraining than simply administering programs or activities. Really caring and showing love requires that you mean it. But as you mean it, you begin to really know these individuals. You begin to love them.
As President Uchtdorf said,
My dear friends and fellow priesthood holders, if Jesus Christ were to sit down with us and ask for an accounting of our stewardship, I am not sure He would focus much on programs and statistics. What the Savior would want to know is the condition of our heart. He would want to know how we love and minister to those in our care, how we show our love to our spouse and family, and how we lighten their daily load. And the Savior would want to know how you and I grow closer to Him and to our Heavenly Father.
The Gospel and the work of the Savior is so individual. Because of that, we have to care about people. We have to share our struggles and listen to others’ concerns—whether financial, spiritual, or related to mental illness. How to help and show love for someone differs from person to person! It’s not easy, but it is what Christ would have us do.
How do you think we can encourage this idea of “being genuine” and showing love in our individual wards?