Saturday, January 8, 2011

Home Teaching With the Spirit

Who would dare to presume to go into a home as a representative of the Lord without first seeking the Lord's guidance and blessing through prayer.  Me.  I've done that very thing far too often.  Be it resolved that from hence forth, I will cease and desist that prideful practice.  Dear Brother Pennington taught me this principle when he came over to train me as a Family History records extractor.  He was appalled that I just set to work on my extraction without ever pausing to seek the grace of God to influence my errand.  Thank you Ned for your kind counsel.  Each set of Home Teachers ought to seek the Lord in order to best meet the needs of each family they are assigned.   How much better and easier our work will be under the direction of God.

We've all heard horror stories of tactless and hurtful things spoken to people newly returning to activity.  Or of offensive things spoken by Home Teachers to families they visit.  Is it any wonder that many people would just plain prefer not to have anyone visit them any more.  The only sure way to ensure that the things we say and do in our Home Teaching assignments are beneficial, not detrimental, is to speak the words of Christ as directed by the Holy Ghost.

For this reason, it is inappropriate to script in advance, the things one might say.  We as leaders need to shy away from giving examples of other's success stories without making it plain that what was said successfully in situation A, might not fly in situation B.  How grateful I am that the Holy Ghost will guide the words I speak so that I have no fear of stepping beyond my bounds.  Only God knows what is best spoken in each particular case.

I believe that one of the key reasons members of the Church have been notorious for resisting the repeated invitations to go out and be member missionaries; is because they've been told what to say and do and when they get out there, the Spirit counsels otherwise.  How often were we told in my own youth to GQ everybody.  GQ meaning to ask the Golden Question, "What do you know about the Mormon Church?  Would you like to know more?"  How many times were those questions flatly rejected because the candidate was no where near prepared to answer in a "golden" way.  I'm certain that the reluctance I felt and often over rode in a determination to be obedient was the Spirit whispering, "He's not ready yet.  Take some time, be patient, loving, friendly, exemplary and the day will come when he will ask you."

Now don't get me wrong.  GQing worked.  Hundreds joined the church after being asked that question.  Often it was the perfect question, but more often it was not.  Perhaps influenced by a sales mentality the GQ movement was a numbers game.  Ask enough people and a certain percentage will buy.  If all we're about is getting numbers then what of those, who might respond to a gentler, more patient approach.  We were told on my mission that if we couldn't get them into the water is six weeks, we were to abandon them and move on to greener pastures.  What if the Elders and Sisters who taught Agusto Lim did that.  It took nine months of continual visits to prepare him for baptism.  Since then he's been a General Authority, Mission President, Temple president and much more.  I mention him because he was in our Mission Presidency when I was in the Philippines and he hated that "six weeks" policy.

"Six Weeks" and "GQ" have largely disappeared from our culture, but their effects remain among many of us.  Especially for those who are goal oriented and desire impressive numbers.  It is easy for those to whom numbers are important to abandon the slow ones for the "golden" ones.  What a sin, to declare anyone less than golden.  What a sin to ignore, abandon, reject or neglect those who don't make us look good.  God wants all of His children home, not just some of them.  If we Home Teach by the Spirit, we will know that and our efforts will be congruent with that knowledge.

Sometimes the things we say and do with the Spirit have less to do with words and more to do with feelings.  I once had a wonderful young Aaronic Priesthood companion who taught me this lesson in a very poignant way.  We had visited the home of Sister Wilson for months.  She was in her late eighties and had not been to church since she was a girl.  She was always sweet, hospitable and welcoming.  She didn't resist having lessons, but she specifically rejected my invitations to attend church.  One day she asked why Kaleo never gave the lesson.  I was quite chagrined that I had never shared that assignment with my companion.  We promised that he would give the lesson on our next visit.  I reminded him of the assignment when we made our appointment for the next month.  Arriving at Sister Wilson's home we chatted for a moment and then I turned the time to Kaleo for the lesson.  He fumbled in his shirt pocket for a slip of paper.  Opening it, he explained that he didn't know what to teach and that his mother had found this poem for him to read.  There was nothing particularly special about the poem to me and Kaleo was a bit awkward in reading it.  When he finished though, he looked at Sister Wilson with tears shining in his dark eyes and said.  "I love my Mother."

That was it.  We had a prayer and left.  The following Sunday as I walked into the Chapel I found Sister Wilson there sitting on the back row.  I sat beside her and welcomed her to church.  I couldn't help but ask why she'd changed her mind after all the invitations I'd proffered.  Her answer I'll never forget.  She said, "When Kaleo looked into my eyes and told me how much he loved his Mother, a feeling came over me that I cannot describe.  I felt that love and more.  I felt a beautiful peace I have never felt before.  I came to church today hoping to feel that feeling once again."  She did and remained faithful; attending church and serving in the temple for another decade; well into her nineties.  Sister Wilson had monetarily felt the Comforter in her life and was for ever changed because a young Aaronic Priesthood holder brought the Spirit into her home that day.

Our task as Home Teachers is to bring God into people's lives.  Not the concept of God, but God himself, are we doing that?  Really?

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