I have been impressed with the patterns evident in the instruction we receive from the Lord’s servants. Below are several of these patterns as taught by President Eyring and President Uchtdorf:
I close now with this counsel to the Lord’s priesthood servants.
- Ponder deeply and diligently in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets.
- Persist in prayer for the Holy Ghost to reveal to you the nature of God the Father and His Beloved Son.
- Plead that the Spirit will show you what the Lord wants you to do.
- Plan to do it.
- Promise Him to obey.
- Act with determination until you have done what He asked. And then
- pray to give thanks for the opportunity to serve and to know what you might do next.
Henry B. Eyring, “Act in all Diligence,” April General Conference, 2010 (formatting mine)
The example [our young people] most need from us is to do what they must do.
- We need to pray for the gifts of the Spirit.
- We need to ponder in the scriptures and in the words of living prophets.
- We need to make plans which are not only wishes but covenants.
- And then we need to keep our promises to the Lord.
- And we need to lift others by sharing with them the blessings of the Atonement which have come in our lives.
- And we need to exemplify in our own lives the steady and prolonged faithfulness that the Lord expects of them.
As we do, we will help them feel from the Spirit an assurance that if they will persist, they will hear the words from a loving Savior and Heavenly Father: “Well done, thou good and faithful servant….”
Henry B. Eyring, “Help Them on Their Way Home,” April General Conference, 2010 (formatting mine)
Now, we come to the question of how best to help those you are called to serve and rescue. That will depend on your capacities and on the nature of your priesthood relationship to the person who is in spiritual peril. Let me give three cases which may be your opportunity at times in your priesthood service.
Let’s start when you are an inexperienced junior companion, a teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood assigned with a seasoned companion to visit a young family. Before preparing for the visit you will pray for strength and inspiration to see their needs and know what help you could give. If you can, you will have that prayer with your companion, naming those you will visit. As you pray your heart will be drawn out to them personally and to God. You and your companion will agree on what you hope to accomplish. You will work out a plan for what you will do.
Whatever the plan, you will watch and listen with great intensity and humility during the visit. You are young and inexperienced. But the Lord knows their spiritual state and their needs perfectly. He loves them. And because you know He sends you to act for Him, you can have faith that you can sense their needs and what you can do to meet your charge to help. It will come as you visit face-to-face in their home. That is why you have this priesthood charge in the Doctrine and Covenants: “Visit the house of each member, and exhort them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties.”
And then you have an added charge which takes even greater discernment:
“The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them;
“And see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking;
“And see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty.”
You and your companion will rarely receive inspiration to know the details of the degree to which they are meeting that standard. But I can promise you from experience that you will be given the gift to know what is well with them. And from that you will be able to encourage them. There is another promise I can make: you and your companion will be inspired to know what changes they could make to begin the spiritual healing they need. The words of what you are charged to have happen in their lives will almost certainly contain some of the most important changes the Lord would have them make.
If your companion feels an impression to urge change, watch what he does. You will likely be surprised at the way the Spirit guides him to speak. There will be the sound of love in his voice. He will find a way to tie the needed change with a blessing that will follow. If it is the father or mother who needs to make a change, he may show how it would lead to happiness for the children. He will describe the change as a move away from unhappiness to a better and safer place.
Your contribution during the visit may seem to you small, but it can be more powerful than you may think possible. You will show by your face and manner that you care for the people. They will see that your love for them and the Lord makes you unafraid. And you will be bold enough to bear your testimony to truth. Your humble, simple, and perhaps brief testimony may touch the heart of a person more easily than that of your more experienced companion. I have seen it happen.
Henry B. Eyring, “Man Down!”, April 2009 General Conference (emphasis added)
Brethren, I invite you to consider the words spoken by the servants of God this weekend.
Then get on your knees. Ask God, our Heavenly Father, to enlighten your mind and touch your heart.
Plead with God for guidance in your daily lives, in your Church responsibilities, and in your specific challenges at this time.
Follow the promptings of the Spirit—do not delay.
If you do all this, I promise that the Lord will not leave you to walk alone.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “The Why of Priesthood Service,” 2012 April General Conference