Jeff Borders joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at the age of 19 and since has many opportunities to serve in leadership roles including Ward Mission, Young Men’s, Elders Quorum and in the Bishopric. Jeff works as the Respiratory Therapy Manager at a rural hospital near his home, and as the Safety Lieutenant for a local volunteer fire station. Jeff writes regularly for This Week in Mormons and Spokane Faith and Values. He has also contributed an article to Leading Saints, published with the Spokesman Review and LDS Living.
I remember being called as an elder’s quorum president. Just like any calling in the Church, it can be overwhelming at first and sometimes for a long time after. There I was, a convert to the Church of only about 11 years and I was asked to lead and strengthen the men of my ward.
It felt like such a monumental and insurmountable task. Where to start: home teaching, activities, service projects, reactivation, strengthening families and marriages? It can be enough to make you want to just give up at times, especially if after months you don’t feel like you are making any difference. Initially, I viewed it as pushing a boulder up a mountain, only to move inches, if not millimeters.
I spent many hours counseling, visiting, and teaching, often feeling inadequate, and never really realizing just what I was accomplishing. It sometimes felt that when I wasn’t sleeping or working, my suit was on and I was heading somewhere for my calling. I felt drained and alone, even though I had wonderful counselors and a very supportive wife.
Early in my calling, I started sending out monthly messages to my quorum based on what I thought the quorum needed to hear and frankly what I felt inspired to write. I called upon the gift that Heavenly Father gave me to help in my ministry as an elders quorum president.
It wasn’t until I received some responses from individual elders that I realized that maybe I was making an impact. It wasn’t uncommon for someone to tell me that the message was what they needed to hear at the time, or that they had forwarded my words on to someone else that they felt needed them. While I was called to have stewardship for the entire Elders quorum, my ministry through my words was having an impact on an individual level. Although I couldn’t see that boulder moving visibly, I could feel it moving in the hearts of the quorum I was privileged enough to belong to.
This was repeated as I worked with individuals on a one-on-one basis, counseling them, helping them, and serving them. It wasn’t until after my release that I came to realize that the pattern of individual ministry was what the Savior intended for me to be doing all along. While my stewardship covered a large group of men, the only way I would make a difference in anyone’s life was through the application of the Spirit in one-on-one interaction and ministry.
The Perfect Example
There are numerous examples of Christ’s individual ministry, like the woman at the well, or any number of sick and afflicted people he healed, or his attention to his mother at his crucifixion when he calls John to take care of her.
One of the greatest examples of his personal ministry comes straight from the Book of Mormon. In 3 Nephi 11: 14-15, upon Christ’s visit to the Nephites, he invites the multitude to come forward and feel the prints of the nails in His hands and feet. We are not talking about a few people; we are talking about the entire multitude of Nephites present at Christ’s presentation. This couldn’t have been a short process, and from what I know of the Savior, this wouldn’t have been a feel-and-go-type scenario. He probably spoke to them each and ministered individually, until as it says in verse 15 that they “did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he.”
Christ Didn’t Rush His Ministry
He could have just shown up and bore his wounds for all to see. But no, he took the time needed to minister on an individual basis. Life is busy. We all struggle to prioritize things, and there are so many worthy things that compete for our time and attention. I’m not suggesting we should dedicate every hour of every day to church. But we should try to actively live as Jesus lived, which means integrating ministering into our daily interactions. We can pray for those whom we serve and intentionally seek out ways to help them.
We also need to be mindful that we don’t try to rush through our interactions with others. We are called to mourn with those that mourn, comfort those in need of comfort, and rejoice with those who are rejoicing. To be able to do that effectively takes time, and requires us to truly get to know the people we are ministering to.
Yoking to the Savior
On the other side of the individual ministry is that we need to make sure that we are yoking ourselves to Christ and letting him minister to us. We cannot be effective ministers of his Gospel if we are not properly engaged in our own personal relationship with the Master.
Regardless of your calling, ministering to those whom you are called to have stewardship over can and will feel overwhelming at times. When it does, take a step back, say a prayer, and find the one He needs you to minister to. The rest will not fall apart as you focus your ministry on finding and helping the individual. As you strive to follow the Savior’s example, you will be strengthened, and through your strengthened testimony and example, your quorum, class, or group will be blessed.