This article was written by DeAnna Murphy. DeAnna is a former Stake Relief Society president and the CEO of People Acuity. By day, she works with leaders and employees helping them to “Shift Up!” blame, engagement, leadership, and individual and team performance. She is also an internationally-known keynote speaker, Top 100 Global Coaching Leader, and the author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living. She has been part of two Leading Saints podcasts; Creating Engagement Through Ministering Intervews and Mentoring Relief Society Presidents Through Love. Her personal time is joyfully spent loving and lifting her family and friends – and helping each person she meets to recognize how valuable and important they are.
I was astounded at the heartache that poured out of a ward relief society president in our second personal interview together. We didn’t know each other very well, but because we met in the name of the Savior she opened up as though we had been friends forever. She was in the midst of the deepest depression of her life and had not shared it with anyone. Her husband’s terminal illness and his wavering faith added a weight that her already-burdened shoulders could not bear.
Through tear-filled eyes, she told me, “I haven’t prayed in months. I can’t tell my sisters to pray anymore because I don’t know if it really helps or not.” She confessed that if she were released just then, she wasn’t sure if she’d have the strength to maintain her activity in the Church.
In that moment I had no idea how to respond. Yet, the Savior had known that this experience would come and had been preparing me to understand the most important principles of representing Him in this sacred ministering interview. He helped me anchor back in three principles that day and in many personal one-on-ones since then.
In the event you are feeling a bit uncertain about leading such interviews, whether they are with your children or in your church callings, perhaps you might appreciate what He taught me as a new stake relief society president.
Principle 1: Preparation Precedes Power
I learned early on that revelation during personal interviews was roughly equal to the preparation I had made before them. My daily appointment with the Savior as I walked with Him, heard His voice through the scriptures and opened my heart in prayer provided me advance guidance from the Spirit. He would impress certain scriptures upon my mind that would stay in my heart and come back during those interviews so that others, too, could feel their power and find their own answers through them.
I learned that He wasn’t giving me the answer so I could give it to someone else. Instead, He was showing me where to help them look to find their own answer so they could own the truth for themselves.
Principle 2: Let the Savior Be the Hero
Personal one-on-ones can seem daunting. This is not just true for you, but often the person you are having a one-to-one experience with. To remove the feelings of uncertainty or fear so they wouldn’t get in the way of the Spirit, it helped me to think of the Savior as the One in charge, the real Hero. After praying together, I’d often share something like this to help us both anchor in Him and look to Him instead of each other: “Today we get to meet in the Savior’s name as His friends and servants. He wants us to feel His love and hear His voice! I know He will speak to your heart today if you’ll listen for it, so please share your impressions that we both might be edified.” To reinforce this, I often pulled up a third chair as a reminder of His promise in D&C 38:7, “I am in your midst and ye cannot see me.” On more than one occasion at the end of our conversation, a relief society president would testify through tear-filled eyes that it was as though He really had been there and that she had felt His personal love for her.
Principle 3: Be a Magnifier and a Multiplier
Each person you encounter comes with their own burdens, challenges, and struggles, and wants to find their own answers from God (rather than have you tell them what to do).
He or she also has spiritual resources that can be multiplied and magnified, and you can be that magnifier! Here’s a simple formula for helping someone experience the impressions of the Spirit and find their own answers:
- At the beginning of each time together, after praying, ask “What has the Spirit been teaching you? What are you learning through your scripture study?” As I routinely ask this, I find that others begin looking more for the Spirit’s guidance in their lives, so they have something to share when we meet again.
- After talking about their learning and insight, I often invite them with this: “Imagine it’s a month or two from today and you are wildly pleased with your progress and growth. What would be different than today? How would you get there? What might you learn along the way?” This gives them a way to talk about the things that are hard for them, but from a place of hope that it will be improving and getting better. Note that you can personalize this question directly to their calling if you are helping them in their stewardship (… you are wildly pleased with your progress and growth in your calling …).
- Follow the Spirit as they share and bring in scriptures that you can look up together to facilitate insight. As you have them read, use this formula to help them bring the scriptures to life:
- What jumps out at you?
- What’s important about that?
- What does that mean to you?
- How does this apply to you?
This series of questions can be asked over and over and never get old. I’ve experienced others in our interviews teaching me as a result of asking these questions and watching them own the learning better than if I had shared mine with them!
- Finish with: What do you see at the end of our time together? What new insight has come? What commitment do you want to make to yourself as you think about what the Spirit has taught you? This allows them to share their testimony of truths gained and always brings the Spirit. It strengthens them to move to action outside your interview.
Be prepared to see miracles take place using these principles! I know I have. By the way, that includes the relief society president who found her way back to prayer again and eventually ended up teaching these very same lessons as a member of a stake relief society presidency.
One-to-one personal interviews can truly be life changing for you and for the people you love and minister to on behalf of the Savior.