Women’s Conference: President Worthen encourages Christlike ministering

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BYU President Kevin J Worthen kicked off the 2018 Women’s Conference Thursday morning by encouraging attendees to effectively minister to those in need.

President Worthen said Christlike ministering could be described as strengthening one another, referencing the LDS Church’s new directive to provide contextual service to ward members and neighbors, rather than relying on scheduled monthly visits.

“The theme (“Strengthen One Another in the Lord”) is so well adapted to highlight, explore, and explicate the new emphasis on ministering that was announced just a few weeks ago,” President Worthen said. He noted that despite any similarities, the Women’s Conference theme was selected last fall without any knowledge of the changes coming to church members.

President Worthen attributed the similarities to “celestial coordination” and emphasized God’s desire to prepare his followers.

“The Lord has efficiently and effectively — though not always obviously — been preparing us to be able to strengthen one another,” he said.

President Worthen cited the introduction of the 2005 missionary training manual “Preach My Gospel” and the “Come Follow Me” teaching curriculum as one way church members have been prepared to strengthen one another. These programs emphasize learning through spiritual inspiration, rather than relying on checklists and “pre-scripted” lessons.

President Worthen quoted President Russell M. Nelson’s April 2018 General Conference address to emphasize the need for recognizing personal revelation. He also said attendees should focus on the present in order to maximize the effect of ministering.

“Rather than speculating about the future, or dwelling too much on the past, we should consider how we can more fully embrace and implement the new vision we have been given,” President Worthen said.

President Worthen encouraged attendees to practice “inspired ministering” by simply inviting others to come to Christ.

President Worthen illustrated his first point with a story about a Swiss border guard working on the Austrian border. Once a month a man would ride a bicycle through the border checkpoint, carrying a basket full of sand. The border guard suspected the man of smuggling goods into Switzerland and would sift through the basket with a comb, but never found anything.

After repeating the interaction for 30 years, the Swiss guard finally asked the man if he was a smuggler. After receiving a promise that he wouldn’t be arrested, the Austrian man  said, “I am indeed a smuggler … of bicycles.”

President Worthen said spending time worrying whether or not an action counts as ministry is akin to combing sand in a basket and emphasized a need to focus on ministering as a goal.

“We will be more constant, more efficient and more effective in our efforts if we understand the full purpose, the ultimate aim, of our ministering efforts,” he said.

The “love of God” by way of Sabbath-day observance and covenant-keeping helps LDS members focus on ministering, President Worthen said. By loving God, attendees can more fully feel God’s love in return, which will lead to increased love for others.

President Worthen said this love can be shown in natural ways, like hosting a game night, visiting neighbors or extending friendship to those in need of ministering.

“As we love our fellow beings more, we will naturally want to minister to them,” President Worthen said. “Enhanced Sabbath-day worship helps provide the motivation we need to engage in that critical work.”

President Worthen concluded his address by reminding attendees that successful ministering requires a Christlike manner to bring others to Christ.

True ministering, according to President Worthen, leads to strengthening one another in the Lord.

“We may temporarily meet the immediate needs of those around us, but only he (Christ) can provide the living water and living bread that will allow them to realize their full potential as beloved sons and daughters of heavenly parents with a divine nature and destiny,” President Worthen said.

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