Friday, February 25, 2011

You Home Teach My Son? by Brian Ricks

Home teaching is not just another program. It is the priesthood way of watching over the Saints and accomplishing the mission of the Church. Home teaching is not just an assignment. It is a sacred calling. Home teaching is not to be undertaken casually. A home teaching call is to be accepted as if extended to you personally by the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . There is no greater Church calling than that of a home teacher. There is no greater Church service rendered to our Father in Heaven’s children than the service rendered by a humble, dedicated, committed home teacher.
             - President Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Home Teachers of the Church,” Ensign, May 1987, 48.

Shortly after my mission I moved into a single student ward near the university I was attending. I was enthusiastic about making a contribution to our ward and I determined to report perfect home teach every month—no matter what. When I was assigned to home teach an inactive member, I wasn’t disheartened in the least. I was sure I could visit anyone once a month.

Despite my confidence, things got off to a rocky start. I didn’t have his phone number and his roommates said they hardly ever saw him. Most months I didn’t see him either. Occasionally, I could report that I’d said hello as he jogged passed me on the way to his car, but most months I could only report failure.

I grew discouraged and a little cynical. My goal of reporting one hundred percent of my home teaching assignments had failed. I found myself less willing to drop by this brother’s apartment and I started hoping I would get a new home teaching assignment so I could get back to my one hundred percent goal.

One month I felt particularly frustrated with my unachieved goals and decided to try a new way of contacting him. I knew his father, an active member of the Church, taught at the university I attended. With a little trepidation, I walked into the father’s office in hopes of getting some new contact information for his son. After explaining why I was there, the professor did something I had never expected—he started to tear up.

“You home teach my son?” he asked with emotion, “Thank you so much. We’re really worried about him. Please do everything you can to help him.”

I left his office with no new contact information but with a new understanding of what it meant to be a good home teacher. My home teaching assignment wasn’t about statistics; it was about the important worth of a soul—a person with parents and family who cared deeply about him.

It wasn’t much later my home teaching assignment changed because the brother I was assigned to moved several hundred miles away. With my new assignment, I was finally able to report consistent perfect home teaching statistics again, but reporting one hundred percent didn’t bring the satisfaction I had expected; I wanted to be more interested in the lives of those I visited rather than just caring about numbers.

It’s been years since that event, but whenever I feel my home teaching is getting routine or all about statistics, I remember the tears in that father’s eyes pleading with me to help his son. If I were to talk to Heavenly Father about my home teaching assignments, I’m pretty sure he would encourage me with the same emotion as that professor: “You home teach my son? Thank you so much. I’m really worried about him. Please do everything you can to help him.”

President Benson’s Three Fundamentals to Effective Home Teaching

Take a moment to evaluate your calling as a home teacher using the points below. For the women of the Church, think about how you are doing with supporting home teaching in your family and ward.

1. Know well those you are to home teach.
     - Really know them! You can’t serve well those you don’t know well.
     - Become personally acquainted with every child, youth, and adult in the family and know their names.
     - Be aware of their birthdays, blessings, baptisms, marriages, attitudes, activities, interests, problems, employment, health, happiness, plans, purposes, needs, and circumstances.
     - Be close to the father. Know his righteous desires for his family and help him to realize them.
     - Be a genuine friend: care, love, listen, and reach out.

2. Know well the message you are to deliver in each home.
     - Have a purpose or goal in mind and plan each visit to help meet that purpose. Pray and plan with your companion before the visit.
     - Read the scriptures with the families you home teach, especially the Book of Mormon.
     - Carry the right message, and then teach with the Spirit.
     - Prayer should be a part of every home teaching visit.

3. Truly magnify your calling as a home teacher.
     - Do not settle for mediocrity. Be excellent in every facet of the work. Be a real shepherd of your flock.
     - Both the quality and quantity of home teaching are essential.
     - Make your home teaching visit early in the month, allowing time for follow-up contacts.
     - Make a definite appointment for each visit. Respect your families’ time.
     - Train Aaronic priesthood companions well.
     - Keep faithful track of each member you are called to home teach.

God bless the home teachers of this Church. You are the front line of defense to watch over and strengthen the individual and family unit. Understand the sacredness of your calling and the divine nature of your responsibility. . . . As you do this, I promise you the blessings of heaven and the indescribable joy that comes from helping to touch hearts, change lives, and save souls.
             - President Benson

Images copyrighted by Microsoft Corporation.


CL Beck, author said...

Great article! We love having caring, involved home teachers ... as opposed to those who only show up on the last day of the month, stand at the doorway to give a thirty second message and speed off on their way.

Hurray for good home teachers that show their love of the gospel ... and their love of the families they visit ... by their actions!

Thanks for posting a fine article.g

CL Beck, author said...

Oops, sorry about that letter "g" at the end of my last comment. Don't have a clue how it got in there! :)

Marion said...

Thank you for this article. We all need these reminders. We lived in the mission field for years and sometimes you wonder if you are making a difference. But when it is your family member falling away, you can only pray for home teachers and visiting teachers that will care. This made a huge difference in the lives of those in our branch.