We hear so much about service and ministering these days. It seems we cant go away from any church meeting without hearing about this topic. Now that the church has put so much focus on service and ministering, I sometimes may wonder what can I do differently than before? Or what can I do more? Sister Cristina B. Franco has beautifully outlined how we can make our ministering and service efforts more meaningful by focusing on the true intent of our service.
A widows gift
You know the story. Jesus observes many donating money to the temple: some with sincerity of heart, some for the glory of men, and one poor widow casting in her two mites. As I have studied these scriptures, my heart is drawn to the woman; being a widow, troubled with financial burdens, and probably with children to raise. What amazing courage and humility she had to donate her little amount in front of so many others casting in great sums of silver and gold. What amazing faith she had to give all she had knowing that she would be blessed even when it probably wasn’t immediate. James E Talmage taught, “The values are determined on the basis of capability and intent. The rich gave much yet kept back more; the widow’s gift was her all.”
"Are we giving our all to the Lord without reservation? Are we sacrificing of our time and talents so the rising generation can learn to love the Lord and keep His commandments? Are we ministering both to those around us and to those we are assigned with care and with diligence—sacrificing time and energy that could be used in other ways? Are we living the two great commandments—to love God and to love His children? Often that love is manifest as service.”
Sister Franco’s cute story of how she first came to like chocolate cake has stuck in my heart. While listening the first time to her story I was listing ingredients in my head wondering what the secret ingredient could be. I should have figured it wouldn’t be cinnamon, or cloves, or organic sugar. “The secret ingredient in Victoria’s cake was the love she had for those she served and her unselfish sacrifice.”
I have since thought of Victoria and her incredible sacrifice to make that chocolate cake for her class rather than paying for the convenience of a bus ride. She is an incredible servant of the Lord with pure intentions of love. “We don't have to make a chocolate cake to be a successful or dedicated (minister), because it was never about the cake. It was the love behind the action.”
What can we do differently? How can we do more? Sister Franco beautifully states, “It will not matter if we sat in the comfy seats or if we struggled to get through the meeting on a rusty folding chair in the back row. It won’t even matter if we, of necessity, stepped into a foyer to comfort a crying baby. What will matter is that we came with a desire to serve, that we noticed those to whom we minister and greeted them joyfully, and that we introduced ourselves to those sharing our row of folding chairs—reaching out with friendship even though we aren’t assigned to minister to them. And it will certainly matter that we do all that we do with the special ingredient of service coupled with love and sacrifice.”
Love and sacrifice; thats the answer. Starting with these two simple things will be the recipe for effective ministering. Let us remember the widow and her gift of everything she had. Remember her humility, courage, and faith as we prayerfully seek guidance to lift one another’s burdens. Let’s put away selfish desires in order to love and minister as our Savior does.
Read Sister Franco's full address here.
Part 1: Use the recipe card to make a plan of how to serve those you minister to with Sister Franco’s secret ingredients: love and sacrifice.
Part 2: Following the attributes of the widow and ultimately our Savior, prayerfully serve someone that you not assigned to minister to.
Children naturally love others and often find more joy in giving than receiving. This is the perfect time of year to teach about intentional service and act on what we have learned. Below is a lesson plan for a Family Home Evening based on Sister Franco’s talk. And yes, it involves chocolate cake!
Faith in Action
As taught by President Oaks, “Our Savior teaches us to follow Him by making the sacrifices necessary to lose ourselves in unselfish service to others.” What selfish desires can you put away this week to serve others more fully? I encourage you to pray about where to make your sacrifices and write out your plan. Then follow up at the end of the week by writing down the blessings that came from serving as the Savior did.