I am rather late in posting the message and my thoughts on the message, but better late than never. What a wonderful and thought provoking lesson this months Visiting Teaching message provides us. The first quote that lead my thoughts was this:
"The Lord, His Church, families, and communities need the influence of righteous women. In fact, Elder M Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles taught that “every sister in this Church who has made covenants with the Lord has a divine mandate to help save souls, to lead the women of the world, to strengthen the homes of Zion, and to build the kingdom of God.”
Some sisters may wonder if they can accomplish such lofty aims. But as Eliza R. Snow (1804–87), second Relief Society general president, explained, “There is no sister so isolated, and her sphere so narrow but what she can do a great deal towards establishing the Kingdom of God upon the earth.” Sister Snow also taught that Relief Society was organized “for the accomplishment of every good and noble work.”
As I read this quote from the message, I began to internalize it, and my thoughts began to direct themselves to what I am or have been doing to: "help save souls, to lead the women of the world, to strengthen the homes of Zion, and to build the kingdom of God." I know what I am doing and what I have done as a sister in Zion, but I began to think about some women who don't know what their talents are, and feel they don't know how to contribute.
Many years ago, when my family lived in another state, there was an LDS sister who lived in my ward boundaries, and she was shy, reserved, and had a difficult time even speaking with others. She was had very little self esteem and was very uncomfortable in social situations avoiding people in general. She did her best to get through each day with her own family and staying home a lot, but when she needed to have a conversation with others, she would fidget and look around, and seemed very uncomfortable. There was an occasion that something tragic happened within her very own family, causing her family to become estranged from her neighbors and associates and even some ward members. This devastation took it's tole not only on her, but her own family.
At this time, her family began to counsel with their bishop and in his wisdom he realized that in serving others, and developing their talents, that could really bless this family. The bishop's wife encouraged this woman to take voice lessons and develop the natural abilities for singing that she had. In doing this, she was able to lose some of her shyness and social anxiety, as she was given opportunities to sing in church and even in some community programs.
I noticed a change in her confidence as she was using a talent that the Lord had given to her, of a beautiful voice, to share with others. Somehow, she was able to perform in front of crowds, without anxiety and fear. She sang with confidence and that built her confidence in herself.
This woman joined the ward choir, and stake choirs and even went out into the community and participated in Coral groups. What a blessing her natural talent for singing provided others, as well as helped with her self esteem.
This story is just one simple way of building up the kingdom through serving and sharing personal talents. Speaking of talents, my thoughts are also drawn to the Parable of the talents, found in Matthew 25:14-30. In this parable, the talents refers to pieces of money. For us, talents mean abilities that we have and can develop to bless and enrich the lives of others... "thus building the kingdom of God".
This parable goes something like this... A man was traveling into a far country and called his servants in and gave them some talent or money. One he gave 5 talents, another two and then another man, each according to their abilities. The man who received 5 talents, traded and made five other talents, and so did the one who had received two talents. They magnified their talents. But the one who had received only one, when and buried his talent in the ground.
Sometime later, the Man who had given his servants these talents, called his servants to reckon with them and find out what they had done with the money or talents he had given to them. Now, I love what is said next! This is found in verse 21, "His lord said unto hi, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: though hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter though into the joy of the lord".
Pretty much the same thing and response happened between the Lord and the second servant who was given 2 talents or monies but something very different happened and was said when he found out what the third servant had done with his talents. The lord asked him what he had done, and the man said in verse 25 "And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo there thou hast that is thine". This man was chastened and the one talent that he hid, was taken from him and given to the man who had ten.
This parable then goes on a bit more, but basically this to me talks about the talents that the Lord has given to us, we are expected to use them and multiply them and to serve and bless the lives of others. In turn our talents become a blessing to us, our wards & Church, our neighbors and in our families.
What a wonderful church we are blessed to be members of! We all can contribute and make a difference in the lives of others. I know that the Lord blesses us, especially in times of need, when we serve him. I can testify of that, and for me, I always want to have those blessings available for me and my family, and I plan on serving every single day of my life. I am happier when i am in the service of others and I know that service is the key to joy! The Lord does need the influence of righteous women and if we all develop our talents and use them in the service of our lord, how great shall be our joy!
P.S. At LDS.org, there is a whole page dedicated to seriving in the Church. It can be found at this link: http://lds.org/service/serving-in-the-church?lang=eng