Dear Sister Cahoon,
I am a visiting teaching coordinator in a very large ward with many inactive sisters. Each sister that is willing to be a visiting teacher has about four sisters on her route. Some of the companionships are asking if they can have it changed to three sisters because it becomes so overwhelming; and these are the sisters who ARE doing their visiting teaching. Ideas?
Recall the story of Naaman, a leper. A servant told Naaman’s wife that a prophet in Israel could heal him. Naaman came to the house of Elisha, who sent a messenger to instruct Naaman, “Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (2 Kings 5:10). Naaman took offense at Elisha’s seemingly foolish counsel and was angry the instruction came by messenger. One of Naaman’s wise servants observed: “If the prophet had bid thee do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?” (2 Kings 5:13). Naaman repented, followed the simple counsel of Elisha, and was healed.
President James E. Faust recounted this story during Priesthood session of October 2001 General Conference, and further taught, “…We do not prove our love for the Savior only by doing ’some great thing.’ If the prophet personally asked you to go on a mission to some strange and exotic place, would you go? You would probably make every effort to go. But…what about doing your home [or visiting] teaching? We show our love for the Savior by doing the many small acts of faith, devotion, and kindness to others that define our character…”
You have a great teaching opportunity! Many activities we pursue as ’some great thing’ prevent us from doing the Lord’s work. Our visiting teaching is truly a ‘great thing’ and should be a priority above most other pursuits. It is a humbling privilege and responsibility to be entrusted as watch care for another. Next to family responsibilities, the sisters we visit teach should be among our greatest concerns and highest priorities.
Visiting teaching is a small and simple thing, requiring only a little time and love, rather than a huge sacrifice of all we hold dear. Perhaps that is the reason we find it so challenging — how easy it is to overlook something so simple in the business of daily life! When we recognize our service as a sacrifice of time and talents to God rather than an item on a ‘To-Do’ list, sacrifice becomes a joy rather than a burden. C. S. Lewis wrote: “If our charities do not at all pinch or hamper us…they are too small. There ought to be things we should like to do and cannot do because our charitable expenditure excludes them.” Surely, time spent visiting teaching is a ‘charitable expenditure,’ and we should be willing to sacrifice to fulfill our assignments.
When someone asks you to lighten her load, appreciate her effort and sympathize with her challenges. Share your testimony of visiting teaching. Speak of the example she can be through her service. Let her know that if you lighten her load, a sister will be without the watch care of a visiting teacher, because there aren’t enough visiting teachers to go around. Help her re-evaluate her priorities; surely there is something she could sacrifice to serve Heavenly Father and her sisters through visiting teaching. President Gordon B. Hinckley counseled: “I urge you to stand a little taller, to be a little more faithful, to be a little better…If we will be strong, if we will be faithful, if we will be true, the blessings of the Almighty will attend us wherever we go and whatever we do in righteousness.” (Words of the Living Prophet, Liahona, March 2000). What a wonderful promise to claim!
It is my prayer that every sister will feel a renewed desire to follow the Savior’s tireless example of love and service, selflessly making the usually small and occasionally great sacrifices that are necessary, rather than viewing her visiting teaching privilege as one more thing to check off the ‘To-Do’ list each month.