post-Conference topic. Other than the obvious reason for selecting it (I mean, it’s Elder Holland, so need I say more?) I was really impressed with the applications this address has for those called to minister to singles.
We all understand that Elder Holland wasn’t specifically speaking about LDS singles. But General Conference speakers typically don’t speak about any one demographic in the Church. That’s why it’s called General Conference.
However, if you do home teach any singles, hopefully Elder Holland’s remarks will inspire you to take your performance up a notch (or two or three).
Single mothers need it most
The first application of Elder Holland’s remarks to singles is his rather obvious introduction. Single sisters, particularly those with children at home, are the singles who need real home teachers the most.
One single sister I knew while serving as a stake single adult rep had seven children from two prior marriages, the oldest being 15. I made certain her elders quorum president knew she needed real home teachers who could play the role of surrogate father. And I’m grateful he responded.
It’s no accident Elder Holland begins his remarks with a story of ineffective home teachers failing to support a single adult. Being the black sheep in our family-centered culture, LDS singles are easily ignored, neglected, and forgotten. It’s truly tragic, especially when a single sister is straining to raise children all by herself.
Other singles need it too
That’s not to say singles without children don’t need home teachers also. So it’s equally tragic when any LDS single has no home teachers. I’m a case in point. I have no home teachers, even though I’ve asked for them repeatedly. How I wish someone would “watch over [me] always, and be with and strengthen [me]” (D&C 20:53)!
Let me be fair. Each of my multiple requests for home teachers have included the insistence they be real — the kind Elder Holland extols. I want real, and that’s no less true now than when I said it almost three years ago.
That means I’m not interested in receiving home teachers who want nothing more than to check off a box on a monthly to-do list so they can feel good about themselves. What a waste of time! But if they want to support me and strengthen me and encourage me to move forward in my life, then I’ll gladly make time for home teachers.
In the three years I’ve been in my current ward, I’ve constantly made that request. And in all that time I’ve never had home teachers. I’m not quite sure what that means. Does that mean there aren’t any real home teachers in my ward? Or does that mean all the real home teachers have been given “more effective” assignments?
We all need support
I suspect I’m not alone when it comes to home teaching and LDS singles. What do you do if you need home teachers but all your requests for them go unanswered?
You can pray the Lord will open the eyes and the hearts of his servants. I recall the parable of the unjust judge (see Luke 18:1-8). I’m sure not everything for which we could pray qualifies via that parable, but I’m sure asking for the support of real home teachers does.
It’s hard to mention prayer here without fasting. If nothing else, fasting can help us come nearer to God so that we feel more readily the support His love offers. Regular temple attendance can help in that regard as well.
Certainly don’t stop requesting home teachers. Elder Holland provides the model to which every priesthood holder should aspire.
Brethren, the appeal I am making tonight is for you to lift your vision of home teaching. Please, in newer, better ways see yourselves as emissaries of the Lord to His children. That means leaving behind the tradition of a frantic, law of Moses–like, end-of-the-month calendar in which you rush to give a scripted message from the Church magazines that the family has already read. We would hope, rather, that you will establish an era of genuine, gospel-oriented concern for the members, watching over and caring for each other, addressing spiritual and temporal needs in any way that helps.
Now, as for what “counts” as home teaching, every good thing you do “counts,” so report it all! Indeed, the report that matters most is how you have blessed and cared for those within your stewardship, which has virtually nothing to do with a specific calendar or a particular location. What matters is that you love your people and are fulfilling the commandment “to watch over the church always.”
I feel very justified in insisting my home teachers be real.
And of course, if you’re a home teacher, you want to be the kind of home teacher you want to have. It’s called the Law of Restoration (see Alma 41:15). In life we all get what we give.
My final suggestion is patience. If you have imperfect home teachers, at least you have home teachers! We’re all walking construction zones, and that applies whether we’re single or married. Home teachers are not exceptions. Let’s patiently and gently but firmly encourage the priesthood brethren in our wards to be the home teachers we need. We’ll all have more joy in our journey when we do.
Howdy! I'm Lance, host of Joy in the Journey Radio. I've been blogging about LDS singles life since 2012, and now I produce a weekly radio show to help LDS singles have more joy in their journey and bring all Latter-day Saints together. Let's engage a conversation that will increase the faith of LDS singles and bring singles and marrieds together in a true unity of the faith.
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