President Thomas S. Monson, in his priesthood session address, recalled summers as a boy when, riding in a car on the way to the family cabin in Utah’s Provo Canyon, he would observe sheep being herded.
“Way back in the rear we could see the sheepherder on his horse – not a bridle on it, but a halter,” said President Monson. “He was occasionally slouched down in the saddle dozing, since the horse knew which way to go and the yapping dogs did the work.”
He contrasted that with a scene he viewed in Munich, Germany, many years ago en route to a missionary conference on a Sunday morning.
“As I looked out the window of the mission president’s automobile, I saw a shepherd with a staff in his hand, leading the sheep,” President Monson said. “They followed him wherever he went. If he moved to the left, they followed him to the left. If he moved to the right, they followed him in that direction. I made the comparison between the true shepherd who led his sheep and the sheepherder who rode casually behind the sheep.”
Quoting the scriptural passage “I am the good shepherd and know my sheep” (John 10:4), President Monson remarked, “He provides for us the perfect example of what a true shepherd should be.”
Priesthood holders have a shepherding responsibility, President Monson said. “The wisdom of the Lord has provided guidelines whereby we might be shepherds to the families of the Church, where we can serve, we can teach and we can testify to them. Such is called home teaching.”
Where possible a young man who is a priest or teacher accompanies an adult holding the Melchizedek Priesthood, President Monson said. “As they go into the homes of those for whom they are responsible, the Aaronic Priesthood holder should take part in the teaching which takes place. Such an assignment will help to prepare these young men for missions as well as for a lifetime of priesthood service.”
Home teachers are wise, he said, if they learn and understand the challenges of the members of each family in order to teach and provide needed assistance.
He said a home teaching visit is more likely to be successful if an advance appointment is made. He told of an occasion when he was at the home of President Gordon B. Hinckley and his wife, Sister Marjorie Hinckley, for dinner with other members of the Missionary Executive Committee. While they were there, the family’s home teacher showed up at the front door without having made an appointment and without his companion.
President Hinckley graciously invited him in, and, with a bit of trepidation, the home teacher did his best.
President Monson told of another occasion when President Marion G. Romney’s home teacher came to his home on a cold winter night, did not stay to give a message and said he left his car running so it wouldn’t stop, that he had just come so he could tell the bishop he had made his visits.
“President Ezra Taft Benson, related President Romney’s experience in a meeting of priesthood holders, then said, ‘We can do better than that brethren – much better!’ I agree,” President Monson said.
Home teaching is much more than a monthly mechanical visit, he said. “Ours is the responsibility to teach, to inspire, to motivate, and, where we visit those who are not active, to bring to activity and to eventual exaltation the sons and daughters of God.”
President Monson said home teaching answers many prayers and permits one to see the transformations that can take place in people’s lives.
He then told of Dick Hammer, who came to Utah with the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Depression. He met and married a Latter-day Saint young woman and opened Dick’s Café in St. George, a popular meeting spot.
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