Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Comparing home teachers to shepherds, President Thomas S. Monson, president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, urged the men and young men of the church during Saturday night’s priesthood session of the 183rd Semiannual General Conference to be true shepherds who lead their sheep rather than sheepherders who ride casually behind their sheep.
“The wisdom of the Lord has provided guidelines whereby we might be shepherds to the families of the church,” President Monson told a gathering of some 20,000 men and young men in the church’s Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City, as well as hundreds of thousands of others watching through satellite and — for the first time — television and Internet broadcasts.
“There are lives to brighten,” he said. “There are hearts to touch. There are souls to save. Ours is the sacred privilege to brighten, to touch, and to save those precious souls entrusted to our care. We should do so faithfully and with hearts filled with gladness.”
Home teaching is an LDS Church program in which pairs of priesthood holders are assigned to visit several families and individuals from their congregation monthly. But, according to President Monson, it is much more than that.
“Home teaching is more than a mechanical visit once a month,” he said. “Ours is the responsibility to teach, to inspire, to motivate and, where we visit those who are not active, to bring activity and to eventual exaltation the sons and daughters of God.”
More than just assigned families, he said, home teachers and the families and individuals to whom they are assigned should be friends. “A friend makes more than a dutiful visit each month,” President Monson said. “A friend is more concerned about helping people than getting credit. A friend cares. A friend shows love. A friend listens. And a friend reaches out.”
As is his custom, the 86-year-old church president used several real-life stories to illustrate his point that home teachers can and should “reach out to those for whom we are responsible and bring them to the table of the Lord to feast on his word and to enjoy the companionship of his Spirit.”
“If any one of you has slipped into complacency concerning your home teaching visits, may I say that there is no time like the present to rededicate yourself to fulfilling your home teaching duties,” President Monson said. “Decide now to make whatever effort is necessary to reach those for whom you have been given responsibility.”
As the home teachers of the church make that effort, he promised, “lives will be blessed. Hearts will be comforted. Souls will be saved. We will become true shepherds.”
President Monson’s first counselor in the First Presidency, President Henry B. Eyring, referenced the New Testament parable of the Good Samaritan, which he said “is really the story for a great priesthood bearer, in these busy last days.”
President Eyring said the parable points out three assurances the Lord gives to priesthood holders. “First,” he said, “the Lord will give you, if you ask, the feelings of the compassion he feels for those in need. Second, he will provide others, like the innkeeper, to join with you in your service. And third, the Lord, like the good Samaritan, will more than recompense all who join in giving help to those in need.”
Like his colleague in the First Presidency, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, did during the Saturday morning general conference session, President Eyring expressed special concern about ministering to the needs of quorum members who have, for whatever reason, suffered spiritual damage in their lives.
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