For the most part, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints know that home teaching and visiting teaching are important. These programs make possible the care of every single person in the Church. Home and visiting teachers serve those they teach and report the needs and well-being of members to Church leadership.
But motivation is a different problem entirely. Sometimes it’s scheduling difficulties, sometimes it’s a problem with priorities, sometimes it’s a matter of physical ability, but there always seems to be something in a way of successful home and visiting teaching.
There are ways to improve the quality and the quantity of your home and visiting teaching visits without making major changes in your schedule. Try these five simple ways to become a more efficient, helpful, loving home or visiting teacher.
1. Become friends first
If you already know a little bit about the people you’re visiting, the prospect of making the first appointment will be less daunting. Ask your Church leaders to tell you a little about the family or add them as friends on Facebook.
Becoming friends before you set an appointment will make the entire experience less awkward and more natural for everyone. It will also help you better fulfill your role to help them live the gospel. If you already know the ages of the children in the family, for example, you can know whether one of them might be preparing for baptism.
Elder L. Tom Perry taught, “Home teachers, it is your responsibility to see that the unbaptized are baptized, the unordained are ordained, the inactive are brought into activity, the lost members are found.”
2. Keep the Spirit with you
The best home and visiting teachers are inspiring because they are inspired. If living the gospel is part of your everyday life, the guidance of the Holy Ghost will help you know what to teach your families and help you notice their needs.
“If our home teaching assignments are to be given their proper priority, then our preparation for those visits must be careful and complete, tailored to the individual needs of fathers and mothers and their families,” Elder Perry taught in the same address. “As home teachers, should not this basic program receive our earnest effort to seek inspiration and guidance of the Lord in this most sacred obligation?”
3. Don’t wait to be asked for help
Stopping by for a brief visit is a good thing for home and visiting teachers to do, but offering service between visits is a simple way to show love to those you visit.
Instead of saying “Let me know if there’s anything you need help with,” keep an eye out for any potential needs and meet them without being asked. Sister Julie B. Beck mentioned this in her 2011 address “What I Hope My Granddaughters (and Grandsons) Will Understand About Relief Society”:
[pullquote]”True ministry is measured more by the depth of our charity than by the perfection of our statistics. We will know we are successful in our ministry as visiting teachers when our sisters can say, ‘My visiting teacher helps me grow spiritually’ and ‘I know that my visiting teacher cares deeply about me and my family’ and ‘If I have problems, I know my visiting teacher will take action without waiting to be invited.'”
—Sister Julie B. Beck, LDS General Relief Society President [/pullquote]
“True ministry is measured more by the depth of our charity than by the perfection of our statistics,” she said. “We will know we are successful in our ministry as visiting teachers when our sisters can say, ‘My visiting teacher helps me grow spiritually’ and ‘I know that my visiting teacher cares deeply about me and my family’ and ‘If I have problems, I know my visiting teacher will take action without waiting to be invited.'”
4. Make your lessons fun
Some Church members, particularly those who are young or less active in the Church, might not feel comfortable with overtly serious, in-depth conversations about the gospel. But there are no guidelines that say lessons have to be boring to be reverent.
Think of those you are going to teach and find a way to make it interesting for them. Consider bringing a finger puppet to engage small children, or tie in the lesson with a recently televised football game. Teaching in a way that engages those you teach will make it a better experience for everyone.
“Teaching: No Greater Call” says this on the topic: “Remember that different people require different teaching approaches. … One set of home teachers who thought carefully about their lesson appeared for their visit carrying fishing poles. Their pockets were stuffed with fishing lures. The family members wanted to know why, but the home teachers would not tell them before the time for their message. They had no trouble drawing the children around them and getting their attention. Then one of the home teachers demonstrated how a fisherman lures a fish into being caught. He explained that little fish are often more easily fooled than older and more experienced fish. He compared the fishing lures to Satan’s temptations and taught the family that Satan uses cunning ways to try to catch us and take away our freedom. It was a memorable lesson for the family.”
5. Keep track of important days
As you get to know those you visit, make note of what is happening in their lives. Sending a card or a text of congratulations doesn’t take much time, but it will enrich your relationship and help those you visit feel loved.
“I would urge you to do the little things, the small things that mean so much to a family,” President Ezra Taft Benson taught. “For example, know the names of all the family members. Be aware of birthdays, blessings, baptisms, and marriages. On occasion, write an appropriate note of commendation or make a phone call congratulating a member of the family on a special achievement or accomplishment.” Today, of course, options also include sending a text, Facebook message, tweet or other type of online message.