In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints there is an important, oft-talked-about program called Home Teaching. The basic premise of this program is that every family is cared for and visited every month. In a congregation with hundreds of families it becomes extremely difficult for the Bishop to personally visit and follow up on each member’s needs. To help with this, each family is assigned two Home Teachers; two brothers from the ward who are given the responsibility of visiting each month, sharing a spiritual message, and generally just being there, ready to help and support in any way that is needed.
The Church Handbook states,
Home teachers “visit the house of each member, exhorting them to pray vocally and in secret and attend to all family duties” (D&C 20:51). They are assigned to families and individuals to “watch over … and be with and strengthen them” (D&C 20:53). They “warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ” (D&C 20:59).
But there is so much talk in Church about Home Teaching and the difficulties involved with getting it done. Each of us have had countless lessons and talks about how to do better at Home Teaching. We talk so much about the numbers, our percentage of families visited and why we aren’t at 100%. I would like to address some if the common concerns with Home Teaching and discuss what can be done to help ensure that we are all living up to the purpose as stated in the Handbook.
First, let me just say that I have a problem with the phrase that I used in the previous paragraph “do better at Home Teaching.” I don’t think Home Teaching is something to be better at. I believe one should become a Home Teacher. I see Home Teaching less as something that is done, and more as something that one does because one is a Home Teacher. If we look back at what the Handbook says, then Home Teaching is something that people do for each other because they care about each other, it seems to be a form of formalized friendship, but not artificial friendship.
So, why do we NOT do our Home Teaching? What are those reasons/excuses that we allow to convince us not to stop by and visit with our friends each month? I have thought about it, especially in my own experience, which hasn’t always been 100%, and I think I have come up with 3 main reasons:
2. Lack of Desire
1. Fear – – I will admit that sometimes going Home Teaching can be scary. I am not a very social person and I don’t make friends very easily. There have been times when I have not called to make appointments with those families that I home teach because I was nervous and afraid.
The solution: “Pefect love casteth out fear” (1 John 4:18) I have found that as I overcome my natural tendencies to be shy, to be afraid of new people, as I have embraced the idea that home teaching is done out of love, it has been easier for me to leave my comfort zone. I usually enjoy the actual teaching, the actual meeting with families and sharing of spiritual messages, my only hangup was the calling to make the appointment. Silly, I know, and remembering the reason for home teaching was what helped me fulfill my priesthood assignment.
2. Lack of Desire — Yes, there have also been times when I did not want to go home teaching. I had “better” things to do, or at least other things to do. Life gets busy, and it only gets busier if we allow it to.
The solution: Understand why we do home teaching. Reread the section from the Handbook about Home Teaching and try to understand it from the Lord’s perspective. Why would He implement this program? And again, look for love. For me, that is the main solution. If we begin to love the families that we have responsibility for, we will be filled with the desire to serve them and home teaching will become natural. If home teaching is awkward because you show up once a month and have no other contact with the family, the obvious solution is to get to know the family better. It’s not awkward to visit with friends and see how they are doing.
3. Forgetfulness – As I mentioned earlier, life gets busy. It is so easy to allow other things to fill up our calendars and crowd out the important things. I am currently in a student ward at BYU so I not only have to work around my class and work schedule, but the class and work schedule of my companion AND the schedules of the families we visit. It’s tough. And some months, especially if we wait until the latter half of the month to set up the appointment, we don’t get in.
The solution: Plan early! It takes some effort, but planning early helps make sure that schedules match. I’ve also seen home teachers who set up standing appointments – 7:00pm the second Tuesday, every month. As people are generally creatures of habit, having a regular appointment is very helpful. It can be written on the calendar and remembered and kept.
The bottom line is really, as cheesy as it sounds, it’s all about love. Home Teaching is a program instituted to watch over and care for every single member of the Church. If we take the time to understand the purposes of this program and to understand those families that we have been asked to watch over we will see the spirit of the Lord come into our lives, and theirs. It is a wonderful blessing and opportunity to be able to help a family, to be invited into their home as a representative of the priesthood and to share a spiritual message from the First Presidency each month.