Being a true friend

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of it to anyone else. — Charles Dickens

During the course of visiting with a struggling, young family that had recently moved into his ward, an elders quorum president took it upon himself to befriend the couple and their children. He made sure the family was aware of ward activities and, over the next several weeks, visited often with them both at their home and at Church.

Several months later, due to the husband's work in the construction industry, the family was preparing to move; the elders quorum president and several quorum members helped pack up their household effects for the journey to another state.

"I just wanted you to know," the husband remarked, "that we've lived in several areas, but this is one we really regret leaving. Our family has made great friends, we've felt a part of the ward, and even though we were only here briefly, you unknowingly helped us through some difficult times."

President Gordon B. Hinckley has said, "God would have us do His work, and do it with energy and cheerfulness. That work, as He defined it is to ' . . . succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees,' " (Doctrine and Covenants 81:5).

Commenting on this scripture, President Thomas S. Monson, first counselor in the First Presidency, said, "Each of us has the charge to be not a doubter, but a doer; not a leaner, but a lifter. But our complacency tree has many branches, and each spring more buds come into bloom. Often we live side by side but do not communicate heart to heart" (Conference report, October 1971, p. 17).

Perhaps no group of individuals needs our help more than new members who have embraced the gospel and are in need of nurturing and encouragement. Special attention should be given to their needs by priesthood leaders, home teachers and visiting teachers and other ward and branch members who can help them during this transition. Visits should be more frequent than normal and prayerful consideration should be made concerning other needs they may have.

The same may be said about members who move into new areas and may not have relatives or close friends nearby. They, too, should be embraced warmly and given assignments as the need arises. By focusing on the individual we can cultivate strong family members, which in turn helps to strengthen the ward, and stronger wards and branches help to strengthen the entire Church.

Past Church leaders have given us reason to help others. President Spencer W. Kimball said, "When we are engaged in the service of our fellow men, not only do our deeds assist them, but we also put our own problems in a fresher perspective. When we concern ourselves more with others, there is less time to be concerned with ourselves" (Teachings of Latter-day Prophets, p. 39).

And President Harold B. Lee remarked, "When you lose yourselves in the unselfish service to others, you will unconsciously forget your own wants and they will be supplied most likely because of the reciprocal service or patronage of those whom you have thus served" (Decisions for Successful Living, p. 200).

In speaking to the apostle Peter, the Savior challenged him, "Simon, Simon, behold Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat, But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren" (Luke 22:31-32).

Each of us stands in need of strengthening at times, and each of us can be of strength to others as we serve one another in our callings.

President Hinckley remarked, "It is our responsibility, divinely laid upon us, to bear one another's burdens, to strengthen one another, to encourage one another, to lift one another, to look for the good in one another and to emphasize that good" (Teachings of Gordon B. Hinckley, p. 45).

Declared the apostle Paul, "We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves" (Romans 15:1).

President Hinckley reminds us, "There are so very many people with problems, and our job is to help them. That's why we're here. There's no other reason for our being here, when all is said and done. We have to lift and sustain and strengthen people. The Lord is going to hold us accountable for what we do" (Teachings, p. 116-117).

"Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all your exhortations, and in all your doings. And behold, and lo, I am with you to bless you and deliver you forever" (Doctrine and Covenants 108:7-8).

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