Ministering with Kindness
January 20, 2016 • Blog Post
February 2007 was cold—as most Februarys in Utah Valley are. However, a year and a half of college hadn’t been enough to acclimate this Texas girl to snowy winters. That year and a half also hadn’t made me feel quite as adult as I had thought it would. Somehow, though I lived on my own, thousands of miles away from home, I still felt small and insecure. I still felt socially awkward and unattractive.
But like any good BYU sophomore does, I traipsed through the chill to the Marriott Center to listen to the weekly devotional. I was particularly excited about that week’s speaker: Bonnie D. Parkin, then General Relief Society President. Sister Parkin’s talk focused on claiming our personal ministry and finding our mission in life. (“Personal Ministry: Sacred and Precious”)
She shared a story of a sister, Susan, who lived in the same ward as President Spencer W. Kimball. At church, Susan noticed that President Kimball had acquired a new suit, so she decided to make him a matching tie. As she walked up to the Kimballs’ front door to deliver the gift, Susan suddenly felt awkward about the situation: “Who am I to make a tie for the prophet? He probably has plenty of them,” she thought. She started to leave, but before she could get to her car, the warm voice of Sister Camilla Eyring Kimball stopped Susan. Susan explained why she was there and why she had turned back. Sister Kimball then said, “Susan, never suppress a generous thought.”
Sister Kimball’s words traveled right to my core. In all my insecurity, I often analyzed how my words and actions would be received, and I often worried about how I would appear. But this phrase eliminated the internal discussion: if the thought was generous or nice, just say or do it.
Suddenly my shyness seemed less insurmountable. Instead of considering all the reasons I shouldn’t do something (it might embarrass me, it might embarrass them, it might offend them, etc.), I simply thought the phrase “never suppress a generous thought” and moved forward.
My ward became much less scary. As I practiced using the phrase, I began seeking more opportunities to be kind to others. I complimented strangers at the grocery store on their joyful smiles. I expressed appreciation to Sunday School teachers for being vulnerable and authentic in their teaching. I listened more and looked for needs that I wouldn’t have been aware of without this motto. Instead of the never-ending dialogue in my head picking apart my every action, my thoughts became focused on serving others. My insecurity was slowly being replaced with concern and love for those around me.
Now I can’t say that this single phrase has rid me of selfishness and armed me with bottomless service, but it has been an invaluable tool in my journey to find my personal ministry.
Our personal ministry is “a sacred and precious thing,” Sister Parkin explained. “It embraces the people who come and go across the path of our life. It extends beyond our temporary callings as presidents, counselors, secretaries, teachers, and so on. It is illuminated by our patriarchal blessings. And while each of our ministries is unique, they allow us to become extensions of the Lord’s love.”
Amanda Kae Fronk is the communications manager for BYU Speeches. She is an avid collector of hobbies with book buying, nature watching, and food sampling being among the most enduring. She aspires to one day be called a master wordsmith, a woman of grace, and an owner of a devoted heart.