Ministering to Your Family (Alma 22)
Minister (verb): Attend to the needs of someone, care for, look after, help, assist, serve
People should take care of their families — perhaps that sounds like an obvious statement to say. Even as you read this, you may be getting ready to go off to work to earn money for your family. Perhaps you have chores to do today to help your household. Perhaps you have a sick or elderly family member you are caring for.
The vast majority of people assist their family in one way or another. This includes those who are servants of God as well as those who are not. Although caring for a family is not necessarily tied to serving God, it is something that any servant of God should take seriously — "ministering" to your family is not only the right thing to do, but it can also have spiritual ramifications.
In Alma 22, Aaron preaches the gospel to the father of King Lamoni, the king over all the Lamanite lands, who was mentioned in an earlier chapter. After hearing the Word of God, this powerful king is so overcome by the Spirit of God that he passes out for a period of time. When he awakens, the king — to the surprise of all witnesses — displays a significant change of heart and goes about serving the members of his household:
"And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord" (Alma 22:23)
This was a king who was accustomed to ordering people around. He obviously was not someone who would personally do things for others, not even his own family. So, when he suddenly begins serving his family members, the change is so evident that it creates within all who witness it a desire to experience the same spirit — one that is powerful enough to change even the hard heart of this king — and all of them are converted to the Lord as a result.
It can work the same way today. Typically, when we're converted to the Lord, we try to treat others better to demonstrate the change that has occurred within us. Let's not overlook our family members when we do this. They are the people who know us best, and they see us at our worst, so if they see a change in us, then they will know it's real. Perhaps this realization will spark some interest in learning more about the power that has caused this change to occur.
Some years ago, a young sister was baptized in our branch, but she was hesitant about telling her mother what she had done since her mother was a lifelong member of another faith. After some time passed, she finally told her mother and her mother's reply was, "Well, I can't say anything bad about this Church because I can see the change in you." The change within us is evidence of the power of the gospel to those who are closest to us.
Many of us will become very involved in The Church and working for the Lord; however, we don't want to ever use our service to God as a reason to neglect our families. My advice to missionaries, ministers, and all workers for the Lord is to achieve a balance between the time and effort spent ministering to the world and the time and effort spent ministering to your family. How sad it would be for a marriage to break up or for children to grow up without a relationship with one of their parents solely because that person is consumed by working for the Lord (however worthwhile of an effort that may be).
Ministering to your family is part of your total ministry, part of your service to God. If God has called you to be a spouse, parent, caregiver, or any other type of family member, then take that calling seriously. You may well be the only member of The Church who has access to your family, so allow the Lord to use you for the unique opportunity of ministering to your family.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.