I found this little jewel of a post by Kurt Francom of LeadingLDS.com and it struck a nerve with me because I often find myself uttering this horrible phrase. I honestly try very hard to avoid it but sometimes it seems like the only thing to say. Well good news, there is actually some helpful advice that might just change your life for the better. The context is home teaching but it can also apply to visiting teaching or really any situation that you might find yourself where you are in a position to potentially minister to another human being. Enjoy!
Original post via: modernmormonmen.com
Kurt is the author of LeadingLDS, a website focused on cracking the code on home teaching, visiting teaching and church leadership in general. Kurt served a mission in Sacramento, California. He is married to a massage therapist (which means he never gets a massage) and has a new baby girl that thinks he is Superman. He tweets too!
The home teaching checklist:
Set the appointment … check.
Knock on their door … check.
Ask the “How’s work?” question … check.
Be the children’s punching bag … check.
Pet the family dog … check.
Share brief Ensign lesson … check.
Then comes the dreaded closing question. Near the end of the visit 99.3% of home teachers and visiting teachers ask the same question. (official study … okay, not really)
IS THERE ANYTHING WE CAN DO FOR YOU?
These words have a long history in the church. A separate unofficial study (that never happened) found that 99.4% of home teachees responded with the words, “No, we’re fine.” The reality is, this question makes the home teacher feel good but doesn’t really bring a need to the surface.
I’m right there with you. I am the president of the Is-There-Anything-We-Can-Do-For-You Club. I have been whipping out that question since my mission … until I changed my ways a few weeks ago when I read an article by Joseph Grenny called Coping with the Loss of a Loved One.
When we’re at a loss for what to say we often end with, “If there’s anything I can do for you, please let me know.” If you really want to do something, stop and think. Stop and think about everything you know about their lives. Where do they live? What little chores do they have to do to make it through the day? If they have experienced a loss, like the article suggests, what extra tasks will now fall on them because of the loss? Empathize as best you can until you find some proactive task you can do to communicate real compassion. It won’t matter if what you do isn’t perfect; it just matters that you take initiative rather than assign them to involve you. They rarely will, so the offer rings hollow.
I now catch myself before blurting out the (in)famous question and really analyze the situation of the individuals I’m home teaching. What do they really need? What can I offer them that would lighten their load? Or I don’t even ask. Imagine if they walked by their front window and realized you are already half-way done with mowing their lawn. A late afternoon phone call letting them know you have already made ravioli and are bring some over for their family. This is where home teaching begins — real ministering.
Never state the words again: Is there anything we can do for you?