Sunday, October 21, 2018

Elder Gary E. Stevenson on the sacred privilege of being a shepherd

Elder Gary E. Stevenson (b. August 5, 1955) was called as a Seventy in 2008, then as Presiding Bishop in 2012. He was called as a member of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles in October 2015.
"As children of a loving Heavenly Father and as sheep in His flock, we enjoy the blessing of being individually ministered to by Jesus Christ. Simultaneously, we have a responsibility to provide ministering assistance to others around us as shepherds ourselves. We heed the words of the Lord to 'serve me and go forth in my name, and … gather together my sheep' (Mosiah 26:20).
"Who is a shepherd? Every man, woman, and child in the kingdom of God is a shepherd. No calling is required. From the moment we emerge from the waters of baptism, we are commissioned to this work. We reach out in love to others because it is what our Savior commanded us to do. Alma emphasized: 'For what shepherd … having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? … Doth he not drive him out?' (Alma 5:59.) Whenever our neighbors are in distress temporally or spiritually, we run to their aid. We bear one another’s burdens that they may be light. We mourn with those who mourn. We comfort those who stand in need of comfort. (See Mosiah 18:8–9.) The Lord lovingly expects this of us. And the day will come when we will be held accountable for the care we take in ministering to His flock. (See Matthew 25:31–46.)"
- Gary E. Stevenson, "Shepherding Souls," General Conference October 2018
Click here to read or listen to the full talk

It's a wonderful thing to feel the power and blessing of being "individually ministered to by Jesus Christ" as one of His sheep. Our spiritual life and our temporal life are both so enriched as we are strengthened and sustained by His loving care. It's a sacred obligation to then pass on that loving kindness to those around us, as we also serve and minister as shepherds to those placed in our path:

I've always loved the way President Spencer W. Kimball taught this important point:
"God does notice us, and he watches over us. But it is usually through another person that he meets our needs. Therefore, it is vital that we serve each other in the kingdom. The people of the Church need each other’s strength, support, and leadership in a community of believers as an enclave of disciples. In the Doctrine and Covenants we read about how important it is to '… succor the weak, lift up the hands which hang down, and strengthen the feeble knees' (D&C 81:5)."
- Spencer W. Kimball, "Small Acts of Service," Ensign, December 1974
There is so much good we can do as we "run to [the] aid" of our neighbors. If we are willing and available, and if we are sensitive to promptings that will guide us, we will find countless opportunities to carry out this sacred duty.

(Compilation and commentary by David Kenison, Orem, Utah, 2018)

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