I just passed the one-year mark of being the Relief Society President in my ward. When I tell people about my job at church, they always have the same sort of response, “what a hard calling!” While I’m sure people have all sorts of definitions of what makes something a “hard” calling, I don’t think they would suspect the thing about Relief Society President that I consider most difficult: being really spiritual. Theoretically I should have been really spiritual for all of my callings. Being the Activity Day Leader, however, didn’t feel like it required me to be in tune with the Holy Ghost quite as much.

Last summer I got a call from the Bishop. “Sister So-and-So’s husband just told her he wants a divorce and custody of their kids. I told her you’d call and talk to her.” SAY WHAT? Things like that don’t happen very often but there are dozens of times that I have to walk into situations that I know nothing about and advise and comfort people. This is why I have to stay close to the Holy Spirit: I need to tell people what the Lord wants them to hear. That’s a big responsibility.

It’s hard for me to be spiritual all the time. OK, it’s hard for me to be spiritual 20% of the time. I thought by this point I would be super into reading the scriptures but that hasn’t really happened. I do read my scriptures every single day but I still have to make myself do it. My scripture study isn’t nearly as in-depth and sincere as it should be.

I have gotten really good at praying, though. That’s the thing that has surprised me the most. When the Lord says over and over again that He will answer our prayers, it’s not like we think. He’s not saying that He’s a genie and now every wish we have will come true. It’s more like, “when you need help, pray to me and I will be there to make you stronger.” That has happened so often. My testimony of prayer giving my life power has grown by a thousand.

Sometimes, though, the harder I want to try to become more spiritual, the less I feel like it’s working. I feel like staying close to the Holy Spirit is like trying to pick up Jello with a toothpick. It’s hard to know how to increase spirituality, but it’s even harder to want to increase our spirituality.

How have you been able to improve your relationship with the Savior? What steps have worked well to make the Holy Ghost a more constant companion? How do you want to want to increase your spirituality?


  1. Elissa

    May 2, 2013

    Teaching seminary was my favourite calling (and hardest). You had to really study the scriptures in depth, I love the scriptures but when i am not in that calling I struggle to keep up that intensity of study. Also having the chance to teach and bear your testimony every morning helps you have the Spirit with you all day. I have taken a break this year (not enough youth in our ward – they want me back next year for an influx of youth) and really miss the way I feel when I teach seminary.

  2. MB

    May 2, 2013

    I don’t know about you, but for me, when I desire to be more spiritual it is something that I am wishing for myself. It is something I measure by watching myself. It’s a good thing to want, but if I really wish to be in tune with the Holy Ghost I have to completely change my focus away from myself or trying to figure out if I am in tune enough. I can recognize that it’s good and desirable, but my focus must be elsewhere.

    For me that means putting my focus on what the person I am trying to help needs from me. My prayers must not be, “help me to be in tune with thy spirit,” or “help me to say and do the right things,” but,rather, honestly, “what words will be of help to her right now?”, or “Father, help me to see how it looks to HER and what she needs from us”, or “help me to see HER and love her the way you you do” or simply fervent prayers on behalf of the sister who I feel unable to help.

    My experience is that the times when I have received the most lucid personal revelation were times when I have seriously prayed to know how to love, to understand and to help a specific person without measuring myself or how I was doing, but instead forgot myself and just sought God’s will and wisdom as I listened for that revelation.

    I have come to understand that this change of focus is part of what Christ was talking about when he said “whosoever shall lose his life for my sake shall find it.”

  3. Cypher

    May 3, 2013

    Yes to what this post said! Amen, and thank you for articulating what I’ve been feeling recently. The “picking up Jello with a toothpick” analogy was spot on.

  4. Danny

    May 3, 2013

    MB, I totally agree, and that has been my experience also.

    I find I am more successful when I focus less on what I’m doing, and more on how I’m doing it. This is essentially what Christ was teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. Christ gave a whole bunch of “seminary answers” in his list of things to do…but with each one he made sure to distinguish between the act itself and the reason any connection would be made with heaven as a result of that act.

    He essentially says that praying is itself neither good nor bad, but the energy and intent with which you offer the prayer is. He says the same thing of fasting, charitable giving, and he might as well have said it about all our other seminary answers….home/visiting teaching, scripture study, church attendance, etc.

    So, I don’t worry as much about if I am following ritual purity (scriptures 15 min/day, prayer at specific times, etc) as I do about my intent as I go about those very things. Maybe this is why all of those things were unbelievably fulfilling when I was a missionary, because I did all of them with the sole intent of discovering how I could be of service to God and to my fellow man. Now on the other hand, it is easier to see scripture reading and prayer and church attendance as an end itself to qualify as “righteous” and meeting my stake goals (unfortunately that sounds a little bit like doing things to be “seen of men”)…but if that’s my motive then how am I any better than a pharisee?

    The best prayers I ever offer are when I’m not even praying about me but about someone I’m trying to help or a group I’ve been asked to teach. The most meaningful scripture study to me is the one that is done in preparation of a lesson where I hope to be able to make scripture come to life and aid others in their pursuit of God. In other words….getting out of “myself” and not worrying about whether I missed a day of scripture study because that would somehow make me less righteous.

    It is better for me to worry less about ritual purity (letter of the law seminary answers), and focus more on actually BEING more like Christ by seeking to align with virtues and intent consistent with his character. The kingdom of God is WITHIN you…and won’t automatically be found in the performance of any ritual (though all rituals become more meaningful when that kingdom is discovered).

    I hope all those thoughts made sense…too much to say in so small a space :). My wife wrote more about it here and here

  5. Strollerblader

    May 3, 2013

    For me, like you, it’s all about prayer.

    Also, I think that personality plays such a big part in how we feel and understand the Holy Ghost. For me, I assume I have the Spirit and that my thinking is good and right unless I’m told otherwise. I’m kind of a “keep moving in the direction I’m going unless I’m told to do otherwise; but keep moving, don’t wait to be told” person.

  6. robin marie

    May 3, 2013

    i am a new relief society president and i feel i greatly lack in a different category – loving those who are hard to love. i feel like in this role that should come naturally but it has been hard. i think i need to see them more has christ sees them, and to accomplish that i need to work harder to know christ, thus increasing my spirituality… thanks for for the kick in the pants!

  7. Laura

    May 4, 2013

    More and more I am coming to an understanding of the power of President Hinckley’s father’s advice when he told his son, “forget yourself and go to work.”
    On Sunday evenings I feel renewed and inspired and thoughts come easily as to who needs my help, who I can reach out to. Mondays and Tuesdays are joyous, because I act on those thoughts. I feel the Spirit is my companion. Generally by Wednesday, I am tired, and retreat into a novel, and things spiral down from there. I guess I need to pace myself. The link between service with pure intent and spiritual joy is undeniable. Finding a way to maintain that outlook is my challenge.
    I see it in my children, too. So much angst and misery could dissolve if only they could forget themselves for a minute and find someone who needs their care.
    Thanks for a great post.

  8. Kay

    May 4, 2013

    I am sure you are a wonderful Relief Society President and so much more in tune than you know. My husband is a Bishop and to me the R.S. President is such an important person in his life. In truth we all need to be more spiritual, only if we think we are fine is there a problem.

  9. annegb

    May 5, 2013

    I can’t imagine being a RS president and having people look to me like I look to mine. 🙂

    I went through a tough time about five years ago and I literally had to turn each day over for the Lord to get me through. He did. I know what you mean when you describe your prayer experience. It’s hard to describe, isn’t it?

    What I wonder is how people who don’t pray get through those times.

  10. ellen patton

    May 16, 2013

    hey jennie, i have something i want to mail to you. email me, k? thanks, ep (not a stalker; i’m a respectable rsp in boston)

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