How do I work with ward leaders?
You have the opportunity of working with different leaders in your assigned ward(s). Your efforts to establish positive relationships with them will help you be more effective in your role. Understanding the basics of how to work within the ward organization will help you move forward with greater focus and power. These leaders are your best allies. Respect them and their other responsibilities. Be a blessing, not a burden. Ask how you can be helpful.
How can ward leaders help me find individuals to work with?
Ward leaders have developed relationships with members of the ward and are often aware of educational needs. As you counsel with leaders, they can help you develop a list of members who might benefit from and be open to working with you. They can also help you know how to best approach those members. Begin with members who are active in the Church or who have high interest in receiving mentoring.
- Bishops and Young Women presidencies will have developed relationships with youth who are about to graduate or who have recently graduated. Talk to them about their youth and young single adults (YSAs). Together, determine which youth or YSA should be contacted about education.
- Elders quorum and Relief Society presidencies have a good feel for those in their organizations who could benefit from exploring an educational plan. Attend their meetings and explain your role.
- Ward mission leaders can help you learn about new converts or those investigating the Church and how they might benefit from education.
- Ward council is a good place to briefly introduce your purpose and explain how you can help members.
A mini ward council with the bishop, elders quorum president, and Relief Society president may prove to be helpful for identifying individuals. Ask the ward clerk to prepare a list of the ward members’ names for the meeting, or plan on referencing the ward list in the Tools app. Looking at the names together will initiate the conversation and will help the Spirit guide each of you to the individuals who may be ready.
What else can you do?
You may run into difficulty developing a list from the leadership. With permission from the bishop, try asking the ward clerk for a list of young single adults. Attend some of their meetings or activities. Circulate. You’ll be directed to individuals to get to know.
Below are some example text messages that may be helpful to use when you contact someone you know or don’t know.
Don’t know the person at all:
“Hello ________! My name is ___________ and I have been assigned to work with members of your ward as a Stake Education Mentor. My role is to help those who are interested in furthering their education find a way to reach their goals. I would love to visit with you to explain more if you are interested. Would you be open to visiting with me for about 30 minutes sometime? We can meet in person or just over the phone or even Zoom if you would like.”
Know the person at least a little:
“Hi _________! How are you doing? I don’t know if you heard, but I was just called to be a ‘Stake Education Mentor’ for our ward. So I get to help people explore and pursue their educational goals! Sister Jones mentioned that you might be interested in visiting with me. What do you think? Would you like to meet for about 30 minutes sometime so I can explain more?”
Examples of counseling with leaders
Example 1—Sitting with the bishop
Bishop: So, tell me about your calling. I’ve never heard of an education mentor. You mentioned you can help with ministering?
Mentor: My call is to help members in the ward find something that works for them. I have resources that can help navigate educational options. By the way, we’ve seen that members who improve their education also tend to be strengthened spiritually.
Bishop: So how would you like me to help?
Mentor: Your pulse is on the youth—what they are doing and their circumstances. Are there any high school graduates or young single adults that are stuck and not progressing?
Bishop: Three off the top of my head—two would resist being talked to.
Mentor: Then let’s start with the receptive one. Tell me about his or her situation.
(Bishop describes Jennifer’s circumstances)
Mentor: Could you lead the way and introduce me?
Bishop: I’ll contact her in the next couple of days. Once you start talking with her, I’d like you to keep me in the loop. She is a great young woman, and this could really help.
Mentor: Of course. Can you also give me the contact information for the other two youth you mentioned? I’m fearless. I’d like to see if I can reach them.
Example 2—Sitting with the Relief Society President
Mentor: Sister Pinder, you’ve got to be the busiest woman in the ward! You are, after all, the Relief Society president. I won’t keep you long, but do you have a minute?
President: Sure—no need to apologize.
Mentor: I’ve been called as the stake education mentor. Like it sounds, I try to mentor a sister or two who might be interested in some help. A sister might want to further her education, she might be interested in getting training for a rainy day, or she might simply want to further herself in some way. I work with such women, meeting and talking with them, pointing them toward resources, talking through decisions, offering support and encouragement along the way.
President: This will be so helpful! I’ve got five sisters for you right now. Take your pick. This may free me up to visit with other sisters.
Example 3—Sitting with the Elders Quorum Counselor
Mentor: Hi Russ, I understand you’re the counselor working with the job-related needs in the quorum. Do you have a minute?
Counselor: That’s correct. What’s going on?
Mentor: I’ve been called as a stake education mentor—kind of a new calling in the Church. I’m to contact members of the ward who might benefit from a little more education or who might be on the lookout for better work. I sit down with them, talk, hope to trigger some interest—or ignite what’s already there. Then I direct them to helpful resources. As they begin searching through options, I’m available to offer support and encouragement. Naturally, I’d keep you informed on any progress.
Counselor: Well … I think I get the general picture. Two brothers come to mind. One who would perk up, but the other—I can hear him now: “Not interested—I’m fine the way things are.” You’d need to connect with each of them differently. Do your best to make sure they don’t feel they need rescuing. Still, give it a go if you think you can make a difference. The presidency will support you. I’ll let them know.
Mentor: Thank you for that advice. I have been thinking about the need to be sensitive and make sure I don’t overwhelm them or come across pushy. I’ll be sure to be prayerful and follow the Spirit as I talk to them. I am excited to see if I can be of help to them!