One of the classes that I went to at Ed. Week was given by Brent L. Top. I can't really remember what the title of his class was, but he talked about the difference between our public ministry and our personal ministry. Most have callings, some of us have jobs, some of us might sit on a board or a committee or a city council. All of the duties associated with these activities are considered to be part of our public ministry. But what are we doing with our personal ministry? He then related the following:
He told the story of when he was called to re-open the BYU Center in Jerusalem. While he was there, Elder Faust and his wife and Elder Holland and his wife came over for a visit. They had meetings, devotionals, firesides, talks to give etc.
While they were there, Brother Top's little 9 year old daughter asked her mother to help her bake some cookies and she took them over to the hotel where the Faust's and the Holland's were staying. She left the cookies in front of their door with an anonymous note that said "From the cookie monster". Way later that night after their daughter had gone to bed, there was a knock at the door. Brother Top was watching a movie in his pj's with his wife and thought that it was a student that was knocking so he just yelled "Come In!". In walked Elder Faust and Elder Holland with their wives. Brother Top said that he and his wife had been eating popcorn while they were watching their movie and probably had popcorn falling out of their mouths when they saw who it was. Elder Faust said that he was there to talk to the Cookie Monster!
Brother Top got his daughter out of bed so that she wouldn't miss this experience. Brother Top said that it was such a humbling experience. Here he knew that these two apostles had an extremely busy schedule with their public ministry and that they were probably exhausted after all that they had to do that day, but they made the time in their personal ministry to thank a little 9 year old girl for some cookies.
Time. My favorite excuse is TIME. I love to tell myself that my opportunities to do better in my personal ministry is because of a lack of time. I work 9 hours a day, my commute is 45 minutes each way so there is a total of 10 1/2 hours a day that I am not at home. But I also realize that it is an EXCUSE.
I think Pres. Monson is the ultimate example of realizing the importance of his personal ministry. When speaking at conference, he most always tells a story and it is usually an example of his personal ministry; visiting a widow, going to the hospital and giving a blessing, visiting a family.
So even though this isn't really a new thought, it's one that has stuck with me probably because I feel like I have a lot of improvement to make in this area.