The Key: A Parable for Visiting Teachers

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General Board of Relief Society

At a meeting of the Relief Society on April 28, 1842, the Prophet, Joseph Smith, referred to these words of the Savior: "Ye shall do the work which ye see me do," —adding, "These are the great key words for the Society to act upon."

Now, among the congregation were women specifically chosen, for they were endowed with those gifts and talents that would enable them to hold positions of leadership and responsibility. Each of them pondered as to how she could best serve the Master.

"To lead and organize would surely be to do as he did," said some of them. "For did he not lead into paths of righteousness those who would follow him?"

Some among them possessed a great knowledge of books. They had excelled in the learning of their day. "We shall follow him by sharing our wisdom with others," said they, for he said, "Seek ye out of the best books of wisdom. Seek ye learning, even by study and also by faith."

Others of the congregation were endowed with the gift of music. Their combined voices had made glad the hills of Zion. "We shall instruct and lead our sisters in song," said they. "Surely in this way we shall serve him, for we have heard his words, 'My soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me.'"

Then there were those who were gifted in writing and in the use of words. "We shall write for Zion," said they. "For has he not said, 'Behold there shall be a record kept among you.' We shall use our gifts as scribes and writers in Zion. In this way, we shall merit the key and its blessings."

But lo, there was one among them whose heart was troubled. "I have no golden voice," said she, "to sing the songs of Zion. I do not have a clever tongue or wield a mighty pen. What gift have I? How can I give to him that which I have not? But I must make haste. Night is approaching and darkness will overtake me before I can gather the flowers for my sisters who tire of their beds of affliction.

And quickly, she left the congregation and went on her way. Into the house of bereavement she hastened, carrying food prepared by her own willing hands. Where death had been, she lingered, comforting the motherless, gathering the weeping children into her tender arms, stilling their sorrow with her words of hope in the resurrection and eternal life...giving of herself until each little one was at peace and sleeping gently.

Into the home of an erring one she carried the light of the gospel in her message. Often she had stopped to give counsel to the wayward and hope to the discouraged, and many, upon finding someone who cared, had sought the way of repentance.

So the daughter of Zion worked on into the night. Only when she retired to her bed did she again think of the "key"—and, once more, she wondered what gift she could claim that would qualify her for its possession.

And as she slept, did she dream, or did she really hear the voice of the prophet speaking to her?

"Fair daughter of Zion, blessed are the gifts of thy sisters but thou has found the greatest of all gifts, and already thou holdest the key in all its brilliance; for has not he said, 'inasmuch as ye do it unto the least of these, ye have done it unto me'? Today, thy spirit has warmed and comforted and blest. Thy hands have been ready to help in searching out the poor and in supplying their needs. Of thyself thou has given. Already the door of Heaven stands open before you, and blessings shall flow down from this time henceforth. Blessed art thou, Visiting Teacher. In beauty thou walkest in his steps, clothed with the mantle of charity."

Issued by General Board of Relief Society, (taken from a 1978 handout)