Three Tips for Becoming a Better Indexer

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In the April 2013 general conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland shared a powerful concept. Though he was speaking generally about the work of building the Lord’s kingdom, I believe the application of his words to indexing and arbitration is appropriate.

“Brothers and sisters, this is a divine work in process, with the manifestations and blessings of it abounding in every direction, so please don’t hyperventilate if from time to time issues arise that need to be examined, understood, and resolved. They do and they will. . . ."

“So be kind regarding human frailty—your own as well as that of those who serve with you in a Church led by volunteer, mortal men and women. Except in the case of His only perfect Begotten Son, imperfect people are all God has ever had to work with. That must be terribly frustrating to Him, but He deals with it. So should we. And when you see imperfection, remember that the limitation is not in the divinity of the work. As one gifted writer has suggested, when the infinite fulness is poured forth, it is not the oil’s fault if there is some loss because finite vessels can’t quite contain it all. Those finite vessels include you and me, so be patient and kind and forgiving.” (“Lord I Believe,” Ensign, May 2013, 94)

Indexing and arbitration are a part of the Lord’s work for the salvation of His children. He has made this work available in our day to hasten the work of finding His precious children so they can receive the ordinances of the temple. That makes this a sacred work that demands our best efforts. But despite what anyone’s arbitration results say, none of us is a perfect indexer or arbitrator—and that’s okay.

What isn’t okay is failure to seek ways constantly to improve. So by way of suggestion and in a spirit of gratitude for all you have already given to this work, I offer a word or two about how we can all develop our indexing and arbitration skills.

1. Learn

Become a student of indexing and/or arbitration. Attend classes, read articles from this newsletter, and seek one-on-one instruction from experienced indexers and arbitrators in your stake. Read the basic indexing guidelines, and, more particularly, the specific instructions that are given with each project. Be aware that instructions may differ from project to project and even if you’ve read them, review them occasionally to retain the finer points they contain. Rely on the field helps in situations that you’re not sure about. And whatever you do, don’t let overconfidence lead you to complacency.

2. Do  

Practice makes perfect, and even if it doesn’t, it makes pretty good. You can get better at anything you put your mind to. So what if you can’t read difficult handwriting at first? Thousands of volunteers have proven that you can get better with time and effort. When you get stuck, get the opinion of a family member or share your batch with someone who has more experience than you. Or look to one of the several online communities where experienced indexers and arbitrators hang out. They will usually respond within minutes if you ask a question. Most importantly, exercise faith. Those people whose names we index know who they are, and more than one prayer for help has been answered in a miraculous way.

3. Teach

Even if you’re new to indexing, you can help someone with less knowledge to get started. As you learn, volunteer your knowledge to others, and help them past the hurdles you’ve already conquered. There is something empowering about teaching someone else a concept. It cements our own understanding and helps us retain it at a deeper level than we otherwise would. Teaching makes us better students because it forces us to understand concepts more thoroughly so we can explain them to the understanding of others. Teaching is also a fun way to learn together and one of the best ways to help expand the pool of committed volunteers who help to hasten the work even more.

We owe it to the Lord and to our fellowmen to do the best work we can. This is His work, and it has real, eternal consequences. May you feel blessed as you seek to serve, knowing that your best is good enough and your offering is acceptable to Him whose opinion is the only one that truly matters.– Article by Michael Judson

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