The Story Goes

Stories enrich lessons and capture the interest of learners as few other teaching methods can.  Stories can be used to answer questions, introduce or reinforce principles, or summarize lessons.  They can be especially effective to clarify and teach gospel principles by giving examples of righteous living, reaching all listeners on their own level of understanding.  When stories are used well, they engage learners’ values and emotions.  They can help learners apply gospel principles as they share in great scriptural events, moments of decision, hardships and struggles, and the blessings of living the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They make principles easier to understand and remember.  They show in vivid and inspiring ways how gospel principles can be applied in our lives.

The Savior is the Master Teacher and the example we should follow in all our gospel teaching.  He frequently used stories in His teaching. His parables are excellent examples of using stories to teach.  For example, a lawyer asked Him, “Who is my neighbour?”  He answered by telling a story about a man who was beaten and robbed as he traveled from Jerusalem to Jericho.  Two men passed by the wounded man, but a third, a Samaritan, stopped and took care of him (see Luke 10:29–35).  When Jesus finished the parable, He asked the lawyer, “Which now of these three, thinkest thou, was neighbour unto him that fell among the thieves?” The man answered, “He that shewed mercy on him.”  Then Jesus responded, “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:36–37).

– Taken from Teaching: No Greater Call, a resource guide for teachers in the Church.

In the coming month, consider using stories in the learning experiences you provide.  Read the stories prior to lesson day and commit them to memory.  The eye contact you make with your students will show them what you are sharing is important.  The Spirit will help you recall the stories your students need to hear.  Oftentimes this happens after an inspired comment is made from someone in class.  The story will reinforce what they have shared as well as validate their feelings and expressions.

Below is a compilation of General Conference addresses pertaining to the doctrine of becoming more Christlike (Come Follow Me, October 2013).  Consider using this resource in your lesson preparation.  I’d love to hear back on meaningful experiences you have using these or other stories in your teaching this coming month.  Download a printable 4×6 photo handout – More, Savior, Like Thee.

TOPIC LINE STORY BEGINS GIVEN BY
Christlike Life We Are the Hands of Christ President Dieter F. Uchdorf, April 2010, Sunday Morning Session
Christlike Attributes Children Can Bless Our Lives Jean A. Stevens, April 2011, Saturday Morning Session
Jesus’ Example You’re the Best Elder Neil L. Andersen, April 2012, Sunday Afternoon Session
Patience A Large Marshmallow President Dieter F. Uchdorf, April 2010 Priesthood Session
Patience Broken Eggs Elder Per G. Malm, October 2011, Sunday Afternoon Session
Patience Flecks of Gold Elder M. Russell Ballard, April 2011, Saturday Afternoon Session
Patience Foundations of Faith Henry B. Eyring, April 2012, Saturday Morning Session
Patience Herman President Thomas S. Monson, Priesthood Session, October 2002
Patience Motorcycles Elder Robert C. Oaks, Saturday Morning, October 2006
Patience Patience Isn’t Merely Waiting President Dieter F. Uchdorf, April 2010 Priesthood Session
Patience Shower, Shower Elder Octaviano Tenorio, October 2007, Sunday Afternoon Session
Patience Two Women Henry B. Eyring, April 2012, Saturday Morning Session
Service All Is Not Well Bishop Richard C. Edgley, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service Be Kind To The Poor Bishop H. David Burton, April 2011, Sunday Morning Session
Service Go To The House Down The Street President Henry B. Eyring, October 2010, Sunday Morning Session
Service I Need Your Help President Henry B. Eyring, October 2011 Priesthood Session
Service I Once Owned A Pen President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2010, Priesthood Session
Service I Thought I Had Missed the Lesson President Henry B. Eyring, October 2010, Priesthood Session
Service I Wasn’t Quite Sure What To Do Sister Silvia H. Allred, April 2011, Sunday Morning Session
Service Suffer the Little Children President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2011, Sunday Morning Session
Service Why Am I Still Living President Henry B. Eyring, April 2011, Priesthood Session
Service Would It Be Appropriate to Ask
President Henry B. Eyring, April 2010, Priesthood Session
Service You Are My Best Friend Elder Richard G. Scott, April 2011, Sunday Afternoon Session
Service You’re the Best Elder Neil L. Andersen, April 2012, Sunday Afternoon Session
Service 200,000 Were Reported Dead Elder Wilford W. Andersen, April 2010, Saturday Morning Session
Service A Call Extended To A Less Active Member Bishop Richard C. Edgley, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service A Call of Duty President Thomas S. Monson, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service A Lesson From My Father Elder David A. Bednar, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service A New Home President Thomas S. Monson, Priesthood Session, April 2005
Service A Sheaf of Letters President Thomas S. Monson, April 2010, Priesthood Session
Service A True Minister of Jesus Christ Elder L. Tom Perry, October 2011, Sunday Afternoon Session
Service A War Correspondent’s Tale President Thomas S. Monson, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service As I Began to Serve Elder Dallin H. Oaks, Sunday Morning, October 2002
Service Brazilian Missionary Sacrifice Dallin H. Oaks, April 2012, Saturday Morning Session
Service Charity Never Faileth Sister Silvia H. Allred, October 2011, General Relief Society Meeting
Service Charity President Henry B. Eyring, April 2008, Priesthood Session
Service David Orchard Elder David F. Evans, April 2012, Sunday Afternoon Session
Service Fresh Baked Bread Elder Gerrit W. Gong, October 2010, Saturday Afternoon Session
Service Full Conversion President Henry B. Eyring, October 2011, Sunday Morning Session
Service Going Through the Motions President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2011 Priesthood Session
Service Greatest Souls President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2011, Saturday Morning Session
Service Half-a-Table Elder D. Todd Christofferson, October 2008, Saturday Afternoon Session
Service He Had Not Been A Failure W. Christopher Waddell, October 2011 Priesthood Session
Service He Spoke the Language of Angels Elder Adrián Ochoa, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service Help My Husband Become A Patriarch In Our Home Elder David A. Bednar, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service How a Quorum Works Elder L. Tom Perry, Saturday Morning, October 2002
Service Inspired Priorities President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service Instruments In The Lord’s Hands Elder Ulisses Soares, April 2012, Saturday Afternoon Session
Service Jack McConnell, MD President Thomas S. Monson, October 2009, Sunday Morning Session
Service Jim’s Cart Was Empty President James E. Faust, Priesthood Session, October 2006
Service Late Night Calls President Henry B. Eyring, October 2011 Priesthood Session
Service Little Big Spring President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2011, Saturday Morning Session
Service Lost, Elder José L. Alonso October 2011, Saturday Morning Session
Service Motivating Power Of Priesthood Leadership President Dieter F Uchtdorf, April 2012, Priesthood Session
Service Our Champion Paxton Elder Ronald A. Rasband, April 2012, Sunday Morning Session
Service Phil’s Auto Bishop Richard C. Edgley, April 2009, Priesthood Session
Service Prepared To Keep Our Oath and Covenant President Henry B. Eyring, October 2011 Priesthood Session
Service Rain Gutters Elder Quentin L. Cook, October 2009, Sunday Afternoon Session
Service Self-Help President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, October 2011 Priesthood Session
Service Shoes from the Heart Elder Robert J. Whetten, Saturday Afternoon Session, April 1999
Service Sidney Going Elder Neil L. Andersen, April 2011, Priesthood Session
Service Sister Moo Elder Russell T. Osguthorpe, October 2009, Saturday Morning Session
Service Take My Spare Sister Kathleen H. Hughes, Sunday Morning, April 2005
Service Taking Upon the Yoke of Suffering and Burdens Bishop H. David Burton, April 2011, Sunday Morning Session
Service Thanks Father, for the Elder’s Quorum Elder D. Todd Christofferson, Priesthood Session, October 1998
Service The Egg-Salad Sandwich President Thomas S. Monson, April 2009, Priesthood Session
Service The Hands of the Savior Elder W. Craig Zwick, Saturday Afternoon, October 2003
Service The Teton Dam President Henry B. Eyring, April 2011, Saturday Morning Session
Service Walter Krause, President Thomas S. Monson Priesthood Session, April 2002
Service What Happens to One, Happens to All Bishop Richard C. Edgely, October 2007, Saturday Morning
Service Young Priesthood Examples Elder Adrián Ochoa, April 2012, Priesthood Session
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The Real Teacher

The Spirit Is the Real Teacher

Teaching the gospel is a sacred duty, prophets and apostles say, and though it is not always an easy task, when guided by the Spirit both the teacher and the student can achieve spiritual growth and understanding.  The following thoughts come from Elder Richard G. Scott and Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  Before you begin reading, ask yourself:  How have you felt the influence of the Holy Ghost in your lessons? and What might you do differently next time you are preparing and teaching a lesson to better invite the Spirit?

Receive Direction.  Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said the Holy Ghost is a powerful facilitator. “Your capacity to teach is enhanced by the direction you receive from the Holy Spirit,” he said. “Simply stated, truth presented in an environment of true love and trust qualify an individual for the confirming witness of the Holy Spirit.”

“If you accomplish nothing else in your relationship with your students than to help them recognize and follow the promptings of the Spirit, you will bless their lives immeasurably and eternally,” Elder Scott said. “To do this you must constantly seek the guidance of the Spirit to know what to say and how to say it.”

“Our Father expects us to learn how to obtain that divine help by exercising faith in Him and in His Holy Son. Were we to receive inspired guidance just for the asking, we would become weak and ever more dependent on Him. He knows that essential personal growth will come as we struggle to learn how to be led by the Spirit. That struggle develops our immortal character as we perfect our capacity to identify His will through the whisperings of the Holy Ghost. What may appear initially to be a daunting task will become much easier over time as we consistently strive to recognize the feelings awakened by the Spirit. Our confidence in the direction we receive through the Holy Ghost will also become stronger.”

Encourage Interaction.  The confidence resulting from a constant and humble search for the presence of the Holy Ghost can allow teachers to assess the needs of the class, Elder Scott said. Then they can help each student learn and grow.

“All too often a teacher’s relation to a student is one of giving counsel with little or no interaction, “Elder Scott said. “Often there is no explanation of the reasons why there are commandments, rules, and standards. The teacher becomes just a talking head.”

“Most of the teaching in the world is based on one of the five senses—hear, see, touch, smell, or taste,” he continued, but noted that “in your classroom you can teach by the power of the Spirit. Such communication begins by your encouraging each one you teach to participate rather than be a passive listener. In this way you can assess their understanding of what is taught, create a feeling of ownership, and also learn from them. More important, their decision to participate is an exercise in agency that permits the Holy Ghost to communicate a personalized message suited to their individual needs. Creating an atmosphere of participation enhances the probability that the Spirit will teach more important lessons than you can communicate.”

Allow for Spiritual Motivation.  “That participation will bring into their lives the direction of the Spirit,” Elder Scott promised. “When you encourage students to raise their hand to respond to a question, while they may not realize it, they signify to the Holy Ghost their willingness to learn. That use of moral agency will allow that Spirit to motivate them and give them more powerful guidance during your time together.”

He stressed that “participation allows individuals to experience being led by the Spirit. They learn to recognize and feel what spiritual guidance is. It is through the repeated process of feeling impressions, recording them, and obeying them that one learns to depend on the direction of the Spirit.”

Seek Inspiration.  Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that teaching the gospel is a sacred duty. “It is an opportunity to share doctrines and principles that are eternal, and that is not always an easy task.” But, Elder Holland said, “By calling on the strength of the Spirit, both the teacher and the student can achieve spiritual growth and understanding.”

“If I were going to teach a class on Sunday, I would read through and begin praying about that lesson the Sunday before,” Elder Holland said. “That gives me a full week to pray, to seek inspiration, to think, to read and watch for real-life applications that will give vitality to my message. You won’t finalize the lesson that early, but you will be surprised to find how many things come to you during the week, how much God gives you—things that you will feel to use when you do finalize your preparation.”

Listen with Your Heart.  A teacher can invite the Spirit to carry doctrine into the hearts and minds of the students, Elder Holland said, noting that one who teaches by the influence of the Holy Ghost can have a profound influence on students’ understanding and can provide a witness of the power of studying by the Spirit.

“The Spirit of the Lord is the real teacher,” Elder Holland said. “Listen with your heart. Listen with your soul, and you may have feelings or promptings. … It may be something very personal, it may be related to something at home, something in a marriage or with a child, but that’s the Spirit, and He’s the real teacher.” He referred to Doctrine and Covenants 43:16 emphasizing, “you are to be taught from on high. We’re instruments, we’re tools, and it’s our tongues and our lips, but the teacher is on high.”

Scriptures related to this doctrine:

John 14:26 (The Comforter can teach us and bring all things to our remembrance)

Romans 8:16 (The Spirit bears witness that we are children of God)

2 Nephi 32:5 (The Holy Ghost will show us what we should do)

Moroni 8:26 (The Holy Ghost fills us with hope and love)

Moroni 10:5 (The Holy Ghost teaches us the truth)

D&C 42:17; Moses 1:24 (The Holy Ghost bears record of the Father and the Son)

 

Seek Learning

“Seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith.”
D&C 88:118 

How might the following quotes motivate YOU to become a better gospel teacher?

images-1“The Lord wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives.  And as you do so and as you perform honorable and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship.  In addition, your education will strengthen your service in the Church.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley

“The pattern of study you establish during your formal schooling will in large measure affect your lifelong thirst for knowledge.”  You must get all of the education that you possibly can.  Sacrifice anything that is needed to be sacrificed to qualify yourselves to do the work of this world.”  – President Gordon B. Hinckley

“With so much knowledge available, one would think that the world might well be near a state of perfection.  Yet we are constantly made aware of the other side of the coin – of the sickness of society, of the contentions and troubles that bring misery into the lives of millions.  Each day we are made increasingly aware of the fact that life is more than science and mathematics, more than history and literature.  There is need for another education, without which the substance of secular learning may lead only to destruction.  I refer to the education of the heart, of the conscience, of the character of the spirit – these indefinable aspects of our personalities which determine so certainly what we are and what we do in our relationships one with another.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley

“The Lord wants you to train your minds and hands to become an influence for good as you go forward with your lives.  And as you do so and as you perform honorable and with excellence, you will bring honor to the Church, for you will be regarded as a man or woman of integrity and ability and conscientious workmanship.  In addition, your education will strengthen your service in the Church.” – President Gordon B. Hinckley

Speaking to the Young Women of the Church:  “Education will open the doors of opportunity.  As you follow the Lord’s admonition to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith,” you gain not only knowledge from your study but added light as you learn by faith.  Seek learning by studying diligently.  Rarely will you be able to spend as much time dedicated to learning as you can now.” – Sister Mary Cook, YW General Presidency

“Education is the power to think clearly, the power to act well in the world’s work, and the power to appreciate life.” – Elder Henry B. Eyring

“Your life is carefully watched over.  The Lord knows both what He will need you to do and what you will need to know to do it.  You can with confidence expect that He has prepared opportunities for you to learn.  You will not recognize those opportunities perfectly, as I did not.  But when you put the spiritual things first in your life, you will be blessed to feel directed toward certain learning, and you will be motivated to work harder.  You will recognize later that your power to serve was increased, and you will be grateful.  Your service may not be in what the world would recognize as a lofty calling.  But remember that when the real value of service becomes clear in the judgment of God, some people who worked in quiet anonymity will be the real heroes.” – Elder Henry B. Eyring

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33).  This is a true promise.  When we put God’s purposes first, He will give us miracles.  If we pray to know what he would have us do next, He will multiply the effects of what we do in such a way that time seems to be expanded.  He may do it in different ways for each individual, but I know from long experience that He is faithful to His word.” – Elder Henry B. Eyring

Scripture Stories

There are many ways to help our children to search, ponder and “always retain in remembrance” the stories found in the Book of Mormon.  Asking questions plays an important role in ensuring comprehension and understanding of principles taught.  Here are examples of questions you might ask before you begin reading – helping them remain engaged by listening and looking for answers.  Responses will also be more meaningful as they will have had time to ponder the message.

  • Which scripture today was meaningful to me?
  • How can I “liken” the scripture(s) to my life?                    
  • How can this story or scripture help me live better?
  • How might I use this scripture or story to defend the gospel and my testimony?

May I suggest something take place before both reading or searching begins?  There is nothing more helpful than a prayer to open our understanding of the scriptures.  Through prayer, our minds will be open to the answers our diligent search brings.  The Lord said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Luke 11:9).  We have the Savior’s reassurance that if we will ask, seek, and knock, the Holy Spirit will guide our understanding if we are ready and eager to receive.

The following worksheets have helped my children gain a better understanding of important stories in the Book of Mormon.  For older children, you might consider adding a few extra questions that require additional searching and studying.  In essence we are training our children early on to open the scriptures and search diligently for answers to questions in their life.  Whenever I walk into my oldest daughter’s room and see rejected outfit options scattered on the floor, my first reaction is frustration…then I notice opened scriptures on her nightstand and my heart is immediately softened.  My husband and I may be failing in one area (how to properly hang shirts and fold jeans), but I can’t help but feel victorious in another – which is of far greater importance!

Book of Mormon Worksheets in (.docx):

LEHI’S DREAM

BUILDING THE SHIP

SAMUEL THE LAMANITE

HELAMAN’S WARRIORS

JESUS CHRIST BLESSES THE CHILDREN

Sunday School Answer

Some might look down upon the standard “Sunday School Answer,” but in the end, the answers and responses we try to avoid, might be exactly RIGHT!  As Latter-day Saints, we know that simple things can make the difference in our lives.  Here it comes…Reading our scriptures, attending our church meetings regularly, going to the temple, etc.. But in addition to all of that, I believe as teachers our duty is to help students search, discover, and dig a little deeper – to find true meaning and understanding of the doctrines.

Jesus Christ, the Master Teacher, often asked questions to encourage people to ponder and apply the principles He taught.  A wonderful example of this is found in John 3:1-36.  The Savior asks thought provoking questions, encouraging Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews, to think and search deeply inside himself to understand the doctrine.  Watch the Bible video here – Jesus Teaches of Being Born Again.

The following are questions you might consider using in your Sunday School class to encourage meaningful class discussion:

SEPTEMBER: COMMANDMENTS

How do the commandments help me learn to be more like Heavenly Father? (Hyperlink available)

How has your understanding of the commandments grown throughout your life?

What changes have you noticed in yourself as you have strived to live the commandments?

What does it mean to live “in the world” but not “of” the world?

What challenges might you face as you strive to keep the commandments?

How will you be blessed by understanding the purposes of God’s commandments?

What have you learned about Heavenly Father as you have studied the commandments?

How can I help others understand my standards?

What questions have others asked you about your standards?

How have you helped them understand why you live according to those standards?

What situations do you face in which you must explain your standards to others?

Why might this sometimes be difficult? What can you do now to prepare for these situations?

How does keeping the commandments affect my ability to learn the gospel?

How has keeping the commandments helped you as a student of the gospel?

What experiences have you had with obedience that you could share?

What connection is there between obedience and the inspiration of the Spirit?

How can I inspire others to obey the commandments?

How have you been influenced by the examples of others who were obedient to the commandments?

How have your efforts to live the commandments helped you become a more effective gospel teacher?

What opportunities do you have to be an example to others?

How do your friends influence your desire to be obedient?

What commandments are become more distinct from the world’s declining standards?

What blessings does Heavenly Father promise if I obey the commandments?

Why is it important to identify promised blessings you have been given you’re your Heavenly Father?  How is your desire to live the gospel influenced by these blessings?

How does your obedience to the commandments today influence your opportunities in the future?

What blessings have you experienced from living the Lord’s standards in the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet?

OCTOBER:  BECOMING MORE CHRISTLIKE

How can I invite others to become more like the Savior?

What role have others played in your life in becoming more Christlike?

What opportunities do you have in inviting others to make positive changes in their lives?

To become like the Savior you must know him.  How have you grown closer to the Savior?  How might you help others do the same?

What stories in the scriptures show how the Savior treated others and how you should treat them?

What are you doing, or what can you change in your life to become more like the Savior and invite others to do the same?

How can I show love for those I teach?

How have you been influenced by a teacher who showed love to you?

How have you developed love for those you teach?

In what Church settings might you be invited to teach? What other teaching moments will you have in your lives?

How can learning to love those you teach help you become better teachers?

How did the Savior compare gospel truths to familiar objects and experiences?

Which of the parables of Jesus are most memorable to you, and why?

What objects surround you in your daily life remind you of gospel truths?

How can I use the scriptures to help others become more Christlike?

What scriptures have you used recently to teach a gospel principle?

How has your study of the scriptures helped you become a better teacher?

How do you use the scriptures when you teach?  Why is it important to do so?

What scripture stories or passages are relevant to you in your day?

How can you use what you read in the scriptures to help you make righteous choices in your daily life?

How can I use questions effectively as I teach?

How have you seen effective teachers use questions to help others ponder and apply the gospel?

How do you use questions when you teach?

What do you know about asking questions that will help you become better teachers?

What can I learn about gospel learning from the Savior’s example?

What Christlike attributes do you feel are important to gospel learning?

How has developing these attributes helped you in your efforts to study and teach the gospel?

NOVEMBER:  SPIRITUAL AND TEMPORAL SELF-RELIANCE

How can I become spiritually self-reliant?

What have you done to become more spiritually self-reliant?

How have you been blessed by being spiritually self-reliant?

What can you do to develop spiritual self-reliance?

How can I find answers to my own gospel questions?

What role has seeking answers to questions played in your gospel learning?

In what ways have you found answers to your questions?

What questions do you have about the gospel?

How do you seek answers to your gospel questions?

How can I learn to make my own decisions?

What are some important decisions you have made? How did you make those decisions? How did the Lord help you?

What principles of the gospel can help you make righteous decisions?

How can setting goals help me become self-reliant?

What goals have you set for yourself throughout your life?

What did you do to achieve your goals?  How has achieving goals helped you become more self-reliant?

In what areas of your life do you procrastinate?  What affect does it have on you and those around you?

With the increase of natural disasters in the world, what have you done to help your family become self-reliant?

How can I prepare to be financially self-reliant?

How has your life been blessed as you have followed the counsel of Church leaders regarding financial self-reliance?

Why do you believe self-reliance is an important principle of the restored gospel?

What do you already know about providing for themselves and others?  How will your future family be blessed through following the counsel to be financially self-reliant?

DECEMBER:  BUILDING THE KINGDOM IN THE LATTER-DAYS

How can I learn to serve more effectively in the Church?

How does the Lord help you as you strive to fulfill your callings?

What experiences could you share with the youth?

Why is it important for you to learn now how to serve effectively in the Church?

What are some ways you can serve in the Church besides having a calling?

How can I become a better leader?

Think of someone you know who is a Christlike leader. What leadership qualities does that person possess? How has his or her leadership influenced you and others?

Why do you need to learn how to be leaders?

What opportunities do you have to lead—in the Church, in their homes, and in their communities – now and in the future?

What are some blessings you have received through the service of Church leaders and teachers?

How can I become a better teacher?

How have you been blessed by effective teachers?  What have you done to become a better teacher?

What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as teachers?

What experiences have you had to teach those around you by words, attitudes, and examples?

What experiences have you had when you have felt the Spirit and helped someone do what is right or overcome a problem?

What are effective ways to share the gospel with others?

What opportunities have you had to share the gospel with others?

What have you done to share the gospel with others?

What keeps you from sharing the gospel?  How can you overcome these fears and concerns?

In what way will your good example lead someone to want to learn about the gospel?

How can I understand the symbols used to teach about the Second Coming?

What symbols and parables in the scriptures have helped you better understand the Second Coming?  How have these comparisons inspired you to prepare for the Savior’s return?

Why is it important for you to know and understand the signs of the Second Coming?

How can you remain calm and at peace even when some of the signs and symbols of the Second Coming are terrifying and dreadful?

What can I learn from the scriptures to help me prepare for the Second Coming?

What scriptures about the Second Coming have brought you peace?

What are you doing to prepare for the Second Coming?

In what ways will learning how to study the scriptures bless you now and in the future?

What are some things you can learn to be ready for the Second Coming?

How does having an eternal perspective affect your choices each day?

Entrusted

As parents and teachers, we have been entrusted with Heavenly Father’s precious children and have been given a noble stewardship.  There is no greater responsibility than to be teachers of God’s children.  Our Savior was the master teacher and He invites each of us to follow Him in that great service.  What you teach will touch the lives of the children, youth and adults in ways you may not even be able to comprehend now.  How you teach is equally important.

How can we improve our gospel teaching?  There are a few things we should strive for:

Love those you teach.  Show your love for the children by learning their names and being aware of their interests, talents and needs.

Teach the Doctrine by the Spirit.  As you prepare lessons, pray for guidance and strive to strengthen your testimony of the principles you will teach.  This will help you teach by the Spirit.  Only use Church-approved materials.  If it doesn’t have the Church logo on it, don’t use it! (I’m a wee bit passionate about this one.  If you want the Spirit to witness the truthfulness of what is taught, you must teach TRUTH.)

Invite Diligent Learning.  This should be one of our greatest goals.  Diligent, by definition, means having or showing care and conscientiousness in one’s work or duties.  For example, we want to enable those we “show care” toward to desire to find solutions to their problems in the scriptures.  We know that if they diligently seek, “they shall find (Matthew 7:7).”

You will teach the doctrine of Jesus Christ more effectively as you do the following three things in every lesson:

Identify the Doctrine.  Clearly identify the doctrine you are teaching. This helps the learners understand and apply it better. Ask yourself, what ways might they understand or help them remember it longer?  Reach out to all types of learners (I am a visual learner so gospel art works well for me).

One trick I’ve tried at home many a Sunday night…If your children have a hard time remembering at the dinner table what they were taught in primary that day, ask them, “Did you see any pictures?” This will help them remember the principle learned. You may consider posting that same picture on the fridge for the week to help them recall what they learned, and how they felt in their hearts. When children have the opportunity to share what they have learned with others, it strengthens their understanding and testimony of the doctrine.  Gospel discussions at home will also strengthen the family.

Encourage Understanding.  Talk about the doctrine and discuss its meaning. Ensure that the learners gain a deeper understanding of the doctrine through a variety of teaching methods that engage them in learning such as reading scriptures, singing song, and role-playing.

A lesson isn’t a lesson without the use of scriptures.  I can’t stress this enough.  There is no substitute for the words of God.  President Ezra Taft Benson said, “Always remember, there is no satisfactory substitute for the scriptures and the words of the living prophets. These should be your original sources. Read and ponder more what the Lord has said, and less about what others have written concerning what the Lord has said.”

When we are telling a story from the scriptures, have your students open their scriptures up and find it with you.  This help them know where they can refer to it later.  The youth need to recognize that they can find solutions to their every day problems in the scriptures.  The words will become a source of comfort, guidance and support.  Before you begin reading –  Help them focus and listen when scriptures are read.  Consider asking them a question pertaining to the verse and what is being taught.  This even works for adults!

Encourage Application.  After a doctrine has been taught, we should encourage our students to make applications. This could be done as they:

  • express feelings about the doctrine
  • set goals related to the doctrine, and
  • ponder how the doctrine applies to their life

Testify of the doctrine.  When you let others share their feelings about the gospel, it invites the Spirit.  Help them to understand that the feelings of peace and love they feel come from the Holy Ghost.  Are the youth in your class able to recognize this in their lives?   As you prepare to teach each lesson, pray for the Spirit to help you know when to share your most sacred feelings. You may be prompted to bear testimony several times during a lesson, not just at the conclusion.

The most significant and convincing power of gospel teaching is manifest when an inspired teacher says, “I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the doctrines I have taught are true.”  Create a reverent atmosphere in primary for this to happen.  Remember, your example is the most powerful form of teaching.

A very dear friend of mine, Sister Jean A. Stevens, the First Counselor in the Primary General Presidency, has encouraged us to love and become more like the children in whom our trust is now placed.  She has said,

“These children are providing examples of some of the childlike qualities we need to develop or rediscover in ourselves in order to enter into the kingdom of heaven. They are bright spirits who are untarnished by the world—teachable and full of faith. It is no wonder the Savior has a special love and appreciation for little children.”

We must follow the example the Savior set and reach out to each member of our class.

In 3 Nephi we read,

“And he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them.

“And when he had done this he wept. …

“And he spake unto the multitude, and said unto them: Behold your little ones.”

Elder M. Russell Ballard has taught us the importance of the Savior’s admonition to “behold your little ones” when he said:

“Notice that He didn’t say ‘glance at them’ or ‘casually observe them’ or ‘occasionally take a look in their general direction.’ He said to behold them. To me that means that we should embrace them with our eyes and with our hearts; we should see and appreciate them for who they really are: spirit children of our Heavenly Father, with divine attributes.”

Perhaps President Thomas S. Monson said it best, “It is our solemn duty, our precious privilege – even our sacred opportunity – to welcome to our homes and our hearts the children who grace our lives.  Children have three classrooms of learning which are quite distinct from another…the classroom at school, the classroom in church, and the classroom called home.”

The Right Question

Is there anything more uncomfortable than sitting in a classroom at church, the teacher asks a question and nothing but awkward silence answers.  We’ve all been there – so what exactly went awry?  Did the question lead to yes/no or other obvious “Sunday School” answer?  Did the instructor give the answer to the question within the question?  or Ask something too difficult or too long to remember?  In the wise words of Dr. Seuss:

Questions

So go ahead and uncomplicate things!  One of the most important things to learn in our quest to become master teachers, is how to ask THE RIGHT QUESTION.  We must provide our students with questions that will help them think deeply about gospel truths.  We should encourage students to share experiences about living the gospel.  You’ll be amazed and what follows a simple When have you seen, felt, or experienced…?”  This will help them see ways to apply the doctrine in their every day lives.  Isn’t that our ultimate goal?  In lesson planning, create questions that you feel work well, then try to answer them yourself – or even better – have your teenage daughter give a reply!  Always keep in mind, insightful questions lead to meaningful discussions. 

Teach in the Savior’s Way.  He asked questions that caused them to think and feel deeply. He was sincerely interested in their answers and rejoiced in their expressions of faith. He gave them opportunities to ask their own questions and share their own insights, and He responded to their questions and listened to their experiences. Because of His love, they felt safe sharing their thoughts and personal feelings.

To give you some help and direction, the following are the remaining Come Follow Me units/lessons for 2013.  The following questions have been written with the Young Women in mind, but the Aaronic Priesthood lessons are very similar and could easily be adapted to fit the needs of your quorum.  I am also working on questions for Sunday School and will try to post in the next day or so.

Consider these examples in your lesson planning, try to provide at least three discussion questions during your lesson (I like to call them learning experiences) for the most successful outcome.  Give class members time to think about the answer, have class members discuss answers to the question individually, in small groups or pairs, or as a class to encourage more participation.  Lastly, always respond positively to their willingness to share.  These questions will contribute to meaningful classroom discussions; more will contribute, participate and be edified through the hearing and sharing of personal experiences and applications of the gospel in their lives.

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SEPTEMBER:  COMMANDMENTS

How can I be in the world but not of the world?  (Hyperlink available)

What are some of society’s standards that are not compatible with the standards of the Church?

When have you chosen to stand for what is right? How have your actions affected your life and the lives of others?

How does the world attempt to influence the way you view the Lord’s standards?

How can you prepare now to resist temptations?

What motivates you to stay true to gospel principles even when it’s “unpopular” and you have to stand alone?

What are some ways you can influence your friends and family members to be more obedient?

How do I guard my virtue?

Consider how living a virtuous life brings peace to you. What effects does pornography have on the world and on families?

How have you been a guardian of virtue?

How might your language, actions, and appearance affect others?

How might you be exposed to pornography? What gospel principles and preventive measures can help you keep your thoughts and actions pure?

In what areas in your life do you need to learn self-discipline to make sure you life a virtuous life?

How does living the commandments bring you freedom and safety?

How do the things I say affect me and those around me?

Consider the power of words. In your life, how have you used words to inspire, teach, comfort, and communicate?

How have the world’s standards of appropriate language changed during your lifetime?

How can you strengthen yourself when those around you choose not to obey the commandments?

How do your friends influence your desire to be obedient?

Why do we fast?

What are some of the reasons you have fasted, and what were the results of your fast?

What do you do to make fasting meaningful?

Why is it important to understand the principle of fasting?

What obstacles might you face in enjoying the full blessings of fasting?

Why are we commanded to keep the Sabbath day holy?

What blessings do you enjoy because you keep the Sabbath day holy?

How do you know what is and what is not appropriate on the Sabbath?

Why is it important that you attend your Sunday meetings?

Why is it important that we have a Sabbath day?

Why is it important to be honest?

What do you think it means to be honest in all things?

Why do you feel it is important to be honest?

How have you or someone you know been affected by the honest or dishonest decisions of others?

What tests of honesty do you face in your lives?

What blessings come from being honest and courageous in all situations?

Why do we pay tithing?

Think about the spiritual and temporal blessings you have received from paying your tithes. What experiences have you had that you could share?

Why is it important for you, as young women, to pay tithing?

Why should you be obedient to the Lord even though you don’t always understand why?

How might you explain the principle of tithing to a nonmember friend?

OCTOBER:  BECOMING MORE CHRISTLIKE

How can I become more Christlike?

What are some of the attributes of Jesus Christ?

Which of these attributes do you most need to develop? Whom have you seen or known in your life who exemplifies these attributes?

Which Christlike attributes do you seen in the members of your class?

How can you encourage each other to follow the Savior’s example and become like Him?

What stories from the scriptures show how the Savior treated others and how you should treat them?

What are you doing or what can you change in your life to become more like the Savior?

How can I develop Christlike love?

When have others shown you Christlike love?

What effect has this had on you? When have you felt Christlike love?

How do you develop Christlike love for others?

Why is it important that you learn how to love others as Christ did?

How can you reach out to others when you feel lonely or feel like giving up?

How can you learn to be more thoughtful about others and their feelings and needs?  How will this make a difference in your life?

How can I be more Christlike in my service to others?

What have you learned from the scriptures about how Christ served others?

When have you been blessed through the Christlike service of others?

How have you followed the Savior’s example of service?

What opportunities do you have for service?

When have seen members in your class serving others? What experiences can you share?

How might your families be affected as you seek to serve them more?

How has your service to others made a difference in their lives?

What are some ways you can serve in the Church besides having a calling?

What blessings have you received through the service of Church leaders and teachers?

How can I learn to be more patient?

What experiences have taught you about patience (including both major trials and less dramatic experiences)?

What has helped you to be patient during challenging times?

What influences do you face in today’s society that may lead you to become impatient?

How might you learn patience and trust in the Lord’s timing and promises?

What blessings will come to if you are patient?

Why is it important to be grateful?

What are some things you are most grateful for?

How has being grateful increased your happiness?

What can you do to develop an attitude of thankfulness?

How could having a grateful attitude be a blessing to you now and in the future?

NOVEMBER:  SPIRITUAL AND TEMPORAL SELF-RELIANCE

What does it mean to be self-reliant?

How have you used the blessings and abilities God has given you to care for yourself and your family?

How has being self-reliant allowed you to bless others? What other blessings of self-reliance have you experienced?

Why is it important for you to become self-reliant?

How will self-reliance help you endure times of adversity? How will it bless your future families?

With the increase of natural disasters in the world, what are you learning to help yourself and others in case of emergency?

Why is it important for me to gain an education and develop skills?

Why is it important to gain an education?

How will your education help prepare you for your life experiences? How can it help you become more self-reliant?

How do you feel about education? How will education and skill development help you in your future roles?

Why is work an important gospel principle?

What role has work played in your life? How has it blessed you and your family, both temporally and spiritually?

Do you think of work as an opportunity or as something you want to avoid?

How can you recognize the many blessings of work and develop a desire to work?

Why does the Lord want me to be healthy?

How has maintaining your health allowed you to serve the Lord more effectively?

What other blessings have you received as you have strived to live a healthy life?

What temptations do you face that could harm their health?

What blessings will you receive as they observe the Lord’s law of health?

What is the Lord’s way for providing for the poor and needy?

Why is this principle important?

How have you sought to follow the example of the Savior in providing for others? What experiences could you share?

What principles of providing in the Lord’s way do you need to understand? How will understanding these principles help you become better disciples of Christ?

How can I find solutions to my challenges and problems?

How has the gospel provided solutions and comfort during your challenging times?

What issues or challenges today do you face? What challenges might you face in the future?

What principles of the gospel will help you successfully cope with these challenges?

What does it mean to govern yourself?  How do knowing and following the Lord’s standards help you govern yourself?

How can you improve your relationship with your parents?  How can you gain a relationship and keep your parent’s trust?

DECEMBER:  BUILDING THE KINGDOM OF GOD IN THE LATTER DAYS

How does Heavenly Father want me to use my spiritual gifts?

What spiritual gifts do you have? How have they blessed you and others? How have the spiritual gifts of others blessed you?

How have you identified your gifts? Why is it important for you to know about your spiritual gifts?

How will this help you prepare for your future roles, homes, and families?

How can you identify what your spiritual gifts are?  How can you help celebrate other’s gifts around you rather than be threatened by them?

How have you used your spiritual gifts to bless the lives of others?

How can I prepare to establish a Christ-centered home?

What do you contribute in making your home a defense against sin and a refuge from the world?

What experiences are you having now that will help you raise your own righteous family?

What can I do to help new members of the Church?

What have you done to help strengthen new members?

What did others do to help you after you were baptized?

How have you helped other young women your age adapt to being members of the Church?

How can I help my less-active friends return to church?

What do you do to reach out to less-active members you know? What experiences can you share?

How do you treat members of their class who are less active?

What are some ways you could reach out to these young women?

How can you help your friends keep the Lord’s standards?

What is Zion?

How do you strive to live the principles of Zion in your life and family?

When have you felt a spirit of unity in a ward or in your family?

Are the young women in your class unified as a sisterhood?

What can each of you do to help establish Zion?

What obstacles might you face in establishing Zion?

“That when all have spoken that all may be edified of all, and that every man [and woman] may have an equal privilege” D&C 88:122