Teach As Jesus Taught

“Teach As Jesus Taught,” Teaching Guidebook (2001), 4–8

Love Those You Teach

Christ teaching

During His life on earth, the Savior showed great love and understanding to every person. He taught the poor, the rich, the outcast, and the sinners. He taught us to love everyone and to help one another. He said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another” (John 13:34). As we show love for those we teach, they become more aware of their eternal worth, more enthusiastic about learning, and more receptive to the Spirit.

Being a gospel teacher means more than presenting a lesson each week. It also means caring about your class members. Make an effort to get to know each of them as an individual. It will help you teach them more effectively. They may need your help when they have problems, when they are not attending, or if they have disabilities. Remember the Savior’s parable of the one lost sheep (see Luke 15:3–6).

One teacher of a child who seldom attended class found that every time she contacted the child’s family during the week, he would be at church the following Sunday. She made an effort to talk with the parents often and to mention her affection for their child. She even picked up the child from school when the parents were at work so that he would not miss a class activity.

As a teacher, you can also do much to fellowship members and help them remain converted to the gospel. This is especially important with new members. Always help them feel welcome. Look for opportunities for them to participate in class. Prepare yourself to teach gospel truths by the Spirit and with love.

Teach Gospel Truths

The Savior taught the truths of the gospel. He emphasized the first principles and ordinances—faith, repentance, baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost. He taught us to love and serve one another. He taught of priesthood, covenants, and ordinances, and of all we must know, do, and be to come unto Him. We too should teach the gospel as revealed in the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets. Secular subjects, personal opinions, and speculative or controversial teachings are not appropriate.

The Savior taught gospel truths simply. He used clear and understandable language, stories, and examples from everyday life. His lessons included many common experiences that people could understand. He spoke of finding a lost sheep, searching for a coin, and rejoicing over the return of a wayward son (see Luke 15).

The Savior often drew upon the scriptures as He taught. Lead those you teach in using the scriptures often during the lesson. Help them understand that the people in the scriptures were real people who experienced trials and joys in their efforts to serve the Lord. Ask questions that require those you teach to find answers in the scriptures. Encourage individuals to study at home, and show those you teach how to make that study effective. Teach them how to use the study helps in the scriptures. Give assignments that require class members to search the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets.

Teach by the Spirit

Teachers should seek to have the Spirit of the Lord when they teach. A person may teach profound truths, and class members may engage in stimulating discussions, but unless the Spirit is present, these things will not be powerfully impressed upon the soul. When the Spirit is present, all are strengthened in their love for Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, in their love for each other, and in their commitment to live the gospel. Following are some things you can do to invite the Spirit in your teaching:

  • Begin with prayer.

  • Teach from the scriptures and words of latter-day prophets.

  • Bear your testimony.

  • Share experiences and invite others to do so.

  • Use music (see page 10).

  • Show your love for the Lord and others.

If you have properly prepared yourself, the Holy Ghost will enlighten and guide you as you teach. You may receive impressions about those you are teaching and what you should emphasize in teaching them. You may receive ideas and feelings about how you can teach them most effectively. Your diligent efforts will be magnified as you humbly obey the whisperings of the Spirit. You will also be able to help those you teach recognize the influence of the Spirit.

Invite Diligent Learning

The Lord said, “Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). Each member is responsible to gain a knowledge of the truth through his or her own efforts. A teacher’s responsibility is to awaken in others the desire to study, understand, and live the gospel. To fulfill this responsibility, you can focus on three things:

  1. Awaken and hold the interest of those you teach. A key to doing this is your own enthusiasm for studying the gospel. Another is your use of teaching methods that make your lessons clear, interesting, and easy to remember (see pages 9–12). Awakening interest is especially important at the beginning of a lesson. As you plan your teaching, look for ways to invite the Spirit, get everyone’s attention with an interesting beginning, and focus on the doctrine or principle to be taught in the lesson.

  2. Encourage participation. Plan ways to have everyone participate in your lessons. You might ask someone to read a quotation or scripture or to tell a story. You might invite them to respond to questions and freely discuss the lesson material. You might ask one or more individuals to sing a song or play an instrument. You might prayerfully select someone to bear testimony or share a personal experience that relates to the lesson topic. Sometimes it will be important to request this participation in advance so that those you ask can practice and feel comfortable participating.

    The main idea of one teacher’s lesson was the importance of reading the Book of Mormon. He invited the youth in his class to think of a passage of scripture that had changed their lives. He then invited three or four volunteers to stand and share their scriptural passages with the class and to describe how the passages had changed their lives. As each person shared sweet feelings about the power of the Book of Mormon, class members gained an earnest desire to read and ponder the scriptures daily.

    Some people are reluctant to participate. Do not ask individuals to read aloud or pray until you are sure they feel comfortable doing so. If you have any doubt about a person’s willingness to participate, ask for volunteers rather than calling on someone who might be reluctant. Most learners will gradually learn to feel comfortable participating if they see that those who participate are treated with respect and courtesy.

  3. Help them apply what they learn. You also should help learners apply what is taught to the circumstances of their lives. This may include giving assignments and challenges that help class members have learning experiences with the truths that are taught. Remember that gospel learning is of no value unless it becomes gospel living.

Create a Learning Atmosphere

The best environment for gospel learning is one in which each person present is concerned about the learning of the other members of the group. The desire to learn increases when teachers and learners love one another and help one another understand and live the gospel. When you and those you teach work together to create a positive learning environment, disruptions will be less likely to occur. You should do all you can to create such an environment and to help those you teach know how to contribute to it.

Following are some things you could do to help create a learning atmosphere:

  • Arrive promptly with all necessary teaching materials and equipment.

  • Make sure that the classroom is as clean, orderly, comfortable, and free from distractions as possible.

  • Begin and end on time.

  • Greet and welcome class members individually, if possible.

  • Do things that invite the Spirit and that encourage reverence and courtesy.

  • Love class members and help them feel comfortable in participating.

  • Ask questions that help the class members focus on the subject.

  • Encourage class members to listen to one another with respect and understanding.

  • Guard against conversations that might damage or weaken testimonies or otherwise cause the Spirit to withdraw.

Even after you have done all you can to create an atmosphere of learning, you may still encounter some challenges. The following suggestions may help you resolve some common challenges and problems:

  • If a disruption occurs, stop talking until you have everyone’s attention. Then continue the lesson.

  • If certain individuals talk with each other during the lesson, visit privately with them after class and ask them what you and they could do to make the class successful.

  • If someone dominates class discussion, direct questions to other class members or politely suggest that you would like to hear from those who have not yet participated.

  • If class members make comments that lead the discussion away from the lesson topic, acknowledge them but lead the discussion back to the lesson topic.

Disruptive behavior will decrease as you find ways for every person in the group to feel loved and accepted and to participate successfully.