My dear brothers and sisters, my dear friends, what a wonderful moment to be together and watch this great wonderful and beautiful video showing us how
the members of the Church and the people of the world can teach every age, every generation the Savior's way.
Well, my dear friends, I'm so grateful to be among my favorite people today: teachers - past, present, and future!
Since all are teachers in one form or another, I should think my group of
favorite people is quite inclusive.
I love teachers.
I love being around them. I love and owe more than I ever can repay to teachers in my life.
Scholars have been studying what makes an excellent teacher for hundreds of years and have extensively proposed, promoted, and published their theories as to what makes a successful learning experience.
We are all blessed to learn from the greatest teacher of all time, Jesus Christ.
Over the better part of the past two thousand years, I don't suppose there
has passed a single second when-somewhere in the world-His
teachings were not treasured, studied, pondered, repeated,
And is that not the goal of all teachers?
To make a lasting difference for good?
To bless the lives of others in a way that extends far beyond a lesson or a classroom?
And Jesus of Nazareth has exactly that kind of influence-in the past, in the present, and in the future.
So who better for us to study?
If we learn from Him, we will improve not only as teachers, regardless of our situation in life, but we will also greatly improve as human beings.
So, it is my privilege and honor to speak to you today about the Savior-because the best way to become a better teacher is to become
a better follower of Jesus Christ.
When I was an airline pilot, each time I settled into the captain's seat, I had one major goal-getting myself, my crew, and my passengers
safely to our destination.
This aim required focus and vigilance.
To maintain this focus, pilots perform a series of preflight checks, rehearsing safety procedures and examining instrument functionality
and mechanical reliability.
Each item on the checklist is something the pilot has done hundreds (if not
thousands) of times.
An expert pilot never assumes that since he or she has flown hundreds of times, there is no need to bother with the preflight check or skim over it casually.
The preflight check disciplines pilots to keep their focus on the essential things that make a successful flight.
Just as a pilot has a specific guiding purpose, so do we as teachers of
the Word: to bring souls closer to Christ.
Whenever we approach a teaching opportunity, that goal should be foremost in our mind.
As teachers, do we have a checklist to help us focus on our sacred objective? Yes!
This month, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will publish
a revised version of Teaching in the Savior's Way.
It is a guide for all who teach the gospel-in the home and in church.
It will be available in 70 languages on the Gospel Library app.
Printed copies will follow in coming months.
This resource draws on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ as our guide and inspiration as teachers.
It helps us focus on teaching the way He taught.
Teaching in the Savior's Way will help all who are teaching.
It can provide inspiration and instruction for parents,
neighbors, ministering brothers and sisters, missionaries, and all
disciples of Jesus Christ.
Discipleship means loving, caring for, blessing, and lifting others, and that means teaching.
In other words, if you are trying to love and serve as Jesus did, then you are a teacher, and Teaching in the Savior's Way is for you and me.
I hope it will be a treasure to you, whether you are new on this journey or have been walking for many years.
In part 3 of Teaching in the Savior’s Way, there is a self-assessment -
a flight checklist, if you will-that can help us become more focused in our teaching efforts.
It will lead to introspection, reveal blind spots, and prompt inspiration about ways we can improve.
It can be as useful for teachers as the flight checklist is for pilots.
If you will allow me to take a seat beside you in the cockpit, so to speak, I would like to perform with you a preflight check for teaching.
I invite you to pull out a metaphorical clipboard and consider how you would evaluate yourself on each item.
This self-evaluation can be a great blessing-today and every time we prepare to teach the Savior's way.
The first item on our preflight check is "Focus on Jesus Christ".
It's an opportunity to reflect on whether the Savior is truly at the center of our teaching.
Please consider these questions: Do I teach about Jesus Christ no matter what I am teaching?
Do I emphasize the example of Jesus Christ?
Do I help learners recognize the Lord's love, power, and mercy in their lives?
Do I help learners intentionally strive to become more like Jesus Christ?
These are profound questions!
Let's face it: The gospel is so expansive that we could spend
a lifetime of study and scarcely scratch the surface.
Imagine painting a target as tall and wide as the side of a gigantic
wooden building that could represent the breadth of the gospel.
We all have our favorite gospel hobbies-things that interest us.
Periods of history, Church programs, doctrinal topics, or even
single verses of scripture.
And we might be tempted to mainly focus on these favorite topics of ours.
But as large as the target of gospel teaching is, the bullseye-the center of
the target we should never forget to focus on-it is small.
And it is the center given to us not in commentary, not by opinion poll, not by debate.
The Savior Himself gave it to us.
Now, what is it?
Love God and love others.
That is the center.
Other things may be interesting to us.
They may even be important.
But they are not the center.
They are supporting cast.
They are the side dish on our menu; maybe the salad to the main dish.
They add spice, variety, and lots of vitamins perhaps, but they are not
the main course.
What is our goal, then, in teaching?
Our goal is to help those we teach to come closer to Christ, increase in their knowledge and love of God, and serve God by reaching out in compassion towards all His children.
That is the center.
And where do we find our greatest example of loving God and others?
In the life and teachings of our Savior and Redeemer.
As we bring souls closer to Christ, we help them increase their faith and love for God.
And we help them increase in their compassion and love for others.
Whenever we are tempted to veer off and get distracted by some other topic that may seem interesting to us, we should really ask ourselves: Do I focus on the Savior, no matter what I am teaching about?
Is what I'm teaching helping others to grow in their love for God and to show that love by loving and serving, and by applying the Savior's teachings in our lives?
As teachers, we may speak with the tongues of angels; we may entertain, delight, amuse, astound.
But if we have failed in keeping our focus on Jesus Christ, we have missed the mark and our teaching is only a shadow of what it ought to be.
Always keep the focus on our Savior and Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
The Second Checklist Category Is "Love Those You Teach".
This checklist category allows us to reflect on our own motives
as teachers, and it reminds us to keep our hearts centered on loving
and valuing those we teach.
Here are some questions to consider: Do I strive to see learners
the way the Savior sees them?
Do I seek to know those I teach- to understand their circumstances, needs, and strengths?
Do I pray for learners by name?
Do I create a safe environment where all are respected and know their contributions are valued?
Do I find appropriate ways to express my love?
I heard about one woman who was a skilled high school teacher.
She had spent years developing her approach to teaching and had contributed significantly to the lives of high school students.
She knew how to handle this age group perfectly.
Now, one year, she took part in a summer school program where she taught much younger, much different students, even five-year-old children.
Of course, the children were excited and full of energy as they poured into her classroom.
They were very noisy and full of laughter, shouting, running between the desks, and chasing each other.
Now, this teacher, to bring the class to order, used her "teacher's voice"
that worked with high school kids to get them to settle down and take a seat.
But what happened?
A hush fell over the classroom.
The children immediately stopped what they were doing and,
wide-eyed, rushed to an open desk.
All except two.
The first child, a small girl, melted onto the floor and began sobbing.
Although the teacher didn't feel even a trace of anger toward her,
the little girl felt she must have done something really bad and melted into the puddle of tears.
The second child, a small boy, but strong, looked at the teacher with fear and bolted for the doorway, where he disappeared down the corridor at warp speed.
The teacher wondered if he would ever come back.
That day, the teacher learned an important lesson: the techniques she used with teenagers did not work well with very young children.
And that is a lesson for us, for you and me, as well.
Every person we teach is a child of God and has a personality.
Do we see them the way our Heavenly Father does-as unique individuals with
their own thoughts, feelings, trials, and struggles?
Are we creating a safe learning environment-a place where each person can feel secure and accepted?
Whatever our native language may be,
do our students know that we speak the universal language of love?
That we value them, that we have compassion for them, and that we
The Savior spent much of His life with the outcasts and castoffs of society.
He could have lectured and condemned them.
Instead, He embraced, healed, and comforted them.
Yes, He taught them "go and sin no more."
But to the sick, the sinners, and the disabled, He spoke and acted out of
love, compassion, and respect.
He sees each of us as sons and daughters of Almighty God -not beneath Him, but with the eternal potential to walk beside Him in glory.
The great Christian writer C.S. Lewis echoed this perspective when he taught, "It is a serious thing to live
in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that
the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be
a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to
worship." He continued, "There are no ordinary people.
You have never talked to a mere mortal… it is immortals who we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal… everlasting
splendors." [end of quote] When we treat others with this kind of respect, we reflect the example of Jesus Christ.
As He loved, we love.
As He lifted, we lift.
As He taught, we teach.
Now, let us remember to love, respect, and lift those we teach.
The Third Checklist Category is "Teach by the Spirit".
Now, please consider these questions: Do I prepare myself spiritually to teach?
Do I respond to spiritual promptings about the needs of learners?
Do I create settings and opportunities for learners to be taught by the Holy Ghost?
Do I help learners seek, recognize, and act on personal revelation?
Do I bear testimony often and encourage learners to do the same?
I try to remind myself often that in all my efforts to teach the gospel and bring people to Jesus Christ, I cannot convert anyone.
Only the Holy Ghost can do that.
We can speak the words, but conversion is a matter of the Spirit.
It happens when the Holy Ghost touches the heart and a person responds to His influence by following the Savior.
If, because of persuasive words or well-reasoned arguments, someone is "convinced" to follow Jesus Christ, that conviction may be
as fleeting as the seed that falls upon stony places.
Our job is not to convert.
That is not our responsibility. But what is our job?
To teach the good news of Jesus Christ and His gospel that has been restored
in our time! And it is our job to validate and support our words with our honest
and sincere deeds!
Our life, how we live and act.
Whether someone responds to what we teach is between them and God.
But we can be the bridge that connects them with the Holy Ghost.
We can be the window through which the Holy Spirit will enter into their lives.
Our words and our actions can teach the doctrine of Christ in a way that
helps students experience the intercession of the Holy Ghost.
As then Elder Dallin H.
Oaks taught, [quote] "Study and reason can find the truth, … but only
revelation can confirm it." Let me repeat that sentence, "Study
and reason can find the truth, … but only revelation can confirm it." At times we kind of sleepwalk through life.
We see things but scarcely remember them.
Commercials, Pinterest quotes, even road signs.
Most of it washes over our minds without penetrating the heart.
But if the Holy Spirit speaks to your soul, to my soul, you and I,
we, cannot forget it, because it changes you, it changes us.
Remember what Joseph Smith said after reaching and reading James
1:5: "Never did any passage of scripture come with more power to the heart of man than this did at this time to mine." The Spirit can take an ordinary thought spoken in an ordinary way and cause it to burn like fire.
Another person's conversion is not dependent upon our eloquence
or command of scripture.
It's not dependent on how well we teach or defend doctrine.
It's not dependent upon our intelligence, charisma, or command of the language.
All we need to work on is – to know for ourselves.
Then our Heavenly Father invites us to "open [our] mouth[s] at all times, declaring [His] gospel with the sound of rejoicing."
And if we do that, the Holy Spirit will testify of the truth.
We don't have to "be" anything more or less than we really are, and that is
children of God and followers of Jesus Christ.
Can you, with rejoicing, express your love for the Savior, His gospel, and His Church?
If we do our part, the Spirit will do His.
That is the way we "teach by the Spirit." Now, the fourth item on our preflight check is “Teach the Doctrine” - not just any doctrine,
of course, but the doctrine that Jesus Christ received from His Father.
The Savior said, "My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me." To
evaluate how well you are following His example, consider these questions: Do I learn the doctrine for myself?
Do I teach from the scriptures and the words of latter-day prophets?
Do I help learners recognize and understand truths in the scriptures?
Do I focus on truths that build faith in Jesus Christ?
Do I help learners find personal revelation in the doctrine?
In our dispensation, the Lord has said: "I give unto you a commandment, that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you." What is the doctrine we
are to teach?
It is the word that proceeds from the holy scriptures and the mouths of
apostles and prophets.
It is they who have the right and authority to expound and clarify doctrine.
And it is through them that God has always declared His word, giving guidance and understanding to His children.
The central and saving doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of all.
The Apostle Paul, who saw and communed with the risen Savior, wrote to the Corinthians, "I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you …
that [Jesus the Christ] died for our sins … that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day… and that he was seen of Cephas, then of
the twelve." [end of quote] We are commanded to "lay hold upon the word of God, which is quick and powerful … and [will] lead the man of Christ in a strait and narrow course … and land their souls, yea, their immortal souls, at the right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven." As teachers, we must not be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Rather, we must joyfully raise our voices in teaching His doctrine even when it may seem a stumbling block to some and foolishness to others.
"For it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth."
Now, the final item on our preflight checklist is "Invite Diligent
Learning." This item is a reminder that the diligent teaching we do is only half of the equation.
The other half-in the long run, perhaps the more important half-is
the diligent learning our students do.
Here are some questions to help us evaluate whether our diligent teaching
is leading and helping to diligent learning:
Do I help learners take responsibility for their learning?
Do I encourage learners to study the gospel daily?
Do I encourage learners to share the truth they are learning?
Do I invite learners to live what they are learning?
Our spirits need constant nourishment so we can become the beings of light and glory God created us to become.
When we study and ponder the words of the prophets of God, we drink of living water and feast upon the word of Christ.
It is not enough merely to read the words.
We need to hearken unto them; we need to ponder and internalize them.
To paraphrase a proverb, "Teach a man the gospel and you have blessed him for a day.
Teach a man to feast upon the word of God and connect with the Holy Spirit, and you have blessed him for a lifetime." It is through this process
of inspiration and personal revelation that we build our lives on the rock of
It is then that the gospel of Jesus Christ can become "an anchor of the soul." Teaching the gospel is important.
Teaching others to immerse themselves in prayer, seek the Spirit, and apply
what they have learned is at least equally important.
Now, My dear brothers and sisters, my beloved friends, dear
and precious teachers-and you're all teachers, we all are teachers- thank you for your faithfulness and for your desires to do good.
Thank you for the many hours you have spent preparing, ministering to, and teaching others about the gospel joyfully.
I invite you to study the new guide Teaching in the Savior's Way and use the self-evaluation to remind you of your purpose.
By laying hold upon the word of God and teaching others to do the same-by
teaching in the Savior's way-we show our love for God and for our fellow man
and fellow human beings.
And as we walk that strait and narrow course, we take part in that holiest of callings to lead our own immortal souls and the souls of others towards the "right hand of God in the kingdom of heaven, to sit down with
Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out." May God bless you, my fellow teachers, my dear friends, my fellow servants, for your sincere labors to teach in the Savior's name.
In the holy name of the greatest teacher of all time, in the name of our Master, and the name of Jesus the Christ, amen.