“Church Educators Urged to ‘Teach with the Spirit’” Ensign, Jan. 1987, 75
Religious educators in the Church should teach with inspiration and enthusiasm, said Elder L. Tom Perry of the Council of the Twelve recently.
In an address given to Church educators in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square, Elder Perry urged teachers to teach with the Spirit and to be examples of what they teach.
Elder Perry quoted from Doctrine and Covenants 42:14: “and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach.” [D&C 42:14] He then declared, “For we teach what we are, and we are what we teach. Our day-to-day living, our day-to-day faith, our day-to-day example are the things the students will remember.”
Elder Perry advised educators that “Teaching with the Spirit will let each student know of your love and especially God’s love and concern for them.”
Recalling his days as an early morning seminary teacher, Elder Perry said it was one of the greatest callings and privileges of his Church career.
“I challenge you to enter every class filled with enthusiasm, because enthusiasm is contagious,” he emphasized. “Radiate spirituality. It would be impossible to stand before a class ‘on fire’ with the Spirit of the Lord without having your soul’s vibrations resound in the hearts of your students.”
Teachers were urged to create memorable experiences and “red letter” days for their students. He told of an experience from his early life, when his bishop organized an Aaronic Priesthood visit to the Clarkston, Utah, grave of Martin Harris, one of the three witnesses of the Book of Mormon.
The group was accompanied by an elderly man named William Pinkerton. He told about working in his youth and boarding with a ninety-two-year-old man who asked Brother Pinkerton what he knew about the Book of Mormon. Afterward, the man revealed that he was Martin Harris and bore his testimony.
“You can imagine how electrifying this experience was to me as I realized that there stood a man who had actually heard the testimony of one of the three witnesses,” Elder Perry remembered. “It was clearly a ‘red letter’ day for me.”
Decrying pornography, fornication, and other sins, Elder Perry stressed the need to emphasize moral standards. “Somehow we must make the good, the clean, and the wholesome so attractive that our students will want to fill their hearts, their minds, their souls with that which is right before the Lord.” He added that students should be motivated to “seek after the good things of life, thus protecting themselves from evil thoughts and evil acts.”
Elder Perry also emphasized the need to teach integrity in the classroom. He recalled serving in Church administration when President N. Eldon Tanner of the First Presidency worked directly on the Church’s financial affairs.
“There were many times we were in meetings when propositions were brought forth that would be advantageous to the Church if we compromised a little bit on principle,” Elder Perry remembered. “These practices, of course, were accepted in the countries in which we were doing business. … Every time, President Tanner’s voice would come up strong, and he would say, ‘The Church will never participate in anything that is not completely honest and upright.’”
Speaking of students, Elder Perry said, “We must supply them with the strength to stand up for that which is right. We must see that they have the materials and the opportunities to develop these firm testimonies that are the essence of spiritual life,” he concluded. “We can do this only if we are able to teach with the Spirit.”