Seminaries and Institutes
Teach by the Spirit

“Teach by the Spirit,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way: For All Who Teach in the Home and in the Church (2022)

“Teach by the Spirit,” Teaching in the Savior’s Way

Teach by the Spirit

When the Savior commanded Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon to preach His gospel, He promised them, “The Holy Ghost shall be shed forth in bearing record unto all things whatsoever ye shall say” (Doctrine and Covenants 100:8; see also Doctrine and Covenants 42:15–17; 50:17–22). The same promise applies to all those who teach the gospel, including you. As you teach the gospel of Jesus Christ, you can have the Holy Ghost with you to guide you and to testify of the truth to the minds and hearts of those you teach (see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2). You are not alone when you teach, for “it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost” (Mark 13:11).

The Holy Ghost is the true teacher. No mortal teacher, no matter how skilled or experienced, can replace His role in witnessing of truth, testifying of Christ, and changing hearts. But all teachers can be instruments in helping God’s children learn by the Spirit.

To Teach by the Spirit

  • Prepare yourself spiritually.

  • Always be ready to respond to spiritual promptings about the needs of learners.

  • Create settings and opportunities for learners to be taught by the Holy Ghost.

  • Help learners seek, recognize, and act on personal revelation.

  • Bear testimony often, and invite learners to share their feelings, experiences, and testimonies.

The Savior Prepared Himself Spiritually to Teach

To prepare for His ministry, the Savior spent 40 days in the wilderness “to be with God” (Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 4:1 [in Matthew 4:1, footnote b]). But His spiritual preparation had begun long before. When Satan tempted Him, He was able to draw upon the “words of life” that He had treasured up for the “very hour” when He would need them (Doctrine and Covenants 84:85). Think about your own efforts to prepare yourself spiritually to teach. What do you learn from Matthew 4:1–11 about how you can follow the Savior’s example in your spiritual preparation?

The Spirit is the real teacher and the true source of conversion. Powerful gospel teaching requires not just preparing a lesson but preparing yourself spiritually well before you begin to teach. If you are spiritually prepared, you will be better able to hear and follow the guidance of the Spirit as you teach. The way to invite the Holy Ghost into your teaching is to invite Him into your life. This includes diligently striving to follow the Savior’s example and live His gospel with all your heart. And because none of us does this perfectly, it also means repenting each day.

Questions to Ponder: What does it mean to you to prepare yourself spiritually to teach? What do you feel inspired to do to improve the way you prepare yourself spiritually? How do you think spiritual preparation can make a difference in your teaching?

From the Scriptures: Ezra 7:10; Luke 6:12; Alma 17:2–3, 9; Doctrine and Covenants 11:21; 42:13–14

The Savior Was Always Ready to Respond to the Needs of Others

Jairus, the ruler of the synagogue, had fallen at Jesus’s feet, begging Him to help his dying daughter. Jesus and His disciples were pressing their way through the crowded streets toward Jairus’s house when suddenly Jesus stopped. “Who touched me?” He asked. It seemed like an odd question—in the press of people, who wasn’t touching Him? But the Savior perceived that in that multitude, someone had approached Him with a specific need and with the faith to receive the healing He offered. There would still be time to visit Jairus’s daughter. But first He said to the woman who had touched His clothes, “Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace” (see Luke 8:41–48).

As a teacher, you might sometimes find yourself in a rush to cover something you had prepared to teach. While that may be important, be sure that in your haste you don’t unintentionally hurry past an urgent need of someone you’re teaching. In addition to the spiritual guidance you sought as you prepared to teach, seek also the Spirit’s guidance while you are teaching. Try to be aware of the needs, the questions, and the interests of learners. The Holy Ghost can help you discern how a learner is receiving or understanding something you have taught. He may prompt you, at times, to alter your plans. For example, you might be impressed to spend more time than you had intended on a topic or to leave some discussions for later in favor of something that is more important to learners now.

Questions to Ponder: When have you felt that a parent or other teacher was aware of your needs as a learner? Do those you teach know that you are more interested in their learning than in completing a lesson? How can you better communicate your interest?

From the Scriptures: 1 Peter 3:15; Alma 32:1–9; 40:1; 41:1; 42:1

The Savior Provided Opportunities for People to Be Taught by the Holy Ghost

It was difficult for many in Jesus’s time to understand who He really was, but there were plenty of opinions. “Some say that thou art John the Baptist,” His disciples reported, “some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” But then Jesus asked a question that invited His disciples to set aside the opinions of others and look inside their own hearts: “Whom say ye that I am?” He wanted them to find their answer not from “flesh and blood” but directly from “my Father which is in heaven.” It was this kind of witness—personal revelation from the Holy Ghost—that enabled Peter to declare, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (see Matthew 16:13–17).

To survive spiritually in the latter days, the people you teach will need a spiritual witness of the truth. You can’t give it to them, but you can invite, encourage, inspire, and teach them to seek it. You can make clear—through your words and actions—how crucial the Holy Ghost is to gospel learning. Consider, for example, the learning environment you create and encourage. Something as simple as the arrangement of the chairs in a room or the way you greet and interact with learners sets a spiritual tone for the experience the learners will have. You can also invite learners to prepare themselves spiritually to learn, just as you prepare spiritually to teach. Ask them to take responsibility for the spirit they bring. And you can provide opportunities for them to feel the Spirit testify of Jesus Christ and His gospel. That witness will become a “rock” for them, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against [them]” (Matthew 16:18).

Questions to Ponder: What have you observed that contributes to a spiritual environment for learning the gospel? What detracts from it? What helps the people you teach learn from the Spirit? Think about the setting where you most often teach. How do you feel when you are there? How can you more effectively invite the Spirit to be present there?

From the Scriptures: Luke 24:31–32; John 14:26; 16:13–15; Moroni 10:4–5; Doctrine and Covenants 42:16–17; 50:13–24

missionaries teaching a family

As we teach, we can invite learners to seek their own spiritual witness of the truth.

The Savior Helped Others Seek, Recognize, and Act on Personal Revelation

The Lord wants to communicate with us—and He wants us to know that He’s communicating with us. In 1829, a 22-year-old schoolteacher named Oliver Cowdery was learning about the bold, exciting doctrine that anyone can receive personal revelation. But he had questions similar to what many of us have asked: “Is the Lord really trying to speak to me? And how can I know what He is saying?” To answer these questions, Jesus Christ invited Oliver to think back on a private moment of spiritual searching. “Did I not speak peace to your mind?” He asked (see Doctrine and Covenants 6:21–24). Later, He taught Oliver about other ways the Spirit could speak to him (see Doctrine and Covenants 8:2–3; 9:7–9; see also Doctrine and Covenants 11:12–14).

Living in a world that is so often oblivious to spiritual things, we all need help recognizing the voice of the Spirit. We may have felt the Spirit without realizing it. And we all can learn more about how to seek the Spirit, recognize His influence, and act on the promptings He gives us. As you teach, help learners discover the ways the Spirit can communicate—and how He has communicated with them. One of the greatest gifts you can give as a teacher is to help those you teach progress in this lifelong pursuit of personal revelation.

Questions to Ponder: Why is it important to learn to receive personal revelation? Has someone ever helped you understand how to seek and recognize revelation? How can you encourage those you teach to seek, recognize, and act on revelation from the Holy Ghost?

From the Scriptures: Galatians 5:22–23; Alma 5:45–47; Doctrine and Covenants 42:61; 121:33; Joseph Smith—History 1:8–20

The Savior Bore Testimony to Those He Taught

During an especially tender moment of teaching and ministering, Jesus sought to comfort His friend Martha, whose brother had died. He shared with her a simple testimony of an eternal truth: “Thy brother shall rise again” (John 11:23). His witness prompted Martha to share her own testimony: “I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day” (John 11:24). Notice how this pattern repeats in John 11:25–27. What impresses you about the Savior’s example? Why is sharing testimony of gospel truths such an important part of teaching?

Your testimony can have a powerful influence on those you teach. It doesn’t need to be eloquent or lengthy. And it doesn’t need to begin with “I’d like to bear my testimony.” Simply share what you know by the power of the Holy Ghost. A testimony of truth is most powerful when it is direct and heartfelt. Bear testimony often of the Savior, His gospel, and His power in your life, and encourage those you teach to do the same. And remember that sometimes the most powerful witness is borne not by the teacher but by a fellow learner.

Questions to Ponder: Look for examples in the scriptures that illustrate the powerful influence of someone bearing testimony. What do you learn from those examples? When have you been blessed by someone’s testimony? How has sharing your testimony influenced those you teach? How has it influenced you?

From the Scriptures: Acts 2:32–38; Mosiah 5:1–3; Alma 5:45–48; 18:24–42; 22:12–18; Doctrine and Covenants 46:13–14; 62:3

Some Ways to Apply What You Are Learning

  • Ask learners to share what the Holy Ghost taught them as they studied the word of God.

  • Prepare beforehand to receive spiritual promptings while teaching.

  • Write down spiritual impressions that come as you prepare.

  • Provide occasional opportunities for class members to quietly ponder what the Spirit is teaching them.

  • Use sacred music and pictures to invite the influence of the Spirit.

  • Listen for promptings as you plan and teach, and be willing to adjust your plans.

  • Provide opportunities for all learners to bear testimony of what they are learning.

  • Help others recognize when the Spirit is present.

  • Live the truths you are teaching so that you can bear witness of them.

  • Follow promptings to teach in spontaneous, informal moments.