“Introduction,” Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball (2006), iv–ix
“Introduction,” Teachings: Spencer W. Kimball, iv–ix
The First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles have established the Teachings of Presidents of the Church series to help you deepen your understanding of the restored gospel and draw closer to the Lord through the teachings of latter-day prophets. As the Church adds volumes to this series, you will build a collection of gospel reference books for your home.
This book features the teachings of President Spencer W. Kimball, who served as President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from December 30, 1973, to November 5, 1985.
As you study the teachings of President Kimball, seek the inspiration of the Spirit. Remember Nephi’s promise: “He that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost” (1 Nephi 10:19). Begin your study with prayer, and continue to pray in your heart as you read.
At the end of each chapter, you will find questions and scripture references that will help you understand and apply President Kimball’s teachings. Consider reviewing them before you read the chapter.
Also consider the following guidelines:
Look for key words and phrases. If you find a word you do not understand, use a dictionary or another source to better understand its meaning.
Think about the meaning of President Kimball’s teachings. You may want to mark individual words and sentences that touch your mind and heart.
Reflect on experiences you have had that relate to President Kimball’s teachings.
Ponder how President Kimball’s teachings apply to you. Think about how the teachings relate to concerns or questions you have. Decide what you will do as a result of what you have learned.
This book can be used to teach at home or at church. The following guidelines will help you:
The Lord has commanded that we teach “none other things than that which the prophets and apostles have written, and that which is taught [us] by the Comforter through the prayer of faith” (D&C 52:9).
Your assignment is to help others understand and apply the gospel through President Kimball’s teachings and the scriptures. Do not set this book aside or prepare lessons from other materials. Dedicate a significant portion of the lesson to reading President Kimball’s teachings in this book and discussing their meaning and application.
Encourage participants to study the chapters before Sunday meetings and to bring the book to church. When they do so, they will be better prepared to participate and to edify one another.
As you pray for help and prepare diligently, the Holy Ghost will guide your efforts. He will help you emphasize the portions of each chapter that will encourage others to understand and apply the gospel.
When you teach, pray in your heart that the power of the Spirit will accompany your words and the class discussions. Nephi said, “When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1; see also D&C 50:13–22).
The chapters in this book have been organized to help you prepare to teach. Also consider the following guidelines:
Study the chapter. Prayerfully study the chapter to become confident in your understanding of President Kimball’s teachings. You will teach with greater sincerity and power when his words have influenced you personally (see D&C 11:21). As you read, keep in mind the needs of those you teach. You may want to mark portions that you feel will help them. Note the chapter’s bold subheadings. They outline the main points in the chapter.
Decide which portions to use. Each chapter contains more than you will be able to teach in one lesson. Rather than try to cover the entire chapter, prayerfully select portions that you feel will be most helpful for those you teach.
Decide how to introduce the lesson. To spark interest at the beginning of the lesson, you might share a personal experience or ask participants to read a story from the beginning of the chapter or look at a picture in the chapter. Then you could ask, “What does this story (or picture) teach about the topic of the chapter?” Other options for beginning a lesson include reading a scripture or a quotation from the chapter or singing a hymn. Another helpful idea is to let participants know what the main points of the lesson will be.
Decide how to encourage discussion. This is where you should spend most of the lesson time. Review the suggestions on conducting edifying discussions on pages viii–ix of this book. You might use questions from “Suggestions for Study and Teaching” at the end of the chapter. You may prepare some of your own. Ask questions that help those you are teaching:
Look for what is taught. These types of questions help participants find and become familiar with specific information in President Kimball’s teachings. For example, after identifying a specific quotation, you could ask, “What are some of the key words or phrases in this quotation?” or “What is the topic of this quotation?”
Think about the meaning. These types of questions help participants better understand President Kimball’s teachings. For example, “Why do you think this teaching is important?” or “What thoughts or feelings do you have about this quotation?” or “What does this teaching mean to you?”
Share experiences. These questions encourage participants to relate what President Kimball said to something in their personal lives. For example, “What experiences have you had that relate to what President Kimball said?”
Apply what is taught. These questions help participants think about ways they can live according to President Kimball’s teachings. For example, “What is President Kimball encouraging us to do? In what ways can we apply what he said?”
Decide how to conclude the lesson. You may choose to quickly summarize the lesson or ask one or two participants to do so. As prompted by the Spirit, testify of the teachings you have discussed. You may also want to invite others to share their testimonies. Encourage those you teach to follow the promptings they have received from the Holy Ghost.
The following guidelines will help you encourage and conduct edifying discussions:
Seek the guidance of the Holy Ghost. He may prompt you to ask certain questions or to include certain people in the discussion.
Help participants focus on President Kimball’s teachings. Have them read his words to generate discussion and to answer questions. Redirect discussions that begin to stray from the topic or that are speculative or contentious.
As appropriate, share experiences that relate to the teachings in the chapter.
Encourage participants to share their thoughts, ask questions, and teach one another (see D&C 88:122). For example, you could ask them to comment on what others have said, or you could direct one question to several participants.
Do not be afraid of silence after you ask a question. Often those you teach need time to think or to look in their books before they share ideas, testimonies, and experiences.
Listen sincerely, and seek to understand everyone’s comments. Express gratitude for their participation.
When participants share several ideas, consider listing the ideas on the chalkboard or asking someone else to do so.
Look for different ways to include participants in the discussion. For example, you might have them discuss questions in small groups or with the person sitting next to them.
Consider contacting one or two participants in advance. Ask them to come to class ready to answer one of the questions you have prepared.
Do not end a good discussion just because you want to cover all the material you have prepared. What matters most is that participants feel the influence of the Spirit and grow in their commitment to live the gospel.
The teachings of President Kimball in this book are direct quotations from a variety of sources. These excerpts have retained the punctuation, spelling, capitalization, and paragraphing of the original sources unless editorial or typographic changes have been necessary to improve readability. For this reason, you may notice minor inconsistencies in the text.
Also, President Kimball often used terms such as men, man, or mankind to refer to all people, both male and female. He frequently used the pronoun he to refer to both genders. This was common in the language of his era. Despite the differences between these language conventions and more current usage, President Kimball’s teachings apply to both women and men.