From the Church

Why Elder Uchtdorf’s devotional was for all Latter-day Saints—not just teachers

Elder Uchtdorf’s special Teaching in the Savior’s Way broadcast was recommended “for all members of the Church who teach either in their calling or in their home.”

In October 2018, President Russell M. Nelson and other Church leaders introduced the Come, Follow Me program and adjustments to weekly Sunday meetings “to strengthen families and individuals through a home-centered and Church-supported plan to learn doctrine, strengthen faith, and foster greater personal worship.”

In his opening address at that same general conference, President Nelson said, “We are each responsible for our individual spiritual growth. And scriptures make it clear that parents have the primary responsibility to teach the doctrine to their children. It is the responsibility of the Church to assist each member in the divinely defined goal of increasing his or her gospel knowledge.”

If we have truly taken our prophet’s counsel to heart and are each earnestly striving for a home-centered, Church-supported learning environment—one in which we teach our children, our family members, our fellow Church members, and ourselves—then Elder Uchtdorf's broadcast “for all members of the Church who teach either in their calling or in their home” really applies to everyone.

The principles in Elder Uchtdorf's devotional are universally applicable, and I can see ways that each of the five teaching points he emphasized apply to all of us on a daily basis, too. Here are my five takeaways.

1. Focus on Jesus Christ

A concerted attempt to focus on Jesus Christ, both in our teaching efforts and in our everyday lives, can only bring us blessings.

In a video panel shared on the Teaching in the Savior’s Way resource page, teacher Alex Muñoz shared, “We’re always trying to focus on Jesus Christ, and I have noticed that when we make the effort to focus the class on Jesus Christ, on His symbols, and on the shadows that we see in the scriptures that represent Him, it makes the students intentionally look for Jesus Christ in the scriptures and how this impacts their lives.”

President Nelson has said, “When the focus of our lives is on God’s plan of salvation … and Jesus Christ and His gospel, we can feel joy regardless of what is happening—or not happening—in our lives. Joy comes from and because of Him. He is the source of all joy. … For Latter-day Saints, Jesus Christ is joy!”

2. Love Those You Teach

Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin once said, “Love is the greatest of all the commandments—all others hang upon it. It is our focus as followers of the living Christ. It is the one trait that, if developed, will most improve our lives.”

When you care about someone, they can feel it. Whether it is students in a classroom, ministering families, or members of your own household, lessons, and messages given from a place of love will resonate louder and hit deeper than those given from a place of obligation.

Additionally, loving everyone, including those we teach in our homes or in our calling, will deeply impact every aspect of our lives. And true Christlike love for others will lead to greater compassion, charity, kindness, empathy, patience, and understanding.

3. Teach by the Spirit

In his devotional, Elder Uchtdorf shared, “If you do your part, the Spirit will do His.” I love that line so much, and while it’s certainly applicable to teaching others, it also rings true in other areas of our lives, too.

Elder David A. Bednar has spoken extensively about the importance of revelation and discerning between the Spirit and your own thoughts. On an episode of the All In podcast earlier this year, he said, “As long as we are doing our best and pressing forward on the covenant path, and repenting as we go, then indeed, we are influenced by the Holy Ghost all the time. And I think we fundamentally divert ourselves by wondering, ‘Well, is that me? Or is that the Holy Ghost?’ The more time we spend worrying about that, the more we get in our own way in recognizing the consequences of having the companionship of the Holy Ghost.”

Like Elder Uchtdorf taught, if we do our part—doing our best, keeping on the covenant path, repenting—the Spirit will do His part in giving us peace, providing us with inspiration, nudging us to serve others, and keeping us safe.

► You may also like: Why Elder Bednar says you can learn to stop worrying whether or not youre receiving revelation

4. Teach the Doctrine

To teach pure doctrine, we must first understand the doctrine we’re striving to teach. Studying gospel doctrine will lead to a stronger testimony, greater faith, and a deeper knowledge of God’s plan and love for His children. Once we have enough personal study under our belts, we should be able to say, like Paul, “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.” We should also be able to testify that—from our own experiences—“it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.”

As important as it is to teach and study all doctrine, we should also consider a deeper study of doctrine that is especially applicable to our lives and current situations. If there is a topic or principle we or someone we love are unsure of or something we want to better understand, we can faithfully turn to the scriptures and study and then teach what we learn. President Nelson’s personal study of more than 2,200 scriptures about Jesus Christ is the perfect example of being willing to study and dig deeper into a study topic. After his study, he shared, “To those of you who feel you don’t have time, if you will make a sacrifice, you will be well rewarded and very, very grateful for the change of perspective, increased knowledge, and improved depth of your conversion. I know this is true because I have seen the same rewards in my own life.”

5. Invite Diligent Learning

The restored Church of Jesus Christ has always emphasized the importance of lifelong learning.

How many Sunday School classes have we participated in where the teacher makes a comment along the lines of, “I was the one who truly needed this lesson. I learned more from preparing to teach this class than I will be able to share with this class today”? And if we now understand that every Latter-day Saint is a teacher in some capacity, won’t we all need to learn those gospel principles for ourselves before we can teach them to others? As we prepare to teach others, we inevitably learn. And as we learn more, we can perpetuate the cycle and teach others.

Like any good Sunday School teacher, I also looked up the definition of the word “diligent.” Some common synonyms include “constant,” “committed,” and “attentive.” When we apply those words to the principle of learning—committed learning, constant learning, attentive learning—it paints a new picture of what Elder Uchtdorf is asking us to do.

Our personal gospel learning should be intentional, enthusiastic, and inspired. And as we do that, our gospel teaching will inevitably follow suit.

Elder Uchtdorf concluded his message with the following thought: “As we walk that straight 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’.”

You can (and I highly recommend you do) watch Elder Uchtdorf’s entire devotional in the player below and read a summary of his remarks on Church Newsroom.

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