Teaching in the Church

Boyd K. Packer

President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles


Boyd K. Packer

When I received the assignment to speak to the Church on the subject of teaching, I felt very humbled and prayed earnestly about this assignment. Nearly 70 years ago, I sat on a cliff on a little postage stamp island out in the Pacific, off the island of Okinawa. The war had just ended and I had survived. I wondered what I would do. We were waiting for the ships to come and take us all home. I pondered what I would do with my life. What did I want to do? What did I want to be? I finally decided I wanted to be a teacher. And so here I am nearly 70 years later, still with the same desire, the same determination, having learned much, but have so much yet to learn.

Everything else, when it’s finally analyzed, the result comes down to teaching. And we learn to teach. There are principles that we can learn to analyze, and among them, perhaps the hardest one to learn, is to live so that you can abandon yourself and not read from a script, but just depend on the Spirit.

I wish that there would be a way to promise you that if you studied earnestly and seriously that you’d be better. It won’t hurt you. But it won’t make you better, even as good as it would if you’d trust in the Lord and trust in the Spirit and go ahead. That doesn’t quite become second nature, but you, in due time, learn to trust the Spirit that it will be there. Many times I’ve stood at the pulpit and wondered what to say, kind of empty-headed and knowing that there was a great responsibility, but it always comes. It comes when you start. You start and begin, and then the revelation starts to flow. The credit we deserve from all of that is very little for ourselves, because the Spirit is the generating power.

I’ve come to know that everybody is a teacher. In the Church we talk about being called to positions and set apart to teach Sunday School or in other priesthood auxiliaries. The priesthood sometimes prides itself with having the power to do the teaching. They don’t come near the power that’s given to a mother. The greatest teaching in the Church is done by the mothers.

So to those of you who teach in the Church, whether you do it professionally or otherwise, you know that it’s a sacred teaching and that most of it is done outside of the classroom, even outside of the preparation where you read the lessons, study, then ponder because of that expression in the scripture—“the word of the Lord came into my mind.” That “word” never fails if you go forward and be obedient. Obedience to youngsters is kind of a sad word. We’re not automatically obedient. Parents, especially mothers, train their little children to be obedient. We’re responsible for that ourselves when we’re an adult, and sometimes we have a little inward battle with ourself. There’s a word, repent. What does the “re” in repent mean? It means you do it again—repeat, repent. And then you have to backtrack to the point where you went off track and go forward, free from the challenges that were with you then. The Atonement is the mighty healer—atone for the sins. Do you realize how marvelous it is that you can call upon the Atonement? The Lord effected the Atonement for our sakes. And there isn’t anything that you can’t repent from and that you can’t be rescued from if you will repent and be determined to make the decision. So, my counsel is simple. Just decide to do it right, decide to be better, decide to trust the scripture, and as you do, you’ll grow and the challenges you have will be for your good.

These last 70 years or so have taught me a lot. I still have very much to learn. I don’t know how long I’ll be learning, but when it’s over I’ll go to the new realm and begin a new school. So I express my testimony to you that the Lord lives, that the Restoration is true, that it was managed and determined beyond the veil for our benefit. The Lord lives. I know the Lord lives, and I know the Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.