Elder Gong Shares How Teachers—Like Jesus—Can “Nourish” Others

Contributed By Marianne Holman Prescott, Church News staff writer

  • 17 February 2017

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks during the Church Educational System’s annual “An Evening with a General Authority” devotional held February 17.

Article Highlights

  • Begin with compassion; conclude with kindness.
  • Begin with what we have and who we are now.
  • Be organized and act orderly.
  • Express gratitude.
  • Learn to receive and give, teach and be taught.
  • Reach the whole as well as the one.
  • Seek revelation.

“Spirit-filled teaching comes back as bread upon the water—like loaves and fishes, with more than we began.” —Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy

“An increased appreciation of our Savior’s ministry will draw us, our families, and students closer to Him,” Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy said during the Church Educational System’s annual “An Evening with a General Authority” devotional February 17.


Held in the Tabernacle on Temple Square, the event brought seminary and institute instructors and personnel together in downtown Salt Lake City and throughout the world via broadcast. Joining Elder Gong on the program was Elder Kim B. Clark, a General Authority Seventy and Commissioner of the Educational System for the Church. A choir comprised of Church Educational System employees and their spouses from the Utah Salt Lake Valley area provided music during the event.

“In a world full of thorns and thistles, the Savior blesses us with manna—daily bread—His sacramental promise that we might have life, hope, joy, and have them more abundantly,” Elder Gong said.

Drawing from the New Testament, Elder Gong showed a video recounting the experience of the Savior, “the Bread of Life,” feeding the multitude with only a few loaves and fishes.

“What did you notice, feel, and learn as Jesus Christ feeds each of us, and all of us?” Elder Gong asked. “Were the loaves like manna, sweet as coriander and honey? How did two small fishes feed us—fill us—all?”

Elder Gong shared nine things to help a person better understand, draw closer, and become more like the Savior.

1. Our Savior is moved with compassion.

“Many of our Savior’s miracles begin with His understanding and compassion,” Elder Gong said. “Our Savior knows our hearts and circumstances. He is filled with compassion for our hopes and hurts, our desires and needs.”

Sharing examples of the Savior found in the scriptures, Elder Gong spoke of the Savior’s ability to receive, teach, and heal people.

“Through His ministry our Savior is moved by compassion—compassion for the leper, compassion for the man’s son possessed with a foul spirit, compassion for a widowed mother whose only son had died. Our Savior teaches us to be like the good Samaritan who had compassion on the man wounded and left for dead. … Our Savior begins with compassion. He concludes with gracious kindness.”

2. Our Savior starts with what they have.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy brings bread to his talk during “An Evening with a General Authority” at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, February 17, 2017. Elder Gong said, “Perhaps because all people everywhere understand and depend on bread, our Savior declared, ‘I am the bread of life.’” Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

“Wanting to feed the multitude, our Savior starts by asking His disciples what they have,” he said. “He is Creator of the world, Lord of heaven and earth, yet He starts with what they have, from where they are.”

The Savior is able to take what a person has and make it enough.

“Do you ever look at who you are, at what or who you have to teach, and wonder how what you have can possibly be enough?” he asked. “Perhaps, like the disciples, we look at our few small loaves and fishes and marvel, ‘But what are they among so many?’”

In a classroom, teachers invite students to contribute in class where some students offer more, some less.

“As learners and teachers (and we are both), we begin with what we have, with who we are now. He can then magnify us and multiply our efforts,” he said.

3. Our Savior proceeds in an orderly manner.

Unlike a busy crowd of people shoving and grabbing without any regard for another person, the Lord is organized and cares for every individual.

“In the Church we speak of a pioneer company,” Elder Gong said. “We speak of a company worshipping in the temple. To us, the word company denotes an orderly group with a higher shared purpose.”

4. Our Savior expresses gratitude.

“He took the loaves and fishes, and ‘looking up to heaven, he blessed them, and brake,’” Elder Gong taught. “Creator of heaven and earth, the King of kings Himself gives thanks before He divides the loaves and fishes and multiplies them among them all, ‘as much as they would’ eat.”

5. Our Savior feeds the disciples and has them feed the multitude.

“It is order, but it is more than order,” Elder Gong said. “It is strengthening the shepherds so the shepherds can strengthen the sheep. It is teaching the teachers so the teachers can teach the students.”

That is a divine pattern—a great gift of spiritual giving and receiving—used throughout the scriptures and the Church.

“Knowing we will teach helps us to learn,” he said. “In teaching others to learn, we learn to teach.”

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy brings bread to his talk during “An Evening with a General Authority” at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, February 17, 2017. Elder Gong said, “Perhaps because all people everywhere understand and depend on bread, our Savior declared, ‘I am the bread of life.’” Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

6. Our Savior feeds the 5,000 and the one at the same time.

Miraculously, the loaves and fishes were divided and multiplied so that all were able to eat and be filled.

“This is a miracle we teachers seek—to teach our whole class and each person in the class. This requires attending to the 5,000 and the one. It invites addressing general concerns and individual needs. And, beyond balance, it invites the spiritual miracle that that with which we begin will become enough.”

7. Our Savior ensures nothing is lost.

Beginning with gratitude for what a person has helps ensure nothing is lost when he or she concludes.

“Heaven’s economy does not waste,” Elder Gong said. “Everything is drawn on in the beginning; nothing is left to be lost in the end.”

By participating in the process of revelation—asking, receiving, recording, pondering, obeying, asking if there is more—a person is able to build on what he or she has and then receive more.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy speaks during “An Evening with a General Authority” at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, February 17, 2017. Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

8. With our Savior, we end with more than we began.

Like the loaves and fishes, “a miracle of spiritual multiplication is that, with our Savior, we end with more than we began. We end with more love, more learning, more inspiration, more kindness than when we began. Spirit-filled teaching comes back as bread upon the water—like loaves and fishes, with more than we began.”

9. For those with eyes to see and ears to hear, our Savior teaches and testifies of sacramental abundance.

“His is a world of loaves and fishes, of abundance,” Elder Gong said.

Sharing other examples in the scriptures of the Savior providing nourishment—the woman at the well to whom the Savior declares Himself as “living water,” to those whom the Savior told He is “the bread of life,” and to His disciples with whom He shared the sacrament—Elder Gong said that the Savior promises that those who partake of His offering “shall never hunger nor thirst, but shall be filled.”

“Brothers and sisters, thank you for being remarkable learners and teachers in a spiritually hungry and thirsty world,” Elder Gong said. “Thank you for helping make each lesson, each student interaction, like unto a spiritual feast of loaves and fishes.”

Elder Gong thanked the many seminary and institute teachers—nearly 49,000 teachers both called and full-time employees in 133 countries around the world—for their more than 20.8 million hours of gospel service each year.

“You teach and serve in every clime, under every condition, with students from every background, in classes large and small,” he said.

Elder Gerrit W. Gong of the Presidency of the Seventy brings bread to his talk during “An Evening with a General Authority” at the Tabernacle on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Friday, February 17, 2017. Elder Gong said, “Perhaps because all people everywhere understand and depend on bread, our Savior declared, ‘I am the bread of life.’” Photo by Laura Seitz, Deseret News.

Elder Clark: Doctrinal Mastery

A year after it was announced in the same devotional by Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Clark said “Doctrinal Mastery … is a gateway to lifelong, deep learning.”

He shared three objectives of Doctrinal Mastery and how it helps students grow in knowledge and understanding of doctrine and how to use knowledge and understanding in their lives.

First, it is meant to help students learn how to acquire spiritual knowledge.

Second, it is to help students know and understand the Savior’s doctrine—meaning both to know true doctrine in their minds and to understand true doctrine in their hearts.

Third, Doctrinal Mastery is meant to help students learn how to apply the doctrine in their lives by living it themselves and using it to answer questions their friends or others may have.

“Doctrinal Mastery was introduced worldwide last fall,” Elder Clark said. “I want you to know and feel in your hearts that it has come by revelation from the Lord; it is a miracle. I have reflected often on how it came, and when it came, and why it came. I have come to see Doctrinal Mastery in the larger context of Church education and the great work of the Lord in the earth.”

Doctrinal Mastery teaches students the Lord’s way to learn. Learning is deep when it increases one’s power to do three things: to know and understand; to take effective, righteous action; and to become more like Heavenly Father.

“Deep learning must be done in the Lord’s way, through the power of the Holy Ghost, and through active, diligent study and teaching of one another, attended by the grace of Jesus Christ,” Elder Clark said. “This is true for any kind of knowledge and for any time of life.”

Elder Clark invited seminary and institute teachers to help their students see that they are being taught how to learn in the Lord’s way. He also encouraged teachers to help students see the value and power in graduating from seminary and institute.

“Teach them that they need to learn deeply in both spiritual and secular knowledge all through their lives,” he said. “Help them see that graduation from seminary is not the end. … You are helping them to … lay a foundation for lifelong, deep learning by teaching them how to learn in the Lord’s way.”