Part 5: Teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ
Contributed By Carol F. McConkie, Young Women general presidency
- Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church.
- Class presidencies have many opportunities to teach the gospel.
- A class presidency leader can “set hearts afire with devotion to the truth.”
“As young women serving in class presidencies continually seek the Spirit and pay attention to the promptings that come into their hearts and minds, they can have the courage to speak out, teach, and testify to one another, to friends, and to family members.” —Carol F. McConkie, Young Women General Presidency
- Part 1: “Called to Lead”: The Influence of Young Women Class Presidencies
- Part 2: Spiritual Preparation Foundational for Young Women Youth Leaders
- Part 3: “Come Now, and Let Us Reason Together”
- Part 4: Ministering to Others Is Commandment and Covenant
- Part 6: Opening Exercises—a Place to Learn Leadership and Bless Others
This article is the fifth in a series on Young Women class presidencies.
Class presidency meeting is an opportunity to prepare each member of a Young Women class presidency to apply the leadership principle “Teach the Gospel.”
Years ago President Gordon B. Hinckley instructed general Church leaders saying, “Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church” (“How to Be a Teacher When Your Role as Leader Requires You to Teach,” General Authority Priesthood Board Meeting, Feb. 5, 1969).
In chapter 3 of Handbook 2: Administering the Church, we learn that all leaders are teachers because they are called to help others strengthen their testimonies of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and to live according to gospel principles. President Thomas S. Monson has taught, “The leaders who have the most influence are usually those who set hearts afire with devotion to the truth, … who transform some ordinary routine occurrence so that it becomes a vista where we see the person we aspire to be” (“Examples of Righteousness,” Ensign, May 2008, 66).
Young Women leaders can help those serving in class presidencies understand that, as leaders, they have many opportunities to teach the gospel, both in formal and informal settings. Informally, “youth teach each other all the time—they share experiences, help a friend understand a gospel principle, or set an example through their actions” (Teaching in the Savior’s Way, 28).
The Young Women General Presidency is often asked, “How often can young women teach Sunday lessons?” We are guided by the instruction from Handbook 2, 10.6.2. “Young women may assist in teaching from time to time. When young women give instruction, a member of the Young Women presidency or an adviser helps them prepare.” Wherever or whenever young women teach, every teaching moment is an opportunity to lift, to inspire, and to strengthen others.
The leadership lessons for class presidencies that focus on “Teach the Gospel” will help them learn to apply the following four principles of teaching so they will be better prepared to influence others for good, by example, and in a variety of teaching situations.
Love those you teach
As class presidency members seek the Spirit, they will receive divine guidance to know what the Lord would have them do to demonstrate sincere Christlike love, the kind of love that will soften the heart of every girl and prepare their minds to receive the word of the Lord. Perhaps they will personally greet each girl who comes to class, show sincere concern for those who may be struggling, and help everyone smile and feel welcome. They can reach out to those who are not attending with a text, a call, or a visit to their home. Through their efforts the Young Women classroom can become a safe and sacred place where teaching and learning may take place by the Spirit.
Teach and testify by the Spirit
“Teaching and testifying by the Spirit requires living worthily, praying fervently, and learning to recognize and follow courageously the Spirit’s guidance (see D&C 43:15–16 and “Teach the Gospel,” Leadership Lessons for Young Women Class Presidencies). As young women serving in class presidencies continually seek the Spirit and pay attention to the promptings that come into their hearts and minds, they can have the courage to speak out, teach, and testify to one another, to friends, and to family members.
I witnessed a Laurel class president stand to bear testimony of the power of the scriptures. She shared that her family had been going through extremely difficult challenges. She wanted to do something that would strengthen her to press forward with faith. As she prayed, she felt prompted to read her scriptures every day, so she made a personal commitment to do so. Since January she has not missed a day. She bore her testimony of the heavenly power she has found in the scriptures. By the Spirit, she can feel the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ working in her life. She can feel Heavenly Father’s love for her and for her family. Reading daily has strengthened her spiritually and emotionally. This young woman spoke by the Spirit and with a heartfelt conviction that inspired and encouraged all the young women to seek the blessings of reading their scriptures.
Teach the doctrine from the scriptures
Leaders help class presidencies trust in the virtue of the word of God and its powerful effect on heart and mind (see Alma 31:5). They teach from the authorized lesson materials, the scriptures, the teachings of latter-day prophets, and other Church-approved resources. They do not dilute the doctrine of Christ with the philosophies of men (see Colossians 2:8). They do not shy away from hard questions, but they feast upon the words of Christ in their personal study. They treasure up the words of the prophets and are prepared to speak when they feel impressed or are called upon to do so.
As a class president or a counselor shares what a scripture or a conference talk means to her personally, her words have great relevance and influence on the minds of her peers. By the Spirit, her words can lift and inspire others and encourage them to turn to the source of truth, to feel the Spirit, to find answers to their questions, and to feel unity and love for the Lord and for one another.
Invite diligent learning by class members
Class presidencies inspire all class members to participate in learning. They bring scriptures to class, read from them, and share favorite verses. They participate in discussions and share testimony-building experiences or favorite quotes from conference talks. A class presidency member may begin the first portion of the lesson, sharing how she has applied a gospel principle in her life. At the conclusion of a lesson the class president may lead the “live what we are learning” section and counsel together with the class about what they will do or what each individual girl would like to do to apply a gospel principle or standard because of what they have learned or felt in the lesson. Leaders give class presidencies sufficient time during a lesson so that they can help encourage the other young women to act.
When Young Women leaders help her be prepared, a young woman serving in a class presidency has the ability to fulfill President Monson’s prophetic word. She can be the leader who will “set hearts afire with devotion to the truth.” She will be the servant called of God who will help another young woman become the person she aspires to be.