Teach Youth to Live By and Act on Truths They Learn
Contributed By By Sister Neill F. Marriott, Young Women general presidency
Nephi made a new bow, Rebekah watered 30 camels, Joseph Smith applied the principles in James 1:5, Emma Smith created our first hymnbook, President Thomas S. Monson acts on promptings to rescue the lonely, and, more important than any other act, the Savior Jesus Christ completed the Atonement for all mankind. All of these noble men and women—most of all the Lord—acted on true principles they understood and brought blessings to mankind. Bringing forth blessings requires particular actions.
As the youth learn doctrinal truth they must do more than simply accept it intellectually. In order for truth to bring blessings and personal conversion, we must live by that truth. We must act on it in faith, even when we don’t know all the results our actions may bring. Ours is a living, active faith, not a passive one. In the New Testament, James speaks of the man who continues in the law, “he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed” (James 1:25).
Effective teachers invite us to act on truth
Each Sunday, teachers encourage youth to learn doctrine by sharing and discussing in class what they understand from the scriptures, prophets, personal experience, and personal revelation. However, simply learning truth is only the first step in becoming a faithful disciple of Christ. An effective teacher teaches that it is in living the true doctrine of Christ that we become converted to His gospel.
Understanding that the iron rod is the word of God is not a guarantee that it alone will “safely guide [you] through” (“The Iron Rod,” Hymns, no. 274). We must take action and place our hand firmly and steadfastly on that iron rod, thereby acting on the truth we learn. We must experiment upon the word of God and actually do something with our understanding. As the Come, Follow Me curriculum suggests, we learn the doctrine, then live the doctrine, and then share what we experienced as we applied the doctrine to our daily lives.
Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled, “Young people increasingly need to be learners who act” (“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Ensign, Oct. 2011, 27). This counsel to “act” contains a promised blessing—additional light and knowledge by the power of the Holy Ghost.
Learning doctrine on Sunday does very little good if the principles are not part of our daily thoughts and actions. Effective teachers will remember to invite students to live a principle they learned in class during the coming week. On the following Sunday, the teacher should ask them to share their experience of living the principle that they learned in class the previous week.
Learn about and experience the spirit of Elijah
An eloquent and powerful example of this invitation to act on a principle comes from Elder Bednar: “I invite the young people of the Church to learn about and experience the Spirit of Elijah. I encourage you to study, to search out your ancestors, and to prepare yourselves to perform proxy baptisms in the house of the Lord for your kindred dead. And I urge you to help other people identify their family histories” (“The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” 27). Notice the action words in his counsel—learn, experience, study, search, prepare, perform, help, and identify.
If the youth will be “doers of the work,” Elder Bednar promises these remarkable blessings will come: their love and gratitude for their ancestors will increase, their testimony of and conversion to the Savior will become deep and abiding, they will be protected against the intensifying influence of the adversary, and they will be safeguarded in their youth and throughout their lives. Wouldn’t all people want such rich blessings? An Apostle has promised all of the blessings if individuals will do his bidding and take the required actions.
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles counseled in the recent general conference: “Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ can be bolstered as we learn about Him and live our religion. … Living the Lord’s pure religion … is a way of life and a daily commitment that will provide divine guidance” (“Let Your Faith Show,” April 2014 general conference).
Let us invite the youth to live and act upon the principles they are learning each week in Sunday classes so that these truths get deeply rooted in their hearts and spirits as well as in their minds. Then, and only then, will they be truly converted, protected, and safeguarded.