Viewpoint: “In the Very Moment”
A ward Primary president was presenting a sharing time lesson about ways in which the Holy Ghost guides us.
During her lesson, she paused and, following a spiritual prompting, said, “The Holy Ghost whispers to me that someone in this room has something to share, and that person’s name is …” and she gave a first name.
One of the teachers looked surprised for a moment and then responded by relating a personal experience she had been pondering while the lesson was being given.
She said that she was driving home from college one night. In her eagerness to get home, she was driving fast and felt the Spirit prompt her repeatedly to slow down.
Eventually she heeded the prompting. A moment later, a deer darted into her path.
She was able to avoid striking the deer but realized that had she not slowed her car, there would have been a collision, likely resulting in serious damage, injury, and perhaps even death.
Hearing the incident related, the Primary children no doubt were impressed with it as an illustration of how the Holy Ghost guides. The more alert ones likely noticed that the Primary president had received and responded to a prompting to call upon the teacher, a demonstration of one of the ways we are guided by the Holy Ghost, as promised in this scriptural passage:
No doubt countless teachers in the Church can testify of having received such a gift.
Occasionally, as with the Primary president, the Spirit comes in the form of knowledge the teacher could not have had beforehand. More often, it comes in less dramatic form, as when the Spirit calls to mind a passage of scripture that is especially applicable to a point that is being made.
This was exemplified very recently during a family home evening. The formal lesson given by the two younger children had concluded, and the conversation had turned to the fact that the four children in the family, ages 16, 13, 10, and 8, would soon return to school after the summer break. The family talked of their tradition in which the father administers a blessing to each child at the start of the academic year.
Then, a scriptural passage entered the father’s mind, Doctrine and Covenants 88:122–26. It was among his favorites; he had reflected before on how fitting it seems that the passage occurs in such proximity to section 89, the Word of Wisdom section, as the counsel given therein is so wise and practical.
On this occasion, the father turned to the passage and began to use it as an outline for some parental advice to the children, applying each verse individually to their upcoming school year:
“Appoint among yourselves a teacher, and let not all be spokesmen at once; but let one speak at a time and let all listen unto his sayings, that when all have spoken that all may be edified of all” (verse 122).
“When you are in the classroom, be courteous to the teacher; don’t talk out of turn or chatter with others when the teacher is talking to the class,” the father admonished. “Be eager to participate when the teacher calls for discussion, and if you get the opportunity, help other students to master the concepts so they can participate too. In that way everybody learns and grows.”
“See that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires” (verse 123).
“During this coming year, look for opportunities to bless those who might be lonely or sad or who need a friend,” the father said. “Let the love of the Savior be reflected in your actions.”
“Cease to be idle” (verse 124).
“Your school year will be a lot more pleasant, you’ll learn a lot more effectively, and you’ll be far more successful and happy if you complete your homework, projects, and studying promptly, well before they are due,” the father counseled.
“Cease to find fault one with another” (verse 124).
“Let’s have a spirit of cooperation, kindness, and forgiveness in our home during this school year,” the father said.
“Cease to sleep longer than is needful; retire to thy bed early, that ye may not be weary; arise early, that your bodies and your minds may be invigorated” (verse 124).
“Nothing is more important to your success in school than getting adequate rest,” the father said. “Pace yourselves so that you don’t feel the need to stay up to complete assignments and studying. That makes you tired the next day, and you can’t be at your best, so it becomes a vicious cycle.”
“Above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity, as with a mantle, which is the bond of perfectness and peace. Pray always, that ye may not faint (verses 125–26).
“Charity is defined as the pure love of Christ,” the father explained. “If you try to have that love for everyone in your circle of acquaintances, and if you pray morning and night and anytime you need the Lord to strengthen you, I promise that you will have happiness and peace this coming year and always.”
As Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve taught, “A scripture is not limited to what it meant when it was written but may also include what the scripture means to a reader today” (“Scripture Reading and Revelation,” Ensign, Jan. 1995, 8) or, it might be added, what it means to an inspired teacher who chooses to apply it to a specific lesson. In the above instance, the children will be able at any time to recall the father’s counsel to them by turning to Doctrine and Covenants 88:122–26.
May we in our teaching be open to having the Spirit guide us, perhaps giving us “in the very moment” what to say.