Teachers, Seek Spirit to Help You Teach

Contributed By By Michelle Garrett, Church News staff writer

  • 3 June 2013

Teaching with the Spirit should be the goal for every teacher, said Brother David M. McConkie, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency.

Article Highlights

  • Brother David M. McConkie, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, said that teachers need to teach with the Spirit.
  • Teaching by the Spirit means the Holy Ghost is there to teach and to confirm that you are saying the things the Lord would say if He were there.
  • Both preparing early and being flexible with your outline allow the Spirit to help you know what to say.

“Teachers who have the spirit of revelation … are part of the great miracles of this Church.” —Brother David M. McConkie, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency

PROVO, UTAH

In Doctrine and Covenants 42:14 it says that without the Spirit “ye shall not teach.” 

“That’s kind of an intimidating thought for members of the Church,” said Brother David M. McConkie, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency.

When Paul listed the signs of Christ’s true Church, he listed first, prophets; second, apostles; and third, teachers.

“Teachers rank only behind apostles and prophets as a sign of the true Church,” Brother McConkie said. “The kind of teachers we’re talking about aren’t the teachers of the world and aren’t even gospel teachers when their goal is to show how much they know or bring stacks of books to pour out information into our heads, but teachers who have the spirit of revelation. These teachers are part of the great miracles of this Church.”

He pointed out that with or without a formal calling, all members of the Church are teachers of their children, family members, and fellow Saints.

In Doctrine and Covenants 50:17–18, the Lord said that if teachers teach without the Spirit, it is not of God.

“That means you can stand up and give a great talk on the Atonement and everything you say in that talk can be absolutely true and LDS doctrine to the ‘T,’ and in the end the Lord can say, ‘That’s a great talk, but it’s not of me.’ … The difference is if the Holy Ghost is there to teach and to confirm that you are saying the things the Lord would say if He were there.”

Brother McConkie said that members can make sure they are teaching with the Spirit by preparing lessons enough time in advance to give the Spirit time to work with them.

“If we’re waiting to the last minute to prepare, we’re thinking more about what we’re going to deliver as opposed to what the needs of our students are. … Our mission is not to deliver information but to bless the lives of those sitting in the class. If we haven’t given the Lord time to work with us, we haven’t been able to think about those people we’re going to be teaching.”

It is also important for teachers to not be so tied to their outlines and their preparation that they don’t leave room for the Spirit to help them know what to say.

“Sometimes you have to put yourself out. You have to say, ‘Heavenly Father, I’ve done all I can do to prepare. I prayed, I thought about the class, and now I need You to help me know what to say at the right time.’ You have to be able to risk that. Then the Lord will respond.”

Teachers have the responsibility to bless not only the lives of others but their own lives as well. Being the teacher is “the best job in the Church” because teachers can focus and study the scriptures and prepare themselves spiritually.

“I plead with you, I urge you, if nothing else, pick up the Book of Mormon each day and it will change your lives. You will hear the voice of the Lord, and you will receive personal guidance.”

Brother McConkie’s comments are from an address he gave titled “Edifying Both Learner and Teachers: How to Teach with the Spirit” at the 2013 Women’s Conference on the Brigham Young University campus May 3.