In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we are all teachers and we are all learners. To all comes this gentle invitation from our Lord: “Learn of me … and ye shall find rest unto your souls.”1
I invite all Latter-day Saints to ponder their efforts to teach and to learn and to look to the Savior as our Guide in doing so. We know that this “teacher come from God”2 was more than a mere teacher. He who taught us to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, all our souls, all our strength, and all our minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves, is the Master Teacher and the Exemplar of the perfect life.
Jesus taught a simple yet profound truth as recorded in Matthew. After He and His disciples had descended from the Mount of Transfiguration, they paused at Galilee and then went to Capernaum. There the disciples came unto Jesus, asking:
“Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
“And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”5
In the Church, the goal of gospel teaching is not to pour information into the minds of God’s children, whether at home, in the classroom, or in the mission field. It is not to show how much the parent, teacher, or missionary knows. Nor is it merely to increase knowledge about the Savior and His Church.
The basic goal of teaching is to help the sons and daughters of Heavenly Father return to His presence and enjoy eternal life with Him. To do this, gospel teaching must encourage them along the path of daily discipleship and sacred covenants. The aim is to inspire individuals to think about, feel about, and then do something about living gospel principles. The objective is to develop faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to become converted to His gospel.
Teaching which blesses and converts and saves is teaching which emulates the Savior’s example. Teachers who emulate the Savior’s example love and serve those they teach. They inspire their listeners with eternal lessons of divine truth. They live lives worth emulating.
The Savior’s entire ministry exemplified love of neighbor. Indeed, His love and service were often His lesson. In like manner, the teachers I remember best are the teachers who knew, loved, and cared about their students. They sought the lost sheep. They taught life lessons which I shall always remember.
One such teacher was Lucy Gertsch. She knew each of her students. She unfailingly called on those who missed a Sunday or who just didn’t come. We knew she cared about us. None of us has ever forgotten her or the lessons she taught.
Many years later, when Lucy was nearing the end of her life, I visited with her. We reminisced concerning those days so long before when she had been our teacher. We spoke of each member of our class and discussed what each one was now doing. Her love and caring spanned a lifetime.
I love the Lord’s injunction found in the Doctrine and Covenants:
“I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom.
“Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you.”6
Lucy Gertsch taught diligently because she loved untiringly.
The Apostle Peter counseled, “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”7
Perhaps the greatest hope a teacher can offer is the hope found in the truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
“And what is it that ye shall hope for?” Mormon asked. “Behold I say unto you that ye shall have hope through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection, to be raised unto life eternal, and this because of your faith in him.”8
Teachers, lift up your voices and testify to the true nature of the Godhead. Declare your witness concerning the Book of Mormon. Convey the glorious and beautiful truths contained in the plan of salvation. Use Church-approved materials, especially the scriptures, to teach the truths of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ in their purity and simplicity. Remember the Savior’s injunction to “search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.”9
Help God’s children understand what is genuine and important in this life. Help them develop the strength to choose paths that will keep them safely on the way to eternal life.
Teach truth, and the Holy Ghost will attend your efforts.
Because Jesus Christ was perfectly obedient and submissive to His Father, He “increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”10 Do we have the determination to do likewise? Just as Jesus “received grace for grace,”11 we must patiently and persistently seek light and knowledge from God in our efforts to learn the gospel.
Listening is an essential element of learning. When preparing to be taught, we prayerfully seek inspiration and confirmation from the Holy Ghost. We ponder, we pray, we apply gospel lessons, and we seek the Father’s will for us.12
Jesus “taught … many things by parables,”13 which require ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts to understand. As we live worthily, we can better hear the whisperings of the Holy Ghost, which can “teach [us] all things, and bring all things to [our] remembrance.”14
When we respond to the Lord’s gentle invitation, “Learn of me,” we become partakers of His divine power. Let us, therefore, go forward in the spirit of obedience, following our Exemplar by teaching as He would have us teach and learning as He would have us learn.