While David Merrill McConkie, first counselor in the Sunday School general presidency, has had few opportunities to serve in the Sunday School, his years of priesthood leadership have provided an important perspective on gospel teaching.
“The doctrine is fundamental to all that we do and all that we are,” he says. “We develop faith through learning and understanding the doctrine and then keeping the commandments. You can’t keep the commandments until you know what they are.”
Keeping the commandments has been a priority since early in Brother McConkie’s life. Born on October 13, 1948, to France Briton and Beth Merrill McConkie in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, Brother McConkie grew up in Bountiful, Utah, before being called to the South Africa Mission.
He married JoAnne Albrecht in September 1971 in the Salt Lake Temple. They are the parents of seven children. At the University of Utah he earned a bachelor’s degree in history in 1974 and a juris doctorate in 1977, when he joined a Salt Lake-based law firm.
He has served in the Aaronic Priesthood, Sunday School, and as a bishop, high councilor, and counselor in a stake presidency. He was stake president at the time of his call. During his service, he observed the important role that teaching plays in the Church. “Every leader and every parent in the Church is a teacher,” he says.
The most important responsibilities of a teacher, Brother McConkie says, are listening to and following the promptings of the Spirit. “There are many teaching techniques, but more important than them all is being sensitive to the whisperings of the Spirit to know what the Lord would teach. Then the teacher can become an instrument in the Lord’s hands to lift burdens and answer prayers. That should happen in every class in the Church.”