Lesson 8: Spirituality

Aaronic Priesthood Manual 2, (1993), 25–28


Objective

Each young man will understand what spirituality is and how it is nurtured.

Preparation

Materials needed:

  1. 1.

    Scriptures for each young man.

  2. 2.

    Pencils for marking scriptures.

Note

The intent of this lesson is to help each young man understand that part of spirituality is maintaining a proper relationship between the spirit and the body. Your own quest for spirituality and your feelings about Heavenly Father’s love for these young men and his desire to help them develop spirituality will greatly influence the success of this lesson.

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Quiz

Explain that to begin the lesson you would like to give the young men a quiz. It is a personal quiz, and they are to answer the questions only in their minds. The questions become progressively more difficult, and by seriously considering them the young men will be better prepared to understand and grow from the rest of the lesson.

This quiz should lead the young men from obvious to more reflective thought about their self-control.

  1. 1.

    Can you make your body walk?

  2. 2.

    Can you make your body whistle or sing?

  3. 3.

    Can you make your body swim?

  4. 4.

    Can you make your body laugh or cry anytime you want to?

  5. 5.

    Can you make your body exercise properly?

  6. 6.

    Can you make your body get out of bed early in the morning?

  7. 7.

    Can you make your body go without food and drink for at least two meals?

  8. 8.

    Can you make your body leave drugs alone?

  9. 9.

    Can you make your body kneel to pray and read the scriptures daily?

  10. 10.

    Can you keep your body from reacting to evil thoughts?

  11. 11.

    Can you make your body respond properly to anger, greed, hate, jealousy, envy, and pride?

  12. 12.

    Can you make your body respond positively to the promptings of the Holy Ghost?

Discussion

  • Did you find some questions more difficult to answer than others? Why? (Allow time for responses.)

What Is Spirituality?

Chalkboard, quotation, and discussion

  • What is spirituality?

Have the young men define spirituality. You may want to summarize their responses on the chalkboard.

President David O. McKay defined spirituality as “the consciousness of victory over self, and of communion with the Infinite” (Gospel Ideals [Salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1953], p. 390).

  • What do you think President McKay meant?

Scriptures and discussion

Have the young men silently read Doctrine and Covenants 88:15.

  • What two things make up the “soul” of man?

  • If a person is truly spiritual, which of the two will be in control, his spirit or his body?

Read and discuss Galatians 5:16–25. Point out key concepts, especially verse 16, and help define difficult words.

  • What are the works of the flesh?

  • What are the fruits of the Spirit?

Suggest that the young men mark verses 22 and 23.

Help the young men understand that they are spiritual and are developing spirituality when they enjoy the fruits of the Spirit but thatthey are not spiritual when they follow the works of the flesh.

Chalkboard

Write the following definition on the chalkboard: Spirituality is our spirit directing our flesh, under the guidance of the Holy Ghost.

Each of Us Can Develop Spirituality

Quotation and discussion

Read and explain the following statement by President Brigham Young:

“If the spirit yields to the body, the Devil then has power to overcome the body and spirit of that man, and he loses both.

“Recollect … every one of you, that when evil is suggested to you, when it arises in your hearts, it is through the [body]. When you are tempted, buffeted, and step out of the way … ; when you are overtaken in a fault, or commit an overt act unthinkingly; when you are full of evil passion, and wish to yield to it, then stop and let the spirit, which God has put into your [bodies], take the lead. If you do that, I will promise that you will overcome all evil, and obtain eternal lives. But many, very many, let the spirit yield to the body, and are overcome and destroyed” (Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1954], p. 70).

  • What can you do to help your spirit gain more control over your body?

  • Why is it important to seek the Lord’s help in gaining this control?

  • How has the Lord helped you gain better control over the flesh?

Allow for responses. Discuss not only general principles, but specific examples that the young men would encounter in daily life.

  • How can you become more sensitive to spiritual things?

Story and discussion

Relate the following story:

A young man was having a difficult time understanding what spirituality meant. He knew that when he did things right he felt good and felt love and peace in his heart. He also knew that when he did wrong he didn’t feel good. He knew what it meant to desire to do wrong even though he knew it was wrong, but at times he would go ahead and do wrong anyway. Afterward he felt ashamed and worse than he did before.

One Sunday, the spirit of his Church meetings was so powerful and uplifting that he decided he really did want to do better, to do good, and to always feel as good as he felt at that moment.

The young man went home and decided to ask his grandfather, whom he respected and admired, what a person his age could do to develop spirituality. The wise grandfather thought about his grandson; it had been some time since he had honestly tried to look at life through the eyes of a fourteen-year-old. But as he thought, he found himself rethinking and in memory reliving his youth.

“I recall when my body started to change,” his grandfather said. “I remember having lots of different feelings and concerns. Sometimes I didn’t get along too well with my folks. Many times I didn’t know how to feel or act. I worried a bit, too. About this time, my father bought a new horse to help with the work on the farm. The responsibility for training and working this magnificent animal fell to me. As I was the oldest child, Dad said he knew I could learn to handle him. Here I was, 105 pounds, and that horse weighed close to 1,800 pounds. My father reminded me that as long as I was in charge and the horse knew it, the horse and I could accomplish work that neither of us could do alone. Together we could plow and harrow the fields and haul supplies for the family.

“I remember each day working with that big horse. I got to know him very well. At first he would resist my efforts to get him to obey, and he did all he could to get his own way, but Dad’s words were always on my mind: ‘Son, don’t ever let the horse do something you know he shouldn’t. Never let him have his way unless it is what you want him to do. If he ever thinks he’s in charge, you’re a goner.’ I found that I had all the equipment I needed to work with that horse: bridle, harness, straps, and saddle. All these helped, but nothing worked if I didn’t insist on obedience. I had to be in charge, and the horse needed to learn that. As I worked with him, he learned what was expected and what was and was not allowed. We became good friends, but both he and I knew who was in charge.”

  • What comparisons do you think the grandfather is going to make between himself and the horse, and his spirit and his body?

“One day, as we were working together plowing a field, I thought deeply about all that this big horse and I were accomplishing by working together. It occurred to me just what I would have to do, as a boy, if I wanted to accomplish great things when I became a man. I realized that my spirit was like me, always trying to get my body, which was like the horse, to do what was right and best. When I let my body have its own way, things never worked out right. It was like letting that horse have his own way without my having a firm grip on the reins. When my body and spirit worked together with the spirit in control, I was able to do so much, and I felt so good. Sometimes my body wanted to eat things, say things, or do things that I knew deep down were not right. It seemed that my spirit would tell me when, and how much, and even whether or not I should do something. As long as I listened to and obeyed my spirit I was fine.

“As I grew into manhood, I had many opportunities to observe others. I saw men who would not control an appetite, who would not refrain from drinking or swearing or telling off-color stories. As I thought about it, I would ask myself, why? Why did these men let the body take charge of the spirit instead of the other way around?

“I also observed other men, men who made me feel good to be around, who cared for others, and who spent time doing good for others, men who I knew were accomplishing a lot of good. As I studied these men, I saw that each was really a team—a team of two. Just as I and the horse, as a team working together, could accomplish great things, a man who listened to his spirit and insisted that his body and his spirit work together could accomplish great things. I determined in my youth that this was the kind of person I wanted to become.”

  • How much effort does it take to get our bodies to take directions from our spirits?

Help the young men understand that we must work hard to achieve this kind of mastery. For one who has been striving to listen to his spirit for several years it is probably a well-developed habit. For one who is just now deciding to do this, it will require great effort sustained over a period of time. But no matter how strong or weak a person feels, the great rewards are worth whatever the demands may be.

  • How could we work each day to train our bodies to listen to and follow the direction of our spirits? (Answers could include the following: pray night and morning for strength; honestly discuss with Heavenly Father your desires and the problems you face; watch great men and learn from them; do difficult things; plan in advance how to cope with possible confrontations; when feeling tempted, stop and count to ten, or review a sacred hymn or a scripture in your mind; study the scriptures regularly; think of your mother, father, or bishop, and how they would respond; stay away from tempting situations.)

Scripture and discussion

Review Galatians 5:16–25 and ask:

  • Which type of life do you want?

  • What kind of home do you want when you marry and have your own family? What kind of home do you want right now?

  • How has following the Spirit helped you make your home a better place?

Conclusion

Testimony

Share your feelings and testimony that Heavenly Father stands ready to help us improve. Express how you have experienced strength and great joy from learning to subject your body to your spirit. Admonish the young men to begin immediately to better train their bodies by listening to their spirits.

Story

Relate the following story:

“[There was a] father who went out with his son to remove stumps in a field. His son was bouncing around on the end of a crowbar trying to raise a big stump. The father walked over to his son and said, ‘Son, are you using all of your strength?’

“The boy said, ‘Yes, I am!’

“His father said, ‘No, you’re not.’

“‘Yes, I am, Dad!’

“‘Son, you haven’t used all of your strength until you have asked your father to help you. I am always willing to help. Just ask me. Just call, and I will help.’

“We are not using all of our strength until we call on the Lord” (A. Theodore Tuttle, Spirituality: The Challenge of Today, Brigham Young University Speeches of the Year [Provo, 28 Mar. 1967], p. 67).

Challenge

Challenge the young men to—

  1. 1.

    Evaluate the movies, books, and television programs they come in contact with this week, avoiding those that suggest “the works of the flesh.”

  2. 2.

    Be aware of and heed all spiritual promptings they receive during the week.

  3. 3.

    Learn how they can gain greater control over their physical bodies and mental processes.

  4. 4.

    Continually seek the Lord’s help in controlling their physical bodies.