Lesson 39: “Lengthen Your Stride”

"Lesson 39: “Lengthen Your Stride”," The Presidents of the Church: Teacher’s Manual, (1996)


Objective

Class members will lengthen their strides by living the gospel more perfectly now.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prepare to show the picture of Spencer W. Kimball in the color section.

  2. 2.

    See that each class member has a copy of the standard works.

  3. 3.

    Prepare a poster with this message:

    “I wonder if we are doing all we can. … Are we prepared to lengthen our stride?”

    President Spencer W. Kimball

Suggested Lesson Development

Introduction

Have some class members come to the front of the class. Using masking tape, or some other marking device, mark the length of each person’s stride on the floor. Challenge them to try to lengthen it by six inches and then mark again each person’s stride on the floor. Then explain that that extra six inches in stride could significantly enhance the distance they could cover in a race.

President Kimball Challenged Us to Lengthen Our Stride

Picture and poster

Display the picture of President Spencer W. Kimball.

In a message from President Kimball printed in the October 1974 Ensign, he directed the following question, simple but powerful, to the membership of the Church. (Display the poster.)

“I wonder if we are doing all we can. … Are we prepared to lengthen our stride?” (“When the World Will Be Converted,” Ensign, Oct. 1974, p. 5).

The dictionary tells us lengthen means “to make longer … to grow … to extend,” and stride means “to take a very long step … to move over or along with … long measured steps … natural pace” (Webster’s Tenth New Collegiate Dictionary, s.v. “lengthen” and “stride”). (Refer again to the poster.)

  • What do you think President Kimball meant when he asked us to “lengthen our stride”? (Allow varied answers.)

Scripture discussion

We are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. President Kimball knew we were trying to live the gospel. He also was aware of the world around us and our responsibility to spread the kingdom of God to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people. President Kimball felt the urgency in the message of the following scriptures:

Read with the class Doctrine and Covenants 42:58 and D&C 133:7–9, 37.

Because each of you is part of the kingdom of God as it rolls forth across the world into every nation, the call—“Lengthen your stride”—is to you.

  • How can we do more than we are doing? (Allow varied responses.)

Sometimes living the gospel may seem overwhelming. There is so much to do! We might think occasionally, “After I say my prayers, read the scriptures, work on my family history, pay tithing, write in my journal, develop my talents, and go to school, there is no time left for anything!

The following story may help you understand how you can do a little extra to lengthen your stride.

President Kimball was a man of commitment and work. He always tried to do just a little bit better than what was required. He displayed this characteristic even as a small boy. He told the following experience of himself:

“Let me tell you of one of the goals that I made when I was still but a lad. When I heard a Church leader from Salt Lake City tell us at conference that we should read the scriptures, and I recognized that I had never read the Bible, that very night at the conclusion of that very sermon I walked to my home a block away and climbed up in my little attic room in the top of the house and lighted a little coal-oil lamp that was on the little table, and I read the first chapters of Genesis. A year later I closed the Bible, having read every chapter in the big and glorious book” (Spencer W. Kimball, in Conference Report, Apr. 1974, pp. 126–27; or Ensign, May 1974, p. 88).

As a boy, President Kimball did not just attend his meetings, as he knew he should, but he lengthened his stride to actually living the gospel. He committed himself to having a perfect attendance at all of his meetings. This was not an easy task for a young lad to accomplish. A friend tells the following:

Example

“For years [President Kimball] had a record of perfect attendance at Sunday School and Primary. One Monday he was in the field tramping hay for his older brothers when the meetinghouse bell rang for Primary.

“‘I’ve got to go to Primary,’ he timidly suggested.

“‘You can’t go today; we need you,’ they said.

“‘Well, Father would let me go, if he were here,’ the boy countered.

“‘Father isn’t here,’ they said, ‘and you are not going.’

“The piles of hay came pouring up, literally covering Spencer, but finally he had caught up; sliding noiselessly from the back of the wagon, he was halfway to the meetinghouse before his absence was noticed, and his perfect record remained unbroken” (Jesse A. Udall, “Spencer W. Kimball, the Apostle from Arizona,” Improvement Era, Oct. 1943, p. 591).

Just that little extra we do each day of our lives can make a difference. Ralph Waldo Emerson once made the remark: “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is to you” (as quoted in Richard L. Evans, Richard Evans’ Quote Book [Salt Lake City: Publishers Press, 1971], p. 50).

Lengthening Our Stride Often Requires Sacrifice

There is a price to pay for accomplishment.

Scripture discussion

Read Doctrine and Covenants 35:24 and D&C 82:10.

  • What are some of the sacrifices you make to live the principles of the gospel? (Allow for a full discussion of this topic. Lead the class to understand why we sacrifice time, money, and sometimes friendships, position, and prestige for the gospel.)

The Savior’s Life Is an Example of How We Might Lengthen Our Stride

Christ’s life is an example that we can look to as we accept the prophet’s challenge to “lengthen our stride.”

Scripture discussion

Read and discuss as many of the following scriptures as you feel appropriate.

  • How are they examples of the Savior going the extra mile? How might we use them to lengthen our stride? (The basic subject of each follows the source.)

Matthew 14:13–21: Feeding the five thousand.

John 13:4–17: Jesus washes the feet of the Twelve.

3 Nephi 17: Jesus blessed the Nephites and prayed for them.

Testimony and Challenge

Bear your testimony of the power that is within each of us to “lengthen” our stride. Challenge class members to begin now to accept President Kimball’s challenge and lengthen their strides in some area of their lives. Remind them it will take commitment, work, and sacrifice, but they will also receive blessings.