Speaking in general conference, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: “We are so grateful to all who teach. We love you and appreciate you more than we can say. We have great confidence in you.” He continued: “To teach effectively and to feel you are succeeding is demanding work indeed. But it is worth it. We can receive ‘no greater call.’ … For each of us to ‘come unto Christ,’ to keep His commandments and follow His example back to the Father, is surely the highest and holiest purpose of human existence. To help others do that as well—to teach, persuade, and prayerfully lead them to walk that path of redemption also—surely that must be the second most significant task in our lives. Perhaps that is why President David O. McKay once said, ‘No greater responsibility can rest upon any man [or woman], than to be a teacher of God’s children’” (in Conference Report, Apr. 1998, 30–31; or Ensign, May 1998, 25).
The Role of Teaching in Heavenly Father’s Plan
To be able to fully exercise our agency in righteousness, we must learn of the Savior and the doctrines of His gospel. Because of this, gospel teaching has always played an essential role in Heavenly Father’s plan for His children.
In the premortal spirit world, we “received [our] first lessons … and were prepared to come forth in the due time of the Lord to labor in his vineyard for the salvation of the souls of men” (D&C 138:56). After Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden, the Lord sent angels to teach them the plan of redemption (see Alma 12:27–32). He later commanded Adam and Eve to “teach these things freely” to their children (see Moses 6:57–59).
In every dispensation of the gospel, the Lord has directed the teaching of the plan of redemption. He has sent angels (see Mosiah 3:1–4; Moroni 7:29–32; Joseph Smith—History 1:30–47), called prophets (see Amos 3:7), provided the scriptures (see D&C 33:16), and helped people know the truth by the power of the Holy Ghost (see 1 Nephi 10:19; Moroni 10:5). He has commanded His followers to teach the gospel to their family members (see Deuteronomy 6:5–7; Mosiah 4:14–15; D&C 68:25–28), to other members of the Church (see D&C 88:77–78, 122), and to those who have not yet received the fulness of the gospel (see Matthew 28:19–20; D&C 88:81).
Of the importance of gospel teaching in the Church, Elder Gordon B. Hinckley said: “Fundamental to the very program of the Church is the teaching of the gospel to the membership of the Church. In fulfillment of the obligation which was laid upon the Church in its inception, there has developed within the Church a system of great teaching organizations—the priesthood quorums, both Melchizedek and Aaronic, the far-flung church school system, and the auxiliaries …, all of which play so important a part in the education of our people” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1962, 72–73).
Every Member a Teacher
When the resurrected Savior taught the Nephites, He said: “Hold up your light that it may shine unto the world. Behold I am the light which ye shall hold up—that which ye have seen me do” (3 Nephi 18:24). In this instruction the Lord made no distinction among those who heard His voice. All were commanded to teach.
The same is true today. The responsibility to teach the gospel is not limited to those who have formal callings as teachers. As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you have the responsibility to teach the gospel. As a parent, son, daughter, husband, wife, brother, sister, Church leader, classroom teacher, home teacher, visiting teacher, coworker, neighbor, or friend, you have opportunities to teach. Sometimes you can teach openly and directly by the things you say and the testimony you bear. And you always teach by example.
The Lord said, “This is my work and my glory—to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39). As you think of the role of gospel teaching in the salvation and exaltation of God’s children, can you imagine a duty more noble or sacred? It calls for your diligent efforts to increase your understanding and improve your skills, knowing that the Lord will magnify you as you teach in the way He has commanded. It is a labor of love—an opportunity to help others exercise their agency righteously, come unto Christ, and receive the blessings of eternal life.