Jesus taught, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 7:21). It is not enough to know the gospel; we must live it.
One teacher shared the following analogy: “I have learned a great lesson from the letters of the alphabet. … We can repeat them frontwards or backwards, but when we do they have little meaning because they have not been put together with purpose and direction. When we put them together with real purpose and direction the result is sacred hymns, the scriptures, great poetry and prose, wonderful songs, and so on. As it is in the letters of the alphabet, so it is in our lives. … Action is important, but we need to have the right kind of action—purposeful action” (William H. Bennett, in Conference Report, Tonga Area Conference 1976, 15).
As a teacher, you can help others be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). To accomplish this, you must teach in a way that will help learners apply gospel principles in their lives.
Ensure That Learners Understand the Principles You Teach
You can help learners understand gospel principles in a way that will enable them to apply them in their lives. For example, when a child earns or is given money, a father can explain what the scriptures and the latter-day prophets teach about tithing and how it is used. He can then help the child take 10 percent of the money, complete a donation receipt, place the money and the receipt in a tithing envelope, and give the envelope to the bishop.
Help Others Learn by the Spirit
It is not enough to simply understand gospel principles. For people to truly live what they learn, they must receive a witness that it is true. This will happen only when you teach by the Spirit and they learn by the Spirit (see
Many different methods can be used to help others learn by the Spirit. For example, when you or those you teach share true stories about overcoming challenges, the Spirit can help learners gain courage to live the gospel. In one Aaronic Priesthood class, the teacher told vividly of his brother, who had quit smoking and had received great blessings for doing so. This story touched a young man in the class and inspired him to quit his own smoking habit.
Encourage Learners to “Go, and Do … Likewise”
After the Savior shared the parable of the good Samaritan, He commanded His listeners, “Go, and do thou likewise” (Luke 10:37). You should frequently invite learners to apply the principles they learn. Such assignments should be realistic and attainable. For example, in a lesson about prayer, you could encourage family members or class members to pray every morning and night. In a lesson about service, you could encourage them to help a neighbor in need.
You should normally follow up on the invitations you extend; this will help learners appreciate the importance of what is asked of them.