Lesson 5: Invite Diligent Learning

"Lesson 5: Invite Diligent Learning," Part G: The Teaching the Gospel Course, ()


Purpose

To help class members understand that individuals are responsible to learn the gospel; to help them see how they as teachers can help others fulfill that responsibility.

Note to the Teacher

The Lord has commanded us to “seek learning, even by study and also by faith” (D&C 88:118). As President Spencer W. Kimball taught, this commandment should be obeyed diligently: “One cannot become a ‘doer of the word’ without first becoming a ‘hearer.’ And to become a ‘hearer’ is not simply to stand idly by and wait for chance bits of information; it is to seek out and study and pray and comprehend” (“How Rare a Possession—the Scriptures!” Ensign, Sept. 1976, 2).

An individual’s decision to study the gospel diligently is a righteous use of agency. Teachers who understand the doctrine of agency will not try to force others to learn the gospel. Instead, they will strive to teach in a way that will encourage others to put forth diligent effort to learn the gospel.

Preparation

  1. 1.

    Prayerfully study the scripture passages in this lesson. Seek to apply them to the purpose of the lesson.

  2. 2.

    Study the section of this book titled “Invite Diligent Learning”(pages 60–74). Also study “Principles of Conversion,” page 300 in the “Gospel Teaching and Leadership” section of the Church Handbook of Instructions.

  3. 3.

    In advance, ask three class members to help you present the readers’ theater on pages 209–10. Ask one to read the part of the narrator, another to read the part of the Zoramite, and a third to read the part of Alma.

  4. 4.

    Make three large name tags for the participants in the readers’ theater. Write Narrator on one name tag, Zoramite on another, and Alma on the other.

Suggested Lesson Development

Each individual is responsible to learn the gospel.

Readers’ Theater

Ask the participants in the readers’ theater to come to the front of the class. Give them their name tags. Then explain that these three class members have agreed to present a readers’ theater. The purpose of this presentation is to examine the responsibility individuals have to learn the gospel.

Write the following scripture references on the chalkboard: Alma 32:27–28 , Alma 32:33, 38, 41. Explain that these scripture references correspond with the teachings of Alma that will be used in this presentation. Encourage class members to follow along in their scriptures as Alma’s part is read.

Narrator:

As Alma and his brethren were preaching among an apostate people called the Zoramites, they entered one of the Zoramites’ synagogues. There they heard the Zoramites declare that “there [would] be no Christ” (Alma 31:16).

 

After hearing this false teaching, Alma and his brethren separated to preach the word of God and testify of Christ. A great multitude of Zoramites approached Alma, and one of these Zoramites spoke to him. (See Alma 31:37–38; 32:1.)

Zoramite:

(Read Alma 32:5, beginning with the words “Behold, what shall these my brethren do.”)

Narrator:

(Read Alma 32:6.)

Chalkboard

Write the following on the chalkboard:

The Individual’s Responsibility

Be in a preparation to hear the word (be teachable).

Point out that the Zoramites responded to their afflictions by choosing to be humble. They sought out a man who could teach them the word of God.

Readers’ Theater

Narrator:

Seeing that the Zoramites were in a preparation to hear the word of God, Alma taught them how to truly receive the word and gain a testimony of its truth.

Alma:

(Read Alma 32:27–28, 33.)

Chalkboard

Add to the list on the chalkboard as shown below:

The Individual’s Responsibility

Be in a preparation to hear the word (be teachable).

Give place for the word.

Readers’ Theater

Narrator:

Toward the end of his discourse Alma explained to the Zoramites that after they gained a testimony of the word, there would remain more to do. In giving this explanation, he compared the word to a tree that has grown from a seed.

Alma:

(Read Alma 32:38, 41.)

Chalkboard

Add to the list on the chalkboard as shown below:

The Individual’s Responsibility

Be in a preparation to hear the word (be teachable).

Give place for the word.

Nourish the word.

Invite the class members who participated in the readers’ theater to return to their seats.

Teacher Presentation

Explain that Alma taught the Zoramites that they were individually responsible to learn the gospel. We are all individually responsible to learn the gospel. Individuals who are just beginning to accept this responsibility are “in a preparation to hear the word” (Alma 32:6). Others are experimenting on the word and giving place for the word to be planted in their hearts (see Alma 32:27–28). Still others are already nourishing the word with faith, diligence, and patience (see Alma 32:41).

Individuals learn the gospel through their faith, diligence, and patience.

Discussion

  • What are some specific things people can do to “nourish the word”? (Write class members’ answers on the chalkboard. Note that some possible answers are listed below.)

    1. a.

      Study and ponder the scriptures daily.

    2. b.

      Search the scriptures for specific answers to questions.

    3. c.

      Study addresses from general conference.

    4. d.

      Study articles in Church magazines.

    5. e.

      Fast and pray for understanding.

    6. f.

      Seek understanding while doing temple work.

    7. g.

      Discuss gospel principles with family members and friends.

    8. h.

      Follow the guidance of the Spirit.

    9. i.

      Strive faithfully to obey the commandments.

  • What blessings have come to you as a result of your diligent efforts to learn the gospel?

Teachers should help individuals exercise their agency to learn and live the gospel.

Teacher Presentation

Remind class members that God has given us agency—the power to choose good or evil (see D&C 29:35). We exercise our agency when we choose whether or not we will learn and live the gospel.

Quotation

Read the following statement by Elder James E. Faust:

“Agency, given us through the plan of our Father, is the great alternative to Satan’s plan of force. With this sublime gift, we can grow, improve, progress, and seek perfection” (in Conference Report, Oct. 1987, 42; or Ensign, Nov. 1987, 35).

Discussion

  • What difference does it make in our teaching to realize that individuals have agency and are responsible for their own learning? (You may want to write class members’ responses on the chalkboard.)

Help class members see that they should focus on those they teach, not just on their teaching. Effective gospel teachers do not merely think about what they will teach. They ask themselves, “How will I help those I teach desire to learn and discover what they need to know?” In doing so, teachers respect the agency of those they teach and help them find joy in accepting their responsibility to learn.

Suggest that as we strive to help others accept their responsibility to learn the gospel, we should invite and encourage them rather than push them. We should ponder and pray about our plans to help each person we teach.

We should not do anything that could detract from others’ desire to learn the gospel.

Discussion

  • What are some things teachers might do that could detract from people’s desire to learn the gospel? (Give class members time to ponder and discuss this question. Encourage them to discuss the question in general terms rather than criticize individual teachers. Note that some possible ideas are listed below.)

    1. a.

      Read lessons to them from the manual.

    2. b.

      Spend most of the lesson time lecturing.

    3. c.

      Try to impress them with knowledge or teaching skills.

    4. d.

      Criticize or treat lightly their questions and comments.

    5. e.

      Make comments or ask questions that might undermine their faith.

    6. f.

      Use language or examples that could cause the Spirit to withdraw.

    7. g.

      Fail to center lessons on gospel truths.

Quotation

Conclude this discussion by having a class member read the following statement by Elder Dallin H. Oaks:

“Every gospel teacher who seeks to follow the Master will focus all of his efforts on others and never on himself. Satan said, ‘Send me, … I will redeem all mankind, … and surely I will do it; wherefore give me thine honor.’ Contrast that proposal with the example of the Savior, who said, ‘Father, thy will be done, and the glory be thine forever’ (Moses 4:1–2). A gospel teacher will focus his teaching on the needs of the sheep and the glory of the Master. He will avoid the limelight. He will teach the flock that they should always look to the Master. He will never obscure their view of the Master by standing in the way or by casting a shadow of self-promotion or self-interest” (address given 31 March 1998).

There are many things we can do to invite diligent learning.

Notebook Activity

Have class members turn to page 60 in this book. Ask one class member to read aloud the statement on that page. The statement lists three general things that we can do to invite diligent learning. Point out that in each of these areas there are many simple, specific things we can do.

Have class members review the following list in their books. Invite them to choose one idea from the list that they will apply in an upcoming teaching opportunity. If time permits, allow them to briefly write in their notebooks about how they will use this idea. You may also want to ask them to share their plan with other class members. If there is not time for them to write in their notebooks and discuss their plans, encourage them to write in their notebooks at home.

  1. a.

    Ask someone to prepare to assist with a lesson. Help him or her prepare.

  2. b.

    Ask someone to prepare an object lesson.

  3. c.

    Share personal experiences as appropriate.

  4. d.

    Ask those you teach to ponder the blessings the Lord has given them and their families.

  5. e.

    Teach how to read the scriptures with understanding.

  6. f.

    Acknowledge the worth of each individual’s contribution to the lesson. Listen to and make use of ideas expressed during discussions.

  7. g.

    Ask questions that stimulate thought and invite contributions to discussions.

  8. h.

    When someone asks a question, invite others to suggest answers.

  9. i.

    Ask those you teach to think about how they can apply the things they have learned.

Conclusion

Remind class members that gospel teachers should exemplify diligent gospel learning. Encourage them to evaluate their own efforts to learn the doctrines of the gospel. Invite them to determine what they can do to follow Alma’s counsel to nourish the word with faith, diligence, and patience (see Alma 32:37, 41–42).

Encourage class members to remember the sacredness of each individual’s agency. Then read the following statement by President Spencer W. Kimball:

“The treasures of both secular and spiritual knowledge are hidden ones—but hidden from those who do not properly search and strive to find them. … Spiritual knowledge is not available merely for the asking; even prayers are not enough. It takes persistence and dedication of one’s life” (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, ed. Edward L. Kimball [1982], 389–90).

Testimony

Bear testimony as prompted by the Spirit.

Assignments

Encourage class members to:

  1. 1.

    Write in their notebooks about their experiences as they carry out their plans to invite diligent learning (see “Notebook Activity,” above). As appropriate, talk about these experiences with a leader, another class member, or a family member.

  2. 2.

    Review the principles taught in this lesson by studying the section of this book titled “Invite Diligent Learning”(pages 60–74).