Lesson 6: The Spirit Is the True Teacher

"Lesson 6: The Spirit Is the True Teacher," Part B: Basic Principles of Gospel Teaching—Teach by the Spirit, ()


“When a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men” (2 Nephi 33:1). No mortal teacher, no matter how expert or experienced, can bring the blessings of testimony and conversion to another person. That is the office of the Holy Ghost, or the Spirit. People come to know that the gospel is true by the power of the Holy Ghost (see Moroni 10:5; D&C 50:13–14).

The Spirit’s Role in Gospel Teaching

As we teach the gospel, we should humbly recognize that the Holy Ghost is the true teacher. Our privilege is to serve as instruments through whom the Holy Ghost can teach, testify, comfort, and inspire. We should therefore become worthy to receive the Spirit (see “Seeking the Spirit,” page 13). We should pray for the Spirit’s guidance as we prepare lessons and as we teach (see “Recognizing and Following the Spirit in Your Teaching,” pages 47–48). We should do all we can to create an atmosphere in which those we teach can feel the influence of the Spirit (see “Inviting the Spirit As You Teach,” pages 45–46).

Elder Gene R. Cook of the Seventy counseled: “Who will do the teaching? The Comforter. Be sure you don’t believe you are the ‘true teacher.’ That is a serious mistake. … Be careful you do not get in the way. The major role of a teacher is to prepare the way such that the people will have a spiritual experience with the Lord. You are an instrument, not the teacher. The Lord is the One who knows the needs of those being taught. He is the One who can impress someone’s heart and cause them to change” (address delivered to religious educators, 1 Sept. 1989).

Humbly Serving as Instruments in the Lord’s Hands

We may at times be tempted to think that people will draw closer to Heavenly Father because of our efforts alone. We may suppose that it is our persuasiveness that convinces them of the truth. Or we may imagine that our eloquence and our knowledge of a particular gospel principle will inspire and edify them. If we begin to believe such things, we “get in the way” of the convincing power of the Holy Ghost. We should always remember the Lord’s command to “declare glad tidings … with all humility, trusting in [Him]” (D&C 19:29–30).

As you prepare yourself spiritually and acknowledge the Lord in your teaching, you will become an instrument in His hands. The Holy Ghost will magnify your words with power.

Elder Richard G. Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve taught of the difference between a humble person who allows the Holy Ghost to teach and a proud person who relies on his or her own strength:

“Some years ago I had an assignment in Mexico and Central America similar to that of an Area President. …

“One Sunday, … I visited [a] branch priesthood meeting where a humble, unschooled Mexican priesthood leader struggled to communicate truths of the gospel. It was obvious how deeply they had touched his life. I noted his intense desire to communicate those principles. He recognized they were of great worth to the brethren he loved. He read from the lesson manual, yet his manner was of pure love of the Savior and those he taught. That love, sincerity, and purity of intent allowed the influence of the Holy Ghost to envelop the room. …

“Subsequently, I visited the Sunday School class in the ward where my family attended. A well-educated university professor presented the lesson. That experience was in striking contrast to the one enjoyed in the branch priesthood meeting. It seemed to me that the instructor had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to develop his assigned topic—the life of Joseph Smith. I had the distinct impression that he used the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his great knowledge. … He did not seem as intent on communicating principles as had the humble priesthood leader. …

“… The humility of the Mexican priesthood leader was requisite to his being used as an instrument for spiritual communication of truth” (Helping Others to Be Spiritually Led [address to religious educators, 11 Aug. 1998], 10–12).

Additional Information

For more on teaching by the Spirit, see lesson 3 in the Teaching the Gospel course (pages 198–202).